A Night at the Rocliffe!

Some of you may recall that back in May 2013 I attended my first BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum and wrote a blog on my experience. As it turned out there were a fair few people interested in hearing what happened that night and my blog itself ended up linked to the official BAFTA Rocliffe page; a slightly surreal experience – although it did explain my sudden upsurge in readers that week.

Following on from that post, I was more than happy to be asked back to attend upcoming Rocliffe events and blog about the goings on, the whys and the wherefores, and that is how come I am here today blogging about the Rocliffe Forum of last Monday.

Unlike last time where the focus was television drama, this forum was focusing on the art of writing for film which is a medium I am less familiar with as a writer but have an endless fascination with as a viewer so I have to say I was more than a little excited. For those of you who have never attended a Rocliffe before, the rules of engagement are as follows:

  • Three script extracts are selected from submissions put forward by emerging writers across the UK.
  • The extracts are cast and directed as three short theatrical pieces to be performed in front of a live audience on the night itself.
  • Each extract is given approximately 30 minutes of time on the night – ten minutes of which is for a performance followed up by a 15-20 minute discussion on the piece. This is moderated by Farah Abushwesha, the Producer of Rocliffe, with the writer and two special guests joining her on stage. Farah leads the panel in discussing the performance, giving feedback on the piece and leading the audience Q&A.
  • The event concludes with a thirty minute panel discussion with the two special guests, in this case Michael Kuhn and Andy Harries, looking at their own experience, background and their rules for success in the field concerned.
  • There is then the opportunity for post event drinks in the bar, a must for emerging talent in all creative industries as an excellent networking opportunity.

Based on the above, all I can say is if you haven’t attended a Rocliffe yet, make sure you attend the next one. I can’t think of many better ways for new writers to spend an evening than hearing a critical analysis of fellow writers work and having the opportunity to spend time in the company of such a varied group of people from the wider industry.

Anyway, back to the event itself and so I settled down with the rest of the audience – in a relatively packed auditorium at BAFTA on Piccadilly – to experience the three extracts. It was immediately clear to me that the pieces chosen were very different in tone, writing style and genre, and each had strengths that I could identify with, which in its essence is one of the key strengths of the Rocliffe programme and events. I have linked to the programme of the event here for anyone who wishes to obtain further information.

The first piece was “Submerged” by Dan Hall, which was directed by Susan Jacobson, and was a ten minute script extract from the second act. The plot of the film comprised of a plane crashing into the sea and how the surviving small group of passengers battled to stay alive, and we joined the six of them stuck in an air pocket inside the cabin as things began to deteriorate. It was immediately clear that the writer had undertaken a significant amount of research into the piece and the narration given as part of the dramatisation was incredibly visual and descriptive of the events being represented upon a stage – meaning that the extract did not suffer from the lack of film set.

In the panel discussion Dan confirmed his extensive research, looking at medical aspects, aviation (via Easyjet!) and the likely outcome post-crash through discussions with an engineer, and the panel discussed that with such a technical environment, it was important the research was 100% accurate as it would be costly to make amendments post filming. The director explained from the floor that on reading the script, it was clear Dan had a good grasp of both audience and the structure of the genre within film.

The panellists both found the idea positive, with Michael commenting that it was easy to understand and had tension, but felt that there needed to be more of a twist to enable the audience to have sympathy for the protagonist. He was pleased to note that Dan was clear on the genre pattern for structuring such films, citing that only a fool would not follow, but felt that the script would benefit from having something that would “turn it in the light” so that it did not immediately have the appearance of a pure genre film. Michael cited Jaws as a film that does the traditional cabin in the woods style story so well, because it turned it on its head by setting it in daylight in a beach environment. Andy reflected that he had felt engaged by the piece, although the back of his mind had been questioning how expensive it would be to film. He noted that whilst this was not something the writer would need to keep in the forefront of their mind, as writing should come first, they would need to be aware of this. He also cited a fondness for the neatness of the enclosed environment, but agreed with Michael that there was a lack of emotional tension between the main characters within the extract and would have liked to see that embellished more.

The piece itself was humorous, and the audience clearly enjoyed it from their reaction. Dan did give us the ending, but I won’t give away any more details here – because I wouldn’t want to spoil what could one day be a future film blockbuster for you.

