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Elizabeth Mitchell – One To Watch

After graduating from Cambridge University, Elizabeth lived in Los Angeles for five years, starting as a script reader and runner and then becoming Head of Development for independent producer Michael Peyser. Upon returning to the UK, she worked as a film officer for Lewisham Council and was also a film literary agent for Sheil Land Associates. Elizabeth has written four screenplays including Island, based on the novel by Jane Rogers. She has been commissioned to write an original WW2 epic, and is developing the romantic comedy My Soviet Kitchen.

What training have you received?
My first job in LA was reading and providing feedback on unproduced screenplays, so I quickly got a sense of what worked and what didn’t. I enjoy the sociability of writing courses, and I recently did a Creative Collaboration Course with The Script Factory and British Council, as well as getting a bursary to do an Arvon Foundation course.

What themes do you like to explore in your work?
I am drawn to the idiosyncrasies of people. How they reconcile themselves to each other, their environment and their own sense of self. That sounds pretty broad, but it’s endlessly fascinating and incorporates the usual fare: love, loss, betrayal, identity…

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a writer?
Simon Block, a tutor on Arvon, is great. He told us to ‘stare at the wall’ and just start writing. A wonderful Israeli colleague, Yoram Mandel, just kept saying ‘Why?’ after every sentence of my pitch. He forced me to unpick all my presumptions; it was like therapy.

Tell us the most significant moment in your career so far
Lucy Scher of The Script Factory told me my adaptation of Island was one of the best screenplays she’s read. And the first day on set with my directing partner-in-crime Brek Taylor, on the Isle of Mull in December, waiting for a full English in the freezing pre-dawn light.

You’ll die happy when…
It’s not so catastrophically difficult to get feature films made in the UK!

Island will premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival in February.

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