Thursday, December 8, 2011

Neil Cross makes Variety's list of "Ten Screenwriters to Watch"

There are many that think, due to our geographical location, that creative New Zealanders need to leave the country in order to succeed on a bigger, or global, stage. And while opportunities aplenty do exist all over the world, there are certainly examples that show you can have a world-class career, based right here in New Zealand. It may not be a well-trodden path, but it is possible.

Peter Jackson (amongst others behind the cameras, from costume designers to special effects wizards) have proven it with film. Paul Cleave is on the rise in the crime ficiton world (particularly amongst non-English speakers). And now, as highlighted by a recent article in Variety magazine (the Hollywood bible), Wellington-based Neil Cross, twice a Ngaio Marsh Award finalist, is showing that you can have one heck of a career from New Zealand suburbia.

Cross, who along with producing several terrific thriller novels has been lead writer on the acclaimed British spy show Spooks and creator and writer of the award-winning BBC series Luther, all from his Wellington home, has been chosen by Variety as one of "Ten Screenwriters to Watch", due to the film projects he is working on. Books, television, and now film; Cross could be accused of quietly taking over a small piece of the world, in a thriller writing sense.

"Don't let his dark stories and disturbed characters fool you; for a guy who has made a living out of weaving tales of crooked cops, mass murderers and scheming psychopaths, Neil Cross is a damn funny man. It's a fact that sometimes takes fans by surprise," begins the article by Justin Shady for Variety.

Read the full article here.

Almost three years ago, Cross was one of the first author interviews I ever did - for a feature in Australian books magazine, Good Reading. I remember him talking about how he'd taught himself screenwriting by adapting his own Booker longlisted novel, ALWAYS THE SUN, into a teleplay. That never sold, but it did provide a foot in the door for Cross to become involved with Spooks.

"I just like the idea of scriptwriting," he told me at the time. "It's portrayed with a sense of mystery, like you have to be one of the initiated to understand it. But, actually, I decided in the end - and I'd read a few books about how to do it - that the only way to do it was teach myself to do it."

Learn by doing; it's not a bad way to go when it comes to creative endeavours.

I've really enjoyed Cross's novels (so far I've read Holloway Falls, Burial, Captured, and Luther: the Calling) and his TV screenwriting - on both Spooks and Luther - so I am looking forward to seeing how his big screen projects turn out. As Variety have noted, he is certainly a writer to watch.

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