I shall, from the outset, put my cards on the table and say that I am, at least numerically speaking, old. I don’t feel it mind (and I certainly don’t act it) but it is fair to say that as I rapidly approach 60 I’m much closer to my closing scene than I am to the opening act.
The reason I mention this is because for fairly obvious reasons, my age impacts on my writing output. Rule number three in Doug’s Guide To Writing is ‘write what you know’ and since I know more about being a male over 50 in 2018 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2018, my central characters tend to be older and I hope, more realistic. There will after all, be a part of me in all of them.
Thankfully, this is working to my advantage. For example when I worked on We Still Kill The Old Way it received a great deal of positive press because of the age of the main cast, most of whom were actually older than I am. This leads me nicely into the central reason for this blog because generally speaking, when I start thinking about a project, be it book or film, one of the first things I consider is who is going to read or watch it. But recently, when it comes to screenplays, I also think about potential cast and with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days I tend to favour actors who have actually been around for a while.
Choice – We have a huge untapped source of talent in this country and it isn’t lurking in acting classes or talent schools, it’s working in small theatres or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Sad for them but great for writers like me when you’re working on something and putting together a dream cast because you know that there’s a bigger chance of actually getting them.
Gratitude – The main reason why they’re sitting at home is because the phone rarely rings. And it rarely rings because there are so few decent roles being written for people over 60 (let alone 70!). As a consequence, if you create these age specific roles and cast accordingly, not only are the actors grateful, but they give you everything from vast experience to PR gold!
Talent – To me, it’s criminal that all this amazing acting talent is being allowed to go to waste. Aside from the ones I’ve already worked with, I can think of ten amazing actors and actresses I’d crawl over broken glass to hear reading my words yet I doubt one has had a decent film or TV role in ten years. That’s tragic, not least because, as has been proven time and time again, the public genuinely want to see these great actors on screen.
Fun – If you don’t think working with legends of the entertainment world is fun, you really shouldn’t be writing screenplays.
Inspiration – When an actor you’ve watched for years and who you have nothing but respect for comes up and not only praises your script but thanks you for the opportunity you’ve given them, it’s both humbling and gratifying. But equally, such praise drives you on to create more of the same which is exactly why I currently have two comedy projects in development that will feature ensemble casts of actors over 60. And d’you know what? I can’t wait to get them moving primarily because they’re going to be great fun to work on which is kind of why I started doing this in the first place.
The problem of course, is that the production process isn’t down to the writers or the actors, it’s down to those mythical beasts called producers. So what’s really needed are more of those to step up and start taking the odd chance or two.
The talent is there, the ideas are there and as movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1&2), Philomena, The Book Club, Best Foot Forward and others have proved, the audience is certainly there so how about it?
You could even do worse than call my agent and ask him to set up a meeting or even drop me a line. You might be pleasantly surprised.
As some of you may be aware, I’ve been beavering away on a couple of sequels for a while now. Well the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy is almost done and then I will dive back into the latest exploits of Billy Ellis. On which note, I’ve published a few extracts of ‘Billy’s Blog’ online to whet the appetite.
Please click here to visit and if you enjoy it, feel free to spread the word!
Further information at dougiebrimson.com
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