What training have you received?
I studied media performance at Salford University, and part of that involved writing our own short films, but I was never ‘taught’ how to write. I believe you either can or you can’t. As an actor you read so many bad scripts, and I just started thinking, ‘I can do better than this’. I started talking to producers I was working with, wrote a couple of sample scripts for them and got my first commissions from there.
What themes do you like to explore in your work?
The themes I like to explore involve lads talking to each other. I think that male lead drama on TV is criminally under commissioned, and the notion that men don’t talk to each other is absolute bollocks. They do, it’s just that they talk in riddles! My next script due to go into production, Spike Island, is a coming of age story about a group of 16-year-old lads, all of whom have issues and problems—but the way they deal with this is just to call each other names.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a writer?
Nicola Shindler from Red Productions once said to me that: ‘The PLOT is that the queen marries the king and the king dies. The STORY is that the King dies of a broken heart’. Also, someone once told me that if nothing has changed or moved on by the end of the scene, then cut the fucker. I’m not sure about that because there is always room for good dialogue, but you should always have an eye on the cutting room floor.
Tell us the most significant moment in your career so far
Probably when a film I was commissioned to write for Michael Winterbottom collapsed a couple of weeks before production. It taught me never to believe a film was going to actually happen until there is a cast and crew turning over on the first day of the shoot. Other than that, getting my first screenplay Weekender actually made is a big moment.
You’ll die happy when…
I don’t think I’ll ever be happy to die. There’s far too much to do!