Posted on 12/10/2011
Screenwriting student Janice Hallett will see her dream realised this week, as a film she co-scripted is released on the big screen starring top Hollywood actors.
Retreat, staring Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later), Thandie Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness, Crash) and Jamie Bell (King Kong, Jumper) will be released on Friday (October 14). It tells the story of Kate (Newton) and Martin (Murphy), who flee to an isolated Scottish island after a personal tragedy. Things change when a man suddenly washes ashore, claiming a horrible airborne disease is sweeping through Europe.
Janice explains that she was still completing her MA in Screenwriting for Television and Film at Royal Holloway, University of London when she answered an advert for a writer to assist with a film script.
After sending off the script she was working on for her course, she had a telephone interview with director Carl Tibbetts and was shocked and excited to be chosen to write the script for the new psychological film.
"Carl already had the story, the characters and an early draft of the script, so I was brought on board to re-write that and help develop what was there into a workable script and one that would attract the attention of the industry,” she says. “I continued to work on it with Carl for the next three years until filming started. I visited the set in Wales for a day during filming but that was it until I saw the finished film at a crew screening.”
Janice explains that although she is now working in an industry that many perceive as glamorous, it is still just a day job – albeit an exciting day job. “I work from 9-5 at my desk at home. I have to be very regimented. Some days you have off days and you feel less like writing, but as I used to work as a journalist I am able to force myself to get to work.”
Janice worked as a journalist for business and retail magazines in the beauty trade. She explains that after years spent writing about beauty products, she wanted a change and signed up to the MA course at Royal Holloway.
“There’s only so long you can spend writing about mascara,” she says. “I wanted to make full use of my creativity and develop my writing skills and the MA course was fantastic for that. Without the course I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. It really is the best thing I could have done.”
Jonathan Powell, Head of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, congratulates Janice on her success. He says: “I am delighted to see Janice having such a high profile success. It is a particular pleasure since Janice’s work was always both distinctive and original and it is exciting that this talent is achieving recognition within the film industry.”
To view a trailer for Retreat visit the Empire magazine website.