Also see: Current Projects (Screenplays)

If writing is my first love then movies come a very close second. So it won’t be much of a surprise to hear that screenplays were the first thing I ever wanted to write and, to this day, they are what I work on whenever I have the time.

After university I went straight into a job as a copywriter with a top international ad agency. Who knows, I might still be there (it was a great job) were it not for this irresistible urge to get out into the world, to experience life – and to try my hand at writing a movie!

So, armed with a notebook (the ones made of paper – remember those?), I left my job and went travelling. I started writing my first feature-length screenplay while cruising around Australia in a campervan for six months and ended up completing it on the beautiful Thai island of Koh Phangan. It’s called Flame Lily and it’s about an advertising copywriter roped into writing propaganda for the Rhodesian government at the height of the bush war.

I headed to London with my screenplay and started to shop it around to producers. It was very difficult to get anyone to even read it – a lot of knocking on doors – a lot of “sorry, we don’t accept unsolicited scripts”…

But then one day it happened – I received a phone call from a producer (Lavinia Warner at Warner Sisters – who had just produced the highly successful TV series, Tenko).They loved my screenplay!

They wanted to option it! The next thing I knew I was working on the script with the director Gavin Millar (who had just completed Danny Champion of the World with Jeremy Irons). It was an exciting time and we produced a second draft which everyone seemed happy with.

In the end the project slowly fizzled unfortunately. This was due mainly to a lack of commitment from a potential co-producer in Zimbabwe. But the whole experience was still hugely positive and it gave me a lot of encouragement to keep writing.

I ended up in Cape Town where I wrote two more scripts – a drama called Honeychild (optioned by South African film producers, BAM Motion Pictures) and a thriller called The Cutting Room.

I was approached to write the latter by a well-known South Africa soap opera star who wanted to make a murder/thriller surrounding a TV soap opera set. He loved the script but was unable to raise the finances to make it.

 The next screenplay I wrote was called Pawpaw. It was about a young black boy arriving at an all white boarding school during the Rhodesian war.

It ended up winning the Best New Screenplay Award at the Cape Town Film Festival (Sithengi). It attracted the interest of various South African producers and got some attention from overseas but, once again, a lack of funding was to be its downfall.

At this stage I took a break from screenplays and wrote my children’s adventure story, Wolfstorm, (which, incidentally, would make an amazing movie – but would require a big budget and a lot of CGI!)

The book has gone down well and I should be writing the sequel now but I can’t because my head-space is being totally consumed by more screenplay ideas. Find out more about these in my Current Projects section.


Also see: Current Projects (Screenplays)


Ian Pugh