Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters of Matriarch Productions and Phil Temple of Birdie Pictures have teamed up to establish Grass Routes, a new initiative to help writers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds kickstart their careers and gain proper access to the TV industry.
The winner of the Grass Routes writing competition will receive a prize of £5,000. Matriarch and Birdie will also pay a further amount to option the script. The writer will then develop their project with Matriarch and Birdie before pitching it to different buyers, getting their work seen by key decision makers and gaining insight into how the creative and business processes work within the scripted television industry.
As part of the initiative, Matriarch and Birdie will help the winning writer obtain an agent, and arrange meetings with other leading industry writers, directors, producers, script executives and commissioners, helping them grow their network of contacts.
The panel of judges will be Stephen Graham (This is England, Help, The Virtues), Hannah Walters (Boiling Point, This is England), Phil Temple (Code 404, The last Kingdom), Ashley Walters (Top Boy, Bulletproof), Kayleigh Llewellyn (In My Skin, Killing Eve), Lewis Arnold (The Long Shadow, Time, Sherwood) and Theresa Ikoko (Rocks, Grime Kids). The deadline for submissions is Monday 8th January 2024
“I have bemoaned the lack of working class voices in TV for a long time, so now is a good time to do something about it with brilliant, like-minded people. I can’t wait to work with this team to find untapped talent”, commented Temple. “Many industries are unrepresentative of wider society in regard to socio-economic background. Nowhere is this truer than in creative professions, including television, where writers work on a freelance basis with no job security and no guarantee of income.”
Walters and Graham said “What an incredible opportunity to be able to give an undiscovered writer a platform to showcase their work, we feel this project is imperative to help move our industry forward and give voices a chance to truly be heard. So excited to see the wealth of talent that’s out there.”
Walters, Graham and Temple added “Matriarch and Birdie want to help provide fairer access to the TV industry, and whilst there have been great strides in reaching different underrepresented groups recently, we think that socio-economic background still remains a key barrier to entry, and that becoming a successful writer shouldn’t be less achievable for those from lower income families.”
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