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Alumni profile: William Barrington

Alumnus announced as one of the five writers who have penned the fifth series of BBC Three's 'The Break'

  • Date10 August 2020

Royal Holloway alumnus Will Barrington (MA Screenwriting for TV & Film 2019) has been announced as one of the five writers who have penned the fifth series of 'The Break'.

The bold, short form drama series, now in its fifth year, is a collaboration between BBC Writersroom, BBC Three and BBC Studios and aims to showcase the best original, contemporary stories that reflect modern life in the UK. Each of the writers have disabilities and their experiences are reflected in the stories in all their diversity and humour. The short films that make up the series will be available to watch on BBC Three in the coming months.

We spoke with Will about his time at Royal Holloway, what he has been doing since graduating and what it was like to work on 'The Break'.

Why did you choose to study Screenwriting for TV & Film at Royal Holloway?

While studying for my BA in Film Production, writing scripts was always my favourite part. I knew I wanted to improve my screenwriting ability, and Royal Holloway’s course was the logical choice. Other screenwriting MAs seemed to be structured around lectures, but the ‘In Retreat’ programme puts the focus on actually writing scripts and gives you time to think about what you’re writing. The fact that the course allows you to work while studying is also a big bonus. I knew the course would attract a variety of people and I was not disappointed. I think the wide range of students who attend the course is one of its greatest assets.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

Definitely the people. The students and the lecturers were all so dedicated that it made it extremely easy to try new things and learn from them. All the students were constantly giving each other feedback which meant that our work was constantly improving. Even though everyone was working on their own projects, we were still very collaborative, particularly on retreats.

How did Royal Holloway help you to discover opportunities and to find your purpose in life?

Royal Holloway gave me so much confidence about my writing ability. Screenwriting is incredibly competitive and you’re always questioning whether it’s something you should spend time and energy on pursuing. But the course director, Ivan Levene, managed to foster an innately encouraging environment which carried us all through the year.

How did your experience at Royal Holloway enable you to discover your passions?

On the course, I was working on a project which I’d wanted to write for years. I always thought the idea was a bit niche and people wouldn’t be interested, but I found that the opposite was true. I received so much support from the lecturers and fellow students. I never quite found the right approach during the course, but I continue to be spurred on by their response for the idea and I’m still working on it now.

What has life been like after graduating?

I have been extremely lucky! I have been working as a development researcher at Sacha Baron Cohen’s production company, Spelthorne Community Television. I work on ideas for new TV shows and write pitches for broadcasters. I really enjoy the job and everything I learnt on my MA about development and pitching has been extremely useful.

Please tell us about your involvement in 'The Break'. How did the opportunity come about and why did you want to get involved?

On the MA course, to give us some practice, we had to pitch in front of industry professionals. I pitched my project to a TV writing agent who liked the idea and we kept in contact. Last October, she sent me an email encouraging me to apply to write for 'The Break' and I’m very glad that I did. 'The Break' has always been wealth of excellent, fearless writing and I instantly wanted to be a part of it. 'Losing It' is a monologue about a young man with Cerebral Palsy who’s just lost his virginity. It was one of two ideas I had to submit during the application process and was preferred by the producers. They encouraged me to be as honest as possible which I was thrilled about. There is a distinct lack of disabled people on TV, never mind disabled people doing normal, human things. I’m glad that everyone involved in 'The Break' saw that this is important to show on screen.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I really enjoy developing TV projects, so I hope to continue doing that. But having a script produced by the BBC has confirmed that writing is what I really want to do. I’m continuing to work on my own projects, as well as working for Spelthorne, and I hope to get another project produced as soon as I can.

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