The second piece was “Limehouse” by Stuart Black, directed on the day by Paul Cavanagh, which told the story of the founder of London’s Chinatown – Brilliant Chang – and a journalist Jackson Verger. The extract was taken from early in the script, and whilst the settings within the film were recognisable as key London landmarks, the writer provided significant description to assist the audience in travelling to the 1920s. Stuart identified that he had a personal connection to Limehouse, Soho and to China himself, and it was that, plus the identification as Brilliant Chang as a potential subject, that drew him to write the script.

In the panel discussion Andy felt like the world portrayed in the script was great and had a feel of the recent BBC hit Peaky Blinders, however he also commented that some of the characters felt passive and that he was looking for more understanding of a clear protagonist as a driver of the story. Michael agreed that the concept was an interesting one, but surmised that as a writer you need to create a piece where the rubber hits the road straight away. He suggested, and Andy concurred, that the script felt leisurely in pace, which can give people the opportunity to switch over or turn off. Michael suggested that in the final cut, the elements we saw on screen may be scaled back or chopped to give the script more of a starting bang, going right to where the story truly started. It was discussed, with the Godfather cited as an example, that slower films work best when the watcher knows immediately who to follow and who holds their attention.

This led onto a discussion about the two apparent protagonists, Brilliant Chang – a man based very much in fact – and Jackson the journalist – a fictional invention. Stuart explained that he had stuck very close to the truth with Brilliant Chang, but was aware that he may need to take it up to the next level to progress the script, with Andy feeding back that in his experience it is the elements you create around the truth that people recall the most, with him recalling that a scene from “The Queen” with the stag (if you have seen the film, you will know precisely what scene this is) being the most talked about in some audiences despite it being a completely fictional element. Michael also contributed that his viewpoint is that whilst it may be based on true events, the real truth comes out of the invention and as a writer you must look for that in the work – truth is not the same as sticking to the facts. The director also suggested from the floor that Stuart may need to make a call over who is his primary protagonist, in Brilliant or Jackson, but also considered that the script could be a screenplay but also a television drama, with the continuing world that such an environment can create.

The piece had a very different feel to the first, and was clearly designed with an alternative audience in mind. Stuart himself advocated that perhaps now is the time to reintroduce slower movies, and given it is only the second draft, I would look forward to seeing the finished article.

The last piece was “To Hell and Back” by Paul Marx, and directed on the night by Chris Brand, which was a comedy feature film telling the story of the death of a bitchy woman and her subsequent attempts to get herself out of hell. The extract was from near the start of the film, as we followed the main character through her death into her introduction to death, hell, the River Styx and of course a meeting with Satan himself. Paul cited that the film was oddly enough inspired by a Meatloaf song, as well as the film “Heaven can wait”.

In the panel discussion Michael stated that he enjoyed the piece, but was struggling to place it in terms of how it could be best conveyed to an audience. He deliberated that with an imagination so great, it would be difficult to contain it within the budget and capacity of a film. He suggested that the medium of radio may be a great possibility, as it was how the stunning visuality of the scenes could be portrayed to an audience within a film that was causing him difficulty. Andy added that the idea definitely had legs and was a genuinely great idea, but questioned whether one of the supporting characters would follow the lead protagonist and act as the central comedic character for her to interact with.

Michael interjected that when someone ever came to him with a project like this, a completely mad idea, he pondered about saying no to it – otherwise it might just come true in the maddest of ways. He was convinced the dialogue was great but how was concerned about how can you do an idea like that justice. This triggered a group discussion about exploring the option of a theatrical production, as Paul stated when he watched rehearsals of the extract, he considered this as a viable option for the first time with this script. It was discussed with much amusement that the only companies able to deliver an idea of this nature in a high quality film would be Pixar or alike, but in this case they would have to make a significant exemption for the swearing!

The audience really took to the extract, and there was general positive feedback about the concept and strong character with one person commenting in the Q&A session that the lead was very real, in that she was someone we all know, someone who controls our lives and as the audience we would love to see it so that people can realise they may not be mourned when they are deceased!

The piece was both funny and surreal, with comedic moments that did not feel forced and very witty, fast paced dialogue. The possibility of a theatre or radio piece are definitely options I hope the writer explores, and as Paul had two pieces long listed for the Rocliffe event I am sure this is not the last we’ve heard of him.

