His time in theatre influenced his next film Telling Tales. This l6mm feature screened at festivals in Berlin, Edinburgh, Locarno and London, was widely shown in the UK, Germany and other countries and broadcast on CH 4 TV (UK) in l982.
In l981 the 35mm feature Brothers and Sisters was written and directed by Woolley and produced by the British Film Institute. After festivals that included New York, Berlin, Melbourne and Hong Kong - culminating in its appearance as official British entry at Moscow in l981 - the film opened in London to good reviews and was broadcast by Ch 4 in l984 and 1989.
From l981-83 Woolley worked as a film officer and creative producer in Yorkshire where he helped set up the Yorkshire Film Centre, a workshop for practicing filmmakers. In 1982 he wrote a feature film script for the BFI entitled The Real Jean and, in l983, received a commission from CH 4 to write Autobiography of a Man. In 1983/4, on the invitation of Malcolm Bradbury, he attended the Creative Writing MA course at the University of East Anglia.
In l984 he wrote and directed the film Waiting for Alan. It was screened by CH 4 in February l987 and again in April l99O. In 1985, he completed the feature script commission Bread of Heaven for the BFI, taught at the UK's National Film School and lectured in various universities and art schools across the UK and Germany. In l989, he wrote and directed the children's feature film Girl from the South. In l990, it won the Prix du C.I.J.E.F. (sponsored by UNICEF) in Laon, France. It sold well worldwide and screened on TV from Holland to Hong Kong.
In l988/89 he set up the Northern Film School with support from Leeds Metropolitan University, Sheffield Hallam University and YTV. The School offered the UK's first full time MA screenwriting programme, as well as an MA in film production. Woolley ran the School until September l992 and set up an EU funded exchange programme with film schools in Lodz, Poland and Munich.