Collaborating with Screen Yorkshire with Molly Bailey (MA Screenwriting)
By Elise Czyzowska
30 May 2023
Over the last few months, students at our Leeds campus have joined forces with Screen Yorkshire‘s Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire (CoSE:Y) on an exciting – and practical – learning opportunity. Collaborating with trainees on Screen Yorkshire’s COSE:Y craft courses (which include Hair & Make-Up, Costume, Lighting, Art Direction & Props, My First Factual TV Job and Production Assistant (scripted)), our students are in the final stages of pre production for a three-day shoot of an original concept, which begins filming next week.
Molly Bailey, MA Screenwriting student and Leeds Vice President for our Student Senate, has been heavily involved in the collaboration, co-writing the script for the project alongside fellow students. Plus, when filming begins, she will act as Script Supervisor on set – as well as taking a brief break to direct a scene of her own!
Ahead of the shoot, we spoke to Molly about what first drew her to screenwriting, how she’s found this collaboration with Screen Yorkshire, and what it’s like to study in Leeds.
What made you decide to study MA Screenwriting?
It was during my BA in Film Studies and Creative Writing. While studying creative writing, I fell into scriptwriting after doing my own personal research into some of my favourite scripts – this is when I realised how much I preferred writing scripts compared to prose.
I knew I wanted to do an MA degree before venturing into the industry, and when I found the new MetFilm School Leeds campus, I thought it fit me perfectly. So it was the personal passion that I had for writing in general that led me to discover this School, and the craft of screenwriting overall.
Do you have a favourite genre or format to write for?
I really love writing horror. I love everything about making a script dark – I actually recently attempted a comedy, and found it much harder to motivate myself to write. I realised this was because I couldn’t write about ‘the real stuff’. I love when something is socially realistic, and touches on deep themes that get an audience thinking – and I think the darker genres allow for me to do that.
I particularly look up to Jordan Peele for this reason. I think he’s found a great balance between subverting genre, maintaining strong themes, and promoting subtle influence on an audience.
How have you found the School’s collaboration with Screen Yorkshire’s Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire?
The Screen Yorkshire project is really interesting. it’s allowed me to have my first experience of co-writing, with a fellow MA Screenwriting student, Conor Guilar. Plus, the brief for the project left a lot of space for creativity – the only thing we needed to fulfil was to make it complex for the set designers and make-up artists. As a result, we’ve done a trip through the decades.
I absolutely loved working with another writer, and it’s been an invaluable experience, helping to hone my skills at communicating what is important to me while writing.
Can you tell us anything about the story, or your inspiration behind the scripts you’ve written for this?
The main inspiration was having a motif for every scene that stemmed out of something influential from each decade. From Elvis Presley’s death, to the release of Star Wars Episode VI, to welcoming in the new millennium, the several events that we’ve included allowed for us to fulfil the brief, and to have fun writing about decades we never actually experienced!
You’re also directing a scene of the project – how do you think writing the material has impacted your approach as a director?
I think it allows me to be more in-tune with what is going on during production. I know the script so well after drafting and redrafting, that I know how the scenes should sound, and that allows me to direct actors and monitor the script much more easily. I also feel much better about making any changes needed on set under the role of director, since it’s only changing my own script!
While the shoot itself is coming up, how has the collaboration helped you to grow as a writer?
The collaboration has been interesting, due to having to manage my own little team, and to appeal to Screen Yorkshire and their CoSE:Y trainees. To all be on the same page before a project starts has been invaluable, and the communication from people at Screen Yorkshire has been amazing for going into production.
You’re also the Leeds Vice President for our Student Senate – what drew you to this role?
I was drawn to the role as someone that has slightly missed out on similar opportunities in the past, and regretting not getting more involved. With it being a small campus in Leeds, I really wanted to be a friendly face for students, and someone who could take any issue to the intimate group of staff here, too.
And finally, how have you found your time studying in Leeds so far? Do you have any favourite memories?
I really like studying in Leeds. The biggest take-home point about the campus here is the size of it: although it’s always expanding, it really feels like a close-knit group here, and I feel completely comfortable.
One of my standout memories from the course so far would be the table-read session that I held with MA Screenwriting tutor, Jacob Mulgrew. Hearing my dialogue and script out loud was such a good experience, and allowed my second-draft to be a completely reinvented story that, ultimately, was a huge improvement. It’s something that I’d recommend to anyone struggling with dialogue, or with knowing what ‘sounds good’.
- Molly Bailey studies MA Screenwriting at MetFilm School Leeds. This degree is also available in London and Berlin.
- Find out more about the projects and collaborations our students are involved in on our Instagram!
- Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire is delivered by Screen Yorkshire, in partnership with ScreenSkills. Find out more.