After the dramatisation extracts and individual panel based discussions were completed, Farah asked Michael Kuhn and Andy Harries, who both have illustrious careers within the industry, to give an insight into how they got into the business and what they are currently working on.

Michael started out by explaining that he trained as a lawyer, which he found most boring, before moving on to work for a client in the music business. After ten years he set up Polygram which was responsible for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Trainspotting amongst others, before setting up Qwerty films. Andy added that he was a journalist before making his way through the realm of jobs within television including presenting, documentary maker and then working as Controller of Drama, Comedy and Film for Granada. He is the co-founder of Left Bank Pictures, who produce Wallander and he is also responsible for The Queen and The Audience. Michael is in post-production on Suite Francoise and Last Days of Mars is out in 2014, whereas Andy is focusing on TV work primarily but also a project based on the story of the school behind the Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall” hit. Farah advised that Michael has been a patron of Rocliffe since he chaired a forum ten years ago, and Andy had just agreed to be a patron also.

In looking at his work, Andy said he sees his current role as to find and nurture talent, and by talent he means writers, all of whom are interesting and challenging in their own way. He explained that he tends to work with a writer for the long term, as it is this type of relationship that gives both parties the ability to broaden horizons and become together better than the sum of their individual parts. He joked that in a lot of cases he will speak to his key writers more frequently than his wife, so it is a big commitment, but the benefit is that those writers will trust him with their ideas. He gave an example of the writer behind the stage hit “The Audience”, which he knew was a great idea the moment it was pitched, however the writer, a long term collaborator of his, only wanted to do it if Helen Mirren would be part of it – and Andy had that connection, having worked on The Queen with her.

Michael reflected that what he found frustrating was that so many writers plug away for years on something that was always a bad idea, and he sees his role as being the stone in their shoe reminding them constantly to keep in mind how good the idea is. He advised that he has seen so many people insist on going on with a project, even when everyone has told them it was a bad idea, and that this can be a massive waste of excellent writing talent. He gave the advice that you have to balance between the fact that if you only do what has already has worked before you will fail – you have to take it to the next level – and the fact that if you do something everyone else has already proved won’t work you will be lost. He considered that the key issue for him is that sometimes writers are so caught up in their projects they’ve no idea what the landscape around them looks like and therefore they’ve no concept of being lost until they look up many years later on.

Farah suggested that people should never commit to one screenplay, but instead commit to a career as a screenwriter which was agreed by the panel. Michael added that writers frequently underestimate how much work is required to make a script brilliant, citing that Richard Curtis would not show anyone the script for Notting Hill until he was on draft 38 as an example of that. And as a side note to this, I would be so interested in seeing scripts 1 to 37, just to see how the evolution process on that worked – how much of the film people know and love was in the original idea I wonder?

In closing points Andy explained that the film industry is difficult to get financed, as there is no one central place to go, therefore budding screenplay writers should never rule out television, as there is a real appetite for series production presently. Michael added that absolute determination is what is needed, with the right idea and script coming together and the attitude that faint hearts never won a fair maiden. The conclusion from both panel members was that emerging writers must not give up; there are real avenues out there for work to be made when you have a great script, a strong central idea and a good understanding of your audience, market and genre.

Having listened to the panel discussion and the Q&A from the audience with Michael and Andy, I have to say I found them both willing to offer such honest, insightful advice based on their own experiences within the industry. It was refreshing to hear their thoughtful pointers based in the reality of films or shows they had worked on themselves, with their ability to demonstrate a point by putting it into context of a project the audience have all known and loved over the years. I wondered how relevant their comments would be to me, as someone with a passion for television writing, but found their comments incredibly sincere about wanting to develop writing – the real talent behind the industry from their words – across the board, and how flexible their attitude was to film, television, theatre and radio.

Farah concluded the night by citing that in 2013 over a thousand scripts were submitted to BAFTA Rocliffe, which led to over 120 scheduled meetings between agents, producers and execs with writers. Events and schemes such as this do open doors, but as she advised without writers it wouldn’t work. Therefore the closing point of the evening was that all writers, emerging or otherwise, should make 2014 the year they write plenty of scripts and I for one intend to wholeheartedly live up to that.

To 2014, to writing, to attending more BAFTA Rocliffe events and to try my best not to get lost along the way! Good luck to us all emerging writers, these are such exciting times.

