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Interview with writer Owen Gower

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

That’s really hard.  I used to be obsessed with writing stories as a kid.  I think it might have been about the adventures of a frozen pea that was trying to escape being eaten.  I remember it being pretty good.

  • Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?

I was always a huge horror fan.  It’s just the most primal experience – projecting our nightmares on screen and turning them into a collective experience where we can then gain control over them.  I  don’t always write horror, but I feel like I always take elements of it into everything I do.

  • For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?

I can only speak from my own experience really but what’s worked for me is both teaming up with a director who I trusted, and who believed in my writing and also directing my own work. 

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

Although I take a lot of influences from people I’ve met or subjects I’m interested in, a lot of what I’ve written has either been quite fantastical, or where the characters exist in worlds very different to my own. So for me, it’s more about finding particular emotional qualities or traits that I can relate to in the characters and amplifying them. There’s obviously something of me in every character I’ve written.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

I know some people start with a character first and develop the story around them but for me, the two have always gone totally hand in hand.  I don’t spend a lot of time writing long character biographies – I like to evolve the character and discover who they are as I’m writing the story.

  • How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?

I care about all my characters deeply.  And even though some of them do very bad things – I only ever really see them as doing what they

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

William Goldman that said ‘Screenplays are structure’ – and for me that’s exactly it.  Structure is how you harness all your ideas into something that can actually be brought to an audience.  It’s kind of like a road map.  It’s not all the amazing sights you’re going to see, but without the map you’ll be lost trying to get there.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

Normally, yes.  I usually think outlining is critical but funnily enough I didn’t do it with Burn on Arrival.  I started out with quite a different idea for the story and had a full script for it.  But I wasn’t satisfied with it, so I just kept throwing hand grenades in, thinking ‘what if this happened? – creating new problems that I then had to solve.  It took the story to places that I would never have got to if I’d planned it all out in advance.

  • What is the most important aspect of building a great character?

Believe in everything they do.