Mark Jenkin Wins Nick Darke

Wednesday 22 October 2014
Nick Darke Award 2014 winner Mark Jenkin with Jane Darke and Roger Michell

Newlyn based writer Mark Jenkin was announced the winner of the Nick Darke Award 2014 and received £6,000 to develop his feature film screenplay Old Iron at the Award Ceremony held at The Performance Centre, Falmouth University on Saturday 18 October.

The ceremony was opened by Vicky Frost (Director of the School of Writing & Journalism) followed by speeches from Sarah C Jane (Archivist and Special Collections Officer), Jason Whittaker (Professor of Blake Studies) and Roger Michell; theatre, television and film director whose work includes the films Notting Hill, Changing Lanes and Morning Glory. Special thanks and recognition was given to Professor Mike Wilson.

Commenting on his win Mark said: "This award validates the idea I originally had for the screenplay and buys me some time to thoroughly research the subject as well as writing a couple of drafts."

Mark is the great, great, great grandson of celebrated primitive artist Alfred Wallis who his winning story is based upon. Old Iron is the untold story of Alfred, his restless search for home, and eventual catharsis through simple self-expression that inadvertently changed the art world forever.

Roger Michell and Jane Darke (wife of Nick Darke) later presented the award and a £6,000 cheque.

During the evening Roger Michell described his late great friend Nick Darke: "He was happiest in, on and around the sea: shooting his lobster pots in rocky lairs, line fishing, shooting a seine net across Porthcothan Bay and leaving it overnight for the tide to sweep in a catch. Quite often, I felt the plays arrived like the lobsters. The play would fall out of him, fast, like fish from the net, and lie there, flapping on the deck, until he decided what to do with the thing."

Mark Jenkin is a lecturer on the BA(Hons) Film and BA(Hons) Marine & Natural History Photography courses at Falmouth and is the author of the SLDG13 Film Manifesto that promotes the aesthetic and practical benefits of handmade celluloid work.

His studio is within the Newlyn School of Art and as a member of the prestigious Newlyn Society of Artists his short-form work has been exhibited in galleries in the UK and on across Europe.

The full list of shortlisted writers was:

  • Old Iron by Mark Jenkin (Screenplay feature)
  • You, Me, Us, The Sea by Molly Naylor (Screenplay feature)
  • Look At Me Now by Richard Kelly (Radio Play)
  • Asshole by Justin Kuritzkes (Stage Play)
  • Guardian Angels by Fiona Mackie (Screenplay)
  • Drenched by Alison Carr (Radio Play)
  • Adult Ed by Pete Jordi-Wood (Screenplay)
  • Hemenway Wash by Bradley Thomas Down (Screenplay feature)

"The secret of how to write plays lies in performing, not writing them" Nick Darke

More details of the Nick Darke Award and further information about previous winners can be found on the Nick Darke Award web pages

For the latest Nick Darke Award news, follow @FalMPW and the #nickdarkeaward hashtag on Twitter.

About Mark Jenkin

Mark grew up in Cornwall and started making films at the age of 15. His first job was a production assistant in the animation department for the ground breaking BBC Television series Walking with Dinosaurs.

At the same time he wrote his first mini feature screenplay Golden Burn, raised the finance and shot the film in Cornwall over two weeks in the summer of 1999. The film was completed in late 2001 and selected for The Celtic Film & Television Festival in 2002 where Mark received the First Time Director Award. The film went onto screen in festivals all over Europe.

In March 2002 Mark returned to Cornwall and his subsequent credits include:

  • The Man Who Needed a Traffic Light (2003) Director's 'Pick of the Festival' at Encounters 2003
  • The Midnight Drives (2007) The film premiered at the BFI South Bank as part of the London UK Film Focus and was in competition at Dinard 2007. It went on to tour the European festival circuit.
  • Aurora's Kiss (2009) This experimental film in 13 chapters was awarded the Jury Prize at the Cornwall International Film Festival 2009 and has subsequently screened in galleries in the UK and across mainland Europe.
  • Happy Christmas (2012) The film previewed at Dinard 2011 and continues to play at festivals in Europe and the USA.