Encouragement of diversity or having an agenda?

Yesterday I asked a question on twitter that led to a debate with several people of opposing viewpoints chipping in and it sparked some thoughts in my mind.

The question itself is whether I should specify each individual character as having a particular ethnical background. Basically, if irrelevant to the plot, should I state that Ruby is white, Abi is asian and Jade is black? In my head they are but that’s because I’ve attributed a picture to them that is individual to me but would I then be acting as casting director as well as writer when I’ve no need to be.

I have never stated the skin colour of my characters unless it is relevant to a particular plot point or characteristic, I don’t feel I need to tell people. However I am conscious of the fact that I want to encourage diversity, reduce the likelihood of a ‘whitewash’ casting and also ensure my characters represent the demographic of their supposed home town.

If I state the script is set in London, I would expect to see cultural diversity in casting but perhaps that is naive of me. When I turn on my television I rarely see a cast that reflects modern UK culture in terms of their ethnicity. For example, where are the Eastern European people in Eastenders? Why only minimal BME characters? The London I know is not the same one that Walford seems set in.

I am perturbed that when unspecified people assume characters are white, and that someone could indicate that mainstream characters would be white unless the ‘issue’ requires them to be otherwise. However likewise I’m not sure I agree with portraying someone with a particular name or behaviour to signify or infer their ethnic origin.

I say this because it was once suggested to me that a character eating rice and peas or jerk chicken would indicate someone black/Caribbean, or a character called Anja would be Polish. I’m a lover of jerk chicken, rice and peas myself and the Anja I know is as Cornish as you can be.

Go figure.

I want to promote diversity, not because of some overwhelming political desire to do so as such, moreover that the world I see portrayed through my television screen does not represent the world based outside my window and I want that to be different. You don’t have to have an agenda, just an understanding that things only change because people make them change.

If I specify the ethnicity of Ruby, Abi and Jade it restricts the casting of those characters. If I leave it open, I appear to run the risk of having yet another script where there is potential that people read it and assume a ‘whitewash’.

Surely there is a middle ground? To cast the characters based on the ethnic makeup of the area they represent as opposed to naming specific characteristics for each person.

And more importantly, as a new writer in 2013, should I be more concerned that this still has to be a debate because no one appears to have an answer?

Promises to keep

This time last week feels like a lifetime ago now, and whilst I have every intention of blogging about my experiences at London Screenwriters Festival over the coming weeks, right now the enormity of the events seems strangely overwhelming.

When Chris stood up on the first day and spoke about us all becoming a family, I was intrigued by how the weekend would pan out. As with most writers, I’m not an overtly social animal and the prospect of networking with hundreds of people was more than a little daunting. When my name, picture and quote

Surround yourself with creative people

came up on screen I smiled, but I didn’t understand how much that would come to mean.

The three festival days, and networking/chatting/drinking nights passed like a blur. I’ve never experienced time moving so quickly and yet so slowly all at once before. It was intense, exhilarating, and mesmerising simultaneously.

And so it came to be that I was once again sitting listening to Chris speak at the end of the festival. When he referenced us being a family this time, it was no longer an obscure concept of what could be but a statement of who we were. The experience we had all been through together had bound us in a way other people, people who are not as passionate about storytelling and scriptwriting as we are, are not privy to understanding.

The incomprehensible range of emotions I felt upon watching the video for the second time and now not only identifying with, but also recognising, the people within it was something I’d not prepared for. From the funny to the serious and from the warm to the sincere, the quotes were all ones which I felt could now belong to me. Is scriptwriting a religion? I cannot recall the last time I felt a sense of belief as strong as I did in that moment.

Which brings me onto the promise.

Chris asked us to make a promise, something we would achieve and report back on at the next festival. It couldn’t be a promise you could cheat at, it needed to mean something.

I made two:
Firstly as a confirmed workaholic I am reducing down how many hours I give to my day job so that it no longer consumes my entire being. This frees up time for me to be me and for me to explore my writing.

Secondly I am submitting to the Spring BBC Writersroom. I need a deadline to motivate me, therefore I have given myself one.

And next year I will be back at London Screenwriters Festival, ready to enjoy three days back with my writing family and taking another step forward in my writing career. Oh and report back on my promises, plus hold others to their own.
I can’t wait to see you all again.

