Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The First Time

I picked up Danny's meme (just to remind myself)

The First Time

Do you remember the time……you became aware of scriptwriting?
Mmmm I became aware of the 'power' of the script probably through watching - something like Harold & Maude at Wigan Cinema Club, in some chilly hall in my teens.

you made the decision to give it a go?

My first sort of proper 'short' script was my BFI New Director's entry in 1990. I found out the day after my birthday that I was short-listed.

…you bought your first scriptwriting ‘How To’ book?

It was Viki King's 'How to write a movie in 21 days' and I bought it just prior to going on a 3 week holiday in South Africa (where I now live) in 1995. I took lots of exercise books and in 3 weeks I churned out my first feature length screenplay. I've been recommending Viki King ever since. My original copy is now in Jamaica; my second copy was borrowed by a scriptwriter friend in Ireland (but eventually returned). My 3rd stays on my shelf.

…you wrote your first script?

Well my first 'real' script that got a fair amount of attention (rather than the really first one) was around 1995/6 and wait for it, I was funded to write it from a 6 page treatment -unprecedented - and has not happened again since...

…you gave up the day job?

I never had a day job of any real note. Having been to art school and done the whole schlep thing for a fair amount of time, it was a shock to my system when Restart forced me into full time work - on the London Underground in the early 2000s - as Station Assistant - iron filings and all. I survived 18 months before taking 3 months sick leave in which I took stock of my life, wrote a script (which was later commended by BBC Writer's Room) and plotted my escape from the grey.…

you became a script reader?

I avoid reading other people's scripts if I can help it. I know they say it's a great way to learn but I prefer to see them on screen. I don't have the sensitivity or the temperament to be a script reader.

…you did your first proper rewrite?

It was when I received development finance for '**'. The first lot of finance came from Europe and no one was really 'driving' the development in any significant way. Then Producers came on board and suddenly it was all these intricate script development methodologies - writing stories from each of the character's POV'S - re-structuring in terms of fairly conventional linear narrative arcs. Then when feedback started to come in from interested parties, the development kind of blew any which way with the wind.

…you got paid for it?

First an indy producer gave me 600 squids to write their draft of a script hmmm. Then I got some development money from the European Script Fund around1995/6 to take a treatment into a first draft. 5000 euros was a mega amount then. I was thrilled, plus I knew jack shit about script writing which probably worked in my favour. Then got more and more money for the same script. Needless to say it didn't improve the script at all....

…you got your agent?
I have had various agents attached at various stages of my development - ha! (Sounds like a line from a Dov S Simens course!) But it's true.

…you got your first TV gig?
My first TV gig has been over here - in a country faraway f- where the whole business of writing for TV is a completely different ball game.....
That said it is still riddled with controversy and oddity.…

you saw your first on-screen credit?

As an art school-trained independent filmmaker, I had my first screen credit via an Arts Council scheme long before I had aspirations of a serious scriptwriting career. 1990. One minute TV.…

you made your first short film?

See above. My entry into this industry was via a small video training initiative. I went on to make a number of shorts...

…you got your first cinema release?

My BFI New Directors' Film went to festivals around the world.

My feature? I'm still working on that....


Me said...

I did read it and you should carry on with it. it's even better than occasional skype. It reads so clear and fresh of you and at the same time mature,and reflective like you know what you're doing.

And your life story is impressive. I remembered all those things which nearly happened. I've stilll got my bottle of Karamalt...

and you are/the most intersting film writer i've read. The onylt hing that could teach you more would be making those scripts. I was remembering your bus driver script the other day. I liked that so much - it should be being made now.

You always take the most interesting choices- the fish out of water tragedy - and people with no imagination can't stand you for that. Because you scare them

I had a move called the Stockholm Syndrome about a newsreader who was kidnapped. I was told by the 25 words or less people it didn't properly follow the stalker genre.

They should be locked up with nothing but some blank paper. When they can't check what any one else thinks.

Anne Mensah is now head of BBC Scotland drama - did you know that?

Far away said...

thanks for dropping by AG and the kind words.

'They should be locked up with nothing but some blank paper' - ha!

I once dreamt that a producer (I was working with) had a huge piece of blank paper and was slowly drawing a thin blue line all round the edge of it...