Category: Success Stories

  • Lee Coan’s WriterSlam Story

    Lee Coan was our WriterSlam winner, receiving a potentially life changing prize of a development commission with ITV. After the excitement of the competition had died down a bit, we talked to him about his WriterSlam experience…

    Where did you hear about WriterSlam?
    I’m not even entirely sure where or when I first heard about WriterSlam. I think it came up in my Twitter feed, or it may have been on the BBC Writers Room opportunities page. Either way, I’m now extremely grateful I came across it somehow!

    What made you decide to enter?
    I read up a bit about TriForce and MonologueSlam, and was extremely impressed. As a new writer I have found the whole “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” thing to be hugely frustrating. I think it’s so great the way that TriForce are trying to give everyone an equal opportunity to get noticed. Also the fact that you didn’t have to pay to enter felt reassuring that it was a genuine competition to try and unearth talent. It’s nice not to feel like you’re entering a contest just to make someone money!

    Have you written for TV before?
    I’ve written five or six different scripts, but nothing that has made it on TV so far. Most of them haven’t even made it beyond my computer to be honest, as I’ve simply been trying to improve myself as a writer.

    Is the script you entered something you’ve been working on for a while or is it a new piece for the competition?
    The script I entered is based on an idea I had for one of the first scripts I ever attempted. Having not looked at it for ages, it became really clear to me what aspects worked and what needed changing. Sadly most of it needed changing, so I pretty much completely rewrote the whole thing for WriterSlam.

    Tell us a bit about your script.
    The story is about a very normal family who are struggling to deal with a terminal illness of a child. I wanted to attempt to write something that could make an audience both laugh and cry (hopefully in the right places). It is a 60 minute episode of a six part drama.

    What was the WriterSlam experience like?
    I was completely blown away by the WriterSlam experience. I did not know what to expect at all. The other writers were such hugely talented people, and it was a complete honour to be able to work through their scripts with them and our mentor for the day Michael. I was extremely nervous on the day of the performance, not so much because I was concerned about winning or not, but because my piece felt really personal, and having it performed it front of people was a completely new experience for me. I can still not quite believe the job the actors did on all five pieces, given the short space of time they had to work with the material. The whole production was so professional, and beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. Thank you!

    Were you surprised when you won?
    I was really shocked to make the top 20 initially, and when it came to the final five, I felt 100% sure of who was going to win (it wasn’t me!). Each of the five pieces were so different, and as my script was performed first, I thought it might have been already out of mind when it came to the judging. I think I became a bit of a gibbering wreck when my name was called out as the winner. I am extremely glad I didn’t have to give a thank you speech.

    Are you excited about working with ITV?
    I’m obviously hugely excited about working with ITV. I’ve grown up watching ITV dramas my entire life (as has pretty much the whole country I guess) so am hugely grateful for this opportunity. I only hope I can payback TriForce and WriterSlam by making the most of this opportunity now, so that everybody’s efforts have not been wasted.

  • Sophie Petzal’s Story

    As we look forward to our first WriterSlam event, we want to share with you a success story from a pilot writing initiative we ran two year’s ago with the BBC, All Mixed Up. Similar in format to WriterSlam, the event looked for new voices in TV writing. One of the winners was Sophie Petzal, now a successful TV writer. We asked Sophie about her professional journey since All Mixed Up.

    How did you find out the All Mixed Up competition?

    I used to trawl the BBC writersroom competition page regularly for things I could enter. I was at university at the time, on a screenwriting course, so I was always writing, and always searching for places to send stuff I’d written. It didn’t matter whether it was any good or not, (most of it wasn’t) I just wanted to get some practice at and experience of the relentless tsunami of rejection and feelings of inadequacy that are the staple diet in most writer’s careers.

    Luckily for me, All Mixed Up was a joyous exception. I found the competition on the BBC Writersroom website, summer holidays at the end of my first year at University.

    Had you written much before the competition?

    I’d been writing in one sense or another, for years. I was always writing stories, stupid short YouTube films, or little plays for fun or for school etc. But when I wrote for All Mixed Up, I had just enrolled on the screenwriting BA at Bournemouth University, so I had a couple of rubbish short films and half-baked scripts here and there, but – thinking back on it – I think my All Mixed Up script (The God Committee) was the first proper ‘pilot’ script I’d ever written. I’ve never actually thought about that before… It sounds horrifyingly presumptuous! I’m not sure, were I starting out now, I’d have the guts to send out the first proper thing I’d ever written. But ‘now’ me is pretty lucky that ‘then’ me was so charmingly ignorant/blaze about the potential for humiliation and failure. ‘Now’ me is probably much more of a wimp…
    How did you find the process and the event itself?

    On the run up to the event, we were given notes on how to improve/adapt the scripts for the space in which they were to be performed – The Soho Upstairs, I think – and that process was lovely. I’ve always liked notes and I’ve always loved working with great note-givers and ideas people. So, given I was so inexperienced, working with the likes of the Triforce team, and Michael Jacobs at BBC Comedy was an absolute joy, a huge learning curve and in general just an unforgettable experience. Those situations can make or break you, I think, particularly when you are just starting out, so to be pushed so hard and yet feel so protected and encouraged and not at all like a big fat fraud, does a huge credit to the teams involved in setting the thing up.