A night at BAFTA Rocliffe Forum

On Monday night I went to the BAFTA Rocliffe Forum event at BAFTA on Piccadilly. I’d not been to one of these events before and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but along with a friend (the lovely Carys, who I met on The Two Phils course back in March) I decided it could be my sort of thing.

And I wasn’t wrong. What better way for a scriptwriter to spend the evening than having a few drinks, watching a number of extracts from the winning dramas and listening to people debate scriptwriting. This was the first Rocliffe Forum on TV drama and I definitely hope they do one again, there were a lot of passionate people there and it was fascinating to get different people’s opinions on pieces.

Aisling, Romily and Natalie all seemed lovely, I cannot imagine how nervous they must have been sitting on the stage answering questions from the audience on the extracts of their scripts that had been performed. Aisling’s extract interested me the most, as it was set in a world very similar to my own and on a subject I know much about, so much so that I even gave her my card and we’ve already been in touch via email. A very wise Phil at the course I did in March advised us to be generous and help other writers, I had never before considered how I could until that moment.

So watching the extracts was a great experience, as was being surrounded by other people who share my interest in the subject of scriptwriting. However the part of the night that inspired me the most was listening to Ben Stephenson. For those of you that don’t know who he is, Ben is basically the God of BBC drama as he is the Controller of Drama Commissioning (BBC1, 2, 3 and 4 all included). He was such a presence in the room, self-deprecating, humerous and honest – someone I could truly believe first read “In The Flesh” on the bus on the way to work – and someone I can only hope will one day commission my scripts.

So what did Ben say that touched me so much:

  1. Allow us to walk in the characters shoes
  2. Narrative first, politics second if trying to make a point
  3. Make sure relationship dramas are must have / must watch rather than nice to have / nice to watch – that is a real challenge
  4. Set things up but set it up as if you aren’t setting it up – not at all hard then!
  5. Get a professional person (agent or producer) to back you, engage with you and fly the flag for you
  6. Ask yourself, why are you the only one who can write this particular piece?
  7. Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing
  8. In movies, it is the director who gets something the green light, in TV it is the writer
  9. Treatments are dreary, do not use for pitching – sell your pitch verbally in person
  10. Let your story establish how long a piece you are writing. The story should dictate whether it is 60 minutes, a 90 minute feature, a 2 part drama or a series of x number of episodes. Don’t condense it or string it out just to suit.

Every single one of the points Ben made that I have listed resonated with me. He made me consider my Sophie project, and whilst it will never be a BBC1 mainstream drama it could attract a BBC3 or E4 audience so that is what I should be aiming for. And the story idea that has been buzzing in my ear recently, well that could make a decent mainstream drama or a BBC2 style one, and I need to decide my market before I go any further with it.

My night at Rocliffe was brilliant, I really enjoyed it and spending time with a friend talking about writing is always a positive. Ben inspired me, I am enthused about writing and next year I want to be there on that stage with my extract being performed. I cannot wait for the next Rocliffe Forum and the BAFTA ticket website is now at the top of my favourites list!

I can’t wait to do it again!

An interview…. with me? Part four!

It has been four days, but here is the final part of Abbey’s interview with me. I want to thank her for some excellent, thought provoking questions and for being my first ever interviewer! If I ever make it as a writer, I won’t forget that!

My writing

What are the main themes of your writing?

I believe very much that when you strip people of all the shields they place around themselves, physical or emotional barriers for example, that is when you find out who they really are and it is at that point when they are most fascinating. For that reason I tend to put my characters in a situation that removes some of their coping mechanisms and gives them a chance to show themselves in a different way. My pieces tend to be character led and fairly introspective, as opposed to plot driven.

Do any of your scripts relate to personal experiences?

A lot of my writing relates to personal experiences, some to a lesser or greater degree than others. For anyone that has read my work that may alarm you, given the subject matters I have covered, but sometimes to relate to personal experiences I mean the feeling and emotion I am conveying is one that I recognise and have been through, even if I have never had the misfortune of having some of the awful things I put my fictional characters through happen to me.

Would you ever consider publishing any of your writing?

Yes, I would. I like publishing things online so I can get feedback but ideally I would get one of my longer pieces published as a novel. However it is my dream to have one of my original scripts adapted for television, but there is a lot more work that needs to go into that particular project first of all.

Would you consider writing as a full time occupation?

