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'A Dream of Europe' — Writers' Room Experience


I want to let you all know about a new WRITERS' ROOM project I will be leading at the DAI in Heidelberg. (…/ausschreibung-writers-room-expe…/)

There are places for 5 writers in the writing team. Think of this as a high level professional learning experience in a writers' room. We will be building the bible for a TV series concept whose theme is 'A Dream of Europe.' The work will run from May through August 2016, meeting every other weekend. The application deadline is April 15, 2016.

Selected writers will receive an honorarium of €1000 per month. The project is not yet contracted with a broadcaster, and its main point is to give a group of writers the freedom to show what can be done in longitudinal drama with a very challenging subject. We are, however, building a network of interested producers and broadcasters, as well as the proper contractual framework that would enable the project to keep going forward toward a potential production.

The topic is Europe and the scope is international. Writers from across Europe (including outside the EU) are very welcome to apply.

More details below in English, followed by the German DAI web site link.


The DAI Heidelberg is initiating a unique Writers’ Room experience for professional screenwriters. Though planned as an educational opportunity, the DAI Writers’ Room will replicate all aspects of a professional writers’ room in the development of a TV series concept and series bible, except that it will not be under contract to a broadcaster. The time frame is also adjusted so that writers can handle the commitments of the Writers’ Room and take on other projects. But the teamwork and brainstorming approach of the Writers’ Room will be on a fully professional level.

The DAI Writers’ Room will run from May through August 2016. The working plan is for the Writers’ Room team to meet every second weekend (Friday-Sunday), with ongoing individual contributions and Skype meetings between sessions. It is planned that the Series Bible will be ready to show to interested media professionals (redactors, producers, etc.) by early September 2016.

The team will consist of 5 writers plus Head Writer Keith Cunningham. Two student writer-understudies/researchers will also be part of the team. It is anticipated that there will be many applicants. Applicants will be selected on the basis of screenwriting quality and experience, and also on the basis of a commitment to the Writers’ Room process. Commitment to the Writers’ Room process implies commitment to meetings and delivery deadlines, a collaborative spirit regarding creating in a team, creative openness, professionalism and compatibility.

Each member of the Writers Room team will receive a monthly stipend of €1000/month, amounting to €4000 for the full project. This honorarium for an educational/training project demonstrates the serious nature of the DAI’s intention to provide the highest quality experience for the writers. It is also a recognition of the shared commitment we are asking for from everyone on the team.

The DAI Writers’ Room is a project with an international scope. Screenwriters from all over Europe (geographical Europe) are invited to apply. Applications will be evaluated impartially on the basis of writing quality, professional and personal experience, and commitment to the time/work parameters. At the Finalist Round of applications, each applicant will have an interview (face to face or Skype) with the core DAI project staff. We hope and expect to have an exciting team of writers!

The working language for the project will be English.


The DAI Writers’ Room 2016 has chosen a challenging topic, or ‘area’, for the TV series concept development. As an educational project, the goal of the project is not specifically to create a marketable product (thought this may happen), but to indicate what might be done as a European vision in the format of a contemporary ‘longitudinal’ dramatic TV series. We aim to create a product at a conceptually high level, approaching that of the most remarkable and critically acclaimed of today’s series.

We are aiming to create concepts, story worlds, characters, relationship arcs, plot lines and subplots for what would be an 8-episode season of a multiple through-line character drama set in various locations in Europe. The series will weave together a number of the critical issues facing Europe today. The idiom/style will be realistic and uncompromising (The Wire, Spiral), with very complex characters who will develop as the series progresses. The many characters in the interweaving plot lines will represent a wide variety of authentic European perspectives and voices, as the concept and the plot requirements demand. Thus, we naturally look for authentic variety in our writers and their experiences.

Europe has reached a crisis point, or multiple crisis points: north v. south, east v. west, center v. periphery, rich v. poor, left v. right, ‘ethnically’ European v. newly arrived. There are also Europe’s historical and contemporary visions and myths of itself that are often in contrast with its realities. The first phase of the Writers’ Room will entail turning issues into dramatic realities through the brainstorming process. Of course there will be a selection and focusing. We aim for a tight, multilayered drama. It will by all means not be a dramatized talk show!

The work will proceed as though this were a contracted ongoing TV series. A group of advisors to the project will act in the role of network heads and executive producers. The eight-episode season we propose to create should not be seen as a mini-series, but as the first season of an ongoing internationally-marketed series. We hope to create a second phase to the project that will enable all of the writers to write full episodes within the Writers’ Room format.

Further details about the potential marketing of the project with the team of writers attached, as well as rights, protections, and other contract issues, will be discussed at the Finalist Round of the applications.

Das DAI Heidelberg startet ab Mai 2016 ein Writers‘ Room Projekt für professionelle DrehbuchschreiberInnen. Das Projekt soll für die AutorInnen …


Feature Film Projects

I am working on two new feature film projects that I plan to direct as well as write, and I find myself having some new reflections on what drama means to me.  As a seminar leader and consultant, my job is to be flexible, to be able to help a writer no matter what idiom, genre, style, or budget he or she is working in, with whatever character/plot/theme challenges.  I have to find the objectivity to stand back and ask what will serve the story.

With my own personal projects, the question becomes: what authorial choices are best suited to what I have to express?  One of these projects is very contemporary, gritty, and in a realistic idiom—while the second is an adaptation of a novel that mixes romanticism and expressionism as they both move through the life of a painter.

As contracts are pending, this small sketch of what's coming will have to suffice for now.