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Helen Veale, Semi-Finalist

Helen Veale, Screenplay Semi-Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020

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

I am a carer for my mother who unfortunately had a stroke last year. I also teach scriptwriting workshops at Carmarthen University - at least I did before lockdown, now that's up in the air somewhat! When I'm not looking after my mum or my 12-year-old daughter, I'm writing - I've just finished a film script and am now working on a YA fantasy novel - or watching crap tele or slowly getting through the massive pile of books I've got to read. 

- When did you start writing? How often do you write? 

I started writing (plays) about fifteen years ago. My ex-partner and I started a theatrical production company to produce our own plays and tour them. We didn't make any money at all, in fact we ended up in the red, but it was a brilliant experience and I learned so much about writing and producing.  I write most days -  sometimes that involves 'actual' writing and sometimes it means creating characters, storyworlds and scenes in my head. 

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It feels so good. It is extremely difficult to get genuine feedback from people who know what they're talking about - especially with scripts -  so recognition and encouragement is very thin on the ground. Having this accolade right now is perfect timing as I ( like most writers at some point) am experiencing a lack of confidence, so it has done me the world of good - thank you!

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

The best thing about writing a screenplay, for me, is the preparation and structuring - creating my storyworld and its characters. When it all comes together it feels magical, there is nothing like it. The worst thing is knowing that when you finish it will be terribly difficult to get it produced - companies and producers aren't as willing to risk investment on new talent as they used to be. But as writers, we have to keep going - we have no choice!

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

I have to be honest, this script was one of the easiest things I've ever written. It took me a week, and I only did a few re-writes. It felt good right from the start. I was inspired by the last scene of a film by Lukas Moodysson called Lilya 4-ever. It was absolutely harrowing, and I won't be watching anything similar in a hurry, but my imagination ran riot after I saw it and the result was The Blue Dress. 

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

My biggest tip would be, not to forget about structure. Even though your script is very short, comparatively, it still needs a strong start, middle and end. 

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

I would absolutely recommend entering LISP - apart from anything else, it's a great way to actually write something if you struggle with motivation as I do, Deadlines, be they from competitions or otherwise are a great way to start a project you've had in your head for ages but have never done anything about it!



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