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Why I started to make a film during my last year of uni, and why you should too


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(Or, The Journey of ‘Campfire Story’ - Part 1.)

Every day a young writer musters the confidence to shuffle up to a producer at a party, or a director giving a talk in some sweaty convention hall, and ask the same question: ‘Will you read my script?’

I have no idea of the ratio of positive to negative responses to that question, but the piles of unproduced screenplays clogging up desk draws and hard drives across the world suggests that, for the most part, the courage needed to approach an industry insider largely goes unrewarded.  

As part of my MA at Leeds I produced a handful of screen plays, short stories and even an audio drama script, and each time I pondered the same question that will have prompted many of you to click on this article: how do I get this in front of the right person?

The message of this series of articles is very simple, if you believe in what you’ve written, then your screenplay, short film script or treatment is already in front of the right person. It’s you.

Shuffle with me up to the mic again in your favourite convention hall, and roll a different question over your inevitably dry tong. This time it’s: ‘Will you watch what I’ve already made?’

Feels better doesn’t it? Well, to me it did. That’s why I decided to sit down before graduating and write ‘Campfire Story’. A film with a feather light budget, designed to be filmed locally, and practically with a small cast and one director. Me.

If, like me, you have virtually zero experience as a director, then you have no choice but to use the only tool at your disposal - your voice. Trust me, it sounds much better bouncing off a vibrant script than it does squeaking through our metaphorical microphone in our metaphorical convention hall.

In getting to work on a script/treatment that you plan to make yourself, you have already taken the first step towards becoming a credible director. Once at your keyboard you’ll be subconsciously tethered to reality by the part of your brain that actually has to bring your script to life later on. In my case, by doing just that with ‘Campfire Story’, I had the good fortune of attracting the brilliant, award-winning Kristian Kane of ‘Fine Rolling Media’ to come on board as co-director and producer. But make no mistake, my initial plans revolved around writing a script so tight and stripped back that it could be filmed using my iPhone.

In the age of social media there is little to lose from uploading something original to YouTube and hoping for the best. Directors such as Josh Trank have forged careers out of doing just that. And it’s a hell of a lot more fulfilling that sliding a few sheets of paper under someone’s nose, and walking away hoping that they use it for something more than a coffee coaster.

As writers, we are often so concerned with trying to make people feel something through our work, that sometimes we forget that we too need inspiration. And that’s why I say that you should do this too! Ignore those that say ‘why?’ when you tell them your plans and seek out those that say ‘why not’. Support indie film by making it, elevate your writing by producing it, and entertain people by uploading something better than a cat chasing a laser pointer!

In upcoming articles I’ll talk more about the journey of ‘Campfire Story’ and the obstacles facing young filmmakers.

In the mean time enjoy the trailer below.

Visit Campfire Story on Facebook, and check out some of Kristian’s other work at

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