Week-end Course Proposal

I have been thinking about organising a 'scripwriting week-end' away from Oxford. The main problems have been:

a. venue
b. costs and dates
c. content

The venue has been found. Please visit the site:


The Hearth is on the ground floor. With a beamed ceiling, a log fire, and views over the garden. Seats up to 18 people.
Room dimensions 5.2m x 5.5m.


The Solar is in the oldest part of the building (around 1280), on the first floor. It has timber beams, a log fire, and views over the medieval courtyard and garden. Seats up to 12 people.
Room dimensions 5.5m x 5.6 m


The Library is on the first floor with magnificent stained glass windows overlooking the gardens. Sits up to 14 in armchairs or 20 people theatre style.
Room dimensions 5.2m x 6.4m

Great Hall

The Great Hall has a timber vaulted ceiling, wooden floor, magnificent fireplace, french windows opening on to the garden and a grand piano. This space is very flexible and can accommodate up to 75 people theatre style or 90 for standing events. It is wheel chair accessible with assistance.
Room dimensions 7m x 10.4m

The next thing is the cost.

It's not cheap!



Rate per 24 hours or part thereof (Including set up time, use of 1 group room, all meals, teas/coffees all day and overnight accommodation)

For groups of 9 or less £74.00 per person

For groups of 10 or more £67.00 per person


(Including lunch, teas/coffees all day and the use of 1 group room

For groups of 9 or less £43.60 per person

For groups of 10 or more £37.20 per person


Use of additional group room £108.00

Additional Lunches £9.00 per person

Additional Suppers £9.00 per person

Additional all day tea/coffee £4.00 per person

Open wood fire £21.50 per day

Residential Self-catering

Rate per 24 hours (Including overnight accommodation in the guest house, use of the guest house kitchen and dining/meeting area)

For groups of 9 or less £ 49.00 per person

For groups of 10 or more £ 44.00 per person

Open fires £ 21.50 per day

Additional meeting room in main house £122.50 (excludes
Great Hall)

Bed and Breakfast may be available for early group arrivals subject to availability at a cost of £34.50 per person per night

Dates available

20 - 22 March 2009
1 - 3 May 2009
29 - 31 May 2009
4 - 6 December 2009
11 - 13 December 2009

So it would probably cost about £134 or more for 2 days/nights. (It is a beautiful place though)

The place is wi-fi enabled.

That leaves CONTENT

Here are some ideas - I stress, they are simply ideas, not cast in stone

1. Five days before we left, email each other scripts etc and I will also have them printed for everyone going if required. That means right from the first night (Friday) we can discuss scripts etc.

2. As the evening progresses we could try to write a joint play(lette) by using our computers. (Do people have laptops?)

3. As the evening further progresses we could share some more ideas or simply relax, sleep etc etc

4. Get given a 'night-time task to think about'


After breakfast discuss the task from the evening before.

Then, adapt one of the exercises from here, for example

Or maybe adapt one of these:

People You Know

This simple exercise will help your understanding in creating realistic characters. Even seemingly dull people can be highly interesting or funny when placed in certain situations.

For this exercise write out a list of ten people you know. Try to pick a broad spectrum of people from your family, friends, work place and neighbours…you don’t necessarily have to like the people you pick!

For each person on your list write out a single paragraph character description. Come up with one characteristic for each person that makes them unique. Who knows, somewhere within the list of people you know, you might just find a gem of a character to write about!

It’s Not Paranoia If They’re Really After You!

They’re after you! You don’t know why, but you’re being chased down relentlessly. Write out a chase scene where you are the only being chased. Imagine the panic and fear you’d be feeling as well as the confusion. Really get into the frame of mind of someone being chased, and fearful for their life. To make it even more interesting write out three different scenes, each with a different method of travel.

  • On foot.
  • In a car.
  • In a helicopter, being chased by a UFO
This exercise helps you learn how to empathise with characters and feel what they’re going through. This will allow you to write our characters with a lot of emotional depth. If the danger doesn’t
feel real to the character then it won’t seem real to the audience.

Scene List Practice

A scene list is a set of one sentence descriptions of each scenes in a movie. Scene lists are done to keep track of story and character development. If a scene achieves nothing to develop either the story or a character then it’s probably a good idea to either rewrite the scene or lose it all together.

Writing a scene list before you start writing your script proper is an excellent way to make sure you don’t get halfway through your screenplay and end up lost with no place to go.

To practice writing a scene list, try this little exercise using the following steps:

  • Chose a movie from your home collection.
  • Download a copy of the screenplay, preferably a txt file. You can use either FSW Scripts or SimplyScripts.
  • Get yourself a pen and a pack of note cards. If you can’t find any note cards then you can up some paper into 3”x5” pieces. It’s much easier to buy them though as you’ll need a hundred or so to be on the safe side.
  • Watch the movie closely. Keep pausing the movie after every scene and write a one-sentence description of the last scene on a note card.
  • Once the movie is finished, put your notes to one side.
  • Pull up the screenplay you’ve downloaded. Copy and paste every scene heading into a notepad file or any other similar program.
  • Compare your note cards to your list of scene headings. Did you miss any scenes?
  • Write out a page-long report on what you’ve learnt from this exercise. Things you might notice include how the story is kept going in every scene, the pacing of the movie, use of subplots and how characters are developed.
After lunch - discussion on the morning.

Break to write one Act of a play.

Then discuss this early evening (I can bring a photocopier - not very good one but it'll do...)


More discussion/relaxation

Evening task

These are ONLY ideas.

IF, and it's a big 'if' we go ahead then the costs would simply be the charges above and each person would be responsible for paying their own way. Ideally we'd all agree one Thursday evening and bring the money to class. Then one person (not me) makes the payment online.

As far as the content goes we could say the whole 48 hours or so is made up of say ten sessions and each of us is responsible for designing, orchestrating one....

Justa few ideas.

Let me know your comments - by email to:


Also - of course, post commen
ts here.

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