LISP 2022 Short Screenplay, Official Selection 'Home Truths' by Richard Sloggett
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I’m retired but, prior to that, I spent my working life directing TV commercials. I specialised in dialogue and comedy scripts and won a lot of awards including a black D&AD pencil (which is rare) and several Cannes Lions – 3 gold lions, 2 silver lions and 4 bronze lions. It was the best job imaginable – I travelled, met and worked with a huge variety of people and in locations all over the world.
But young copywriters want to work with young directors so, like footballers, police officers and actors who play Superman, commercial directors tend to retire early.
The upside of that is, of course, that I got to start writing screenplays sooner.
- When and how did you get into writing?
I started writing screenplays about eight years ago to replace the creativity I used to enjoy at work. The first script I wrote was optioned by the first person I pitched it to, Malcolm Craddock of Picture Palace – he made the Sharpe series – but he died before my script got into production.
But I was left thinking that getting a Production Company would be easy; how wrong I was! Eight years later, I’m still trying to get interest for that script and, now, a good many others, too.
- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?
I’m lucky because I don’t have a day-job getting in the way of my writing, but I don’t have a writing routine. Some days I hardly write at all but on other days I can spend 12 straight hours writing – generally, I write more when there are no other people in the house. My age and experience allow me to write from the point of view of men, women, young and old and with more empathy and knowledge than I could ever have managed when I was younger.
Plus, after years of writing and directing commercial scripts, I can now write and re-write fairly fast and with a lot more technical and emotional understanding.
The only real inspiration that I have is my personal desire to write. My choice of subject can come from anywhere – something I’ve read, heard or experienced; and that’s another advantage of age, I’ve done more of all three than the average person.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
It feels good, of course. Everybody likes to succeed in what they do. Why would a writer be any different?
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Screenplay?
To me, the best thing about writing a script is completing it to my own satisfaction. I learnt the technical skills of writing during my time in advertising. If you can put across everything a client needs to say in a 30 second script, doing the same in a 90-minute script becomes a lot easier. But I still get a warm inner glow when I’ve completed a 90-minute script satisfactorily – and that, of course, includes the rewrites.
The most challenging thing about writing a screenplay is getting someone in a position to green-light it, to read it.
- How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?
I was approached by a 39-year-old rock singer who wanted me to write a script that would be ‘award-winning’ and show off her talent as an actress; but she only had a limited budget which meant a small cast, no locations that would cost anything and no special effects or costly post-production. And, of course, she wanted me to write it for nothing.
First, she said she wanted to use footage she already had of her on stage, singing, and build a script around that so, that’s what I wrote. But then she said she didn’t want to be seen as a singer but as an actress. So, that script went in the bin.
Next, she said she liked vampire films so, I wrote her a script where she played a vampire but it was slightly comedic and she said she couldn’t do comedy. So, that went in the bin, too.
She wanted something more dramatic, so I came up with HOME TRUTHS. I made it a night-shoot because, as long as it didn’t rain, it wouldn’t be weather-dependent; and I located it in a back-street so that it could be lit with only a small number of lights and the shoot wouldn’t suffer from public interference; in researching homeless people I found that a lot of them are ex-military so, I made the protagonist an ex-military intelligence sergeant based on a woman I know quite well, who is exactly that.
I also found this quotation written on a homeless-shelter wall - “The average man in the street is not much different to the man on the streets.” This prompted the storyline.
But the would-be actress said she didn’t want to be seen as a homeless person since she was hoping for glamour roles.
So, I wrote her a more ‘glamourous’ script which she liked.
But personally, I preferred this one.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Screenplay?
I wish I could advise about writing screenplays. When I’ve had 3 or 4 on screen, then, I might feel qualified to say how to do it.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?
The best thing about competitions is, undoubtably, winning them. The most challenging thing is paying for them. You can spend huge amounts on entering lots of competitions. You have to choose very carefully. Personally, as a British screenwriter, I prefer UK competitions because, if I place in them, I’ll probably be looked at by British Production Companies which makes working with them much easier – for attitudinal as well as geographical reasons. Also, I prefer competitions that read the whole script rather than just a few pages. I never feel that I am being judged fairly, otherwise.
- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit their stories/screenplays to LISP?
I would certainly recommend it for the reasons stated above. But, also, because of the questions I am answering right now. LISP seems to care as much about the writer as they do about what he/she has written.