11-12 May 2022
London Olympia

The Media Production & technology Show

Content Zone


08 Apr 2020

Speaker Q&A: Emma Reeves, Screenwriter


Emma Reeves is an award-winning writer working across screen and stage. Her TV credits include The Worst Witch (Lead Writer) Eve (Lead Writer and co-creator) The Dumping Ground, Young Dracula, The Story of Tracy Beaker, Belonging, The Murder of Princess Diana (Lifetime Channel), Spirit Warriors and Doctors.

How did you become a screenwriter and would you recommend a screenwriter course?

I became a screenwriter by attacking on several fronts at once - I wrote a stage adaptation and produced it with some friends; I did an MA in screenwriting; I did a lot of script reading and coverage for stage, TV and film companies and I also sent scripts to the BBC. There were many moments of seeming breakthrough, disappointments and dead ends before I found a niche in CBBC where I was offered a lot of work.

What do you start with scenes or structure?

I tend to start with structure, although ideas often arrive in flashes - you visualise a moment from a scene and it excites you so much that it helps power you through the endless outlining and rewriting required in TV. The brilliant moments which come to you in those glorious flashes of inspiration keep you going as a writer. They also almost inevitably get cut.

How much will the screenplay change during filming?

We have to keep to a very tight and demanding schedule at CBBC, so comparatively little changes during the filming process itself, apart from scenes being dropped (and you then have to figure out a way around that). A lot changes during production and during post-production. Some of it’s for practical reasons, some because of the multitude of creative voices which come into play when you’re making a show - script editors, producers, execs, broadcasters, directors, actors, HODs, DOP, editors to name but a few.

I’ve finished my script/screenplay, what do I now?

When you’ve finished a script or a screenplay you have the option to send it to companies whose work you like, or to try to make it yourself, which is becoming more and more common. The BBC writers’ room is always reading new material; you can send work there or simply look at the credits of shows you like and identify some companies and producers who you think will get your work.

What’s next for female screenwriters, how do we encourage more into TV & Film?

I don’t think we need to encourage new female screenwriters as much as we need to appreciate the abilities of those who are already working. Women of a certain age have always been discouraged from pushing themselves forwards, and there is serious untapped potential there. We should be looking at writers who are doing well in areas such as soap and Children’s, and bringing them into prestige drama, rather than believing we always need to find and train new talent from scratch. 

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  • Exhibiting and speaking at MPTS was a very worthwhile investment for Blackbird. We made a lot of valuable contacts over the 2 days at what was a busy & well organised event for the UK’s media production industry
    Adrian Lambert
  • I think MPTS is a fantastic opportunity for film, television and online to all come together, ultimately we have so much to learn. We are increasingly needing to and should be producing television & stories that are truly engaging and interactive
    James Levelle
    Adventure Filmmaker
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    Bethan Wilkin
  • What I like about MPTS is that it covers everything from creative to very high-end technology. The benefits of attending are simple, it's THE annual event for the screen production industry in the UK and provides the opportunity to connect with people from across the production process
    Paul de Carvalho
  • Panasonic have supported MPTS since its inception, because we wanted to support a show that both considers the constant evolution of our industry and helps deliver new opportunities for our business. We consider MPTS to be a key show for the UK as it provides a platform that focuses on the technology advancements that impact the creative industries, and that is something we want to be a part of
    Nigel Wilkes