Yes, if I could convince someone to take me on! If I could write as a full time occupation I would be in absolute heaven. My ideal world would be me writing for a show like Casualty or Silent Witness, whilst also writing my novel and working on some script projects of my own. I feel that would keep me occupied for a long time!

Thank you very much for reading! And thank you once again Abbey.

Finding time to write

This week I’ve written more than I have in months and I’ve got so many ideas buzzing around inside my head that sleeping is actually proving difficult. I tell you now that there is nothing like being woken up by a fictional character of my own making at 5am!

However in the past few days I’ve been able to prioritise writing over work because of various factors that wouldn’t normally be occurring. I’ve definitely made a resolution to stop permitting work from dominating my free time but even so I’m not certain I will have as much time to dedicate to writing as I would like.

Time management is going to have to be a major focus for me if I want to keep myself on track but I would love a magic wand to give me a few extra hours every day. It’s a good job I don’t need much sleep.

How else can I get the balance right between working and writing? Any top tips to help me give myself more time for the things I love?

Answers on a postcard please!
Continue reading

An interview…. with me? Part three!

So here is the third part of my interview by my good friend Abbey. I just hope I am answering  everything she wants to know!

Being a writer

What does writing mean to you?

It means home, it means my place to go, it means my refuge. Writing is where I hide when I need to sort the madness out inside my head and it is where I go when there is something I cannot process or deal with in another way. Writing is where I feel comfortable, but not safe – I like it to challenge me, I want it to feel risky. Writing is where I can pretend to be anyone in the world and do things over differently, but it can also be the place where I take the real world and just up the tension a thousand times until something breaks. If I didn’t have writing, I wouldn’t have stories and if I couldn’t explore through fictional craziness, I really don’t think I would be me.

What inspires you to write?

The world around me, the people I know, things I have seen, places I have been. Inspiration can be drawn from pretty much anywhere if you know what to look for. Sometimes I overhear a conversation or a few snippets of dialogue and these become the groundings for a scenario or character, sometimes I see something unfold and wish I could tell that particular concept in a different way and sometimes there is an issue or idea I just have a burning passion to explore. I cannot remember the last day when I did not come up with a new fictional idea, most mornings I wake up with scribbles on a notepad beside me that I don’t even remember writing.

Being inspired is not the problem, finding the time to write always has been!

When did you first realise you had a passion for writing?

I have been telling stories my entire life, right back to the days of imaginary friends in the back garden and making up stories to tell the children who we looked after when I was small. I wrote my first story (albeit one that was less than 100 words long) when I was four and ever since I have been telling tales. By the time I started secondary school it was perfectly normal for me not to be paying attention in class and instead of working on the topic in hand, I was writing fictional pieces in the centre pages of my exercise books. I haven’t stopped since and I never want to either.

Be back here the same time tomorrow for the fourth and final part!

An interview…. with me? Part two!

As I said yesterday, I am currently in the process of being interview by the lovely Abbey – who obviously had a burning desire to interrogate me! Here is the second part of the interview.

My favourite things

Who is your favourite author?

In recent years I would have to say Jodi Picoult, mainly because she captured my attention at a moment when I really needed an escape and her books tackle issues that I appreciate reading about. However other notable mentions would be the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and William Shakespeare (if I am allowed to count a playwright).

Have you ever met an author?

I have met both Jacqueline Wilson and Jodi Picoult on more than one occasion. Jacqueline Wilson lives just up the road from here and I’ve met her a few times, including when she signed a book for my sister. I have met Jodi Picoult at several events in this country, when she has done meet and greets with fans. In fact my dad has even met her once on my behalf.

What is your all time favourite book?

To Kill a Mockingbird without question, with Dr Zhivago and then Anna Karenina close behind. These three books have inspired me, challenge me and influenced the way I think.

What is your favourite genre to read?

I do love a good family drama or the story of a doomed romance. I also devour books with a certain level of historical context, and also those that deal with modern issues. I would read a crime novel any day, in fact I think the only genre I cannot deal with is horror. I guess you could say my taste is varied!

Do any authors inspire you?

