Sheffield man wins chance to make his first movie

After more than 20 years of making other people’s movies happen, Sheffielder Richard Knight will finally get to see his own script brought to life.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th September 2021, 4:43 pm
Wentworth Woodhouse Screenwriting Award winner Richard Knight, with the Preservation Trust's CEO Sarah McLeod

The former location manager, who now helps students begin their film industry careers, has been writing film scripts for years, but just for fun.

He plucked up the courage to finally enter a competition when he heard Rotherham stately home Wentworth Woodhouse had launched its first ever screenwriting award.

He beat almost 100 entries and will see his script turned into a short film this autumn by a professional screenwriter, director and crew.

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All scripts were anonymised for judging and the panel fell for the charms of Richard’s gentle comedy, which sees an elderly gent trick his way into leading a guided tour of the Grade I listed 18th century mansion, making up historical stories as he goes from room to room.

“I am blown away; I didn’t think I’d got any chance,” said Richard, of Greystones, Sheffield, whose earliest career highlight was being Diana Rigg’s assistant and daily Pimm’s-mixer on the set of The Mrs Bradley Mysteries.

“I’ve been in the film industry since I was 23 but kept my writing ambitions pretty quiet. Most people in the industry think I’m just the guy who finds the locations and parks the trucks!”

The Greystones father of one added: “Wentworth Woodhouse is a stunning place; Over the years I’ve viewed it as a potential location for numerous films and TV dramas. I thought basing my script on a tour would show the house’s beauty. I am itching to see how the professionals will shape it.”

Richard's locations work includes hit movies Dead Man’s Shoes, This Is England and Four Lions by award-winning Sheffield production company Warp Films, music videos for the Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg and Louis Tomlinson, the BBC’s Silent Witness series and Channel 4’s acclaimed Utopia.

Most recently he worked on the newly-released movie Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which is set in Sheffield.

He is now sharing his industry knowledge with students across the county as Screen Yorkshire’s career support manager. “Many want to be writers or directors and I also encourage them to look at the wider range of jobs available. Having my own screenplay made into a film at the age of 47 could well inspire them to pursue their dreams, no matter how long it takes,” said Richard.

Wentworth Woodhouse, the setting for Oscar-winning movies and hit TV dramas, launched its screenwriting award in June to give an emerging writer the chance to make their mark in a hugely competitive industry.

Entrants had to use Wentworth Woodhouse as inspiration and tell a unique storyline and entries ranged from romantic bodice-rippers to horror thrillers.

“Our judges saw big potential in Richard’s script and we are delighted to give this unique opportunity to someone who has nursed their ambition for so long,” said Sarah McLeod, CEO of the Preservation Trust regenerating the mansion.

“Wentworth Woodhouse has been chosen as a location by some of the biggest names in the industry and now it’s at Richard’s disposal. We are so excited to watch it progress from page to screen.”

Richard’s script will be edited by Paul Hutchinson, an experienced script-reader and screenwriter based in Chesterfield whose high-profile clients include a New York Times best-seller.

It will be made into a short film by Doncaster film-maker and director James Lockey, who currently has his first series in pre-production for a major platform.

Funding is being provided by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Culture Recovery 2021 pot and the movie will debut as part of a major event at the mansion in March 2022.