Script Development

NFTS - National Film and Television School

Program Description

Script Development

NFTS - National Film and Television School

Script Development

A unique programme, the Diploma in Script Development is the only comprehensive vocational course in script development in the UK. This course offers a brilliant opportunity to grow the skills to develop for film and TV. It was launched in 2003 and has since trained some 150 people, most of which are successfully working in the UK or international film industry as developers for film and/or TV drama projects or as creative producers and a few are successfully writing drama.

The Diploma offers the most comprehensive contemporary overview and on-going practical learning in an intensive professional environment. The programme combines lectures, seminars and workshops alongside talks and panel discussions with current industry practitioners, as well as supervised practical work with a screenwriter. Guest speakers for the current year have included Reno Antoniades, Julia Short, Sam Lavender, Jonathan Asser and Matthew Bates.

There are continuous written assignments (some assessed, some not) throughout the taught section of the programme which are mostly practical and designed to be useful to a career in development, as well as other areas of the film industry.

The programme consists of 30 taught sessions of 2 hours each held during term-time on a weekday evening (from 7pm - 9pm) running from September - July.

The Final Project element of the Diploma is a six-month supervised development project, which begins at the beginning of the summer when students are paired with a screenwriter. The delivery of all assessed material for the Final Project is due in December.

The course design offers a collaborative experience for students as well as a total immersion in the art and craft of development for the duration of the programme. Whilst the course is full-on it is not full-time; it requires commitment to one evening taught classes through regular term times and completing relevant assignments, but it is entirely possible to combine this course with full-time work so long as you have the necessary desire and commitment!


With an advisory panel including Amma Asante – Writer/Director, Beverley Booker – Head of Development – Drama – Sky, Celine Haddad - Senior Film Executive - Creative England, Dan MacRae, Head of UK Development – Studio Canal, Emily Feller – Producer – Red Productions, Jamie Hewitt – Script Editor – BBC Drama , Joe Oppenheimer – Commissioning Editor – BBC Films, Marilyn Milgrom – Script Consultant, Peter Ansorge – Producer, Robyn Slovo – Producer, Rose Garnett – Head of Development – Film4 and Yael Shavit -Director / Script Editor, the Script Development Diploma will give you the inside track on what the industry needs from its developers of the future.


The NFTS want to encourage applications from the brightest and best talent out there….from all backgrounds. We are actively seeking to redress imbalances within the Industry by encouraging applications from under-represented groups, and have bursaries of £1500 on offer to 5 of the successful candidates. Bursaries will be awarded to stand out talent who can demonstrate that without this funding they would not be able to afford the course, or who can demonstrate they bring a unique and distinct perspective to the course.


Angeli Macfarlane provides development consultancy to British, European, Australian and US production companies. She works with writing and directing talent including Mat Whitecross for Mint Pictures, Gabriel Range on Outlaw Prophet for Sony TV - in production April 2014, Anthony Byrne and Natalie Dormer for 42, Emily Ballou for BBC Scotland, Fran Poletti for Salon Pictures and Joan Sauers for Screen Australia. She is also co-producer for Altered Image on feature Costa Rica, written by Jake Arnott and Amber Trentham and Lust for Life, by Robin French.

Ludo Smolksi is a development consultant and script editor, having worked recently on Jon S Baird’s Filth, adapted from the Irvine Welsh novel, and Bruce Goodison’s Leave to Remain (LFF 2013). He works regularly for directors such as Martin Wallace (Small Creatures) and Zam Salim (BAFTA-winning Up There) and currently consults for Metrodome Distribution, Pistachio Pictures and Wingbeat Pictures among others.


The programme covers:

  • Story and Genre Theory
  • Script analysis and script report writing
  • Assessing and developing screenwriting craft skills
  • Negotiating development meetings
  • Detailed story development practice
  • Assessing treatments and other short documents
  • Adaptations - including legal and copyright issues
  • The Industrial environment - development in its context
  • Guest speakers from the public sector, agents, lawyers, independent producers
  • Europe and the role of international film festivals
  • Distribution and Marketing
  • The Final Project

At the beginning of the summer term, students are paired with a new screenwriter for a Final Development Project. Over six months, the student and writer will work together through two drafts and two development meetings. This project is closely supervised and intended to be a useful and practical experience for both the developer and the writer.


We are looking for people who:

  • Already work in development and feel they may benefit from a structured course in story theory and working practice in order to build their confidence and resources
  • Already work in the film industry and are keen to develop or hone their skills when working with scripts and writers, to get the best work from those writers
  • Are new producers keen to get an edge on finding and nurturing new writing talent
  • Have experience in other creative industries and would like to explore script development and believe that they can bring new experience and ideas to the process of developing scripts and cultivating writers
  • Have a passion for film, a love of storytelling, can demonstrate initiative, and have an enthusiasm for, and a commitment to, working collaboratively

If you are not an EEA National, you must already be in possession of a UK visa valid for the duration of this course.


We would like you to write a short piece (750 words max) telling us about a film or TV drama you wish you had developed. Please include:

  • The reasons you have chosen this piece.
  • A brief description of the main story line and the protagonist’s story arc.
  • Your ideas around what you think might have improved the script.
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 25, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
16 months
Part time
Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom London, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 16 months
Price Request Info