The First: No alarm and no surprises

THE FIRST -- Sean Penn leads an ensemble cast in this near-future drama about a crew of astronauts attempting to become the first humans on Mars. Under the direction of visionary aerospace magnate Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone), the crew contends with peril and personal sacrifice as they undertake the greatest pioneering feat in human history. Denise Hagerty (Anna Jacoby-Heron) and Tom Hagerty (Sean Penn), shown. (Photo by: Paul Schrimaldi/Hulu)

Beautiful shot and thoughtful, The First ultimately hits all the beats you expect it too, with no surprises. The First is a futuristic drama documenting the first manned mission to Mars. It’s set in the near future – the latter part of the 21st century – and as a result feels very contemporary, albeit with… Continue reading The First: No alarm and no surprises

Week seven: Screenwriting culture in the digital age

Writing is an odd beast, both influenced and unchanged by technology. On the surface, the outcome of writing is for us exactly what it was for previous generations: print on a page. But in addition to that we have other ways to disseminate work: online, self publishing, podcast, etc. This carries with it an unprecedented… Continue reading Week seven: Screenwriting culture in the digital age

Nicola Shindler at the BFI

If you ask me to name some of the best British drama I would probably say Cracker, Happy Valley, Queer as Folk. The latter of these shows have come from the production slate of RED Productions in Salford which Nicola Shindler began in 1998, and the former is where she cut her teeth as a… Continue reading Nicola Shindler at the BFI

Week six: first draft

First Draft It’s been perfect first-draft-writing weather. Nothing to tempt me from the keyboard except to make more coffee and watch my dogs play in the snow for a while. Things I have learnt about writing my first draft since I started my screenwriting journey: Get it all out. Don’t get hung on bits. If… Continue reading Week six: first draft

Let women tell their own stories

When I saw the list of new drama commissioned by ITV this year I was heartened to see the focus on female characters seems to have shifted, but confused to see that all these female led shows are being written by men. This is dissatisfactory on several levels. Firstly, female characters written by men do… Continue reading Let women tell their own stories

Week four: Screenwriting history and a deadline

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This week I’ve written my first treatment. Previously I have been so eager to get writing the script I have forgone these stages of script documentation which are both methodical and sensible steps to take in planning a story. And it has meant that I’ve dived head first into a script where my understanding of… Continue reading Week four: Screenwriting history and a deadline

Dark River

Ruth Wilson in Dark River

I’ve just come back from watching a preview of Dark River, Clio Barnard’s new film, and hearing Clio speak about the making of the film and it’s pretty much all I can think about. I love the look of this film. The score is sparse with the sounds of the landscape making up a great… Continue reading Dark River

Week three: Moving things on

Embarking on this course was with a couple of objectives in mind. To develop a creative practice where I am writing regularly, and collecting and reflecting upon ideas. Deadlines. I’m a classic procrastinator and without a deadline I will never finish anything. Praxis. Learn through doing: the best way to get better is to write… Continue reading Week three: Moving things on

Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Rita, Sue and Bob Too Production Photos Photo Credit : The Other Richard

In November of last year I saw Andrea Dunbar’s Shirley performed at Halifax’s Square Chapel so when a tour of Rita, Sue and Bob Too was announced, following a run at the Royal Court, I knew I had to see it. The play is a hilarious story, but it’s tragic too. The potential of Rita,… Continue reading Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Hanna by Sam Potter

What’s a play? This short play by Sam Potter is a one-woman performance of the story of a child, accidentally sent home from the hospital with the wrong family as an infant, and the chaos that ensues when the mistake is discovered. Sadly, I didn’t to see this performed, but the story is so compelling,… Continue reading Hanna by Sam Potter

10 ways to make ideas happen

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I’ve spent 15 years working in creative industries, a shortage of ideas has never been an issue. This is how I make ideas happen, and keep happening: Observe the world around you. The news, things you overhear at the supermarket, something that happened to someone you know. The best stories are rooted in truth. Write it… Continue reading 10 ways to make ideas happen

Don’t write the first episode, write the third episode

Don’t write the first episode, write the third episode I’ve heard Sally Wainwright say this a few times. The gist of it being that you enter into the throw of the action, not before it begins. You can tell the story of how we got here numerous ways, but it’s the being here that’s important.… Continue reading Don’t write the first episode, write the third episode