Write-hand man

Words by:
Kate Chapman
Featured in:
February 2024

Professional film writer Ewen Glass has launched his own scriptwriting courses and mentoring services to help other budding writers. Kate Chapman hears how he brings his ideas to the big screen.

BAFTA member Ewen Glass has written for major TV networks, including the BBC, Channel 4, RTÉ and Hollywood Suite in Canada, while his feature films have been released in cinemas across the world. Now he is helping and encouraging more people to get involved in the film industry through his venture Lincoln Script Lab, which offers online and in-person courses.

Ewen says the workshops are the sort of thing he would have liked to have had access to when he was younger and will cater for all abilities, from beginner to pro. He says they will offer people the chance to learn about and explore the craft of screenwriting with someone with industry experience, and who continues to work on large-scale film and television projects.

“In my experience, scriptwriting is often something people are interested in, but may not necessarily have had the opportunity to study or practise,” says Ewen, who grew up in Northern Ireland and lived in Scotland and Austria before settling in Nettleham in 2010.

“Even those who have studied film or creative writing long for a community after they graduate, to not just improve their writing but to give ongoing support. Lincoln Script Lab aims to fill that void, offering community, advice and a fun environment in which to tell our stories.

“It’s really born from my own experience. When I was growing up in Northern Ireland, working as a scriptwriter wasn’t really something that was considered, or something that people would perhaps have gone to university to study.

“I want to help people in the community with those skills, people who are not based in London, or do not have the finances. A lot of it comes down to connections and access to the industry, I can help people with advice about it.”

Flexible courses
Ewen launched his first 10-week online course last September, with learners signing up from all over the world, while his in-person sessions take place in Lincoln. He also hopes to offer residencies and extend his courses to writers under the age of 18 too.

“The courses are designed to be flexible to whatever people feel they need, while offering what I think they need too – we can change and adapt as we go along. It’s about arming them with confidence and the right tools,” he explains.

“Sessions take place every couple of weeks, so that there is time to factor in some writing and we’ll be looking at things like technique and dialogue, along with some good examples.

“Over the 10 weeks, people will develop their own idea for a short film – they will take it from a story idea to a first draft, through to a polished draft and hopefully by the end they will have a script for their own short film, which they can then go and make if they want to.”

Creative passion
Ewen’s passion for scriptwriting stems from his childhood when he was interested in film and television and the escapism it provided him.

“My interest in screenwriting was really a gradual thing rather than a great Hollywood story about how watching E.T. when I was eight set me off on a path to pursue the career,” he recalls.

“Film and TV were escapism. What’s great about creative writing, and writing in general, is that not only does it allow you to escape, but it also gives you a voice and allows you to be heard, which I appreciated.

I liked writing dialogue. When I was 17, I wrote a one-act play, which was shortlisted for Young Irish Playwright of the Year. That was the moment I thought maybe I could do this.

“I was living in the regions, in Northern Ireland, not cities like London or Manchester, and there was, and still is, the idea that this wasn’t really an option for a career – but somebody has to do it, it’s a massive industry. That really gave me the confidence to go to university.”

Ewen studied film and media at Stirling University, in Scotland, and then began his career writing for theatre before moving into short films.

He says: “It didn’t happen overnight; it sounds like a cliché, but you really need resilience to stick at writing. I started out with a few short films, some of them were then made and I began to make connections and relationships with other people in the industry.

“Gradually, over time, people come back to you. For example, I wrote one short film and 10 years later another person involved in that project came back to me with the funding for a feature film and we wrote it together. This film, Little Kingdom, which was filmed in Slovakia, was released a couple of years ago and then shown all over, including Japan.

“It took many steps to get to that point, writing short films, writing feature films that couldn’t get funding, writing others that did, but still didn’t get made.”

Feature films
Ewen’s other writing credits include teen soap Hollyoaks, horror film Basement and Lies We Tell, a 2017 feature film starring Hollywood legend Harvey Keitel.

He adds: “I originally thought I favoured light comedy and drama, but actually, I’ve discovered I prefer something with some stakes. I quite like writing thrillers or high stakes dramas, something with strong characters that reflects 21st-century living.

“I was thrilled to be working with someone like Harvey Keitel. If you’d told 16-year-old me I’d be putting words in his mouth, I wouldn’t have believed it, so that was an amazing experience.

“As was being made a member of BAFTA in 2021, that is something of which I am really proud. The work we are doing is being seen and screened internationally, we are exporting Britain around the world to some degree, and now to get a vote in the awards is wonderful.”

Ewen is currently working on a hard-hitting sports drama, set in the world of mixed martial arts in the Czech Republic and is looking forward to working with his students at Lincoln Script Lab in the coming months.

“Whether you’re 18 or 108, it’s an amazing experience discovering your voice on the page.

“And who knows, we may just discover the next big thing at Lincoln Script Lab!” he says with a smile.

For more information about Lincoln Script Lab, visit www.lincolnscriptlab.com or email lincolnscriptlab@gmail.com

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