Lights, Camera… Now What?

Many, (err, many, many) years ago, I left LAMDA with no particular idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I scatter-gunned my empty CV at every theatre in London.

Somehow, this got me a job as a wardrobe assistant in an open air production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, during which I nearly castrated Puck trying to repair his trousers in the dark. Later I was cautioned by the police for carrying a ten foot oar on the tube (it was a prop for a Gate production of The Odyssey for which I was an assistant stage manager), and my career as a casting assistant hit something of a wobble when I told an actor auditioning for Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple at the National that he “looked like a Dick.” (In my defence, that’s the name of the character, but the poor guy was so taken aback by what seemed like a random insult that he forgot the speech he had prepared and his agent complained about me.)

Around then, a producer I knew asked me what I actually wanted to do for a career.

I didn’t really have an answer other than “work in theatre,” which I was doing, (even if what I was mostly doing was traumatising actors)… except that I did know deep down, but I thought it sounded a bit up myself so I couldn’t quite bring myself to say it out loud.

A few months later, however, I was stuck at home on my own as my then flatmate was on tour with a children’s show. There was nothing on TV and I was bored.

For some reason, I started idly thinking about the show I would like to watch. Then I started scribbling out the show I would like to watch. Sometime in the wee hours of the following morning, I had a (handwritten) pilot script and an outline of a first season.

It was bloody awful, but I was so taken with the high of making it up that I finally managed to say out loud what I really wanted to do: I wanted to be a screenwriter.

Within months, I was off to Canada to study Writing for Film and Television at the Vancouver Film School.

Returning to London, I froze when invited to pitch on the spot over the phone to Channel 4 so pretended I’d just seen a car crash and hung up. I sobbed to a then script-reader (who would go on to commission shows like Life on Mars and Broadchurch) about a breakup when I was supposed to be pitching scripts to her, and made up a series on the spot to a producer who dismissed all the ideas I had carefully prepared… and he bought it.

I was on the writing team for Making Waves, a digital series developed for Nickelodeon, then was shortlisted for the BBC Writers’ Academy in 2010. Shortly afterwards I moved to Stockholm, where I was commissioned to write a pilot, Sånt är Livet for Swedish Television, wrote web series Darkness for Tre Vänner, and created web pilots RealTales: Södermalm for LittleBig Productions and Love Refugee (which I also directed) for Press2Play.

My thriller feature film Guilty was optioned by Formosa Films and is scheduled to shoot next winter, and I was just commissioned to write a new screenplay for the same producer. Last year I was commissioned to write a draft of Killers Fee by Red Sister in Stockholm, and I have a couple of exciting projects in both Sweden & the UK I’ll hopefully be allowed to talk about soon!