university choices

from screenplay to i-mitch



Mitchell Lawrence: Imagining the moving image.


Ahh. The power of the image, in a single word answer.

Why did you decide to come to UOW and how did you choose your course?

With pragmatism: The Illawarra region’s youth unemployment is 15%: the third highest in NSW.  Young people are weathering a perfect storm; with the retraction of industry, mining and manufacturing, and slower development of new businesses there are fewer prospects (The Guardian).

But also imagination: When times are tough, little treats like a book, magazine or movie are often still affordable. They provide refuge, inspiration and investment in yourself. As does education!

Mitchell Lawrence is twenty-four and a first year student at UOW. His double-degree course combines a BCMS (Advertising and Marketing) with a BA (Cultural Studies). But his main interest is writing screenplays and stories.

Where does this come from? What are they about and how do you start? The ideas…where do you find them?

Dissatisfaction. “Movies are a hobby. But I find a lack in most of them. They’re far from finished.” But cue again, imagination. “I read to escape the mundane [and] enjoy the fantasy of a world where anything is possible. This is the sort of story I like to write.”

Mitch’s favourite reads are historical fiction, perhaps set in Victorian England or the ancient world. He enjoys the fantasy and moral challenge of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), also Tolkien, and Conne Igguldens’s Emperor series, even Dan Brown. “It’s a different thing, but I like his writing style.”

Inspiration or scheduled daily toil? The daily writing task becomes too formulaic, a chore. Inspiration, and to “write until I run out of steam” is preferable. Photographs are useful. A picture of a house will lead to him inventing the story of the person who lives there. There’s no waste either. If a story is left unfinished, he will try to salvage and recycle ideas. His favourite writing time is late at night, when the barriers relax. Then he can explore ideas that might have seemed ridiculous earlier in the day.

Can people be defined by the books or movies they like best?  Perhaps a glimpse. Historical fiction, like other genres, has various definitions. To use just one of these, set the story in a specific time and place, with a foundation of historical events and characters, and imagine the details that aren’t recorded, or the voice of a witness. Then think: What if?

It’s not all just the life of the mind, though. There is the fandom from afar of Liverpool FC – one side of the family is from Scunthorpe; just hearing  the name makes people snigger –  and supporting the Cronulla Sharks (the atmosphere and excitement of the match is always better than TV).

And in the future?  More reading, writing, getting through Uni. Travelling, not sure where, but will do it. Oh. And of course…



“All screenwriting books are bullshit.


Watch movies, read screenplays, let them be your guide.”

Brian Koppelman, Six-Second Screenwriting Lessons, #1 (