My interest in writing for film and TV is largely concerned with the teaching of it. I completed a screenwriting MA some fifteen years ago and that, coupled with the teacher training I received from undertaking a PGCE, left me constantly on the lookout for new ways to break down the craft of dramatic storytelling and help students write better scripts. To date, I’ve taught both children and adults in various schools and universities, most recently at the Northern Film School in Leeds. However, I’m currently taking a break from teaching to complete a PhD. Helping people of all ages hone their screenwriting skills will always remain one of my favourite occupations and I plan to return to it in a couple of years’ time.
I do write scripts myself, though I tend to work with a co-writer, Keith Dando. It’s lots of fun. And writing should be fun – at least some of the time. Keith and I came together as writing partners by accident. We were good friends for many years and then one day, we fell for the same idea. I can’t remember whose idea it was – maybe his, maybe mine – but we both wanted to write it up as a feature film equally badly, so we decided to do it together. Since then our writing partnership has been going very well and we’ve already placed highly in a number of well-known screenwriting contests:
Page Awards Semi-Finalist 2015 (The Ghost Hunter)
Final Draft Finalist 2012 (Mirror-Me)
Zoetrope Quarterfinalist 2012 (Mirror Me)
Screenwriting Goldmine Semi-Finalist 2012 (Mirror-Me)
Screamfest Semi-Finalist 2010 (The Circling)
Story Pros Quarterfinalist 2010 (The Circling)
Although we’re busy people with other jobs, Keith and I have no doubt that we’ll continue to write together when possible. We like creating collaboratively too much to ever want to stop. Currently, we are redrafting a feature-length script… though it is slow going at present.
To return to the subject of screenwriting pedagogy, for anyone seeking my academic opinion as to how the best writers go about creating their screenplays, I favour intuitive writing, at least in the first instance. That is to say that I believe the best work comes from a type of writing which is akin to method acting – feeling as your characters feel and being “in” the story as you write it. However, once that is achieved, there are very few writers who don’t need to pay attention to dramatic structure. Some of it will be there naturally, some of it won’t – and that’s where drafting comes into its own.