SERIAL EYES prepares the next generation of European TV writer-producers to bring first-class serialized storytelling to the television screen. In small classes taught in English by top industry professionals, twelve participants from all across Europe learn to develop, write and produce serial productions independently and as a part of a team, with a focus on engaging specific audiences.
Experience the Writers’ Room.
The core of the SERIAL EYES programme is the writers’ room experience that trains participants to work as a group and to design a European model of showrunning. Participants gain experience in working directly as a team with experienced colleagues and learn to assume the role of a showrunner in the creative process. Along with that experience, participants gain a solid understanding of the dramaturgic and narrative strategies used in successful serial productions in order to create their own new, original projects.
Put Theory into Practice.
As an incubator for new television projects, SERIAL EYES encourages its participants to push the envelope in envisioning the future of television. During their tenure in the programme, SERIAL EYES participants originate and develop a slate of concepts and pilots for ‘traditional’ broadcast and premium TV outlets as well as design storytelling concepts for new digital platforms.
Learn from the Best.
SERIAL EYES participants build up a solid expertise in creating series concepts and acquire in-depth understanding of markets, audiences and broadcasters’ needs. Teaching staff include established showrunners and head writers, creative producers as well as commissioning editors from major television broadcasters, such as ZDF, RTL, DR, TV2 Denmark, NRK, YLE, ITV and BBC, and pay TV companies, such as SKY, HBO Europe and CANAL+. In addition, TV professionals act as personal mentors to each participant and advise them on their individual projects and their career paths.
Berlin, London, Copenhagen.
SERIAL EYES classes are taught at the DFFB in Berlin with two additional workshops offered at the London Film School and The National Film School of Denmark. These workshops offer SERIAL EYES participants an opportunity to learn from the exceptional faculty at those two world-famous institutions and to interact with their film and television students.
Pitch to TV Professionals.
SERIAL EYES participants tap into multiple opportunities to pitch their projects to European TV professionals at the Berlinale, during the London workshop, at MIPTV in Cannes, and during the final SERIAL EYES Pitching Session in Berlin.
Build an International Network.
By creating a centre of excellence in serial storytelling, SERIAL EYES brings together the top professionals working in the field today and provides opportunities for successful exchanges between TV writers, producers and decision-makers from across Europe. This trans-European dimension of the SERIAL EYES programme enables writers and producers to work on more ambitious projects, to access new audiences and markets, and to create the future of European television together.
The Big Light Apprenticeship!
Big Light Productions, headed by TV creator and showrunner Frank Spotnitz, partners with SERIAL EYES by offering a Big Light Prize at the conclusion of the programme. The prize will consist of a three-month TV writing apprenticeship for one selected SERIAL EYES participant at the Big Light Productions London office. Big Light productions will provide a €9000 bursary to the recipient of the apprenticeship.
- Applicants must be from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
- Applicants should have written or produced at least one drama or comedy series, ideally broadcast on a TV channel in their own country, and must be cognizant of the demands of the TV businesses.
- Applicants should enter the programme with multiple ideas for original TV series that may be developed further over the course of instruction.
- A high standard of spoken and written English is essential.
- The recommended age is 25 to 35 years.
- CV with work and training experience
- Personal letter of motivation outlining why you would like to participate in the SERIAL EYES programme, your expectations and your professional goals (1-2 pages)
- Analysis of a TV series from your country (1 page)
- Proposals for 3 potential TV series concepts you would like to develop at SERIAL EYES (up to 1 page each)
- A writing sample of your choice (10 pages)
- Optional: Links to films you have made
- How did you hear about SERIAL EYES?
- Optional: Scholarship application letter – Please specify your financial reasons for the scholarship request (applications for scholarships are only possible until the first application deadline)
- Letter of recommendation in English by a producer or broadcaster
- All application materials must be in English
Applications for the year 2017_18 of the programme will be available starting in January 2017.
- Official deadline (including scholarship applications): 1 March, 2017
- Late deadline: 1 April, 2017
Three scholarships for tuition and travel expenses are available for applicants applying by March 1.
Yes, you may apply. We do not discriminate based on age.
We do not require candidates to have had their own original show produced.
We prefer candidates with some experience writing for television; however, we consider all previous creative writing experience.
Yes, we will consider a background in documentaries and/or journalism. Just keep in mind that the writing sample and pitch proposals in the application portfolio should feature fictional drama or comedy writing.
You should submit a story idea that you have developed on your own.
Your story ideas do not have to be set in Europe. But as with every setting, there should be a good creative reason why the series is located there.
You may propose projects from your application package to work on, but you will also be expected to develop new story ideas.
You will be expected to work on new, unencumbered projects without attachments while in the programme.
We expect a critical engagement with the premise and characters of the show. You should briefly introduce the show since your readers may not be familiar with it. Then you may want to discuss the elements that make it a “series” (as opposed to a TV movie). Finally, you should discuss what attracts you to the show.
We prefer candidates to discuss shows from their own country, but you may choose a TV series from another European market. You should clarify why you chose that show over one from your own country.
The programme runs full-time from September through May. Participants should expect to reside in Berlin for the full duration of the programme.
