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Metlab: All The Details

As some of you know I was involved in The Metlab Scriptwriting Training Course in conjunction with London Metropolitan University last year. I had a lot of fun meeting peeps like Elinor, so I’m pleased to announce that I will be participating again!

It’s a completely different affair this year too: it’s 100% FREE. That’s right, gratis. You read that right. And here’s how it’s gonna work.

Metlab is looking for four (perhaps five) people to come on board in order to develop a screenplay over the course of *roughly* 9 months [TBC]. You will meet with Metlab every 6-8 weeks about the progress of your screenplay and submit drafts at scheduled intervals.

This is not a traditional taught course: in other words, you’ll get development notes and meetings on your script as opposed to tutorials on your personal progress, format issues etc.

This is a great opportunity and free – did I mention that? – though the university will take 2% if the script gets made. Considering agents take a much bigger whack, I think this is fab. Working on the basis that filmmaking is driven by commerce just as much as art, Metlab wants to see your script made – it gets paid that way! Pretty big motivation to get your project up and running, with no initial outlay for you. Nice one.

So the aim is for Metlab to be as close to “real” development as you can get – if you can’t deliver then, just like in real life it’s all over. If you can however, then here’s the best bit: Metlab has a veritable stable of prodcos lined up who want first look at your screenplay.

So, what next?

1. You need a great idea – preferably a strong genre piece: horror, action, romance, comedy, adventure, thriller. No arty dramas please. (Crossed genres – comedy-horror/rom-com/action-adventure etc are fine)

2. It needs to be commercial and shot on a relatively low budget (£800,000 maximum) -but crucially it needs to look GOOD on this low budget. We don’t want cheap-ass special effect stuff, even if it *might* get cult following later. So big CGI set pieces, stunt choreography, etc are OUT. Think Shaun of The Dead vs. Resident Evil, London to Brighton vs. Children of Men, that kind of thing.

3. You need to write a pitch document outlining the idea (2 pages maximum).

4. And you need to send it here: DO NOT SEND THEM TO ME, I don’t participate in the selection process, any synopses for Metlab sent to Bang2write will be deleted unread, sorry.

Chip has already applied and you can see his post about it here. I know Elinor plans to re-apply too, so best of luck to her and any other previous Metlabbers: you’re all welcome.

NB. There has been a small extension to the October 1st deadline: it is now October 17th 2007. Best of luck to everyone and look forward to working with you!

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13 thoughts on “Metlab: All The Details”

  1. Great stuff! Thanks, Lucy. But is there a webpage for this – I know you said this is ‘all the information’ but I want mmmorrrrre!!!!

  2. Thanks, Lucy! And yes, I expect I will apply – not sure what I’d put in, though. It seems a bit of a waste to enter something I’m already on a fourth draft with (and have had loads of feedback on) so it depends if any of my other ideas fit the brief. The thing I’d most like to enter pretty much has to be set in America, so that’s out…

    *wanders off muttering to herself*

  3. Actually Liz, though it’s all about pitching ideas at this stage there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t put a well-developed screenplay through Metlab: the whole point is to produce a draft that not only is well-rounded but adheres to the tried and tested principles behind John’s book on marketing and budgets for Brit Films for consideration by these companies.

  4. So let me get this straight…

    We write an outline for a script that may or may not be written then? ‘Cos I thought it was just ideas at this stage.

  5. It is ideas ESM, but it can be for a script that is written if you want. At the end of the day, development will change your script no matter how polished it is – like it does in “real life”. John has various ideas and recommendations re: budget for example that may change your plotline from what you first conceived. But this way, when you go to the companies with your draft, it will be within the perimeters they shared with John in the first place = much better chance with them then, hence the concentration on “commerce” as well as “art”.

  6. Any kind of free feedback (with or without budget stuff, though this presumably helps) gets my vote… Pity I live NY. Is Metlab going to go long distance by any chance?

  7. John’s keen to meet face to face on a regular basis with writers for the feedback meetings Anya, but you could always email him and ask him.

    As for the budget stuff – I’m keen to hear about it too!

  8. Thanks for the info Lucy, and good to meet you properly the other night… and to live to tell the tale 😉

    That killer idea that’s low budget and commercial – A London to Brighton or Hard Candy or Resevoir Dogs is EXACTLY what I’m trying for at the moment, so if I can think of something I’ll definatly enter!

    (big if there!!)

  9. Yeah, I realise you can put in a script that’s pretty far down the road but my thought was that I might get more out of it by putting something newer in (learn more, end up with another script, what have you.) Anyway, lots to think about!

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