Never let it be said that I’m a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to formats. As well as the Phoon books and the one-act play, I love to write screenplays, and one of them – a short – is now complete. It was ages ago when I wrote it. Let me check…. Yep, I completed it in May of last year, but the idea had been swilling around in my brain for a while. As sometimes happens, the atmosphere for the story came to me when I was in that half-awake/half-asleep stage. At that point all I had was a still, hushed hospital room some time in the future, with an android (male, for some reason) nurse looking after an ill child, one that hadn’t been able to move for a long time. As the story developed, I wanted to show the humanisation of the robot – he wasn’t what he seemed at the beginning.
This ended up as ‘Peel and the Broken Boy‘. It wasn’t completely finished when I saw on a screenwriters’ bulletin a call from a production company for short scripts. This gave me a deadline, and prodded me to complete it and send it off. Then I forgot about it. Then, in July, I got an email from the producer saying that mine was one of two scripts that they were considering. Joy was tempered by the certainty that I would come second out of two and I tried not to think about it any more. A month later, on holiday in Jamaica (love it there, it’s that Noel Coward/Ian Fleming vibe), my rum cocktail nearly plummeted to the rattan coffee table when I got another email saying that mine was the successful one!
Thereby followed a bit of to-ing and fro-ing on the script. Films (even short ones) are different from plays in that essentially you are handing over your baby to someone else to bring up. Although it didn’t happen with George and me, in a disagreement between the director and writer it’s going to be the former who wins. In a play, you feel a bit more involved. This could be because in a play, there is just the director and actors to begin with, and the production aspects were handled later. In a film, even a short has loads of other people around and the technical aspects (camera positioning, lighting angles) as just as important as what the actors are acting. When I did the play, during rehearsals the director was concerned that the outcome was as I wanted it to be. With the film, and probably because even low-production shorts cost some money, the director (literally) calls the shots.
I love the end result. It is fascinating to see it come to life. It’s actually very close to how I imagined it when writing. You can now see it here