    The performance and ‘judgment’ day itself was terrifying. My heart was in my mouth the whole time. I remember having to give myself a time out in the bathroom for ten minutes on the day because I thought I was going to pass out I was so nervous! Haha!

    All in all – the process was detailed, exciting, writer-orientated and above all, hugely enjoyable. I felt very looked after, which can be rare in these big competitions, and it’s a quality to be celebrated in those that do it.

    What happened as a direct result of the competition?

    My script was optioned to BBC Comedy for 6 months. I wrangled my way onto the writing team of a Ragdoll (Rosie and Jim, the Tellytubbies) show for a new CBeebies show called Abney and Teal. I’m not sure anything I did was ever used – it was my first gig, and I had no clue what I was doing – but I got that just by emailing the Ragdoll teammate, off the back of All Mixed Up, writing a little excerpt for them and meeting with them.

    It was also Michael Jacobs’ recommendation that got me my fantastic Agent, Fay Davies at the Agency. So that was a direct result of the competition, and to this date, the most important result for my career, probably.

    I always think of competitions as spotlights. They give you a brief moment of attention and interest, and it’s up to you as to how you make the most of it. You can’t win something or do well in something, then sit back and wait for the milk and honey, you do really have to hustle. Competitions make it easier for you to get into rooms with people, or get read by people, but they don’t guarantee any success beyond that. All Mixed Up was an enormous springboard for me, and could not have been possible without the dedication and genuine interest of the people behind it, in myself and the other writers they supported through the process.

    And what’s happened in your career since taking part in All Mixed Up?

    Oh wow, I’ll try to be brief!

    At the end of my second year at University, I got onto the BBC Production Traineeship. Through that I got involved with CBBC Drama, where I worked as a Development Assistant before being invited onto Wolfblood s2 as Assistant Script Editor, under Producer Foz Allan and Script Editor Jonathan Wolfman. Around that same time, I won the Peter Ustinov Scriptwriting Competition. So when Wolfblood got wind of that, they very kindly offered me the chance to write the online prequel (a ten min Iplayer webisode) for WBS2. Once WBS2 concluded, I wanted to take a few months out to concentrate on writing some new spec scripts, but I was then offered two episodes of a new CBBC series Hetty Feather, based on the books by Jaqueline Wilson, and two episodes of Wolfblood season 3. I’d gone from ‘I want to give this a go’ to writing four episodes of television in a couple of months…

    So from then on, including those four, I’ve written an episode of dumping ground, Dangermouse, and two episodes of new Irish police show Red Rock. Last year, Foz Allan (a recurring theme! He’s a real champion) and Charlie Higson brought me on to ITV’s new big budget fantasy drama Jekyll and Hyde, which is just shooting now.

    I’m also writing on a new show with Big Light and Rai, about the Medici Family, and writing two episodes of Wolfblood s4. I now have stuff of my own in development too, with ITV, and Big Talk and Red Planet.

    It’s all happened incredibly quickly… And I’m always very wary that it could all unravel just as quickly. I still feel like I have no idea what I am doing (don’t tell any of my employers, I mean, this is just between us right!?!?) but whatever it is – I love it, and want to keep doing it, better, and better, every time. So that means, a load of work, a load of stress, and a load of late nights. I have very little time off these days, haha. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.

    What I have achieved though, I owe entirely to the individuals who have pushed me and supported me throughout, people like the guys at Triforce, BBC Comedy, CBBC, the Agency… Without them all, I would be…probably still wasting as much time as I currently do, procrastinating and tweeting too much, but I wouldn’t have the makings of a half-decent career and a set of wonderful, talented colleagues… So that alone has got to be worth celebrating.

    And if the rug does get pulled tomorrow, I can say I had a pretty epic couple of years!

  • MonologueSlam UK Success Stories – Sam Cole

    Another MonologueSlam UK success story!

    Sam Cole took part in the November 2014 MonologueSlam at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. As a result of the show he was signed to Mouthpiece Management. He’s now performing in”Back Down” by Polar Bear and it’s his professional debut!

    The show opened at the REP and you can catch him at The Roundhouse in Camden from 16th – 24th May. You can get tickets here:

    “Sam Cole surprises the audience with his portrayal of the cheeky and short-fused Tommy, whose role is to antagonise his friends as often as he can. Sam is a young actor, yet showcases a maturity in his acting ability that equalises the other two. Tommy seems to have been written for Sam, as he played it most naturally. His speech delivery was the most real, sincere and riveting.”

    Congratulations Sam!


  • MonologueSlam UK Success Stories – Caitlin Drabble

    2015 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for TriForce with MonologueSlam UK taking over the country! Before our first show at Contact in Manchester, we wanted to share a success story from Caitlin Drabble, who trained in Manchester and took part in the London MonologueSlam UK, bagging herself an agent and a meeting with a casting director in the process!

