Stories from Falmouth’s Screenwriters

13 June 2024

Paper print out with text and green ink annotations
Script Soft
Type: Text
Category: Our graduates, Student work

The Script Department is a not-for-profit podcast network and virtual studio founded by Dr John Finnegan, Writing for Script & Screen MA (Online) course leader. Since 2019, John has been using his work at the studio to champion the course’s talented screenwriting graduates, and to mark its 50th project milestone, John has compiled his personal highlights from the community so far.  

“One of the great joys of running a project like The Script Department is that I get to continue to collaborate with many of our graduates as they move into the industry, helping to shine a spotlight on their writing.  

“Each of these projects was written by or produced by our graduates, exemplifying our commitment to supporting those who are qualified as they embark on their journeys into the industry. Our script readings provide a platform for writers from around the globe to share their stories and reach a wider audience.  

“While narrowing it down to just ten stories was challenging, given the wealth of talent in our catalogue, each selection promises to captivate and inspire. I hope you enjoy these highlights and that they encourage you to explore the many other remarkable works our community has to offer. 

“These stories are listed in no particular order, and it is by no means exhaustive, but they represent the overall talent on display throughout The Script Department network. Without further ado, these are my favourite stories on our platform.” 

Bounty Land (Scr. Millie Hayward) 

Two reckless teenagers trespass into an abandoned theme park, only to discover it is home to a family of deranged cannibals.

What’s not to love about this? Millie Hayward wrote a fun and twisted short story which Marcus Armstrong brought to life brilliantly through his performance. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to grab a beer with the Sawyer family, this is your chance to find out. 

Listen to Bounty Land here.  

Identitás (Scr. Paul Floyd) 

In the aftermath of the Hungarian revolution in 1956, Gyula – a secret police officer – struggles to maintain a low profile amongst a community of refugees as he searches for his son in Vienna. A former boxer in his homeland, Gyula uses the one skill he has to survive, but rising success in the ring could lead to tragic consequences. 

Sometimes you come across a script that you know will make for a great movie down the line. We couldn’t wait that long, so we immediately started to collaborate with this incredibly talented writer to help bring his story to life. With the help of a beautiful rendition of the script by Alicia Gerrard (Apple TV’s Foundation), Identitás has become one of the standout projects in The Script Department’s catalogue. 

Listen to Identitás here. 

A Ball in the Brain (Scr. Stuart Urban) 

In Khartoum, devout Christian General Gordon and the ablest commander of his day is besieged by the army of the Mahdi. Guided by his faith, Gordon courageously faces his end in a war drama that links the past and the present with the political and the spiritual. 

This project stands out to me for several reasons. First, it was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate on an exciting story and help bring it to life with the help of the amazing Pip Torrens (The Crown, Succession). The main reason this stands out to me though was that it was the first time we had been approached by established industry names to help them realise their project. Usually, we are focused on helping our graduates become more industry-facing, but this time it was the industry coming to us at a time when the global pandemic had shut down productions. That was a real turning point for us and a moment of validation, too. 

Listen to A Ball in the Brain here.

The Clearing (Scr. Belinda Lees) 

An Australian constable, who is blamed for ruining the life of a young activist, tries to redeem himself by helping her fight to save a sacred Birthing Tree from destruction. Her presence, however, ignites buried war memories and unsettled family conflicts, which threaten his stability. 

Screenwriter Belinda Lees wrote this beautiful story when she was a student on our course. When she graduated, she embarked on the difficult challenge of trying to get industry producers interested in the plight of the Djab Wurrung people who were tirelessly fighting to protect their land. Time was not on their side and Belinda was conscious of this. Together we produced the script reading and within two months the story was already finding an audience internationally who would otherwise have not known about this important story. The Clearing has since become one of our most successful projects and is an exemplary example of why we do what we do.  

Listen to The Clearing here.

The Suffering Sea (Scr. Christopher Parkinson) 

A religious crusader obsessed by his bloodline legacy is forced to question his beliefs and actions in the face of an unworldly storm. Meanwhile, his tormented wife grows delirious from a looming presence while his captives – a botanist, a brigand and a cleric – ruminate on their coming end. 

Christopher channelled his love of horror into this monstrous tale and Marcus Armstrong really got into character as he performed the script. It’s a very atmospheric and sensory experience that showcases Christopher’s expertise as a world builder and storyteller. Everyone involved loved working on this. 

Listen to The Suffering Sea here. 

The Shoe (Scr. Marcus Armstrong) 

Space-farer Spencer wakes from a hangover in the middle of a Lunar desert to find he is missing his servant drone and his right shoe. Noticing smoke rising from his nearby outpost, Spencer must put aside his privilege or risk losing much more than his overpriced footwear. 

When Marcus isn’t busy performing the scripts, he’s writing his own, and The Shoe is a fun out of this world (literally) tale about an astronaut having a bad day. It’s got all the hallmarks of great popcorn space cinema including a few rogue robots thrown in for good measure – of course! 

Listen to The Shoe here. 

The Catalina Job (Scr. David Moore) 

When a washed-up Hollywood starlet runs afoul of the LAPD, she flees to a small town in Arizona only to find that a very different rule of law awaits her there. 

This was a fun project to work on with co-writer David Moore. After the success of Italia Noir: Murder on the Amalfi Coast, we knew we had to return to the genre – this time from the American side. We’ve always been big fans of Hitchcock’s Psycho, especially the first act following Marion Crane as she escapes Arizona with the stolen money. So, we asked: what if Marion got away with the money and found a sleepy town to settle down in for a while? And what if her past eventually caught up with her? That was the genesis for The Catalina Job. 

Listen to The Catalina Job here. 

Wildflower (Scr. Peter Salisbury) 

Following the death of her mother, eleven year-old Fiadh moves from Dublin to the Connemara countryside to live with her aunt and uncle. 

Wildflower is one of those shorts that could easily make an incredible feature film, too. When I first read Peter Salisbury’s screenplay, I knew we had to feature it on the podcast. Ruth Hayes did a wonderful job of reading this poignant story and I love how the sounds of nature help situate the listener in the Irish landscape. 

Listen to Wildflower here. 

Desert Rose: West in the East (Scr. Alex Butter) 

Joanna West races her former mentor across Egypt in search of the legendary Book of Athena – an artefact that promises unprecedented power for all who wield it. Outnumbered and outgunned, West needs to do all that she can to triumph; the fate of the world depends on it. 

The great thing about our productions is that the only limit as a storyteller is that of your imagination. Alex Butter’s imaginative love letter to old school adventurers like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft is why we love making these projects. It’s got shootouts, chases and so much more that I don’t want to spoil here. If you love globe-trotting stories and ancient mysteries, this is for you. 

Listen to Desert Rose: West in the East here. 

Hydrangea (Scr. Max Gee) 

As humanity ends, leaving robots to follow their programming to eternity, one forestry robot experiences an emotional awakening and gains a new perspective on its world. 

Dr Max Gee’s academic research yielded this beautiful script, exploring what it means to be human through a blending of Japanese and British storytelling techniques developed during the 2015 Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Summer Fellowship. Science fiction stories frequently question existential ideas, but Max’s story was such a fresh approach and a wonderful contribution to the genre. It’s a great listen. 

Listen to Hydrangea here. 

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