RICHARD HARRISON - 10 Questions
10 Questions from the September 2014 FEATURE Screenplay Winner.
1. What is your FEATURE SCRIPT about?
Shooting' Star' is a 'rock n roll' road movie, a story of love and revenge. A beautiful, young female grifter, realises the the guy she's in love with is more committed to their lifestyle than her, and in desperation steals the only thing he has of value that could be her chance of security ( the key to a safe deposit box) and leaves him. We start the film three after this event with her ex-boyfriend, Kelly, hunting her down across New Mexico for the key. The obvious motive is 'money' but its really about 'love' and recapturing that one moment you had in you life with someone you love.
2. Why should your script be made into a film?
This script should definitely be made into a movie because its an hour and forty minutes of pure escapism! Its got heart, its got desire, it will make you cry and it will make you laugh. It makes you lose yourself for that moment in time, which is what a great film is about.
3. How long have you been writing screenplays?
If I am honest, about fifteen or sixteen years. Its been a long, long road, and its very hard to get recognised. So, to be selected as one of your winners is a great compliment. As a very experienced Editor, friend of mine said, "filmmaking is not a science. There's no exact way. There's no definition, no precise formula".
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
That's easy, The Big Lebowski, followed by Some Like it Hot and then Casablanca. I remember dragging both my kid brothers to see The Big Lebowski when they were about fourteen and thirteen years old, there were seven of us in the cinema at the most. When they came out they said they had never seen a movie like it. It must have been some four or five years later when it started to catch on, and and over the last fifteen years we have watched with a sense of irony, joy and wonder at how its caught on and got recognised. If you re-watch certain scenes, there are more and more jokes in there than most people recognise and more than most films, literally dozens of them. Its a masterpiece! But having said that, what's the screenplay of Casablanca? Eighty pages max on the paper, no fat on the bone there and possibly the most perfect script ever written, "Where were you at 3 O'clock this morning?" "That's so long ago I can't remember". That's a line and they come at you every minute. Watch it again!!
5. What artists would you love to work with?
Its certainly changed. For most of the 90's its been the same as most people , Tarantino, Rodriguez, and then gradually I graduated to Alexander Payne, who is a true, true filmmaker of the highest order. But most recently David O'Russell. Those three films over the last few years have been incredible. To go from 'The Fighter' to 'Silver Linings Playbook' to 'American' Hustle' in today's climate is not only incredible bravado, it really is a true artist that can entertain an audience with three films that are essentially all character driven, its rare, its a hark back to the old greats such as Billy Wilder and Alexander Mckendrick. On an acting front, they blow in the wind, which isn't their fault, its mainly down the films. But Christian Bale has prevailed, Ryan Gosling never disappoints, but I think there's more exciting women actors out there than ever before, dozens of them with so much to give, and I am not talking the young babes, look at Robin Wright, Gillian Anderson on stage here in the UK, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep still knocks them dead and if she got her act together, Sharon Stone could knock them all out the park......women actors are a power to be unleashed in the cinema and I think their time is coming!
6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?
'Shooting Star' is my fourth feature length screenplay and I wrote, directed and produced one, award winning, short film, 'Sweet Thing'. My third feature film script, 'THE HONEY KILLER', I wrote, produced, and directed on a shoestring budget and won three international film festivals, and I had it called 'a cult movie' by Warner Bros, but I could never find a Distributor. I've seen it screened and succeed in over half a dozen countries at film festivals, but no international audience has ever seen it: www.thehoneykiller.com, www.razorfilms.co.uk. I would love to get it out there! Again, like 'Shooting Star', its essentially a road movie with a femme fatale as its lead.
7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
That's easy, Hollywood, and Directing my next movie, which is already written and ready to go.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
Its a little unusual: I usually think of really outrageous and provocative scenes and scenarios. Then, when I have three or four really unusual scenes that excite me, I start thinking, 'who is in them and what is their motive'. So, I invent set-pieces that really stand out, then invent my characters and storyline, so kind of back to front. Or the other way is I invent a really good opening scene, then think to myself, 'where the hell would this go?' And I find that really exciting as I don't know where the script is going to go. I make it up as I go along and surprise myself til I get to the end. From that i surprise others.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
This will bore everyone reading this but mainly exercise; running, working out, cardiovascular, yoga, keeping fit. If I feel good exercising, I can generally achieve more creatively, but that's just me! A bottle of brandy might work for others, but I have also written some of my best stuff sunk into a bottle of red wine....'hypocrite!'
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?
I think what influenced me the most was the full appraisal of my what I had written. None of us know what we've written, we think we do but we don't, no idea, we're clueless. We're just sunk in our own vision, and when I saw the full appraisal as part of the competition, I was sold. Then, I got my appraisal and it was possibly the best I have ever received, not because it was good or complimentary, but because they had obviously read it, and I mean completely and they properly criticised it! So their comments were not only 'left of field', but they were an accurate observation and they actually improved the script, not matter how hard they were to swallow. It was so worthwhile it was worth the price of entry just to get that feed back.....let alone winning, that was a real surprise. Winning didn't even cross my mind, I needed to know' what professional people thought of it. Me and the guy who I created the story with, Dave Powell, are over the moon.
11. Any advice or tips you'd like to pass on to other writers?
Yeah, of course! You haven't nailed it, re-write, re-write and re-write it. Get advice and comments from others, disregard the ones you know are nonsense, assess the one's that annoy you, react quickly to the ones that make sense! Only you know where this screenplay is going, but make it the best it can be, no matter what it takes, because at the end of the day you wrote it.....but the outside voices and comments could be the ones to make your day.