One of the winners of Script Factory’s Serious Screenwriter Development Scheme in 2009, Olly Perkin has written numerous short screenplays and has worked extensively in TV, writing for Family Affairs, Doctors and The Bill. His feature screenplay, Break, follows an unhappily married couple who travel to a remote island only to become inadvertently embroiled in a terrorist kidnap plot.
What training have you received?
I studied screenwriting at the Northern Film School which really got me started seriously as a writer. My apprenticeship then consisted of long hours on original screenplays while trying out for TV shows, before I got a break on BBC’s Doctors. I think a lot can be taught about writing, but the old saying is true; you can’t be taught how to write, only how not to.
What themes do you like to explore in your work?
Before writing full-time I had a variety of jobs and it was the experience of working in a children’s home that led to my writing the screenplay for Home, about a young boy’s struggle to survive after arriving illegally in the UK. This theme of identity and belonging also recurs in Break, a thriller screenplay which I am developing in association with the Script Factory. I’ve also written, and am currently developing, a number of other screenplays including First Time In Humans, a dark thriller about a drugs trial that goes wrong, and Nutz, an animated kids’ film about feuding squirrels. I prefer working on a range of projects as I feel it helps keep the writing fresh.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a writer?
Firstly, that an idea is not a story. Secondly, that most writing is rewriting. Both well-worn statements, but unavoidably true.
Tell us the most significant moment in your career so far.
Each time I finish a new screenplay seems like the most significant moment. Then I remember the second piece of advice above. In practical terms I’d have to say my first proper, paid commission. I still can’t believe the sheer good luck and fortune I have had in being able to write for a living.
You’ll die happy when…
I’ve said everything I’ve got to say.