Yes, in fact many do. I am inspired by people like Stephen King, who have had such a long and successful career and produced such a wide range of books that have reached an incredible audience. As a child I was inspired by Louisa May Alcott and Johanna Spyri, Roald Dahl and A.A. Milne, before Anna Sewell and Enid Blyton gave way to Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker. All of these authors have touched me with their words, in addition to those I have mentioned before. However I guess, if I had to narrow it down to just one it would be Harper Lee for standing up for what she believed in and writing one of the most important books of all time.

Be back here the same time tomorrow for part three!

An interview…. with me?

When I first said I was setting up this blog (and adopting Midnight Scripts as my name) one of my favourite people, Abbey, was straight in there like a journalist asking to be the first person to interview me as a writer. I’ve split her questions into four sections, the first of which is here and I am going to attempt to answer what she wanted to know the best I can!

So thank you to Abbey for being the inspiration behind this post.

Getting to know me….

What is your favourite past time?

Well writing aside, because you already know about that, I enjoy watching television dramas – especially British crime and medical dramas – and studying the varied techniques used by writers to convey different emotions to the screen. I also read very widely, fiction and non-fiction and spend a lot of time researching the world around me.

I love to travel, both near and far, and am also a fan of the cinema, shopping and spending time with my mentee. However I guess my favourite past time is to spend time exploring, be that a city or the countryside.

If you could change one thing about your career what would it be?

I work as a senior manager, working in a department that I really believe in and doing a job that I adore. I work long hours, I work hard and it isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The fact that I got where I am despite dropping out of university means the world to me.

Have you ever met anyone famous?

I guess that depends on your definition of famous. I have met a number of actors and actresses over the years, and a few people who were on their way to being famous.

Who would you like to meet in the future?

I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to meet the cast of several TV shows I love, nor to meet Emeli Sande, Lana Del Rey, Alicia Keys and Rihanna in person. However I would much prefer to meet the writers, directors, producers and other crew of Casualty if I could only choose one set of people.

What is your favourite place to go?

I love Devon and Cornwall, and will never get tired of visiting, yet despite that Cardiff is my place to run to because I feel very at home there. However having said that, after the experiences of the last week, Glasgow is also a contender. Outside of the UK, Iceland was beautiful and Yosemite National Park was as awe inspiring as the Grand Canyon was jaw dropping.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: I think I am a loyal friend, dependable, honest, passionate and opinionated.

Weakness: I lack confidence (although I can fake it), I talk too much and I love a good argument.

Be back here the same time tomorrow for part two!

My writing resolution…. Or a plan for a writing revolution?

Welcome to my new writing focused blog, where I will be sharing updates and news from my forays into various forms of writing. Having just spent four days in Glasgow with a friend debating all things fictional and script related I am now far more inspired than I’ve been in months, which is useful because I have a head full of ideas to get down on paper – preferably before my head explodes.

On the basis of my newly resurrected enthusiasm I am making a resolution to have a writing revolution. I refuse to feel guilty for switching off from the rest of the world (writing buddies aside) to tap into the fictional madness inside my head. I refuse to let other commitments prevent me from dedicating time to the one thing in my life that I have always been passionate about.

I’ve made a plan, I have a list – in fact I have a colour coded spreadsheet but there we go, I can’t help being a bit obsessive over such things. Therefore my writing resolution is as follows:

  1.  To brainstorm and select a new idea for my “spec” script by end of May and create a writing plan for this piece
  2. To complete one of my on-going pieces of fiction by end of June
  3. To redraft and fully plan my second on-going piece of fiction by end of July
  4. To complete the detailed plan for my six part script (code name: Sophie) by end of June
  5. To complete writing the six episodes of “Sophie” by August (and if you think that is a crazy timescale, you should bear in mind I wrote the first episode in draft in approximately 12 hours due to a surprise imminent deadline)
  6. Create my targeted networking plan for the next six months by the end of May and start making contacts
  7. Prepare pitches for a number of script ideas in time to rehearse for LSF in October
  8. Prepare a number of suitable pieces of work for the competition season in the coming months (topics to be decided)

And in addition to the above, I also intend to:

  1.  Write one short fictional piece per week and publish it online for comment
  2. Blog at least twice a week on this blog about my writing progress
  3. Blog at least twice a week on my personal blog about life, love and the universe
  4. Keep in touch with my course mates from the recent script course I completed

Just a few things to keep me busy then? What do you think? Am I going to be horrendously busy or having the time of my life?

I very much hope it is the latter. Vive le writing revolution.