Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (Mike Timms)

What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?

Hi, I’m Mike Timms. I was born in Dorchester in the south of England, but have lived just south of Dublin, Ireland for the last 55 years. However, my childhood was spread across the British Isles, East Africa, and North America. I’ve traveled, so this may explain my hobby, which is to walk ancient pilgrimage routes. I give a month or a year to doing this as well as broadcast my experiences on Irish radio.

Where did you come up with the concept that just placed you as a Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?

I’m an actor and was looking for a vehicle to showcase my work. The script outline started with a widower living with his daughter and her family. Then moved to a love story of two old people who were childhood sweethearts in a German concentration camp. Finally, they settled with the character of Adam in post- Troubles Northern Ireland. So, the process took 18 months.

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?

I don’t know where the concept comes from but it just comes. For me, it’s seeing things in progressive scenes, which I write out in summary on indexing cards. I can then easily cross-reference stuff between scenes on the cards. Thus, in times of difficulty, these cards offer me new ideas. Just pick them in any order and new things easily come to me. Besides, it’s a bit Itching.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?

When commissioned to write a screenplay outline about a family for a prominent citizen in Northern Ireland. People started advising to not bother as the film never got made. But it started me on this journey. Previously I’d written radio dramas (one won an award) and was used to using sound for better screenplay treatment. Adding visual images turned out to be a delight.

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?

Douglas Adams. His “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe” was originally a radio play before it was a film. My award winning radio play had Douglas Adams driving the Number 42 bus to the end of the Universe. I like him for his zannimess and unpredictability – sometimes I try to borrow those from him.

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?

Can I have two TV shows? “Fawlty Towers” from the UK and “Malcolm in the Middle” from the US. Although, One is old, the other more recent. Why? For the well-rounded comedy, moreover, it’s in the lines, in the physical action, and in the non-verbal reactions of the actors. Consequently, it’s comedy at its best.

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?

The first appearance of the shark by the beach in “Jaws”. The music and the menace, but you don’t actually see much.

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?

The Jack Nicholson character in “Easy Rider”. For his goofy naivete.

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Orson Welles. “Tell us the whole Story, Mr. Welles”. I’d want to know more about the behavior of Randolph Hearst and also its effects. And about the “War of the Worlds” thing – though that was radio, there’s a lot to learn about how to tell a story and the best medium to use for it right there.