BU graduate who wrote & directed feature film back to give advice

Posted on Tuesday, May 27 2014

A Scriptwriting graduate who has since gone on to write and direct his own successful feature film was back at BU to share his advice and experiences with current students.

Ben Cookson – who graduated from the BA (Hons) Scriptwriting for Film and Television  degree course in 2006 – wrote and directed Almost Married, a feature film which was released in cinemas across the UK in March.

The comedy drama – which stars Emily Atack and Philip McGinley – follows a groom-to-be who returns from his stag do with a sexually transmitted disease.

Ben was back at BU to share his experiences with current students, as well as give advice on how to break into the industry.

“The biggest challenge is coping with the stress of basically working on a project for effectively three and a half years,” he said.

“You have put all your eggs in one basket and it could go wrong.”

Ben graduated with a First Class Honours degree, as well as winning the Alan Plater Award for Best Screenplay for his final project.

After leaving BU, he ran a scriptwriting competition for the European Independent Film Festival in Paris and was a regional winner in BAFTA’s Sixty Seconds of Fame film competition.

He said that winning the awards helped him get ahead in the industry.

“To get an agent and getting your scripts read by anyone is pretty difficult,” said Ben, who is now working on his next project – a romantic thriller set in Paris.

“The thing that made me stand out was the award I won for my final project, so when I contacted agencies, it meant they did read my script and so did a lot of producers and off the back of that I did get an agent.

“Winning something does help open doors.”

He added networking was key, and that rejection should be seen as a positive.

“If every door you knocked on just opened and it was easy, you’re never going to develop as a person to the stage where you can properly succeed,” he told the students.

“You need to want it a little bit more than everyone else and you’re only going to get that by wanting to prove people wrong.”

The event also featured a screening of the Almost Married, which was shot in just 18 days.

Ben said he wanted to come back to BU as he had been inspired by guest lectures from the likes of director Anthony Minghella while he was studying, and felt he owed his career to the course.

“It nice to come back and see some of the teachers who taught me because I wouldn’t have got where I am without them,” he said.

“I came to uni to get my head down – I was a geek and I went to every lecture. You have got to work hard and not waste your time here.

“Three years is nothing and it’s so important to make the most of it and go to your lectures.”