An interview with Screenwriter Chris Corbett


Chris Corbett is a Screenwriter who has worked in film and TV including having written two episodes for the upcoming third series of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Shortly to teach students in Open Channel’s Screenwriting Intro Course Chris kindly agreed to be interviewed on the course and working as a writer.

What can students expect if they do this course?

The first thing to say is that it will be fun. We’re going to look at how to build a story that works. Many writers start out assume coming up with a story is an easy thing to do. The truth is it’s the hardest part of the job. So what we’re going to do is spend a bit of time talking about the basic principles (not rules – there are none) of storytelling for the screen. We’ll watch some short films and take apart the underlying stories to see how they’re built. We’ll also refer to television and features – the principles we’re talking about will be relevant to all of them. Then we’ll turn our attention to students’ story ideas. Working with a group like this is the perfect opportunity to test your story with an audience. It will all be set up in a non-threatening, nurturing environment. Students will briefly tell us the story that they want to use as the basis for a screenplay. Or perhaps they’ve already written a screenplay but they still want to test the story. The group will ask questions, give feedback and the each week we will revisit the story ideas – giving the writer a chance to tinker and rebuild between classes.

What knowledge do you hope that the participants come out with?

Anyone doing the course will walk out of it with a much better understanding of how stories work. And this won’t necessarily be a theoretical understanding. They will have a practical grounding in how stories are put together at a nuts and bolts level and hopefully some sense of how to build their own. I’ll be providing students with a series of specific tools they can use to test how various aspects of their story are working.  

How developed should student’s script ideas be in order to benefit from this course?

Students just need to bring a rough idea to class. If they have a screenplay they are working on they are welcome to bring the bare bones of the story in to class to talk about, but I’m afraid there won’t be any time to read anyone’s finished screenplays. If students don’t have a detailed story at the start that’s fine. Bring what you have and we will work with that. The first few classes will be talking in more general terms about how stories work so we won’t be hearing students stories until the third week. Even if you start the class without a firm idea in mind I’m sure an idea will occur to you by the time we get to the third class. In fact, I will be offering students a series of techniques that are useful to generate story ideas.

What are you working on at the moment? 

Being a working writer means being flexible. I tend to work in television, but I also write short films, I script edit feature films and television and spend some time teaching and mentoring screenwriters. Last year I wrote two episodes for the upcoming third series of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It’s a delight to write this show – what great characters. Plotting any story is hard but murder mystery is particularly difficult. You still have to hook an audience, develop the characters, generate the dramatic tension which builds up to a satisfying climax – but the whole thing also has to work as a puzzle that can’t be solved until the last minute. It’s very tricky stuff, but great fun if you can manage to get it right.

Learn more industry knowledge and tips from Chris in the upcoming Screenwriting Introduction Course at Open Channel, starting 25th March 2015. >more info or to book