How To Write a TV Series To Budget

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Netflix and Stage 32 have partnered on an exclusive global education series in an effort to democratize the worldwide entertainment industry. Together, over the course of 5 webcasts Stage 32’s world class educators will bring their knowledge of what it takes to write, develop and produce today’s television for the Stage 32 and Netflix creator community.

In their second webinar in series, you will learn how you can effectively write your story to budget.

More television than ever is being made and consumed. With streamers like Netflix looking for new, exciting, original stories from all over the world to produce, you have to put yourself in the best position to make sure your story stands out. But, the truth is that an intriguing story in today’s marketplace is not enough. You have to look at the practicalities of making your story into a television series, and with that, you have to think about how what you write will affect the budget. Getting a clear understanding of how to think about budget when you are writing will help give you the competitive advantage you need to get you closer to your greenlight.

To help you is Jeanette B. Milio, a producer who has worked on over 500 hours of film and television content in the US, Europe, Dubai and South Africa. She produced the Netflix Original THE EXPERIMENT starring Adrian Brody and Forrest Whittaker and has worked with ABC/Disney, USA, Showtime, TLC, CW, Discovery, Lionsgate, Paramount and more. She has also consulted for the international co-production department of Warner Bros. in the U.S. and Germany, which was focused on producing local feature content in Europe.

Webinar Outline: How to Write a TV Series

In this exclusive Stage 32 + Netflix webinar, Jeanette will go in-depth on how to think about your characters, locations and scenes when you are writing to give your script the best chance of being produced. She will go over how decisions you make at the script stage have a trickledown effect that affect an entire production and how you, as a writer, can be a valuable member of the team by thinking about these things as you are writing your story. She will break down writing exercises you can use to apply to your characters and locations and give you handouts that you can use to apply to your own script.

You will walk away with a clearer understanding of how you can give your story a competitive advantage by thinking through characters, locations and scenes as you are writing.

Some examples will be used from notable TV shows on network, cable, and streaming platforms including:


Plus you will receive a Character Trait Breakdown sheet an a Location Sheet to help you analyze your own script.

Registration Details

Monday, Jan 24TH 10 – 12PM PST (6AM GMT)

Register for free here.

Note: You will receive the Zoom link to login by the morning of the webinar.

Connect + Collab for Producers, Directors and Writers

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The Spring 2022 BFI NETWORK Short Film Funding call out will be the only funding call out from BFI NETWORK in 2022. They are therefore hosting one Connect + Collab event for interested filmmakers.

Connect + Collab is an event designed to match producers with emerging writers and/or directors from across the South West, Midlands & South East who have fresh and exciting short film ideas. Taking place online via Deal Room on Thursday 17th February, you will be able to book 1-on-1 video calls with writers and/or directors that you are interested in collaborating with to discuss their projects further.  This event is the perfect opportunity to meet the best new talent in these regions and expand your slate of short film projects.

New connections can then be built after the event, to form filmmaking teams to apply to BFI NETWORK Short Film Funding, which opens again on Monday 14 March 2022.

All producers who take part in Connect + Collab will be invited to join a free masterclass on producing short film as part of the event on Thursday 17 February, with Screen International Star of Tomorrow & BAFTA Breakthrough producer Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor, hosted by NFTS Wales.

You will also automatically get the chance to book a 1-on-1 slot with a regional Talent Executive; to talk about any ideas they are interested in putting forward as an application for our BFI NETWORK Short Film Funding.

In order to apply for BFI NETWORK Short Film Funding, teams need to have a minimum of two individuals across the three creative roles, e.g. separate individuals who are a writer-director and producer respectively, or a director working with a writer-producer. Director-producers are not eligible to apply.

Apply to Connect + Collab

Connect + Collab is open to Writers and/or Directors who have not been funded by BFI NETWORK previously. You must be aged 18+ and not in full-time education. Producers based in the UK from all creative disciplines with aspirations to produce short films are eligible. We encourage those who are looking to take on new projects to expand their slate to apply. Writers and/or directors from the South West, South East, and Midlands of England as defined by the BFI (BFI UK nations and regions map) who are actively working on a short film project. Please ensure the film idea would be eligible for BFI NETWORK Short Film Funding (download the guidelines here).

Please note that writers and/or directors will be asked to provide a 1-page A4 treatment that outlines their short film idea, this will be shared with all producers who register for the event. By sending us your treatment you agree for it to be shared in this way.

