A moving film adaptation written by Stirling alumnus, Malcolm Campbell, who graduated from the University with a BA (Hons) Film and Media Studies in 1996, has won the prestigious London Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Screenplay.
What Richard Did follows a group of privileged Irish teenagers over the course of the summer between the end of school and the beginning of university. It focuses on Richard, a popular high school athlete, who has a bright future until his life is transformed forever one night after a senseless act of violence.
The screenwriting was commended by the judging panel for its power, with panelist Anthony Quinn describing it as “screenwriting of a very high order”.
He said: “Film-maker Lenny Abrahamson clearly knew what he was doing when he hired Malcolm Campbell to write the script of his tense moral drama.”
Malcolm Campbell says: “When I heard I had won the award I was shocked, then elated and proud. It was a tough category and nobody expected a small Irish art-house film to beat James Bond.
“It was terrifying, having to make an acceptance speech in a room full of people I admire and I still can't remember what I said.”
Commenting on why the film has been well received, he says: “I think the film appeals because it doesn't spoon-feed the audience. It invites them to observe a good kid at the peak of his powers, who makes a bad mistake which threatens his bright future. It then raises a range of questions about responsibility, loyalty and what it means to be a man.”
The former Stirling student has many fond memories of his time at the University. Commenting on how his studies at Stirling have informed his career, he says: “It was fantastic to be exposed to so many great films and to be able to talk and write about them. The lecturers at Stirling were passionate about their subject and made me appreciate films, think about them on a deeper level and realise I wanted to be part of that world.
”Getting to where I am today took good timing and luck as well as commitment and hard work and I never anticipated people would respond to my work as positively as they have. I've had disappointments in my career too so I'm pretty resilient. I’m also not precious; scriptwriters can't be or don't last long if they are.”
Tim Thornicraft, Senior Teaching Fellow in Stirling’s Division of Communications, Media & Culture, says: “We've produced many excellent graduates but Malcolm's achievement stands out.
“He was a great student and has been a regular visitor since, helping to inspire new generations. We're used to seeing Stirling graduates on screen credits, but it was especially moving to see Malcolm's name at the end of this wonderful film. He richly deserves his success.”
What Richard Did was funded by the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannánnah Éireann and was made on a budget of approximately €1million. Malcolm Campbell also celebrated winning the ‘Best Script’ award for the film at the Irish Film and Television Awards in February 2013. The DVD will be available in the UK from 8 April 2013.
The University of Stirling’s BA (Hons) in Film and Media was rated 1st in Scotland for Communications and Media in the 2013 Times Good University Guide.