These days, my interest in writing for film and TV is largely concerned with script development. In fact, I’ve spent far more time helping others develop their stories than writing my own, work which I find deeply rewarding.
In terms of creative approach, I favour encouraging writers to write intuitively, at least in the first instance. This is because I believe the best work comes from a type of writing which is akin to method acting – feeling as your characters feel and being “inside” 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.
I have many years’ experience developing scripts and teaching screenwriting in a variety of settings. I completed an MA in Screenwriting 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 people write better scripts. To date, I’ve taught both children and adults in schools and universities respectively, most recently at the Northern Film School in Leeds. However, I’m currently taking a break from teaching to complete a PhD. Helping storytellers 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, although only feature-length, and other demands on my time mean that I haven’t been drafting my own ideas for the last couple of years. When I’m able to clear a block of time, 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. We found our writing partnership worked very well and managed to place 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. We like creating collaboratively too much to ever want to stop. However, right now as well as working, we’re both in the middle of doing PhDs, so writing our next script will likely have to wait until they’re over.