Due to the intensive, full-time nature of the instruction, we do not recommend full-time employment for the duration of the programme.
SERIAL EYES is a residential programme taking place in Berlin from September through May. Participants must be present for the full duration of the programme.
The curriculum of the first semester (September-December) will focus on the writers’ room experience, analysis of narrative and dramaturgic structures in TV writing, series conception and development, and development processes in Europe and the USA. The programme also includes a study trip to the National Film School of Denmark in Copenhagen.
The second semester (January-May) will focus on continued series development and pilot writing, digital media series development, production workflows, co-production and financing processes, broadcasters’ business needs, and pitch presentations. Study trips include a ten-day visit to London, with workshops at the London Film School and visits to production companies and broadcasters, and a visit to the industry MIPTV market in Cannes.
In addition to course instruction, time is allowed for participants to write their group and individual projects.
Television writing is distinctly unique. Participants learn common dramaturgic and narrative strategies used in successful serial productions and learn to examine their own work under those criteria.
Experiencing the writers’ room
Participants learn specific skill sets, such as team work, management of the writers’ room and the role of the showrunner, and conduct practical exercises in breaking down the story in the writers’ room. Participants learn how to collaborate with other writers and deal with criticism while they gain experience working as a team.
Mentoring scheme: start of the individual project
Parallel to acquiring advanced TV writing techniques and experiencing the writers’ room, participants develop an original series concept. Participants are expected to pitch three series ideas in class to instructors and other participants and, based on feedback, choose one idea to develop further into a full series bible by the end of the first semester. Each participant will be assigned a mentor to follow the project and provide feedback on a one-on-one basis.
Overview of European and US television industries
Invited TV professionals will provide an overview of the industrial structures of the European and the US TV industries as well as the major players in the business: broadcast, cable and SVOD networks, studios, producers, and agencies.
The Danish TV model
The worldwide success of Danish TV series provides a model for European television development. The SERIAL EYES programme meets with faculty and students at The National Film School of Denmark and visits with prominent head writers, producers and commissioning editors to understand the development process and TV writing practices of the Danish model.
Having acquired the techniques of the writers’ room, participants apply them to their individual project, ‘hiring’ writers from the group and managing a writers’ room as showrunner during ‘Showrunner Week’.
Producing and international financing
Participants learn about the role of the producer in television drama: production processes, creative development, producing and financing, principles of drama scheduling, budgeting, casting and shooting, post-production, from workflow to delivery, relationship with the broadcaster, and the international TV market
Markets and audiences
There is a strong emphasis on understanding the market and broadcasters’ needs, with a focus on emerging trends and recent changes in the international TV industry. Commissioning editors from ZDF, Sky Italia, Canal+, and ITV are invited as guest speakers.
The participants will enjoy incomparable access to industry professionals at the following events:
- Berlinale festival, European Film Market and TV conferences
- London: LFS workshop features masterclasses and visits to top UK production companies and broadcasters.
- Visit to MIPTV in Cannes: access to multiple networking events, conferences, new media sessions and screenings.
Continuation of Mentoring scheme: Writing the pilot
Participants continue their work on their original series concept and will begin development of a pilot outline, due in early February. Mentors will then have a chance to give feedback on the outline as well as the first draft of the pilot script. Delivery of the final pilot script is expected by the end of the programme.
Participants benefit from multiple coaching and pitching opportunities with the advisory board and with professionals during the London visit and at MIPTV. The programme’s Final Pitch Session in May introduces SERIAL EYES participants to the industry, offering unparalleled access to TV executives, producers and agents from across Europe.
Benjamin Harris is Head of Programme for Serial Eyes. As such, he is responsible for the curricular and administrative oversight of the programme.
Prior to that, Benjamin was the Assistant Director of the MFA Producers Program in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television for eleven years. He is a TV writer and a film and television industries scholar, and teaches classes on story development for features and television, creative producing, and the US and international media industries.
Italian cultural and event manager based in Berlin since 2001. Federica studied Japanology and English and American Studies at the Humboldt University, with a focus on film and media. Federica worked for various festivals and film projects, including the Culinary Cinema of Berlinale and the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (C.I.C.A.E.), where she developed a good knowledge of the international exhibition branch and a profound passion for arthouses. She recently started to work on a documentary film project about politics with a Berlin-based Italian film director. Her favorite TV-series is Boardwalk Empire. From season 1 to 5, she was constantly fascinated by the historical accuracy of the dialogues, music and costumes as well as by some of the characters’ psychological profiles.
German. Studied theater, film and television at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Kathrin worked at several internet agencies and at the theatre Berliner Ensemble before starting as assistant to the director at the DFFB. Since 2014 she is head of the International Programms / Public relations at the DFFB.
Partners & Support
SERIAL EYES is funded with the support of Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union with additional support provided by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Vivendi, RTL, Atlantique Productions and Real Film. Scholarship awards are provided by Sky Italia and Big Light Productions.
SERIAL EYES has been developed with the support of a team of TV creators, producers and broadcasters from across Europe. The advisory board members participate as instructors and mentors throughout the year.
SERIAL EYES is organised in collaboration with London Film School and The National Film School of Denmark.
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