He has recently completed principle photography on latest film, Bronco's House. Having raised the finance privately and shot the film on 16mm film on clockwork Bolex he is now busy hand-processing the 6,000ft of black and white negative in his studio. The production has been supported by Falmouth University with students studying BA Film taking up key creative and marketing roles within the team.

He is a Royal Television Society Award Winner (My Name is Zac, 2007) and has also produced film elements for the West End, Kneehigh Theatre and Wild Works.

About the Nick Darke Award

The Nick Darke Award, funded by Falmouth University, commemorates Cornish writer Nick Darke, who contributed greatly to Cornwall's writing community. Although he wrote in many forms, Nick Darke was most prolific in the world of theatre, screen and radio, through which he earned his living.

It is from his passion for these genres that the award is judged. Applications must be written in the form of a stage play, screenplay or radio play and must have an environmental theme (though this theme can be interpreted in many different ways). This environmental theme commemorates Nick's passion for this issue.

The award started in 2006 and was conceived by his wife, the artist and filmmaker Jane Darke, and has been presented each year since to contribute financially to the life of a writer. The award is £6,000 and is funded by Falmouth University. The prize is designed to offer a writer the opportunity to focus on their work without financial stress, as most writers struggle with this at some point in their career.

For the first time this year, the award screened applicants through a 20 page example of their work, rather than the original 20 page excerpt from the intended application piece. This integral change was made to make writers feel more able to represent their work as a whole.

The first submission stage involved outlining the idea in the form of a 25 word or less pitch, followed by an outline for the story idea in 750 words, suggesting character, plot and structure. Applicants were asked to also submit 20 pages that represent their writing, either in the form of a new or existing piece.

Once received, the script proposals are passed on to a panel of readers who select eight submissions for the shortlist. The winner is selected from the shortlist by a panel of judges that are internationally recognised for their achievements in writing for film, television, radio and theatre.

About the judges

  • Margaret Matheson, producer of dramatic fiction for both cinema and television, her credits include the Original Scum, Abigail's Party, and the Oscar winning Antonia's Line
  • Jeremy Howe, Drama Commissioning Editor for Radio 4, UK
  • Molly Dineen, BAFTA and Royal Television Society award-winning UK television documentary director, cinematographer and producer
  • Roger Michell, theatre, television and film director whose work includes the films Notting Hill, Changing Lanes and Morning Glory
  • Sebastian Born, Associate Director (Literary), National Theatre London, UK
  • Carl Grose, the first winner of the Nick Darke Award, is as well as being a writer, also a director and an actor. Carl has also written for organisations such as Kneehigh Theatre, Told By An Idiot, The National Theatre, Soho Theatre and BBC TV and Radio
  • Henry Darke, Award winning writer and director
  • Jason Whittaker, Professor of Blake Studies, Falmouth University Henry Darke, writer-director

About Nick Darke

Born and educated in the county of Cornwall, England the playwright Nick Darke left Cornwall to study acting at Rose Bruford College, Kent before learning his craft at The Victoria Theatre, Stoke on Trent. Here Nick performed in over 80 plays and in 1978 wrote his first play, Never Say Rabbit in a Boat. Its success led him to give up acting and in the following year he won the George Devine Award.

His work attracted further commissions and everything he wrote for the theatre was produced. This included twenty-four plays that were staged at The National Theatre, London; The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon; The Bush, London; by Kneehigh Theatre and at The Royal Court, London.

He wrote several radio plays and made documentaries for radio and also successfully wrote for television and film.

He moved back to Cornwall in 1990 and enjoyed the life of his childhood, fishing and wrecking (beachcombing). In 2001 he had a stroke which affected his speech and reading and writing. He and his wife Jane made the film, The Wrecking Season about the contacts he made tracing fishing gear back to the east coast of America. (Broadcast by BBC Four in 2005 and 2010)

Nick died of cancer in 2005, aged 56 with his funeral held on the beach. He and Jane filmed the last few months of his life. She made the film The Art of Catching Lobsters (BBC Four 2007) about their life together and grief. They have two sons; Jim is a marine scientist, Henry a filmmaker and writer.