An interview with screenwriter/filmmaker Matthew Edwards

Welcome back once again.  Thank you so much for continuing to follow and tell your friends all about my blog.  Recently I was able to get in touch with, screenwriter and indie filmmaker, Matthew Edwards of Lytham, Lancashire.  In case you are wondering, Lytham is a nice, quite and affluent town about 10 miles south of Blackpool.  Another cool little fact about this town is that it host the “Open Golf Tournament drawing the likes George Clooney and other well known faces”.  Unfortunately, “there is very little opportunity in terms of the film and scriptwriting industry” there.  So let’s see what Matthew has to say about the himself and the industry.

Robert (me) – How old are you?

Matthew – I’m 25.

R – When did you decide that you wanted to be a screen writer?

M – I always had an interest in creative writing when I was a child, and grew up watching a variety of films and TV shows. But it wasn’t until 2009 that I started to study screenwriting. The reason for me studying it was I simply liked writing and liked films so thought I’d give it a go. When I first started I didn’t know how to format a script, let alone know all the other terms associated with the subject, but my knowledge and experience grew as I developed the skills, and still continues to grow.

R – How would you view your experience going to the University of Central Lancashire?

M – My experience in going to the University of Central Lancashire was a very positive one. As I said earlier I didn’t know anything in terms of the formatting of a script, but with the help of my teachers I learnt these skills and improved them as the course continued. This was done through various ways, including reading out our scripts in class and getting feedback from both the teacher and our peers, analysing various films and looking at the different scriptwriting techniques used, script editing and so on. During my 3-year undergraduate course and one year Masters programme, we covered film, TV, and radio formats, and the different writing styles for each. I wrote and pitched scripts of various genres including; monologues, animations, children’s scripts, drama, comedy, action, romance, fantasy and psychological thriller. This included a portfolio with three feature length film scripts, over twenty short film scripts, two pilot TV episodes and two complete radio dramas, one of which was produced.

R – That’s pretty impressive.  Is the film/TV industry strong in the Lancashire area?

M – I wouldn’t say the film/TV industry in Lancashire is strong but it is very close to Manchester, where a lot of production companies, including the BBC, are based. So more opportunities at least aren’t too far away. There are a few small production companies based in Lancashire and BBC Radio Lancashire, a regional radio station, offers a way of promoting your work.

R – It’s good to know that you have something almost a stones throw away.  Have you ever had a chance to work on anything in the USA yet?

M – The only thing I have worked on in the USA was as a film reviewer in August 2014 for the SoCal Film Festival. This involved rating and critiquing films in a wide range of genres, before deciding whether or not to recommend they be screened at the festival. Having attended the festival in 2013, I met the organiser and when I saw he needed film reviewers I decided to contact him and gain more experience through this. Although this wasn’t strictly working in the USA as I did it from home, I still felt like I was working on a USA project if that makes sense.

R – I don’t know if you can count that but what the heck.  Would you want to actually work on something in the USA?

M – I would love to work on something in the USA in the future. I feel the industry in the States is thriving compared to the UK, and would relish the opportunity to work on a project, whether it be for film or TV, in any capacity.

R – Other than the web series “Ambling Man”, what all have you been working on lately?

M – Apart from The Ambling Man web series, which is on the Mort&Pal YouTube channel myself and a fellow scriptwriter set up, I have been very busy with different projects. Recently I received my first paid work co-writing children’s animation scripts and continue to write them for a production company.

I have also written a short, anti-bullying script for a company called ITV Fixers, which I adapted from a short treatment about the true story of a teenage girl being bullied.

R – That’s great!  Do to the difficulties of having a sustaining income as a writer, are you doing anything else to help and try to make ends meet?

M – I have ventured into filmmaking/directing with a fellow scriptwriter, as well as taking on the role of producer, casting, and location scouting for the short film I am looking to shoot, especially as it is an Independent film.

Also recently co-directed a music video for a singer/songwriter student.

At the moment myself and a fellow scriptwriter are looking into doing online promotional videos for businesses and their websites and other social media platforms, so have been discussing this opportunity with owners of hotels, shops, restaurants etc. so hopefully this will take off in the near future.

Also looking to set up a production company with a fellow scriptwriter/filmmaker in the very near future, as well as in the process of casting a short film that I’m looking to co-direct in the next few months which will be sent to festivals.

Finally, I have been working as a teaching assistant since October 2014 teaching at the University of Central Lancashire developing the students monologues. I get to choose three or four of the monologues to be made into short films which will be screened at the LIFE Film Festival in March. I will also produce and co-direct the monologues so this is an excellent opportunity.

R – Do you find it challenging as TV script writer to constantly come up with new material or are you one of the lucky ones who’s head is just full of ideas?

M – I have a lot of different ideas in my head so don’t really struggle with getting a concept for a script. I usually try and get the themes of the script first and then develop it from there. Then I work on character as if you don’t have a character the audience cares about then the idea can fall flat in my opinion. I also like co-writing as I find it good to bounce ideas off other people.

R – What is the most memorable experience you have had since getting into the industry?

M – There are a lot of projects I am proud of since I’ve been a writer but the most memorable experience I’ve had has probably been when I was interviewed live on BBC Radio Lancashire about The Ambling Man web series. Also getting a short film I co-wrote and directed shortlisted at the LIFE Film Festival in April 2014 was something I am very proud of. Completing my Masters in September 2013 was a memorable moment too, especially the feature length film script I wrote in three months as I poured a lot of effort and emotion into it.

R – Is there a time that you wish you could forget?  Care to share?

M – Good question. There isn’t really a time I’d wish to forget but the number of rejections I’ve had for freelance work and jobs in the industry has been incredible, and the number of times I’ve not even had a response has been a little disheartening but it is to be expected in the industry.

R – How hard did you find it to get into the industry once you graduated?

M – I have found it very tough to get into the industry since finishing my Masters in September 2013. As a freelance writer I am exploring new ways to try and get a consistent income, including branching into filmmaking after buying a camera, audio and lighting equipment as I feel people would rather see something visual than read a script on a page. Apart from the children’s animation scripts, every other project I have worked on has been for no pay. It has developed my resumé  and portfolio which hopefully in the long run will lead to more paid work. Networking events have been beneficial also, as to an extent this industry is more about who you know as opposed to how well you can write in my opinion, so building up industry contacts has been a massive part. Also going into filmmaking and even marketing and self-promotion of my work has been a new experience I didn’t envisage doing.

R – Where do you hope to be or hope to have accomplished 10 year down the road?

M – In that time I hope to have accomplished writing and directing credits on a few short films, with at least one of which has been screened at numerous festivals, as well as completed a feature film by then. I would also like to have been hired by at least one production company to write a film for them as well as have several online promotional videos completed. Part-time teaching would be a useful.

I’m sure Matthew’s future is bright.  He has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time.  At 25 and having a drive to succeed he will only be limited by the limitations he puts on himself.  Check out his current web series “Rambling Man” on youtube.  Leave a comment for him as well.  We as writers and filmmakers get better through your feed back.  I, and I know you do as well, wish Matthew Edwards great success in everything he does.  For all of my counterparts here in the good’o U.S. of A., reach out to this talented young man.  He might be that hidden gem of a screenwriter that you have been looking for.

One last note.  I sometimes find difficulty with with imbedded video and WordPress.  I have included a file at the top of the page and below for the “Ambling Man”.  If you don’t see the video itself then click or copy/paste the link to check it out.

v=EdlOM5fKGA4#action=share[/embed]

Until next time ~ R

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