BAFTA membership honour for screenwriter with Carrickfergus and Ballymoney roots
An acclaimed Northern Ireland screenwriter has spoken of his delight at being accepted as a full member of BAFTA.
Ewen Glass, who hails from Ballymoney but has family connections to Carrickfergus too, is confident the honour will enable him to become a stronger advocate for regional voices in the creative industry.
The BAFTA membership comes after a decade as a screenwriter for the former Dalriada pupil who went on to study Film & Media with English at University of Stirling.
Ewen, who is also a member of Irish Film & TV Academy, Writers Guild of Great Britain and a voting member on British Independent Film Awards, said: “I’ve been working as a screenwriter for a decade now with success in both TV and film. Through my work as a screenwriter – including theatrically-released feature films, original TV pieces and work on continuing drama – I’ve brought a regional perspective to the industry, telling stories borne of the regions, about the regions.” Growing up in the province in the 1990s, Ewen felt his horizons were “limited by distance, circumstance and practicalities”.
He continued: “There was a feeling that we were cut off, that things happened ‘over there’. Working as a writer in film or TV was not thought to be achievable. Thankfully, things are changing, with Northern Ireland becoming a destination for TV/films from across the world, and more and more jobs opening up in that space in Northern Ireland. Organisations like BAFTA and NI Screen are helping.
“I’ve walked the walk for a decade, telling stories set in oft-overlooked places in Northern Ireland and indeed England (e.g. Bradford and Lincolnshire). Crucially, we’ve created work in those areas by shooting there. Authenticity goes beyond what you see on screen – it’s about local crews; it’s about specificity in the script; a story that couldn’t be told anywhere else. It doesn’t mean working small or shrinking your audience.
“I’ve written for the likes of Harvey Keitel and Emily Beecham, however nothing has beaten seeing my mum’s home town Carrickfergus brought to the screen, and knowing what that meant for local people.”
Ewen has also picked up a great deal of international work, not in hubs like L.A. or Berlin, but in places such as Bratislava, Prague and Vancouver. He is quick to explain: “This doesn’t illustrate a lack of ambition – my most recent feature Little Kingdom sold all over the world, from Europe to the North America, Middle East to South America – it merely reflects one of the many different ways to enter and thrive in TV/film today.
“We need to continue to widen the parameters of what success looks like and feels like in this industry. Success is achievable and if it’s your dream, go get it. Your locations means less and less these days so it doesn’t matter where you’re from. Learn your craft and go after it.”
In addition to its prestigious awards ceremonies, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is an independent arts charity providing an international programme of learning events and initiatives.
“Being accepted onto BAFTA as a full voting member means I can continue to help shape the future of screen industries in UK, voting on both film and TV awards and taking part in BAFTA’s year-round mission to educate and promote the amazing creative work being done in UK,” said Ewen.
“It is a great honour and I must admit I got a lump in the throat when I read BAFTA’s letter of confirmation.”
For the record, it reads: “We are delighted to accept you as a full voting member of BAFTA in recognition of your considerable contribution to our industries.”
Ewen has words of encouragement for others looking to develop a career in the sector.
“When you start out in the creative industries there’s a temptation to think it’s either sink or swim. It’s either you’ve made it or you’ve failed, but the reality for most of us mere mortals is it’s a slow climb.
“You learn to focus on the craft of what you’re doing, the enjoyment of writing the current project, and you build up a body of work. I for one feel my best work’s ahead of me (in fact, it’s nearly always the current script!).
“I’ve always sought out ways to help the next generation. I’ve taught on British Film Institute’s Youth Academy and at University of Exeter, as well as serving as an associate professor in Screenwriting at University of Lincoln. “With BAFTA’s support, I aim to be an even stronger advocate for regional voices, telling stories of that kind, helping educate the next generation and – hopefully – serving as an example to people from Northern Ireland who may still feel the difficulties of access.”
Ewen’s latest film, Little Kingdom, is a drama about what it takes to survive in wartime Europe. It was shot across Slovakia in 2019 and had a great cinema run in Europe, scoring in top 10 box offices. Starring Alicia Agneson (Vikings), Lachlan Nieboer (Downton Abbey) and Brian Caspe (Carnival Row), it is now available to stream on Amazon Prime in UK and Ireland.
Click here to read: East Antrim backdrop for new TV productions
Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.