Aspiring Sheffield screenwriter has his sights set on Hollywood

Film fan Shaun Needham has Hollywood in his sights.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 2:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2016, 2:36 pm
Shaun Needham in his P.E. teacher kit.

The young teacher loves movies so much he has started writing his own screenplays - and is hoping at least one of them will soon feature on the big screen.

The 31-year-old Sheffield man said: “I have always loved movies since I was a kid and always said that one day I would write a screenplay.

Nostalgia - 1980s films - Back to the Future

“I reflected on the fact that I was spending my days encouraging children to chase their dreams and aspire to achieve their goals and wasn’t really pushing for mine.

“I decided to buy a book on screenwriting and teach myself and I’ve never looked back.“

Shaun juggles his creative hobby with teaching physical education at All Saints Catholic High School near the city centre.

It often means he is burning the midnight oil coming up with creative ideas at the Gleadless home he shares with fiance Becky.

Aspiring screenwriter Shaun Needham.

But it is a sacrifice he is willing to make.

He said: “I love creating characters. Characters have to be distinguishable in a screenplay in the way they speak and the things they do otherwise they will all come across the same to the reader.

“Character-driven movies are always the best and I love to create characters with whom people can relate, and will genuinely sympathise with, as the conflict in the story develops and builds.”

It was a family holiday to Universal Studios in Florida when he was aged eight that “kick started his obsession” with film.

Shaun Needham working on his script.

He said: “My top five films are Back To The Future, Gladiator, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Lord Of The Rings and Snatch.

“They’re all very different but I love them for different reasons. To be fair, I could easily write a list of a top 100.

“And my top screenwriters are Robert Zemeckis, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. Any movie by any of those guys is awesome. They also direct and produce a lot of their own movies now as well.”

He chose to properly pursue his screenwriting dream about two years ago after winning £45, 000 on the TV gameshow In It To Win It. He invested some of his winnings into buying a screenwriting book and setting up his own website as a calling card for potential financiers, directors and producers.

Nostalgia - 1980s films - Back to the Future

Shaun has also written several film scripts – some of which have caught the interest of the film-making industry.

His screenplay ‘State Of Sin’, about an ex-SAS soldier who tracks down the killers of the President of America in a terror attack, received positive feedback from judges at the Page International Screenwriting Awards.

Said Shaun: “Basically, it’s Taken meets Mission Impossible meets Die Hard.

“I got an initial score of 75 out of 100 in the competition, which typically means it would have advanced into equivalent of the quarter final stage.

“I was really pleased with this as this screenplay was my first.”

Another script ‘Washington: Untouchable’, about a prohibition-era agent who teams up with former president George Washington to bring down a vicious gangster, was reviewed by industry experts at the Insider Screenwriting Content.

Aspiring screenwriter Shaun Needham.

He said: “This one is The Untouchables meets Back To The Future.

“It received very favourable feedback but wasn’t what they were looking for at that moment in time.”

Shaun accepts you need a thick skin in the film-making business, which he describes as being incredibly tough to break into.

He said: “Movies cost a lot of money to make so producers and studios tend to invest in writers they already know as it is a safer investment.

“Having said that, there are lots of producers and professionals who use websites such as the Blacklist to look for new talent so there’s always the chance that you might get lucky.

“It’s a hard game to break into so any way I can market myself and get my name recognised is worthwhile.

“I just have the mind-set that if I keep trying, eventually I’ll get there.

“Back To The Future was passed on over forty times by loads of different studios until it was eventually picked up so I use that as my motivation!”

He added: “My ultimate ambition is to have one of my screenplays produced and make it onto the big screen.

“At the minute, I would love to just sell one but the ultimate goal has to be Hollywood.”

For more information about his work visit Shaun’s official website at Shaun Needham Screenwriter

Shaun’s scripts

Here is taster of some of Shaun’s scripts.

Calling out for Tommy - Disillusioned with the horrors of WW2, a British soldier forms an alliance with a German POW as he attempts to get home to see his new born daughter.

A Christmas Tipple - An obsessed Yorkshireman aims to continue his late father’s Christmas tradition, but much to the delight of his care-free friend, events unfold that conspire against him.

A Brew Story - An overly ambitious brewery owner inherits the family business after the unexpected death of his father, but is forced to set up a rival factory directly across the street when he is bullied out of the company by his scheming friend.

Shaun Needham working on his script.