As space is limited, there is a selection process before your attendance is confirmed, based on the strength of your ideas and suitability for BFI NETWORK funding.

Due to spaces being limited we will take into consideration as part of the assessment process if you applied and were accepted for our last event on Thursday 12 August 2021. If you were, then you will only be eligible to re-apply for this upcoming event in February with a new short film project idea, not the idea you used when you applied previously.

The deadline to apply for Connect & Collab is Friday 21st January





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Solihull Teacher’s Film Dream Comes True

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A teacher’s lifelong dream of having a film premiere is set to be fulfilled when his movie plays later. Director and writer James Mason saved up his day job salary to finance “To Catch A Fish”, to be shown at the Imax in Birmingham’s Millennium Point. It tells the story of Noel, a young, failing writer, coming to terms with the reality of his talent.

Mr Mason said he was “determined to be sole financier”, with the 30-minute film costing about £7,000 to make. “While my friends have been saving for mortgages, I have been saving for the film,” said the English and media teacher at St. John Henry Newman Catholic College in Solihull.

Although the project left Mr Mason financially “dry”, he was able to find a production crew through online forums and spend money on “a high-end production team”. Television and film scriptwriter Tim Prager, whose credits include Silent Witness, said the 25-year old’s project was “nothing short of exceptional”.

The film is a family affair, with the teacher’s father being cast as evil character “The Gent”, and his mother as a voice-over artist. The family home in Stratford-upon-Avon was also used as a set. It was not just the budget that was tight for Mr Mason, but also “the seven-day shoot itself”. “During one scene, we had to stop halfway through and allow my mum to finish her dinner at the table,” he said. “As the director, it felt a bit awkward telling the crew that my mum had to eat her bowl of pasta before I could say ‘action’ again.” The film is the first of an anthology series called The Unfortunate Tales, with university friend and actor Huw Brentnall playing the main part of Noel.




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Birmingham Filmmaker Theo Johnson Working with Amazon Prime

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At the age of 12, Theo Johnson witnessed a drive-by shooting near his home in Handsworth. He had to grab a little girl playing next to him and pull them both to the ground to keep them safe. Sadly, this was not to be the only trauma he would go on to endure. By the time he was 16, Theo had lost four of his friends to knife crime and two friends to gun crime – including his best friend’s brother who he had grown up with. Theo decided he wanted to do something positive for the city – and has been raising awareness of the issue ever since by making films that have become so successful they’ve been picked up by Amazon Prime.

“I saw a drive-by when I was 12 and another shooting when I was 14,” said Theo, now 28, who has two older sisters and two younger brothers. And, in that same year, I saw three different people stabbed right in front of me. Two were stabbed to death and the third was alright. My best friend’s brother died. I was with him the day before. Me and his older brother, we looked after him, he was a nice, good kid, not in a gang, not causing any trouble. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was stabbed in the leg and he bled out and ended up passing away. We’d been friends since primary school.”

Having never really engaged well at school, Theo found his niche in drama classes at high school.

“I found I was really good at drama,” he explained. “Rather than being the one the teacher said not to follow, the drama teacher started saying do what he does. I’d found my calling. There wasn’t anything I could do other than use the skills I had in drama by making a short film to try to make people think twice about carrying a knife. I wanted to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Now I try to get that message to people through film.”

He made a short film about the dangers of carrying a knife called One Knife Affects Many Lives, which reached many people on social media and made him realise this was what he wanted to do going forward.

Becoming a youth ambassador, Theo went on to make another film called It’s Your Fault Now about the impact of drink driving. It went viral and he amassed more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and millions of views on YouTube, which led to his work being picked up by Amazon Prime. This was followed by another film called Just One Drop which he wrote to raise awareness of the horror of acid attacks.

And now he’s about to release a follow-up called Just Two Drops under Opulent Films, which he co-founded with his business partners Carlito Montana, Joella Sawyer, Andrew Keane and Jane Bolton.

It is set in a prison and Theo appears alongside Peter Andre and Katie Price’s son Junior Andre, rapper C Montana and stars from Love Island.

He has also appeared as Callum in Channel 4’s Raised by Wolves by Caitlin Moran, in Netflix’s Intent 2 and in the controversial film Blue Story which was banned from Vue Cinemas following rioting at Star City in Birmingham.

“People don’t always understand how powerful film can be, that’s why I always try to have a positive message,” said Theo, who is now splitting his time between London and Birmingham. “When I put the action in there, it helps to engage people. I always try to include Birmingham actors and talent in my films alongside known London talents.”

