BAFTA shortlisted scriptwriter, Matthew Cooper, is judging our 2022 Screenplay Award.
Based in the UK, Matthew worked across all the UK's broadcast networks in a 25+ year career.
Matthew had his first script produced and broadcast on Channel Four when he was just 19 years old – the short film is the first acting credit for Ewan McGregor – the award-winning film launched both of their careers.
Matthew went on to sell a feature script to a US major before finding himself in the fast-paced world of UK soap operas. He started as a core writer on the Emmerdale team (at 27 he was the youngest writer they ever had) before moving onto the BBCs Eastenders where he wrote the iconic episode where ‘Alfie’ told ‘Kat’ he loved her for the first time–one of the highest watched episodes of the soap in its 20+ year history.
Matthew worked on CH4s Hollyoaks show as part of the team which tripled the show's viewing figures under producer Bryan Kirkwood. Matthew oversaw storylines that introduced the McQueen family and notorious club owner, gangster and double murderer Warren Fox, who was described as the first ‘realistic’ gangster character in UK soaps.
Matthew has worked as a script consultant and script doctor on various produced and released feature films on both sides of the Atlantic and acts as ‘player turned coach’ for new writers through his script consultant website.
As a director, Matthew is about to complete a trilogy of innovative low budget horror films based on the work of H. P. Lovecraft – the three feature films have all been produced on low budgets, shot throughout the coronavirus pandemic and released online to good reviews and sales.
Matthew is judging our 2022 Screenplay Award and says...
‘As a script consultant I get called in to fix problems with plotting or construction, but what I notice more and more is that the characters are the key, if the characters don’t have interest or appeal, there’s not much point in trying to fix structural problems.
If I think of some of my favourite films and TV shows, I don’t think of great bits of plotting or structural savvy from the writer–I think of the characters the writer created, the people we are watching–characters need to be interesting, love them or hate them – it’s the people the writer creates that keep us engaged and entertained.
Great plotting, structure and other storytelling techniques are vital – but if the characters aren’t interesting and surprising, then we have a problem.
More and more, when I look at scripts, I’m looking for characters that shine...’