Savannah Gatton on the London Screenwriting Program

Thursday, Mar 3, 2016

Thinking of studying screenwriting in London? Tisch student Savannah Gatton was part of the fall 2015 program and she wants other students to “go for it”! Here's what Savannah had to say about the enriching, collaborative experience.  
What was the most inspiring thing about studying screenwriting in London?

Nothing makes you recognize universal human stories like seeing a completely new set of humans. Plus, throwing yourself out of your comfort zone physically and mentally is great for finding yourself as a writer. Your strengths will get stronger once you find them, and you'll discover new things you never thought you'd be good at. Use the opportunity to explore!

Describe the most challenging aspect of the program. How did this enable you to grow artistically?

Writing is never easy. Writing a feature length screenplay in a semester is difficult. Writing a screenplay in a semester full of exciting distractions is even more difficult. But I learned to manage my time this way. Get things done early. If I procrastinated during the week, I lost my chance to go out and have fun on the weekends. Figuring out my story while figuring out a whole new country gave me anxiety at first but ultimately gave me a newfound confidence that yes, I can do this. In fact, I'm getting kind of good at it. And now, after being thrown in that deep end, my new writing/traveling experiences seem more manageable by comparison.

London location images, including a red double-decker bus, the Tate museum, and an English castle.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay

Describe the process of collaborating with the actors from the RADA program.

This was my favorite aspect of the program. We got to meet the actors as classmates in our companion courses. Then we got to see them perform in their Shakespeare production. (Fall 2015's Cymbeline was astounding and moving and I knew the people in it so I felt special.) You can take notes (mental or physical) during this performance about which actors you think would be right for your characters. Then all the writers meet to pick their people and after a few practical switches, you get to gather your cast for meetings and a rehearsal. Seeing these wonderfully talented people bring your script to life in an actual theater setting is scary and exhilarating. They'll bring something out of your script that you didn't even intend to be there and it will become even better. One of the best things I did in London was to make new actor friends.

How did your semester abroad enrich your academic experience at Tisch overall?

You learn to love New York. Not just from a homesickness perspective, but you'll learn to appreciate the culture America offers where artists are protected and respected, freedom of speech is ensured, and open-mindedness tends to win out in the long run even after conflict. As my Shakespeare professor said of us Americans, we were the ones who had the balls to leave. You'll come to embrace that fun, rebellious spirit and mix it with Europe's classical genius to make some really interesting work.

What piece of advice would you give a student considering the screenwriting program?

Go for it! You'll become a better writer with Archie's helpful feedback. You'll also get better at giving constructive feedback through the workshop setting, and this is an equally important skill. If you're not dead set on Screenwriting or want something a little different, also look into the Playwriting program. It's a smaller group so it's a bit more intimate, plus your performed pieces are a little longer. Either way, it's a great group of people and great professors. There's an added sense of community, support, and camaraderie in the Tisch program that's harder to find in general studies.

The Screenwriting in London program is offered every fall and spring semester. The application for spring 2017 will be available in July.