He added: “Some people don’t have these chances, they don’t have positive role models, they see no way out. Luckily I have something in me that means I’m able to create my own luck. My mum and dad are proud. They always told me that whatever I wanted to do, they would be happy with it. They’ve both always been there for me and that helps a lot. It’s important to seek good role models.”

Theo says he would like to become the ‘Adam Sandler of Birmingham’: “Sometimes people say I should change my Birmingham accent and I think it’s only because my sketches went viral that opportunities have come to me.

“I’d like to give more opportunities to unknown people and I always like to include Birmingham in my work.”




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Bedworth Film Starring Maxine Peake Set to Premiere

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The premiere of a film shot in Bedworth, Warwickshire, and featuring ‘Anne’ star Maxine Peake is just weeks way. The actress has won huge acclaim for her role as Anne Williams, the Hillsborough campaigner, who lost her young son in the Hillsborough.

Director Kevin Proctor, who is Bedworth born and bred, told CoventryLive that his hometown will be hosting the premiere within the next few months.

About the Film

“The Butternut Squash Gang in: Lapushka!” is a short comedy, considered a love-letter adventure parody of films of the 80’s. Director Kevin Proctor spoke to CoventryLive about why he deliberately chose his hometown for the backdrop.

“I grew up in Bedworth and I knew that I could get most of the locations within walking distance of each other,” he explained. “I wrote this a long time ago, mainly out of my love for 80s nostalgia and this film is homage to all of the old children’s information films.”

The production will soon reveal the venue for the premiere screening of the film, which also stars 20 children from Bedworth itself. Peake is an award contender following her portrayal of Anne Williams in the drama ‘Anne’.

She will be among the cast at the world premiere in Bedworth. This is set to be followed by London premiere is set to be held at the Curzon on Shaftesbury Avenue.




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Support The Mockingbird Cinema’s Second Screen

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The Mockingbird Cinema, one of the best independent film screens and venues in Birmingham, has launched a Crowdfunder campaign to develop a second screen at its home in The Custard Factory. The fully independently run venue plans to increase screening capacity and event space to offer more choice for Birmingham’s blossoming screen industries in line with unprecedented growth and development in the city’s ‘Creative Quarter’ – a move supported by film professionals across the region.

Announcing a campaign to raise £20,000, the 98-seat Digbeth film hub is now calling on movie and culture fans from across the country to back filmmaking in the Midlands by getting behind the campaign.

Since opening in 2015, The Mockingbird Cinema has hosted hundreds of independent and blockbuster film showings, regional and national premieres including for BBC television productions, ‘in conversation with’ events and panel discussions, live editing workshops, movie marathons – including back to back Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings presentations, outdoor film offerings, and even dog-friendly screenings.

Why and How to Support

The Mockingbird Cinema’s plans for expansion and growth come at a crucial time for the Digbeth area, which is currently seeing major construction for new infrastructure, including numerous residential developments, the extension of the Midlands Metro line along Deritend, and the construction of the HS2 terminus at Curzon Street.

In return for donations to the project, supporters will receive rewards such as private screenings for family and friends, thank you message credits and adverts shown before films watched by thousands of filmgoers, alongside ‘wine and cinema ticket’ goody bags.

Support the Second Screen here.


Mockingbird Supporters

“It’s such great news that The Mockingbird is planning a second screen.  As an affordable option for film makers to share and premiere their films in the city it’s important that its future is secure through investment from fans.”

– Sindy Campbell, Head of Film Birmingham


“Since setting up the school in Digbeth, Lee and the team have been incredibly supportive. We have hosted open days, lectures and attended film screenings and Q&As at The Mockingbird Cinema.  I’m delighted the second screen is coming soon. Please join me in supporting them – just as they support the Digbeth community.”

– Hannah Stevenson, Principal at the newly established Screen and Film School Birmingham


“The Mockingbird Cinema is one the unsung heroes of Digbeth and Birmingham’s cultural and entertainment landscape. The venue has played an integral part in our festival over the last few years, and audiences always love the laid back atmosphere and vibe there.  We’re massively grateful for their support, and a second screen would be nothing less than this city’s indie film scene deserves. Please do contribute if you can.”

– Sam Groves, Head of Programme for Flatpack Festival


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BAFTA Releases 2022 Longlist of Films

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BAFTA has revealed the longlists for the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2022, which include some productions filmed in the West Midlands. This longlisting round was introduced in 2021 for the EE British Academy Film Awards resulting in three rounds of voting.  The publication of the longlists follows the BAFTA 2020 Review, whereby over 120 wide-ranging changes were introduced across voting, membership and campaigning.

