Best First-Time Screenwriter - Best Script Award, October 2020

Gabriel Brown is a final year Film and TV Production student, whose experience ranges from working on short films to promotional content, including wedding videos. He is currently undertaking a documentary project funded by the Virgin Money Foundation, and works as a Film and TV Assistant at Pauline Quirke Academy Sunderland.

1. Your script Finding Your True Self won award in the category Best First-Time Screenwriter Feature Script. How was the script inspired?

I'm very happy and grateful the script has won, and more so that it has been getting so much recognition already! The script was inspired by a number of different things, varying films, thoughts etc. There's a scene in Danny Boyle's T2 Trainspotting where Renton and Spud go for a run up Arthur's Seat. I love that scene, the humour, what it represents for the two of them, etc, and that scene inspired one of the first scenes in my script, where James and Rosalind go on their own respective run, for their own reasons. The dynamic of a trio of friends that's seen in Kings Of Summer, Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, God Help The Girl, that sort of dynamic was very much inspired from films like that. As akin to Perks Of Being A Wallflower as this script might be, I actually didn't really think about that film until I was finished with the script.

2. How did the writing process go? What was challenging during writing?

The writing process was really the case of me having this idea, randomly drafting scenes or lines as and when the idea struck me, and then I ended up leaving it for a while. I came back to it around the start of 2020 and worked on it more and more, the original plan being to film it in the summer just gone, which of course didn't happen! I think the challenge was making what is ultimately more a story of the characters be a "story" story as well if that makes sense? It's not as if the film doesn't have a story to it, I'd like to say it does, but I think the main real thing I had to think about was how does the growth I want in the characters intertwine with/create a narrative so to speak.

3. Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a screenwriter?

I am currently a final year Film and TV Production student, and have been doing freelance videography for around a year now, filming business promo's mainly, as well as event coverage, weddings, etc. I have crewed on the odd short film as a runner, clapperboard, etc and have more recently knuckled down a bit on both my writing and directing. Over the last couple months or so, I wrote and directed two shorts, Memento Mori and Mick and Rolo, and also wrote my first commissioned piece, CopyCats, directed by Soeun Park. I've always loved writing and wanted to be a writer since I was younger, and my interest specifically in screenwriting has just grown over time.

4. Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker?

To be honest, probably about 95% of the films I've seen has inspired me to make films in some way! Lots of the films I saw when I was younger, your Jaws, Indiana Jones', Goonies aided me for sure, but really most films I've seen have inspired me in some way. I'd love to make a cracking, well choreographed martial arts film thanks to works such as Ip Man and The Matrix for example. I'm constantly inspired even now with some of the stuff that has come out in recent years, especially the more original and different films such as The Lighthouse and Under the Silver Lake.

5. Who is your biggest influence?

I don't think I have a key influence really. Edgar Wright and Tarantino influenced me early on, maybe on my writing, hard to say. Spielberg of course is notable as well. And then, as I mentioned in my previous answer, new voices with original ideas, your Robert Eggers, Ari Aster's, David Robert Mitchell's, they are an influence on me I suppose to show that different sorts of ideas can still get made, and can still be well liked!

6. Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?

I suppose my main genre, thinking about the ideas I've made and have planned, is probably drama. However, that's by coincidence more than favouritism. For me, it really varies. A film concept may more about the idea, and then the genre follows afterwards, or I might just think "hey it would be cool to make a werewolf film" and then an idea for that comes. Of course it's likely going to be mainly a horror, but I don't decide to write a horror and then come up with the idea, I think more about creating a werewolf film, a slice of life film, etc then the genre follows. Sometimes a title might even just be the first thing I think of.

7. What’s your all-time favorite movie and why?

Favourite movie is a tricky one! The closest I have to a favourite is definitely helped because I've seen it so many times as opposed to other films that might be my favourite but they just aren't as I haven't seen them enough. But, that said, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is probably near to my favourite. I think it's got the perfect combination of a great story, lots of humour, personal connections and family relationships, brilliant action, and more. I never tire of watching it, and it's one of the few films where I really know the soundtrack quite well, which I can't say for a lot of films I've seen.

8. The most challenging project you worked on. And why?

The documentary has been the most challenging by far. However, we are only in the casting stage of the feature (at the time of me writing these answers) so that is going to likely end up becoming the most challenging for sure. The doc on the other hand has been challenging in its scheduling mostly. I've held interviews all across the North East, some planned out way ahead, some more impromptu. It's all the consent forms that are the necessary evil! Besides that, Covid put a stop to my editing as I wasn't editing it from home, so that's been something that I'm currently in the process of sorting out.

9. What are your short term and long term career goals?

Short term goals is to get the documentary edited and showcased, film a one take short film, likely in December, and keep plotting towards filming my first feature, fingers crossed February starting date! Aside from graduating university with hopefully a decent grade, I want to move into official industry jobs, in the role ideally of a researcher/script editor, with the career progression aim to work my way up to screenwriter. I will always be continuing my freelance work and films alongside anything I do though!

10. Your next projects?

In terms of next projects, I have the documentary project to finish the last edits on, hoping to get that done this year. There's the one take short film and a series of actor monologues I want to kick into gear. We hope to film this feature script early next year, and after that I hope to look to doing a second feature- I already have several scripts in various stages that the second feature could be.