Me and How I Ended Up Here

      I suppose looking back, with the gift of hindsight, it’s easy to trace the path that led me here. As the youngest of two (by 5 years) growing up in a small “two up, two down” with a Dad on shift work, I learned to be quiet and keep out of the way. Without the benefit of computer games and smart phones, books provided the necessary distraction and so my love for the written word began. There was also, of course, television and I remember fondly being allowed to stay up late on a Saturday night to watch the horror double bill. This always consisted of an old black and white classic from the likes of Boris Karloff or Lon Chaney, followed by a more modern offering from The Hammer House of Horror stable. Now these films would never give me nightmares or keep me awake at night, and yet the stories written by Charles Dickens would upset me to the extent that I still haven’t completely read any of his books. This is where I learned the importance of good story telling.

 

     My parents were practical people and, as they didn’t know of anyone who made a good living from writing, they actively dissuaded me from seeking out a career in that area as I would never make any money from it. Ironically, two weeks after them making such a statement, I won a story competition set by a local radio station and received £20 in book tokens.

   

     However, my careers teacher at school agreed with my parents: “In order to make any money from writing you have to be very good, and let’s face you are not”.

Thus began a normal, everyday life; a normal job; a normal car; a normal house; a phenomenal wife and two incredible children. Of all of these, it was the normal job that took the greatest toll. It was around the age of 40 that I had my first complete mental breakdown.

 

     From the depths of that nadir I rediscovered the joy of writing. The following coincidence meant that I had a purpose and an outlet for my scribbles. My children were at that age where they were too old for youth theatre and far too young for the “Am-Dram” scene and needed something and somewhere to perform. The interactive murder mystery play was ideal as they can be held in venues such as church halls without the need for too much production. Therefore, I wrote the plays; they and their friends performed them and everyone enjoyed themselves. With the introduction of friends, Gareth and Narelle, the production values became greater as did our audience numbers. We started with an audience of around 60 and within a year had trebled that, which for a murder mystery evening is a very respectable total.  Throughout the process, I began to notice that the story ideas and characters were beginning to merge and, within the play list, the “Minge Manor trilogy” proved to be the most popular.

     With our popularity growing, we began to attract more and diverse talent and so we moved to a larger theatre and into the world of musicals. Raising money for Cancer research U.K, we produced two original musicals that were seen by over 1000 people.

It was during this period that I began to contemplate the idea of a larger story. As I was now familiar with writing in script format, the idea of a TV series was an obvious one. The basic story of ‘The Seeing’ had been mulling around my head for a while but was galvanised when someone showed me a BAFTA “new writers competition”. The deadline was in two days and so I hurriedly cobbled together a treatment and 10 pages of industry standard script. Of course I didn’t win, this isn’t a fairy tale but I did progress to the latter stages of the completion and received warm and encouraging feedback.  After receiving such rare praise, I excitedly let it go to my head and decided to film the pilot episode myself; without any prior knowledge of film making, production and, of course, funds. I mean, how hard could it be...?

 

     Well, two years later I realised exactly how hard it can be and admitted defeat. Suitably chastised, I went back to the start to learn about the industry I was trying to gate crash. I spoke to writers and producers. I got hold of scripts from some of my favourite shows, watching the episodes to see how they transferred from page to screen. With a new perspective, I took a fresh look at my project using a more critical and professional attitude. After a whole raft of re-writes and re-thinks, the story had become more streamlined, coherent and more dynamic.

      I realised that in order to pitch the show I would need a decent “sizzle reel” to form part of the treatment.  This time I researched what I needed and then sourced the proper funding. I joined forces with an experienced producer (Maxine De-Vere) and brought in a cast and crew. I sourced set and props and equipment to do the job and, with the remaining funds, I got the resulting footage edited and the odd visual effect added. (Nothing of Hollywood proportions, I’m not made of money). This brings us up to date. We have the treatment with sizzle and we already have the screenplays for a 14 episode first season.  Hindsight is failing and the future is beckoning.

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End credit music with text banner on screen “To be continued….”

#the seeing has to be seen

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