– . – Hugh Janes (Writer)
Hugh Janes (Writer)
What training have you received?
I went to stage school and was an actor for years from the age of 10. Learning what worked in front of an audience was excellent training, and I used that practical experience to help me write. My first screenplay commission coincided with an early Robert McKee seminar, which was an eye-opener. I have attended several others since including Syd Field’s. Reading scripts and screenwriting books is also helpful; I never stop learning.
What themes do you like to explore in your work?
I’m a storyteller so that’s where I start, and then discover themes as relationships develop. I enjoy creating characters and allowing them to take me in directions I don’t expect, while giving them a strong arc to their journey.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Meet deadlines. Also, ‘picture it’. Visualising situations and running the film in my head as I write is a great help. Syd Field’s opening line was, “A screenplay is a story told with pictures.” Coming from theatre the three-act structure feels normal; beginning–middle–end has worked for centuries and I’m not about to change that. William Goldman says in Adventures in the Screen Trade, “The first 15 pages are the most important of any screenplay” to which Paul Newman added, “Yes. And the last 15 minutes are the most important of any movie.” Combining them is the hard part but that’s my job.
Tell us the most significant moment in your career.
Hearing an audience laugh at one of my lines. Seeing my first published play displayed in the publisher’s window. Signing my original contract with the BBC. Watching ‘action’ on the opening shot of Wide Blue Yonder ended a very long wait.
You’ll die happy when…
They can’t fit me and my Best Screenplay awards in the same coffin.