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 old mind, and I certainly don’t act it. But it is fair to say that at 56 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 two in Doug’s Guide To Writing is ‘write what you know’ and since I know more about being a male over 50 in 2015 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2015, 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. We Still Kill The Old Way for example, is clearly receiving more press than most of its contemporaries because of the age of the main cast which is great for me, the film and the actors involved. Most of whom are actually older than I am, which leads me nicely into the central reason for this blog.
You see 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’ve also been thinking about something else, who I can cast. And so with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days I prefer writing for older actors.
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 50 (let alone 60 or 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 with We Still Kill, people actually 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 projects in development that will feature ensemble casts of actors over 60.
I can’t wait.
The audio version of Top Dog is now available to download by clicking on the picture to the left.
In other news, details of the script I’ve just had optioned should be made public fairly soon whilst work is progressing on the screen adaptation of Wings of a Sparrow and a new project which is coming together very nicely.
I might also be releasing news of something else I’ve been involved with which may well shock a few people.
Watch this space!
ogilvy, ellison, we still kill the old way, top dog, green street, indie film, hooligans, krays, gangster, kemp,