• LISP Team

Robin Johnston, LISP Short Screenplay FINALIST

LISP Short Screenplay FINALIST, UNDERPASSERS BY Robin Johnston

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

My name is Robin Johnston, I live and work in Glasgow, Scotland. I work with a sight-loss charity, and I spend my free time writing, reading about writing and learning about writing. I also enjoy walking my dog, Darcy.

- When and how did you get into writing?

I have been writing on and off since my teens, mostly short stories and scripts. However, it wasn’t until the last few years I decided to get back into writing again. The pandemic lockdowns really motivated me to properly commit myself to writing regularly.

Last year my short sci-fi script ‘Simulacres’ reached the semi-finals of LISP, so it is great to be a finalist this year. Feels like definite progress!

- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?

I’ve been writing regularly now since August 2020. I try to average around one project a month. This year I have written three features and two short scripts. I hope to finish another first draft before the end of the year and spend 2022 rewriting these projects.

I have quite a few ideas I have developed over time, I want to make sure as many as possible see the light of day. I can’t be sure if they are good ideas, but there is only one way to find out.

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It is great to see your work recognised and placing well in competitions. It really helps to keep you motivated to keep writing, developing ideas, and improving the craft. LISP is a great example of how to support writers in this.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Screenplay?

The best thing is finishing a first draft and realising you have reached the end. That’s a great feeling. However, then you realise you have to go back and rewrite, edit and improve it, which is where the really hard work is.

I think knowing if you have an idea that can support a feature length story can be challenging. Maybe the idea is better suited to short form or another format. Motivation and determination are needed to get you through to the end, while still understanding that developing the story is potentially an endless process. Knowing when to stop is useful too.

- How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

I had the idea for ‘Underpassers’ around seven years ago and have been working on it on and off for the last couple of years. It has already received some very good feedback across the board, and I am always looking for ways to improve on this and all my scripts. Constructive feedback is always appreciated.

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Screenplay?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, especially on a first draft. Give yourself time to develop it until you are happy with the script, then send it out and see what happens. You must learn to deal with rejection and feedback though, which can be a shock at first. It is necessary to improve, and you don’t need to take it all on board. It’s still your own work.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?

The best thing is receiving constructive, positive feedback and the momentary ego boost if you do well. However, there will always be plenty of rejections and negative feedback to deal with too, which can be difficult, especially early on.

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on LISP?

Yes definitely, my last script submission was listed as a semi-finalist so this year making it as a finalist has really felt like progress!


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