Nicko Vaughan, Screenplay Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I'm a lecturer and I write a live comedy/film show. However, thanks to this pandemic I've not been able to do much of either. So between sorting out my lectures online, I've been dedicating a bit more time to my script writing. It's hard to write at home because I have a petulant cat who can be destructively demanding. I also haven't worn shoes or a bra in five months, and so I spend a lot of my day worrying how I will cope when I, eventually, have to leave the house.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write?
When I was 14 years old my story was chosen to be published in a book called "Dates from Hell" and from there I wrote for a variety of comedy magazines and film magazines. I started doing stand up comedy in 1995 (yes, I'm that old) and from there, writing has been part of my daily life. I've written award-winning short films, I've written sketches for radio comedies and I've worked with Talkback Thames on a variety of comedy projects.
Now I lecture creative writing so that forces me to constantly think about my writing and how to evolve it and improve it. I am a big fan of bad movies and of Sherlock Holmes and have managed to combine those twin passions with some published books, one of which led me to work with MX Publishing, the biggest Sherlock Holmes publishing house, in creating the imprint Orange Pip Books, a place for young readers and writers.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
It's a lovely feeling, isn't it? Because, when you write alone, you're never really sure if what you've done is any good or works within an industry context. Friends and family are always well-meaning, but I think I could scribble complete gibberish onto a page and have my mother tell me I'm a genius
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Screenplay?
The best thing is being able to write in an active voice. I am no good with novels, a lot of screenwriters aren't. They take too long, they are overly descriptive, and we all just don't have the patience, and that is because when you write a screenplay, your action is brief and to the point. The last thing you need is an angry director, shaking their fist and yelling at you for directing from the page.
The hardest is always the dialogue. Working on the characters and giving them their own voice whilst, at the same time, making the dialogue "film real" can be tricky. It's also always painful to have a bit that doesn't work and knowing that, even though it's great, has to be cut because it doesn't fit. It's like killing a family member. But everything I take out, I keep. You never know when you might need it!
- 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 hate using my PC and the fact that there is a webcam pointed at me, constantly, is disconcerting. I often wonder if anybody is watching me and, from that, came the idea of, "What if a hacker fell in love with the person they were watching?" From there I started thinking about how that might work, what kind of person would do that, and then how could I tell that differently. That’s why it isn't until the end, when key moments of the film are played back in flashback, do you get the full creepy story. Once I had the idea formulated and the character fleshed out, the first draft fell out. It's like that sometimes. There are scripts I've been working on for years and then, sometimes, one pops out, ready to go.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a short screenplay?
Don't try and squash a large story into a short format, a feature film is a feature and a short film is a short. They are completely different creatures. So, figure out whose story you want to tell and stick to the minutia of story telling. Short films are the bullseye so don't focus on the whole target.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about competitions?
Sending things off is the hardest because you're sending your child away to be judged by strangers. Writers are a delicate bunch and so a "not selected" can set off a spiral of insecurity. But if you want to get better, really do have to let other people see it. The best thing is being part of a new writing community and getting feedback from other writers.
-Lastly, do you recommend writers to give it a go LISP?
100% Get yourself into a supportive, like-minded group and grab any and all inspiration that you can.