    I first became aware of MonologueSlam when I saw two of my friends tear up the stage at one of the Manchester MonologueSlams. I was blown away by the talent on display from all of the actors, but most of all, I was taken aback by the supportive atmosphere between the audience, actors and the TriForce Team. I was soon to graduate from the Manchester Met School of Theatre, and was actively looking for representation. As I’d been training in Manchester, I was very keen to break into the network that exists in London. So as soon as auditions opened for the London MonologueSlam I had signed up. Not only was it going to be in London with the opportunity for one lucky actor to go to LA, the judging panel was insane!

    When I got the email through to say that I’d gained a place I was overwhelmed with excitement, and nerves! But the day came around very fast and before I knew it we were doing a run through of the show. I told myself that I just needed to trust my monologue and give it all I’ve got! The standard of the other actors was incredible! But this was never intimidating, everyone was so supportive of one another and the whole company, actors and organisers, were rooting for each other! Before I knew it the audience were in, the panel were sat in their seats, and Chizzy was calling me up! One minute and it was over. But it felt electric. Afterwards I was blown away by how generous everyone was with their support and kind words. I was awarded the ‘Special Mention’ from the judges, which was an absolute honour! Such a special night. One that I will never forget.

    Following the MonologueSlam I was offered a meeting with Gary Davy, one of the casting directors on the panel. To have the opportunity to introduce myself to someone of his experience and establish a link with an incredible contact is something that I feel very lucky for. I have also just signed with Sharon Henry Management. Sharon was also a part of the panel, and offered me a meeting shortly after the Slam. I feel so lucky to be a part of her agency and very excited about the future!

    It took me three shots to get into the London MonologueSlam, so for anyone thinking about auditioning, I would say keep trying! I am so grateful to the TriForce Team for giving me this opportunity. They have given me the exposure and support that I needed. And for that I can’t thank them enough!

  • MonologueSlam UK Success Stories – Birmingham

    Congratulations to MonologueSlam performers Sunny Dhap and Vincent Clarke, who after winning the 1 minute round and the 3 minute round respectively at the inaugural MonologueSlam Birmingham, were cast in a show together at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham.

    “Our Kylie’s Gettin’ Wed” produced by Stripped Down Theatre, will be on at the Old Joint Stock Theatre from 29th August 2014. For more information, like the Facebook page for Stripped Down Theatre – you can book tickets online now!

  • MonologueSlam Success Stories – Ambreen Razia

    We’re going to be checking in with some of our previous MonologueSlam UK performers to find out how taking part in MonologueSlam has helped their career – first up it’s Ambreen Razia, who performed at the February 2014 Slam in London.

    What made you decide to audition for MonologueSlam UK?

    I knew a few people who had already done it, they said it was such a fantastic experience which made me want to give it a shot. They also said the exposure you get as an actor is like no other.

    How was the audition process?

    Very relaxed! A friendly environment,  I have auditioned a few times and never once has it felt competitive, everyone is very supportive of each other.

    What was the MonologueSlam UK experience like?

    It was so much more than what I had hoped or expected, The night went by like a shot, It was an experience I will never forget and the atmosphere was electric.

    What has happened in your career as a result of the Slam?

    After the slam I had meetings with various different agents along with some of the casting directors who were there that evening. I have now been signed to Simon & How Associates and just recently had an audition at The National Theatre and for the US TV series Homeland!

    You decided to order an edited Showreel of your performance – have you used this and how has it helped your career?

    I would say if your going to take part in the slams take full advantage of all of the after care your given by Tri Force. Make sure you take away any pictures or footage of your piece, its a great way to remind agents and casting directors of your performance rather than just a head shot or an email.

    If you compare where you were before taking part and where you are now, how big an impact has MonologueSlam UK has on your career?

    Before MonologueSlam it was very difficult to find work or get in contact with my chosen agencies or even casting directors, especially as a new graduate. MonologueSlam gave me the exposure I needed to take that further step into the industry. Some people have said that  University or Drama school is considered a “must” then so is MonologueSlam if not it’s more of a must.  If it wasn’t for MonologueSlam and the support of the TriForce Team I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today.

    You can check out Ambreen’s performance, see her interview with London Live to discuss Diary of a Hounslow Girl, her debut play which she performed as her monologue.  Ambreen is currently touring the UK with Diary of a Hounslow Girl.

    Make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity yourself and sign up to the mailing list today!


  • MonologueSlam UK Success Stories!

    Performing at MonologueSlam UK can really take you to the next level. Since April’s event, one of our adult performers secured new representation after being spotted at the show, one of our Youth Round performers has had their very first professional casting (with a HUGE casting director, we don’t mess about!) and yet another Youth Round performer has had interest from not one, but two agents, while also being seen by a casting director for a film role.

    If you want to give you career a boost (or a kick start if you’re just starting out) then MonologueSlam UK is the place to do it. Come along to the next show at Theatre Royal Stratford East on 2nd June to size up the competition and then make sure you sign up to the mailing list to hear about the next round of auditions!