Interview with screenwriter Martin Richmond


Martin, was born in York, UK, but lives in Scotland, with his wonderful wife Sheila and faithful Sabre-toothed cat, Whiskey.  He has 2 wonderful daughters, Jacqueline and Aimi, a brave son, Graeme and 2 amazing grandson’s Ryan and Ethan.  Aimi, a horror aficionado herself, constantly keeps him on his toes, providing invaluable proof reading and opinions, ensuring the highest fright levels are adhered to.

Between once working as a Brewing Technician and a Museum security guard, Martin worked for many years with the Scottish Prison Service as a Prison Officer, Senior Officer and Prison Hall manager. During this time he honed his craft with the great Falkirk Writer’s Circle.

His first publication was ‘The Trapdoor to Halloween’, a collection of fun, spooky tales. His second, an e-book, ‘The Trapdoor to Murder,’ is a collection of murder stories and the latest, a scary, short story collection entitled, ‘Beasties and other stories,’ with Demain Publishing, is available from Amazon. The original story that the screenplay ‘Through a Stained Glass eye’ inspired, is part of this collection.

The film of his first screenplay, ‘Life gets you down’, premiered at the 2007 Edinburgh International Film Festival. Several short scripts have since gained great results in competitions around the world and presently he is in an exciting collaboration with the award-winning director and writer, Dean M Drinkel, on several horror screenplay projects.

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

From my youth I had a passion for writing poetry and each poem was a story, mostly in a humorous horror vein and led to my publishing the book, The Trapdoor to Halloween, now unfortunately out of print. So the first story for that was about the Scottish body snatchers, Burke & Hare.

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

Hitchcock’s Psycho had a big impact on my creativity as I delved into the short story collections of Alfred Hitchcock presents books. This led to devouring the Pan books of Horror stories but with E A Poe and A C Doyle it affirmed my love of the short story form and the movies that utilized them, such as Dead of night (1945) and Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). The anthology, or portmanteau movie, as they were called, really spoke to me and caused me to see my movie scripts as books, short story collections, a direction I have put into practice.

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

At one time I would have said that breaking into the screenplay world was nigh on impossible but with the birth of Filmfreeway the world is now your oyster and it can thrust your work under the gaze of the movers and shakers in the film industry. Feedback alone can adjust the trajectory of a budding screenwriter, if supplied, and can allow a more confident foot in the door to production.

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

I spent many years working as a prison officer with the Scottish Prison Service and met so many colorful characters, both prisoners and officers that I saw the worst in a person and the best, giving me a life lesson and a myriad of characters to feed off in my writing.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

Mapping out the scenario for a tale I require certain types to inhabit it and imagine what kind of person I need, so I try and name them pretty quickly to identify with them. Once named they begin to breathe life into the character and help to decide what kind of person they are. They lack a face in my mind but that, I’ve found, benefits the process of movie making in having the actor or actress inhabit the role rather than having a fixed portrait that you can’t match to it.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

No, the bio is not the first thing I think of, it’s their actions that drive the story and their characters and background are fitted to their actions. Bios are pretty much a final consideration.

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

Getting under the skin of my characters is pretty unwise as most of the ones I create are very unpalatable, unpleasant creatures and I prefer to manage them like a puppeteer. Knowing which string to pull to make them work is far healthier than being inside their heads.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

I always have a basic structure to begin with but quite often prefer to see where the story takes me as I get a kick out of reaching the end of the journey and seeing the resolution suddenly leap out at me.  In several stories I’ve done I place someone in a very difficult, tricky situation, then I say, how did they get there and how do they get out – if at all?

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

A rough outline is always the beginning, although often I get a challenge that lures me in, like in a competition that gives a set scenario as one did not so long ago, where they wanted a horror story set on a desert island. A challenge I met quite quickly with a very rough outline in my head that I raced to finish, although my daughter suggested a much better alternative ending that I adopted.

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

Beginning with their actions, every time, tells me what kind of character I’m dealing with and naming them helps the process enormously. Breathing life into them depends on their deeds and once identified the character builds itself, almost, but can change dramatically with the dialogue I put in their mouths, sometimes at odds with the physical description I give them.