BAFTA backs emerging children’s screenwriter with international industry trip

Amanda Webster chosen at BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing event to attend MIPJunior programming market in Cannes

Supported by The London Book Fair

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), in partnership with Rocliffe, and supported by The London Book Fair, has announced the name of an emerging children’s screenwriter who has been selected to attend the MIPJunior international children’s programming market in Cannes in October.

Amanda Webster, from St Annes in Lancashire, was chosen by a panel of industry experts and will receive a full delegate pass and expenses-paid trip to the market. The trip is organised by The London Book Fair and will include extensive industry introductions and networking opportunities.

Amanda’s script Hex Tecs centres around a team of child paranormal detectives. It was chosen as part of the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum, a long-running initiative which aims to give a platform to undiscovered screenwriters and help them to develop their careers. This is the second year that BAFTA and Rocliffe have worked with The London Book Fair to support writers for children.

Amanda was shortlisted alongside Olga Rozanova and Mariana Serapicos, to feature in a showcase event at BAFTA headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London, on Saturday 12 September. All three finalists had extracts of their scripts performed by professional actors for an audience of producers, development executives, directors, actors and literary agents, and received live feedback on their work from BAFTA industry guests.

The expert panel that awarded the trip to Amanda comprised: Helen Blakeman, BAFTA-winning writer (Dustbin Baby) and Chair of the BAFTA Children’s Committee; Lucy Martin, Drama Executive at CBBC (Rocket’s Island, House of Anubis); BAFTA-nominated writer Diane Whitley (House of Anubis, World’s End); Cecilia Persson, VP Acquisitions and Co-Productions, Kids, Turner Broadcasting System EMEA; and Sam D’Elia from The London Book Fair.

Amanda said: “Getting picked to attend MIPJunior is beyond fantastic! It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I am completely indebted to the panel for enabling me to take this project further forward. The forum was a great chance to network with industry professionals and I can wholeheartedly recommend this opportunity to other writers. It took me a while but it’s definitely been worth the wait!”

Helen Blakeman, Chair of the BAFTA Children’s Committee said: “We are delighted that, in the second year of our partnership with The London Book Fair, we have found such outstanding talent through this BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing initiative. I hope that Amanda and our two other finalists benefit from the experience and insights they have gained from our industry experts, and I very much look forward to following their career progress as children’s writers.”

Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair said: “The BAFTA Rocliffe showcase of the three finalists – Mariana, Olga and Amanda – was a triumph of writing and a fabulous affirmation of the UK’s creative talent. At its core, The London Book Fair is an enabler for both new and established creators, and so it will be our pleasure to spend time with Amanda at MIPJunior and to promote the other finalists’ work through our activities there.”

Farah Abushwesha, Founder of Rocliffe, said: “It’s always so thrilling to see how writers respond to having their work performed by professional actors, but this isn’t just about the showcase or this one script. It’s also about opening doors for writers, creating opportunities and helping them to evolve careers which is what this trip to MIPJunior will do.”

Project synopsis and screenwriter’s biography:

Amanda Webster – Hex Tecs

Synopsis: A group of children team up to form the ‘Hex Tecs’ – a detective force, solving unexplained paranormal activity in their local neighbourhood.

Amanda Webster was raised in London and now lives in St Annes, Lancashire. Following a degree in Screenwriting at the University of Central Lancashire, Amanda wrote promos and jingles for local radio, before returning to study for an MA in Screenwriting at Liverpool John Moores University. During this time she reached the finals of the British Short Screenplay Competition and obtained Lottery funding for a short film that screened at Manchester’s Commonwealth Film festival. Since then, Amanda has written short scripts for further filmmaking schemes and completed several feature-length scripts. For two years she taught the Screenwriting for Children module on the MA Writing for Children course at the University of Central Lancashire.


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