17 Feb 2014
Burnley scriptwriter’s TV debut
ITV’s spring schedule has been given an adrenalin-filled shot in the arm thanks to a Briercliffe scriptwriter.
Three-part drama “Prey”, which was penned by television newcomer Chris Lunt and stars John Simm, will be hitting TV screens later this year.
The show centres around family man Marcus Farrow, a detective who is forced to go on the run in Manchester after being accused of murder.
“There’s lot of action, lots of stunts and a lot of entertainment,” said Chris (42), who works out of an office above his partner’s studio, Touch Hair and Beauty, in Colne. “It’s currently being trailed by ITV and it’s going to be primetime. We’re not sure of the exact broadcast date yet but it will be in the next few months.
“John Simm is a fabulous actor and brought an awful lot to the character. I knew quite early he was going to be attached to the show. After I wrote the first episode it went to John via his agent and he came back very quickly to say he was interested, so I wrote episodes two and three with him in mind. And when we were on set we set we had plenty of stuff to talk about with him being from Nelson and me living in Briercliffe.”
A passion of Chris’ since the age of 10, he only started writing professionally in 2010 after being made redundant from a job at CGI firm Red Vision.
“One of the first things I ever wanted to do was write. I did work as a lathe turner, an engineer. I was probably the worst lathe turner in the country. I was abysmal.
“One day when I was 23 or 24 I looked around and just decided to walk out.”
He started working part-time at a television company in Chester before a chance encounter saw him end up working for the Discovery Channel, travelling the world as a cameraman.
“From there I pitched myself to Red Vision, a CGI firm, as somebody who could develop ideas for them for TV programmes and that’s how I broke into the scene really. When Red Vision went bust that’s when I decided to give writing a real go.
“I was pitching a lot of high concept ideas; science fiction, aliens, that kind of stuff. They told me though that the chances are these ideas were not going to get made, because of how high concept they were. So they said let’s have a brainstorm and see if we can come up with something a bit more traditional.
“So I pitched them this idea and they said ‘yeah, that’s interesting’.
He did not imagine for one second that his script would make its way onto national primetime television.
“You can’t do that otherwise you would go insane. The only thing you can focus on is what you do next. It’s such a fickle business. Every step you make is a success and every step you get paid for is a massive success.
“Once you demonstrate that you can produce something, you are on your way . For some people it can happen quickly, for others it can take longer.
“If you are an emerging or aspiring writer in this industry you will have a dozen plates spinning at any one time and you can’t count on any one of them hitting the TV screen.
“I have had a lot of support. Writing is filled with lots of good people. It isn’t easy. It has taken me over 10 years and I think I’ve had a pretty easy run at it. You have to work at building relationships with production companies and accept criticism.”
“Prey” finished shooting in January and Chris now finds himself spinning more plates than ever.
“At the moment I’m doing a book adaptation for the BBC called “Bringing Down The Krays”; “Dreamland” for ITV, a cop drama set in the 1920s and “Division”, another one for ITV, which is a procedural cop drama. These are all script commissions so they haven’t been green-lit yet. I have a lot of things in development as well so I’m keeping busy.
“Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to get into feature films and screenplays; that’s the direction I would like to take.”
As an admirer of John Simm’s work and a writer, this interview made me very happy in more ways than one… lots of good advice from Chris Lunt there, and ‘Prey’ sounds brilliant. Hope it won’t be too long before we can see it!
Prey has the same storyline as the 1993 film ‘The Fugitive’ starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones.