EUROPEAN SHOWRUNNER TRAINING
The European Showrunner Training is an intensive 6-month advanced training and mentoring programme designed to provide experienced European series writers with the opportunity to acquire and refine the skills needed for taking on the demanding role of a showrunner.
Through online and residential seminars as well as one-on-one mentoring, the programme supports each participant in cultivating the mindset and self-awareness necessary for becoming a successful showrunner in Europe.
● Creative Leadership
● Head Writing, Producing, Directing, Editing
● Social Impact – On and Off Screen
Application deadline: April 5, 2022
Dates: June 1 – November 26, 2022
Location: online and on location in Cologne (Germany)
Format: part-time training | blended approach
Target Group: experienced series writers from Europe and beyond
Along with the rise of the streaming broadcasters came the revival of serialized content, in particular of drama series. Today, more series are being commissioned than ever before, not only by streamers but also by traditional broadcasters (private and public alike).
Besides innovative stories and compelling characters, the creative integrity of a show appears to be one of the crucial factors of successful series.
As a consequence, European productions recently started to introduce the role of the showrunner. Slowly, this new market practice is catching on in numerous European countries – with varying levels of success for reasons that this programme aims to address.
The Role of the Showrunner
The showrunner ensures the creative integrity of a series and is thus of crucial importance for the creation of high-quality series. Showrunners are responsible for both the artistic vision and the financial success of a show throughout the story development, pre-production, shooting, and post-production processes. They need to find, build, inspire, and continually motivate a highly professional team of creatives and to work with various business partners. Showrunners need to be excellent series writers with a strong creative vision and a vivid understanding of both the medium and the world around them. Expert knowledge in relevant related disciplines (such as series producing, directing, and editing) is of crucial importance. They need to have a producer’s mindset as well as exceptional communication and leadership skills.
Showrunning in Europe
In the US series industry the showrunner position has been firmly anchored for decades, granting the showrunner final say on all creative decisions as well as budget responsibility. However, the European approaches to the showrunner position are not simply copies of the US system, but rather adaptations that are currently beeing tested and slowly established within existing systems. In Europe, the definition of a showrunner is not fixed, but differs not only from country to country, but also from production to production. This lack of clarity often causes confusion and frustration for all parties involved.
Growing Demand and Skills Shortage
The demand for showrunners in Europe is high and steadily growing. At the same time, the vast majority of talented European series writers do not yet have acquired the skills necessary for becoming a showrunner. Thus, numerous series creators find themselves faced with the possibility to take on this demanding task without prior experience or precedent: They have to test their own abilities and to find and establish ways of working “on the job”, while simultaneously defining and negotiating their roles in the series production system; each of them individually navigating significant questions of rights and responsibility, remuneration and creative control.
The European Showrunner Programme (ESP) is tailor-made to address both this skills-shortage and the European approach to showrunning.
The European Showrunner Programme (ESP) is designed for brilliant series writers with a strong creative vision, who know their craft and enjoy creative collaboration as well as leading teams. Building on this foundation, the ESP aims to provide them with key insights and skills related to the production and creative leadership sides of the showrunner’s position, such as
- understanding budgets
- understanding schedules
- understanding their business partners and all members of their creative team
- understanding how to hire the right people
- understanding how to put their creative partners into a position to succeed
- understanding their social impact both as storytellers and team leaders
The following subject areas and topics will be covered:
The European Showrunner Programme centres on Creative Leadership. Leadership models and skills relevant for the role of the showrunner as well as individual showrunners leadership styles build the core of the ESP. These topics are addressed continuously throughout the program, both in class and in one-on-one mentoring sessions.
Participants will learn how to structure and intertwine the dense writing and production processes required when creating and producing drama series today. They deepen their knowledge of areas such as producing, directing, and editing and explore various aspects of visual style.
The powerful role stories play in society, reaching and affecting the minds, viewpoints, and beliefs of local and global audiences alike, is a well-studied phenomenon. By featuring characters that audiences grow closely attached to – sometimes for a lifetime – series constitute a form of storytelling that has a particularly strong influence. A showrunner must take this into account as well as the fact that the work culture they foster, the diversity of their cast and crew, and the wasteful or sustainable way in which the show is produced also reflects this responsibility.
Analysis, Discussion, and Definition
At the end of each module, there will be a reflection on the topics and challenges addressed and a discussion on how to implement these findings into a future model of showrunning in Europe
Another important feature of the programme is one-on-one meetings with personal mentors. In four online meetings of 90 minutes each, mentors will support each participant individually in exploring what kind of showrunner they aim to be.
What it is not
The ESP is no training in screenwriting. Applicants need to bring extensive screenwriting experience.
The ESP is no training in writers‘ room techniques. This knowledge, too, is a prerequisite for all applicants.
The ESP is no training for non-writing professionals. While future editions might include applicants with different backgrounds, the first edition is writer-centred.
The ESP is no project incubator. The focus of this training is on skills and insights. There will be no series projects developed in the course. However, since this is a part-time course, all aspects learned may be immediately applied to the projects the participants are currently working on.
Format & Dates
The ESP is designed as a blended learning programme featuring both on site and online sessions. The European Showrunner Training consists of lectures, seminars, interactive workshops, case studies, masterclasses, and mentoring in the form of one-on-one online consultations.
Module 1: The Showrunner as Creator
Module 2: The Showrunner as Head Writer
Module 3: The Producer’s Mindset
Module 4: The Director’s Mindset
Sessions in Cologne
- June: 3 days
- September: 3 days
- December: 2 days
Weekend Sessions – Online
- June: 2 weekends (Fri+Sat, 4h each)
- July: 2 weekends (Fri+Sat, 4h each)
- August: no classes
- September: 2 weekends (Fri+Sat, 4h each)
- October: 2 weekends (Fri+Sat, 4h each)
- November: 2 weekends (Fri+Sat, 4h each)
Recap Classes – Online (optional)
- July: 4 evenings (Wed, 1h each)
- September: 4 evenings (Wed, 1h each)
Mentoring – Online
- June – November: 4 individually scheduled one-on-one sessions
Trainers & Mentors
Head of Programme
Jeppe Gjervig Gram (screenwriter »Borgen« & showrunner »Follow the Money«, Denmark)
The ESP was developed in close cooperation with Jeppe Gjervig Gram, who will accompany both the European Showrunner Training and Think Tank parts as Head of Programme.
Experts (amongst others):
Jeffrey Melvoin (screenwriter, showrunner, and educator, »Designated Survivor«, »Killing Eve«, USA)
Oliver Kienle (screenwriter, director, and showrunner »Bad Banks«, Germany)
Annette Hess (screenwriter, head writer, and showrunner »Ku’damm 56/59/62«, »We Children from Bahnhof Zoo«, Germany)
Lisa Albert (screenwriter and executive producer »Mad Men«, »Unreal«, USA)
Uta Briesewitz (director and DoP, »The Wire«, »West World«, »Stranger Things«, USA)
Prof. Uli Hanisch (production designer »Babylon Berlin«, »The Queen’s Gambit«, Germany)
Prof. Andre Bendocchi-Alves (editor, sound designer, and re-recording mixer »The Love Europe Project«, »Der Hauptmann«, »Smilla’s Sense of Snow«, Germany)
The list of experts will be updated continuously.
Target Group & Application
The European Showrunner Training is designed for up to twelve experienced series writers
- with outstanding screenwriting talent
- with significant previous writers’ room experience
- with a clear artistic vision as well as leadership temperament
- with a keen interest in series producing.
- with a citizenship in a European country or a country participating in the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme – click here for the current list of participating non-EU countries
(If your country is not listed, you can still apply as a maximum of two seats can be given to writers from countries outside of Europe and the MEDIA Programme.)
Important: The ESP is neither a screenwriting nor a writers’ room training! We expect all participants to bring substantial and extensive experience in series writing and in working in writers’ rooms.
The application procedure is two-fold:
1. Application (to be submitted via email by April 5, 2022)
The following information will be required in English language:
• Application form (fully completed and signed)
• CV including previous experiences in the series industry
• Writing samples (excerpts of 1-3 screenplays – each 10 pages max.)
• Statement of motivation for becoming a showrunner and for attending this training (2 pages max.)
• Letter of recommendation by a showrunner, head writer, producer or TV executive
2. Interview (in late April/early May | 30 Min | via Zoom)
Applicants will be selected by the following criteria:
• experience in the industry
• screenwriting talent
• production-oriented mindset
• communication skills
• leadership temperament
The selection results will be communicated in early May.
Fees & Scholarships
The European Showrunner Training has a participation fee of
• 1,500 Euros, excluding accommodation, including meals for on-site training modules
• 2,500 Euros, including accommodation and meals for on-site training modules
(8 days in total)
The actual cost of the European Showrunner Training is significantly higher, but thanks to the support of the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme of the European Union, the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and Netflix, we are able to offer this in-depth training for such a reasonable fee.
Partial and full scholarships are available in priority (but not exclusively) to candidates from the following countries: Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta, as well as [subject to the conditions being fulfilled for their participation in the MEDIA strand] Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine.)
For obtaining a scholarship, applicants are asked to indicate the request in the application form as well as to substantiate their request briefly in their statement of motivation for attending the European Showrunner Training.
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Carolin Grosse Hellmann
Head of Serial Storytelling /
Professional Training for Screenwriters
Project Manager European Showrunner Programme (ESP)
T +49 221.920188-261 | showrunners[at]filmschule.de