Playing in Shetland
Screenplay is the name of the Shetland Film Festival and it runs alongside the Book Festival Wordplay. It's astonishing that a community of just over 20,000 people can attract stars like Mark Kermode, Terence Davies and Louis de Bernieres, but writers and directors are pulled in by the enthusiasm of the organisers and the informality of the events. And of course by the chance to spend time in a very special place. Certainly anything I do in Shetland never feels quite like work.
When I arrived into Shetland at the end of August I was already buzzing. ITV had made the announcement about the television adaptation of HIDDEN DEPTHS, with the wonderful Brenda Blethyn as Vera. We'd been told all along that the news would be made public over the bank holiday weekend to coincide with the Edinburgh Television Festival, but there was a last minute hitch and I was starting to worry that there were doubts not just about the press release, but about the whole project. Really I shouldn't have worried. The locations manager is already scouting the region to find suitable places to film and the award-winning director (Adrian Shergold) has been up to look for himself. I love the script but it'll be truly weird to see the final work. I can't wait to hear who has been cast for the other characters.
News of the adaptation justified my place on a Screenplay panel with Anne Mensah, head of drama for BBC Scotland and Foz Allan, producer of hit dramas like ROBIN HOOD, chaired by Mark Kermode. I was there to announce a competition for young film makers. My sponsorsip of the competition is entirely selfish. I'd like a short film of Shetland for my website - not the tourist stuff which you can find through Visit Shetland, but the sort of personal insight only a local can give. I know I'm going to get something interesting: there was a showcase of young Shetlanders' short films as part of the Festival and there were some riotous, interesting and moving pieces. These young people will go on to be stars in their own right!
Now I'm back home and I have a couple of weeks to concentrate on writing before going north again for the Inverness Book Festival. But writing never feels much like work either, so I suppose now I'm playing in Whitley Bay...