Q&A with Mark Oxtoby

Mark won our inaugural Best Short Screenplay contest back in 2018 with his touching script ‘My Week with Maisy’.

What was the inspiration behind writing this screenplay?

The project actually started after a wonderful actress (Lauren Logan) approached me and said 'If you ever have anything that I might be right for, I'd love to be involved.' I always take this as such a huge compliment, so I started working on ideas.... and although it started 'an actress on a break whilst filming a commercial, who randomly finds herself in a conversation with a child who is waiting for her Dad'?! I soon realised that the main character needed to be much older.....(sorry Lauren). This often happens with me. It starts as one thing and then kind of rewrites itself as something else. So I started thinking about places and situations. Before I realised what was happening, