Please tell us about your background. What made you fall in love with cinema? How did you become interested in writing screenplays?
I’ve been writing since I was in primary school, usually after being inspired by a movie or tv program I’d just watched. I often had my stories read out in class on a Friday afternoon so I guess I caught the bug early.
I’ve grown up in North Wales, and this has always had a strong influence on my writing. I am also an archaeologist of 20 years' experience which has also had a strong influence. My advice to any fellow writers is, if looking for story inspiration, look immediately around you first. You’ll often be pleasantly surprised about what you can find to write about.
I was once told that good screenwriting is about painting with words. I think that is very true, as I’m also an artist. I think it’s that fact that drew me to screenplays. I see the movies in my head and I paint the words onto the screen.
Which filmmakers and screenwriters influenced you? What are some of the films and screenplays that affected you the most?
I guess the usual suspects of a man of my generation! Spielberg, Carpenter, Mann, Petersen, Scott. All influence my writing whether consciously or sub-consciously. With regards to screenwriters however, I would say none. I made a conscious decision not to read other writers works in any depth, as I don’t want to write like them, I want to write like me.
What are the visual themes/issues you try to reflect in your work? What, in your opinion, is the most important quality of a screenplay?
My themes usually revolve around forgiveness, redemption, condemnation. Also, social themes such as refugeeism, racism, religion. I think the primary role of a screenplay, like any other story-telling through the ages, is to entertain and also to provoke thought and reflection.
What do you think is the most challenging part of being a writer, and how one can overcome it?
Lack of time! Also, for me anyway, it’s often a lack of self-belief. It can be a long crawl of determination to finish that screenplay, research the other. Often the only encouragement you can find is from yourself.
Where did the idea for Padre come from? What made you want to set the story in Normandy during the war?
I’d been reading the excellent ‘By Tank into Normandy’ by Stuart Hills. He was an officer in a tank regiment during the Normandy campaign. He mentioned many times the vital work performed by the regimental padre during the fighting. It inspired me to write a short screenplay which took me around 3 days.
What is your creative process? Do you visualize each and every scene when writing a script?
Yes, I see the movie in my head, often very clearly. I write cinematically and I never outline, I just get on with it. I can usually have a first draft knocked out pretty quickly. Padre has 3 drafts.
What do you think about having a career as a professional screenwriter? Is it easier now to be a screenwriter and find producers for your work?
Ah well, I’m not yet a pro! However, that may soon be changing.
Tell us about your festival run. Have film festivals provided you with the experience and exposure you needed? What is your opinion about how festivals can help screenwriters with their career?
I’ve found film festivals to be a great platform to get my work read, and if it’s good enough, awarded. The film festival scene is truly international as well, so if I win awards globally, then I feel it proves the worth of my writing everywhere. It's a good test.
What was the reaction of those who read your work? Was the feedback what you hoped for?
Padre has so far won 33 awards globally, so the reaction has been pretty amazing really. I truly never expected that and I’m very humbled by it. I’m very happy that people have enjoyed and still enjoy reading it.
Please tell us about your future project(s). What are you working on?
I’m currently collaborating on a script for a major TV series set in 11th C England, which is a historical period that greatly interests me. I’m also out pitching my own TV series called ‘Mr Novak’, which is set in my local area both during WW2 and the modern day.