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THE OD

2

ACHIEVEMENTS

OD

Achievements

Guy Hibbert (OD 1963) is a passionate, creative, BAFTA-winning

screenwriter, whose work is thoroughly researched, thought-

provoking and compelling. His dramas include

Complicit

,

Omagh

,

Shot Through The Heart

and

Five Minutes Of Heaven

and his next

film will consider the politically controversial marriage of Sir Seretse

Khama and Ruth Williams in 1948.

An Interview with

Guy Hibbert

despair that I would ever make a living,

but in 1989 I got my break: a BBC trainee

script editor read this rejected stage play and

gave it to Michael Wearing (then the best

drama producer in the country). He read it

and immediately commissioned it for TV.

It was broadcast to a huge audience, got

great reviews and, aged almost 40, I finally

‘arrived’. I switched from the theatre to TV

and have been in work ever since.

Is there any aspect of your time at the

Dragon which particularly cultivated

your interest in writing?

Conjuring up stories is about dreaming,

discovery, the joy of learning, love of

research, being your own person and being

aware of that creative space in your mind.

I can’t point to anything in particular

in my Dragon experience, but schooldays

generally are vital and formative. So,

looking at the above list, I could reply that

everything about the Dragon cultivated my

interest. There was something celebratory

about its atmosphere. We were an incredibly

dishevelled lot but the School seemed to be

almost boastful of this, as if it were saying:

how can you be creative if you are always

having to pull up your socks and straighten

your tie? The Dragon allowed my creativity

to flourish and you can’t ask more of your

school than that.

Your work is typically very well

received. You won the World Cinema

Screenwriting Award for

Five Minutes

of Heave

n at the 25th Sundance Film

Festival in 2009 and your most recent

works,

One Child

and

Eye in the Sky

,

received positive reviews. What drew

you to these particular subjects?

I am passionate about both writing and

changing the world. I can’t of course do the

latter, but I can actively try to leave the world

a better place. I am in a privileged position:

my stories can reach millions, so I do try and

use that privilege to enlighten and inform as

well as entertain.

Five Minutes of Heaven

and

Omagh

both addressed the issue of peace and

reconciliation in Northern Ireland, while

in the 1990s I spent several years using TV

to open up the debate on the sexual abuse

of children, through dramas

May 33rd

and

No Child Of Mine

.

Five Minutes of Heaven

won me many awards - Sundance, BAFTA

- but the one that pleased me most was the

Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize

(Northern Ireland peace and reconciliation

award). Coincidentally, I shared it that year

with another, Timothy Knatchbull (OD

1978), for his book

From A Clear Blue Sky

.

I started researching my drone warfare

script

Eye In The Sky

in 2008 because I didn’t

know how C21st war is fought. Neither, it

seemed, did anyone else. I talked to members

of the British Army who agreed that C21st

warfare is different and yet there has been no

public debate about it. In 2014 I screened the

film in Parliament, while in the USA it has

opened up debate in Washington DC and

throughout America.

The script currently on my desk is a

movie about climate change, which I am

working on with Lord Puttnam. I’m also

writing one that seeks to answer the question

of why there is no adequate sewage system in

Mumbai, a strange choice, but a fascinating

story that also celebrates Bollywood.

How did your screenwriting

career begin?

It began…almost too late! Not knowing

what to do as a young man, I became a

stagehand at the Oxford Playhouse and,

later, a touring stage manager, while

simultaneously trying to work out how not

to write rubbish. My writing improved as I

gradually learned how to construct a play,

but only three or four of dozens of scripts

were ever performed and none earned me

much. Unless a play becomes a West End

hit, writing for the theatre does not provide

a living wage, so I supplemented my income

with painting and decorating.

Then, at 37, I wrote

A Master of The

Marionettes

. After three years of rejections

and failures to reply I was beginning to

With director Gavin Hood on set in Cape Town for Eye In The Sky