So here it is, the first of my shows from the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where I hooked up with screenwriter Paul Laverty to talk about his new film It’s A Free World and the past decade of writing screenplays with director Ken Loach.
I actually met Paul ten years ago when he came to Birmingham to do a Q&A for his first film, Carla’s Song. I was working at the Electric Cinema and grabbed the chance to be the hospitality guy who took Paul for a meal at the nearest restaurant while the film was showing. He was the first working screenwriter I’d ever talked to at length and we had a great conversation before I reluctantly took him back to the Electric for the end of the film.
He’s since written six more features with Ken Loach and his newest, It’s A Free World, wasn’t actually showing in Edinburgh (see humorous excerpt within the show) because it was premiering at the Venice Film Festival the week after. Paul was in Edinburgh for an In Person talk with festival director Hannah McGill that was absolutely packed to the rafters.
He talked about scenes from My Name is Joe, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Sweet Sixteen and Bread and Roses, and the perils of writing politically committed cinema that’s about real characters and avoids the mere illustrating of issues.
I recorded the session and then re-introduced myself as people piled out to ask him if he’d like to give an interview for the Shooting Screenwriters show. He was happy to but only had 10 minutes of his day free later that night before some meal he had to attend. So we hooked up later and he happily talked for half an hour before I let him go.
Paul on screenwriting courses : People seem to take great delight in knocking all these courses but I actually learned a great deal, because I had so much to learn, and still do I think … finding out how other people do it is not a bad idea in any job, is it!
On working with Ken Loach : I suppose neither of us are great ones for the auteur theory. I’m a writer and he’s a director and we meet in the middle as filmmakers.
On writing ‘issues’ : I don’t think a great issue makes for a great film. You have to find a subtle and unexpected way into it. But I think great issues deserve a great story.
The show now has a svelte 30-mins-or-less time slot and you can either right-click and ‘Save target as’ to download it, or go to the Shooting People Podcasts page to subscribe for free and get future shows sent to you direct.
It’s A Free World won the Best Screenplay prize at Venice the following week and it’s being screened by Channel 4 within the next fortnight with a DVD release in October.