Round One Voting

Chapters are made up of a minimum of 100 BAFTA members who hold specialist knowledge in the relevant craft. Members are also invited annually to opt-in to up to three feature chapters including Outstanding British Film, Documentary, Film Not in the English Language and Animated Film, plus British Short Film and British Short Animation.  Juries are made up of industry experts, with each jury comprised of BAFTA members from a diverse range of backgrounds, experience, gender, location and age groups.

Round One voting, which took place from 10 December 2021 to 4 January 2022, produced the longlists in all categories announced this week. Every category in this round was voted on by a craft chapter, opt-in chapter or jury, with the exception of Best Film which was voted for by all film voting members. As part of Round One voting, all film voting members were assigned a randomly selected sample of 15 films as recommended viewing ahead of voting. This ensured all entered films were each individually viewed hundreds of times and encouraged voting members to consider a wider range of films.

Round Two and Three Voting

Round Two voting, which takes place from Friday 14 January, will determine the nominations which will be announced on Thursday 3 February. Then, Round Three voting will take place from Wednesday 9 February and will determine the winners, to be announced at the EE British Academy Film Awards on Sunday 13 March. The EE Rising Star Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday 1 February. All qualifying films were made available on BAFTA View, BAFTA’s online viewing platform. Voting members were able to access every entered film, allowing them to watch as many films as possible from a much earlier stage in the process than in previous years, and there have been over 134,000 streams to date.

In Round Two of voting, members are required to watch all longlisted films before they can vote for the nominations in Best Film, their craft chapter and opt-in chapters to ensure all films are given due consideration.

Longlist and Ceremony

The longlists can be accessed HERE.

The EE British Academy Film Awards will take place on Sunday 13 March and will be broadcast in the UK on BBC One. Further details regarding the ceremony will be revealed in due course.

The eligibility period for the BAFTA Film Awards 2022 is 1 January 2021 – 11 March 2022 (31 March for Documentary and Films Not in the English Language). For the 2022 Film Awards only, films which have a confirmed release between January-March 2022 may move their release date up to 30 June 2022 and remain eligible, as release schedules may be disrupted because of the continuing uncertainty about the ongoing pandemic.


BAFTA Film Committee Chair Anna Higgs said: “2021 continued to be a difficult year for so many, including the film industry with cinemas in the UK remaining closed until May last year and shoots continually adapting to restrictions.  Throughout the ongoing uncertainty, BAFTA has remained dedicated to making the Awards fairer for entrants, to celebrate excellence, and support a more inclusive industry. We are delighted to announce this year’s longlist. Such an exciting range of films, different genres and incredible performances being recognised is a real testament to the strength, ingenuity and resilience of our crews, talent and filmmakers.”

BAFTA Chair Krishnendu Majumdar said: “The breadth of films and talent recognised in the longlist announced today shows the enduring creativity and resilience of the film industry against a backdrop of more challenges and uncertainty over the last year.  At the same time, BAFTA has made considerable changes to our rules and voting processes. This is to level the playing field for all film awards entries and importantly to ensure more titles are watched by more voters.

“While nothing beats the theatrical experience of watching a film on the big screen, this year all titles have been made available to members on BAFTA View which has seen voters watching more films on average than previous years as well as a significant increase in the number of views of films overall. Over 134,000 have been streamed already before we begin the second round of voting.  This is a positive step in our work to promote and enable a more inclusive, accessible and sustainable industry. I’m encouraged by the support of our members in the changes we’ve made. And cannot wait to find out the nominations for the EE British Academy Film Awards on 3 February.”


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration. For advice and inspiration from the best creative minds in working in film, games and television, visit For more, visit




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Digital Cities Virtual – January 18th – 20th

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Join Digital Cities Virtual on Tuesday 18th January for an exciting three day programme of masterclasses, panel discussions and practical sessions.

This is a great opportunity to polish your digital skills and discover jobs, schemes and opportunities within the creative industries. All sessions are available free of charge and open for creatives and content-makers to register and watch live.



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Peaky Blinders Movie Planned for Birmingham in 2023

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As we await season 6 of Peaky Blinders and continue to debate season five’s cliffhanger (seriously, who betrayed Tommy?), word on the street is that the previously teased movie is most definitely going into production next year.

