Interviewee: Stuart Wright
Job Title: Writer
Credits Include: Fallen, Tabloid Terry, Out
of Hours, A Roadie's Tale
Interview Date: December 2013
Q. Hi Stuart,
give us a little background on yourself before you became a writer?
(degree, relevant work experience, interests, etc)
A. I'm a professional journalist turned screenwriter
with over sixteen years experience writing about art, film and
music: my work has been published by Dazed and Confused, Channel
Four's website, Rocksound, Flux Magazine and Quietus.com.
Q. And how
did you first get into the film industry and become script writer?
A. My real career ambitions to become a screenwriter
were ignited at the start of 2009 with a five week long Introduction
to Screenwriting from Raindance. By the summer of 2009 I was a
member of two writing groups and developing my screenwriting craft
through hearing it read by actors and the feedback of my writing
peers. This gave an early indication of the collaborative nature
of filmmaking and how being open to ideas can positively grow
your story with the input of others. The next twelve months were
spent honing my skills and branching out into feature length scripts.
While holding down an office job, I attended writers’ workshops
at the weekend, City Lit College at night and kept writing and
re-writing my own work in any free time.
Q. Is writing
a feature film very different to writing a short film aside from
the number of words? If so why?
A. Yes it's very different. In terms of linear,
narrative story telling. A short film can be like a skit. All
set up is paid off in the final moment without needing to explain
or completely understand every aspect of what the story has introduced
you too. Whereas a feature length script tends needs a much bigger
story, usually about one or two people, with sub plots and character
development to really work.
Q. Why is
it important for scripts to be formatted correctly? (i.e. Courier
font, font size 12, correct line spacing / indents, etc).
A. Industry standard is industry standard. Who
am I to want to present a script differently.
how long does it take you to write a short film script and how
long for a feature?
A. How long is a piece of string? How long have
you got? This is not an exact science.
Q. What is
the value of doing live script readings with actors when you have
a finished draft of a script?
A. The value of a script reading is to
hear how a third party understands how your dialogue should be
spoken. Quite often they'll interpret it quite differently, drop
words or phrases and add in stuff that they feel make it more
natural or appropriate for that character.
Q. What are
your top tips for someone writing their first feature film?
A. Consider and scrutinise your idea.
Is it the best one to be moving on with and spending so much time
writing? Or is there a better idea lurking beneath your early
thoughts. Then outline the basic beats or moments of the story
as you see it. Then flesh that out into a fuller outline. Keep
growing your idea for as much time as you can before starting
to write the script. I remember seeing Graham Linehan on a Charlie
Brooker show about writing. He advocates - ideally - living with
an original idea for six months before you start to write it.
Oh, and know your ending. Makes getting there much easier no matter
how far your story telling seems to want to deviate you from that
Q. What is
the best bit about being a writer?
A. You can do so much on your own without
relying on anyone but yourself. You work when you like, where
you like etc.
Q. What is
the most challenging bit about being a writer?
A. Facing the blank laptop each day. But
leaving it full at the end of the day is easly more satisfying
than any other days work I've done in the past.
Q. Is the
writing process a painful or pleasurable one? Or both?
A. I am in the Michael Arndt school of
writing. When I heard him describe his process as get up, read
the paper, drink coffee, read the paper, drink coffee and procrastinate
until I hate myself - I looked to the heavens and thought thank
god I'm not the only one. I'm sure many writers would concur.
do you get your inspiration and script ideas from?
A. Everywhere and anywhere. As a writer
you're never not thinking about potential or existing ideas. The
important thing is to live a life to create experiences you can
reflect on in your work.
Q. Do you
have a special room, location, and routine in order to write your
A. I have an office at home. I like spending
time at the British library. I have no routine as such beyond
Q. What tips
do you have to become a better writer? For example people often
say write 10 pages every day, or read 1,000 scripts, what’s
A. Just write. Every script started with
an acorn of an idea. Your job is to work that idea up - one sentence
at a time. Accept some of what you write with be rubbish, that
you are your harshest critic and that other writers you get on
with should be a maintain stay of your extra curricular activities
- so you can talk some more about scripts and ideas.
writers, screenwriters, playwrights or novelists do you most admire?
A. Paul Schrader. Taxi Driver is a work
of art. It was one of the first screenplays I read and still one
I can go back to over and over. Plus he wrote Hardcore - one of
my favourite films.
Q. What is
the best screenplay you have ever read or seen as a movie and
A. Drive by Hossein Amini is a very recent
favourite. What was done with a fairly solid pulp fiction novel
to adapt it to screen surpassed the book. The relationship between
Driver and Irene is a sub plot at best. Whereas in the film they
saw the potential for centering the story on those two. The result
provided the blueprint for Nicolas Winding Refn to make a wonderful
postcard to the city of LA too.
directors would you like to work with most or direct one of your
A. Nicolas Winding Refn. I think it would
fun and I would learn a hell of a lot.
people think about how saleable a script will be when they write
it or just pen it from passion whatever the idea? What do you
A. I think you need to be aware of the
market place your script is entering. Helps with expectations.
If you're going to write the summer my stamp collection drowned
because it's dying to get out of you then do it. Just don't surprised
when your potenital audience shrinks in comparison to a solid,
recognisable genre film. However, a good script is a good script.
So that stamp collection story could get you noticed through other
routes than simply trying to sell it.
Q. From watching
so many films so often what trends have you noticed with current
cinema and DVD releases? Do certain genres or sizes of movie dominate
A. I don't think you need to be an avid
movie goer to know that sequels, adaptations or world famous novels
and comic book hero movies dominate the cineplexes. Investors
in film like a sense of certainty attached to the projected returns,
just like other business people.
Q. How important
is it for a writer to promote himself or herself and their work
or is this best left to their agent?
A. You are in charge of your destiny.
You know what's important and what you really want. Why place
all your faith and ambitions in a third. Of course you've got
to promote yourself as a writer. It never stops.
Q. How important
is it for a writer to have a social media presence?
A. Personally, I think it's very important.
I also enjoy it. It's my water cooler on a bad day. But I don't
think it's a necessity.
Q. Is it
important for writers to attend film festivals such as Cannes?
If so why?
A. if you really want to understand the
market place then where better to go than where films are bought
are sold. Equally, as a fan and writer of horror, Frightfest provides
an annual snap shot of the genre from across the globe. So festivals
can be a good place or explore your own niche or writing too.
Thank you Stuart, we look
forward to seeing more of your scripts on the big screen soon
Stuart's Contact Details:
Contact: Stuart Wright
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