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Alistair Rutherford

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11 Questions with 2010 Screenplay Finalist

Alistair Rutherford

1. What is your screenplay about?

It's about our world after the oil has run out, when large solar-powered Sand Ferries range across the new deserts of our globally-warmed world. When the biggest and best of these is sabotaged and crashes deep in the desert, the clock starts ticking for the 2 crew members on board and for the thousands whose lives depend on the vessel's top secret cargo.

2. Why did you decide to write this screenplay?

It's a cliché but this story grew in the telling. It began as a very short story but I loved the world of Backflip and the possibilities within it for a powerful story. After finishing a much longer prose version I began working on the screenplay. The story has a number of elements in it that are important to me in my writing. It tells of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and it also deals with traits such as loyalty, love, courage and the strong emotional bonds that exist within our families.

3. How long have you been writing screenplays?

The very first one was about 10 years ago but I then took a detour into writing scripts for radio (2 plays broadcast by the BBC so far) and for theatre. I took a Masters in Screenwriting in 2007 and have concentrated on screenplays, short and features, since then. Last month I had my first completed short film, called Eight Words, screened in the New York City International Film Festival. I couldn't make the event but it was a huge buzz knowing it was selected for the festival. It's also been accepted for the Poppy Jasper Short Film Festival in California in November.

4. What is your favorite MOVIE of all-time (name only one and explain why it's on top)?

Oh, that's hard, only one? Will choose Blade Runner, watched it many times on the small screen but will never forget how I sat there the very first time, in the cinema, unwilling to get up and leave after it finished. Stunned by the story, the visuals, the acting, the dialogue... It's a beautiful script and the realisation of it by Ridley Scott, the cast and crew is amazing. The emotional core of the story, that yearning for love and humanity and for it to last as long as possible, still gets to me now.

5. What artist in the industry would you love to work with?

Well, if I can aim very, very high it would be Ridley Scott!

6. Who was your hero growing up?

That would be my mother, Christina.

7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

Still writing scripts full-time and hopefully working with very good people who can turn stories on paper into movies.

8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

I write full-time so I tend to keep normal office hours but sometimes that means 6 or 7 days per week rather than 5. Ideas pop into our heads at any time they like, they don't keep to schedules so whenever this happens I'll head for the computer or a notebook and write them down. When I'm deep into a script I like to leave something, a scene usually, unfinished at the end of the day, so when I start again the next day I will read from a few pages back and then come forward to where I left off and it's usually easy to pick it all up again. I used to just launch into a script but I plan things more in advance now - I have my own version of a beat sheet which I spend a lot of time on now before starting the script. I find it easier to change this document and rework the storylines, if and when necessary, than it is a full draft. So hopefully I then have a reasonably strong first draft to take forward.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Well, I do love a game of golf! I'm also involved in supporting a large secondary school in Zambia and I love it when we visit there and work on their computer lab knowing it makes a real difference for the pupils.

10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?

It was the chance to get quality feedback from industry pros on my script, regardless of how far it got within the competition. Quality constructive feedback is gold dust for a writer.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Write the stories that you love, that really get to you. When I come across an idea, or a character, that I find really interesting I take the view that if I can craft a really strong story around that idea or character then my script will be interesting for other people to read or to watch. Also, put your work away for a while, write something else, whatever, then go back to it. I always find ways to improve my own work but it usually needs that bit of distance to see the flaws and how to fix them.



Alistair Rutherford


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