While we don’t have all the details yet, it seems very possible that Tommy and the Shelby family could soon follow in the footsteps of Downton Abbey’s Crawley family and end up on the big screen at a cinema near you.

Filmed and Set in Birmingham

The latest we’ve heard about a spinoff or movie is from the Peaky Blinders mastermind himself, Stephen Knight. “I am going to write the feature which will be set in and shot in Birmingham,” Knight said to Variety at the BFI London Film Festival in Oct 2021. “And that will probably be the sort of the end of the road for ‘Peaky Blinders’ as we know it.” Knight also told the publication that he’s not ruling out spin-offs either, but he’s likely to “pass on the baton” to someone else if they did take place.

About Future Peaky Blinders Plots

Knight has confirmed that neither the movie or the potential spinoff will be a prequel. “The problem with a prequel is you’re limiting yourself as to where it can go. You can’t kill a character who can show up in the series, he said to Radio Times. While further details about the movie or spinoff are sparse, Knight has been very clear about wanting the TV series to end with the first air raid siren in Birmingham in 1939. “The destination for the whole show has always been the start of the Second World War, so the show is the story of the family between the wars,” Knight told NME. “I just know that there could be stuff that happens subsequently,” he continued. Could a spinoff take us to America with Michael? Or would a movie see the youngest Shelby brother, Finn, head to war?

Peaky Blinders Spinoff 

Knight has confirmed that the movie would be set and shot in Birmingham, and while we can’t imagine Peaky Blinders set anywhere else, it’s hard to know where a spinoff would be set without further details. America does seem like a good bet (especially given the international interest in the show since it hit Netflix in the US). But there are so many options: maybe Knight and Tom Hardy are considering a show focused on Alfie Solomons’s semi-retirement in Margate? Or perhaps a movie would flash forward to a grown-up Charlie and Ruby leading a new generation of Shelbys in the 1960s?

Who Will Be in the Cast?

Unfortunately, when it comes to a Peaky Blinders spinoff or movie, nothing has been said about the cast, and this will depend on the fate of the family in the next two seasons. As we know, Knight has no qualms in killing off major characters (or, indeed, finding ways to bring them back later on). We can only hope that at least some of the current Peaky Blinders cast members return, particularly favorites like Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby and Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons. At this point, anything is possible.

Who Will Direct?

Again, nobody’s gone on record to say who would direct the spinoff or movie, however, given Steven Knight generally likes to work with different directors each season, a spinoff or movie could see almost anyone step into the role.

Peaky Blinders, the Musical?

Yes, you read that right. Stephen Knight has even mentioned the potential for a Peaky Blinders musical. “The film is of interest, the ballet is of interest, the musical is of interest. I just like doing different things,” Knight told NME. The series has seen success of the soundtrack with the show’s fans, including the late David Bowie.




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Sundance 2022 Moves Fully Online

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The annual Sundance Film Festival will be held completely online this year due to the rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Organisers said it was a “deep loss” not to have an in-person event but that pressing ahead as planned was neither “safe nor feasible”. The 2022 festival in Park City, Utah, was scheduled to be a “hybrid” event, with both virtual and in-person access.

Sundance Institute chief executive Joana Vicente and festival director Tabitha Jackson explained the “difficult decision” in a statement online.

“While we’re disappointed to not provide the full hybrid experience and gather in-person as intended, audiences this year will still experience the magic and energy of our Festival. We have been looking forward to our first fully hybrid Sundance Film Festival. And our teams have spent a year planning a festival like no other,” they said. “But despite the most ambitious protocols, the Omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country.”

They continued: “While it is a deep loss to not have the in-person experience in Utah, we do not believe it is safe nor feasible to gather thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers, and partners from around the world, for an eleven-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services. This was a difficult decision to make, But with case numbers forecasted to peak in our host community the week of the festival we cannot knowingly put our staff and community at risk.”

Other Affected Festivals

It comes as other major festivals and award ceremonies in the entertainment industry were forced to cancel or postpone events due to the surge in Omicron cases. The 64th Grammy Awards, due to take place in Los Angeles on January 31, have been postponed until a later date.

The Critics Choice Awards also moved their January date, while the Palm Springs Film Festival last month cancelled its 2022 event completely. Sundance organisers said the festival would proceed as planned from January 20 with screening schedules adjusted for online audiences.

The institute has announced that they will be in touch with pass, package, and ticket holders regarding an update on the already purchased tickets. Single tickets will go on sale on Jan. 13 (Jan. 12 for membership pre-sale), as previously announced.




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