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Last year I gave up a dream I’d been pursuing for 14 years, the dream of working in the film industry as a writer and filmmaker.
My love started many suns and moons ago with a lightning bolt realization. I had daydreamed a vivid conversation between a grandmother and her grandson, and it was such an odd, cinematic vision that I wrote it down. Then it hit me, “THIS must be what it’s like to write movies!” I went on to devour any book about the craft that I could find, and write my first feature-length script in a week.
As years passed I wrote more scripts, produced and directed my own short films, moved to Hollywood and worked for a big screenwriter. Later, I worked in casting and production. I won some small awards for my scripts and films, and worked for little or no money in pursuit of…
One of the best things about being a playwright rather a novelist, poet or unperformed screenwriter is working with other performance professionals. I’m just fresh from two development days on two separate scripts, in the space of 8 days. So guess what I’m going to tell you about…but only one at a time.
First up was director Mandy Horlock leading an astonishing cast in a script development day for ‘A Bit of A Song and Dance’, as part of the work of the Writers’ Forum @ Tobacco Factory Theatres. Once a season, the group runs one of these days and I was lucky enough that this script got the latest treatment.
With zilch funding, and I mean, zilch, save the generous donation of space from TFT for the day and evening, the team blew my mind. The story shows us Martin, on the brink of retirement, and his wife Sandra, who is on the brink of leaving for a world cruise with the proceeds of the house. But in moments of stress, Martin escapes into his ’50s childhood comic world and becomes Col. Dan Dare of the Eagle comic. The Mekon has stolen his pension and Martin’s just found the family he always wanted. Clearly, all is not as it seems.
So, with seven hours’ slog behind them, this ridiculously talented bunch were in costume, under Venusian tunnels, over restaurant tables and singing along with a tribe of actuaries. Our superb audience gave fantastically useful feedback, which was really illuminating: different people like different levels of solid information and ambiguity. We don’t all like guessing, and some more than others. Lastly, kindly, many have let me know how moved they were by the show, which is all credit to the wonderful team who got that wee monster of a script on stage.
So with huge thanks, it’s time to roll the credits: David Collins, Dee Sadler, Ali Campbell, Alex Dunbar, Alan Coveney with director Mandy Horlock. With thanks to Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Writers’ Forum.
Spring is in the air, the blossom is appearing and things are starting to happen with the next stage of QM, my quantum mechanics play. If you remember, we raised 25% above target in December-January, through talentbacker, to fund a script development day with professional actors and a director….
Things are starting to happen, so watch this space…