Can the MA in Writing for Script & Screen benefit someone already successful in the industry?
Karen was already an accomplished screenwriter, having spent years working on an award-winning satirical TV show as well as other versatile writing jobs. But that didn’t stop her.
Keen to deepen her intellectual engagement with her craft, challenge and refine her creative habits, and explore new approaches to writing, Karen joined Falmouth Flexible's MA Writing for Script & Screen. With invigorated confidence and a more scholarly stance towards writing, Karen’s horizons are now even wider.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I’m a South African writer and director. I started out in theatre, but at the moment I mostly work in television.
For many years I was the head writer on ZANews: Puppet Nation, a satirical news show. We won 27 South African TV Awards and earned 2 international Emmy nominations.
I’ve also recently written, co-directed and co-produced Recipes for Love and Murder, a drama series co-production between MNet in South Africa and Acorn internationally.
I’ve written for everything from kids TV (Supastrikas, Thabang Thabong), comedy panel shows (Point of Order, Parlement Parlement), documentaries (Africa and I), TV movies, and lots of other shows in between – including a few we’re busy with right now.
I’ve also written some non-fiction books and teenage novels, and I’m currently working on my PhD on scripting autism on South African television.
Why did you choose to study online with Falmouth Flexible?
Several reasons – I’d been working in the industry for a long time, but I really wanted a deeper intellectual engagement with an understanding of the work I was doing.
Screenwriting isn’t really taught in South Africa, and the academic study of it is rare, so I looked to international programmes. Falmouth was highly recommended, and also enabled me to study online. Flexibility was essential so that I could continue with my life while studying – working and being a single parent.
MA Writing for Script & Screen graduate Lorna Maloney is now writing for TV. Read her story:
How do you feel the course has helped you progress your career further?
It was great in so many ways! It gave me more confidence in myself and my work. It allowed me to reflect on, and at times challenge, habits I’d fallen into. It opened me up to different ways of thinking about and approaching work. And it widened my thinking on and approach to screenwriting.
Can you describe the ways in which the course has benefitted your creative practice since graduating?
The first simple fact is that some people take you more seriously when you have a qualification to your name, and the MA has obviously carried me on to the PhD I’m currently pursuing. That trajectory in my career is a wonderful thing.
Another fun aspect was the introduction to writing for video games, which I’m slowly trying to pursue further. Just being familiar with the software and starting to consider this as a viable pathway has been excellent.
For the most part, the changes are subtle, either reinforcing creative patterns and instincts that have developed over my career or else opening up other options as equally viable.
How has the course helped you keep up to date with screenwriting industry trends?
The course definitely helped me connect to a wider global screenwriting field, both in terms of research and practice. As the industry becomes more globally connected it’s so important to look not only at our own country and at the US, but also to trends, ideas, shows etc. coming out of other countries. There’s also so much more scope for connection and collaboration.
What are networking opportunities like for online students?
Networking online is a particular skillset, and it’s a valuable one to have. While there’s a delight to in person connections, they aren’t always possible. A lot of our work and meetings these days are online. I’ve run and been part of online writing teams, so being able to do so is vital.
What was the support like, both during the application process and your studies?
Everyone I experienced on the course was a delight. I got good input, which was always thorough, insightful, relevant, and given in good time. It’s a great reflection of working with feedback professionally. Sometimes, in fact, I wish that the professional notes I got were as high quality as the feedback I got on the course!
As well as feedback on the work side, there was always an environment of friendliness and support for the emotional and mental circumstances students found themselves in.
Would you describe the course as a good investment?
Absolutely. Even though it was an expensive investment, given the exchange rate, it was very valuable indeed, and has definitely bolstered my career in numerous ways.
During Falmouth's MA Writing for Script & Screen, you will explore strategies for promoting yourself as a freelance scriptwriter and work on a major script development project. Choose from three start dates per year: