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Lewis Carter, LISP Film Festival 2023 Official Selection, A Night with Ivan Argall

LISP Film Festival 2023 Official Selection, A Night with Ivan Argall by Lewis Carter

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

I’m a writer, filmmaker, and audio dramatist from South Wales. I’m the head writer/producer for the video production company, Fine Rolling Media. At the moment my days are full of writing, pre-production, or editing in the office—or directing; commercials, brand films, documentaries, music videos, etc. And my nights are currently spent writing my latest fiction podcast series—something I’m incredibly excited about. It’s a serialised sci-fi story revolving around a set of dysfunctional characters on an impossible mission. It’s going into production with the audio production company, Alternative Stories and Fake Realities. I can’t wait to get it out into the world as I think it’s some of my best writing to date.


-When and how did you get into writing?

I always wanted to tell stories. I got accepted onto a writing master’s course at Leeds Uni based on a short story I wrote and took that as a sign to try and make writing as a profession a reality for me. I struggled initially on the course, but by the end, I’d started to get some short prose pieces published. I knew I wanted to write dialogue, so I set out to create a short film as a calling card for my ability to write for the screen. I wrote a short film called Campfire Story during the last week of my master’s course and was determined to get it into in the hands of people who could help me make it. Fine Rolling Media agreed to read the script and (thankfully) fell in love with it. I was invited to co-direct the film and since then, I’ve been a part of Fine Rolling ever since.


We’ve made numerous short films, documentaries, and music videos since that first film, and they’ve all gone on to screen around the world and win awards. In my downtime, I’ve also continued to write short prose and get a few pieces published.


A big turning point in my creative life came a few years ago, when I decided to turn my hand to writing for audio. I adapted one of my novellas into a radio drama and got within touching distance of it airing on BBC Radio 4. Close but no cigar on that one. But, during the process, I fell in love with writing for the audio medium.


A year or so later, a Welsh production company commissioned me to write an original audio drama—again, a process I absolutely loved. Mostly because I got to write in the science fiction genre and tell a story that would be budget-prohibitive on the screen.

I’ve since had a second horror audio drama produced by The Alternative Stories and Fake Realities Podcast called, The Gathering. This drama went on to represent The UK at The UK International Radio Drama Festival and The Chigiana International Radio Festival. I’m over the moon that the same production company has entrusted me to create an upcoming tentpole sci-fi fiction podcast series with them. It’s been incredible to create a whole new world and populate it with some of my favourite characters and tell a story over multiple episodes.


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

I’m either writing or creating in my day job most days, so when I get home writing is not always what I want to do. However, when I have a creative project on such as the podcast series I’m working on right now, I do pull double duty and write for work in the day and then write for another project at night. I’m often most happy when this is the case as I feel useful, busy, and creatively fulfilled. Although, after a while, the hours can take a toll and I’m usually forced to take a break to recharge my batteries.


The only other thing I have in terms of a routine is taking a couple of weeks off throughout the year for a writing retreat or two. This is time for me to take stock of my writing goals and to purely work on a passion project. These retreats are often spent in an Airbnb in a picturesque location, writing by day and reading or listening to fiction podcasts in the pub by night. These retreats are incredibly fulfilling, but for the rest of the year I just live by the rule that: if you want to be a writer, you have to snatch as much time as you can, write anywhere, and just get as much down in a sitting possible before the real world drags you away again.


-How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Whilst there is nothing like getting your work screened, listened to, or read… recognition is still recognition. And it’s a great boost to know that somebody out there has experienced and enjoyed your work. This is the second time LISP has recognised one of my projects and both times I’ve submitted some of my more experimental work, or work in a medium I’m not as proficient in. Feedback is always helpful and it’s a great reminder to keep pushing. God knows there are enough setbacks along the way for any kind of writer or filmmaker.


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

I’ve always found the stage play a tricky medium. As a screenwriter and audio dramatist first and foremost, I’ve always found it a bit of a stumbling block. What happens if I wanna ‘cut to’ something? How do I separate the scenes? etc. So, to get a play script this far into the competition is a great confidence booster.


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

A Night with Ivan Argall began as a short story before becoming a radio play script before becoming a stage play script. It’s kinda done the rounds with me and become my experimental avatar into writing for different mediums out of my comfort zone. Who knows, maybe it will be a VR experience or something next.


The story was inspired by the Welsh actor Richard Burton and his appearances on talk shows during a time when he was trying to overcome his alcoholism. I knew the conversational nature of two people talking to each other on a talk show segment would be the perfect setting for a stage play, and as a Welsh writer, I wanted to create a character, like Burton, who was jettisoned from a humble working-class life in the Welsh Valleys to stardom in the US and all the complications that come with that.


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

As I’m new to the stage play medium, I wouldn’t presume to be able to drop golden nuggets of advice. But, as with writing for any kind of medium, I always try to come up with a compelling central question that my protagonist(s) will have to confront and then begin to question what obstacles I can put in their way. When I hear the characters talking to themselves in my head—I stop plotting and start writing straight away. Once the characters are talking… they’ll tell you where they need to go.


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

In terms of films, it’s always getting your work screened, but as I’ve said, there are many pitfalls to being a working writer, so any kind of recognition is a well-needed endorphin spike along a long road of trials.


The most challenging thing at the moment is probably finding the time to vet competitions to see if they’re worth your time and effort.


-Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?

As I said, LISP has been a great place for me to submit works in a new medium and see if there is potentially a wider audience for them. If you’re looking to try a new medium, genre, or style of writing but you’re not sure it’s gonna translate… I’d say submit it to LISP.



INSTAGRAM/TWITTER: @fictionist4hire



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