Professional Story Development & Marketing for the Screen



Apply now for February-start programme 2018

Programme Outline

Two start dates:  Autumn (anytime between September-November), & the first Monday of  February each year.   Next programme begins: February 2018 – apply now.

This is the Institute’s “blue ribbon” programme.  A year-long programme (16 months for the Autumn start) designed for: Writers, Producers, Directors (indeed all screen professionals) who are developing a major project for Film or Television.

The programme consists of a series of workshops, script-meetings, masterclasses and industry introductions to develop, write, rewrite, hone, package and pitch projects to the film/TV industry and to the market.

We want to help you get your work to your audience in the most efficient, creative way possible.

Participants who complete the full programme receive Institute certification and carry a “brand” that underlines the depth of their professional understanding and proof of their commitment.

Programme Structure

The Programme consists of 8 interlinked Courses running over the 3 Stages.  (The Autumn start allows for a longer period of script development.)

Workshops/masterclasses take place up to one full-day and one half-day per week for two “Stages”, each lasting 12 weeks.  (But there is considerable flexibility for many sessions which are one-to-one or small group meetings with mentors.)  These Stages sandwich one “Stage” of self-directed work.   All sessions take place in central London.

Stage 1: September to May (long version of programme) or February to May;
1. Project Development (Workshops, Treatment construction, script meetings, story-boarding)
2. Treatment & Adaption (Developing a TV project)
3. Business Skills & Production Practice (Mastering pitching, packaging and understanding the industry)

Stage 2:  May to September (self-directed work supported by script feedback from mentors), & Classic Cinema “Festival” (May-July)
4. Project Drafting (1st draft scripting, or Early Project Packaging)
5. Classic Cinema & TV (workshops around specific case-studies, 1 day per week, May-July);

Stage 3: September to Mid-December
6. Project Completion (Rewriting – 2nd Draft, or Advanced Project Packaging)
7. Project Packaging (Packaging production materials for Project – and developing strategy)
8. Industry Networking & Case Study (Research and introductions to the appropriate industry sector for the production Project, + business/aesthetic case studies of recent similar projects)

BFI Film Market – Final Introductions: In the March following completion of Stage 3, The Screen Arts Institute holds a Film Market where participants, and their projects, are introduced to producers, distributors, sales agents, literary agents, directors and so on.  The last event took place at the BFI Southbank.

click this link for video of the Film Market


Delivery Method

Face-to-face work takes place in two sessions on Mondays; 10.30am – 1.30pm, & 2-5pm

And one evening session on Wednesdays; 7 – 10pm

These sessions take place at the BFI Southbank Belvedere Road, London, unless otherwise indicated.

There is considerable self-directed work and, occasionally, industry visits on other days.  Though we aim to make this programme as flexible as possible in terms of mentor meetings (for example), it is “full time” in terms of hours dedicated.

We do run “distance” learning options for some sessions (Skype-calls, or streaming of sessions live).  Participants have completed this programme while living and working in (for example), Paris, San Francisco and Newport (Wales).



Participants who complete the Programme receive certification endorsed by our Institute’s governors.

Programme Fees

The full Fee for the Programme (prior to bursaries or discount) is £17,995

(The Fees are scheduled across 15 direct debit payments to spread the cost.  A 3% discount is available for up-front payment of the full amount.  There are also discounts available to repeat participants and returning graduates.)

A small number of partial bursaries are available.

Each year the SAI gives x 2 bursaries (in association with the BFI Future Film).  These bursaries are looking to support, in particular, emerging talent under the age of 26, with an emphasis on female writer/directors and BAME filmmakers.

We wish to recruit as diversely as possible.  Bursaries may be available to EU citizens from local Screen Agencies or Creative Skillset.  International participants may be able to get financial help from their own national screen agencies.  The Institute is happy to provide support and advice for these applications.

You can also investigate Professional and Career Development loans.  The SAI is an approved provider of programmes eligible for these loans.

How to Apply

You will need to apply online and email the following:

1.   Please email us a logline and one-page pitch of the major project that you think you’d like to develop while on our programme. (600 words max.  Use Courier 12pt)

3.   An analysis of a scene from a film that you have found particularly powerful, with an emphasis on analyzing how the film-makers have achieved this power.  At the same time, we would like you to offer suggestions on how, perhaps, the scene could be improved. (400 words max.)

4.   An example of your screenwriting (any length but it must be a piece of fiction).  And, If you are a director/producer – an example of a completed film/TV project (vimeo link or similar).

5.    A CV of your educational background and all relevant professional experience.


Recent Successes:

Bex Harvey (Stephen May alum) wins Oscar for writing  Sing,  Best Live Action Short, 2017

Stella Meghie (Stephen May alum) is Spirit Award nominated for “Jean of the Joneses” Jan 2017; released in US/Canada. Stella has been picked up by CAA and tapped by Warner Bros and John Wells Productions to direct “Everything Everything” coming out 2017

Stephen May alums Daniel Kokotajlo (dir), Marci MacLellan (prod) and Charlotte Wise (writer), win at ifeatures, complete the feature “Apostasy” – at LFF 2017 & soon to be distributed by Curzon Cinemas

Ernest Riera (Stephen May alum, and now Mentor with SAI) wins the rights to “Hearts of Atlantis” by Stephen King. Will write and produce with director Johannes Roberts and Fyzz Productions


Participant Comments:

“The SAI has been an amazing experience.  I am a professional Script Editor and so story theory is something that I work with every day and the SAI, headed by Steve, manage to find new ways of opening my eyes on how to approach story.   The creative writing exercises are second to none, and the fact that I don’t have to try and script edit my own work, and let other people do it for me, has been absolutely priceless.  I can’t recommend it enough for any filmmakers out there…” – David P. Davis (Script Executive, Electric Dreams starring Bryan Cranston; Dr. Who, etc.)

“I couldn’t encourage SAI enough to anyone. It’s rare to find such a positive environment for professional, creative growth with peers and mentors as experienced as the ones I’ve encountered.  As a documentary filmmaker the move towards fiction has always been a daunting thought. With the help of Stephen May and my fellow filmmakers I’ve been able to develop the dramatic potential in the stories I care about while working towards writing my first screenplays for TV and Film.  There’s no better programme for getting you in the room. In my time with the SAI I’ve work-shopped, shared and developed my ideas with the leaders of the industry gaining valuable feedback and contacts that will continue to inform my work for years to come.” – Zara Meerza, producer/director “Marfa, Texas” – and, while on the SAI programme, has secured an Associate Producer’s role at Warp Productions.

“The SAI programme has surpassed my high expectations.  The structure and support are superb and I’d recommend the SAI programme to anyone ready to take their next step in filmmaking.  Stephen May and all mentors and contributors are top industry professionals. This is a privileged position to be in.  A fantastic programme for people who learn from DOING.”-  Jacob Perlmutter, photographer/musician/filmmaker

“I’ve read every book and pretty much been to every event from Bafta events to London-based film festivals where there are Q & As and lectures etc and other screenwriting workshops .  This (the SAI workshop) was honestly the best kick up the arse I have got, and the most insightful and most professional. I got exactly what I needed, quickly efficiently and professionally. Thanks.” – Grant Taylor (writer/director –








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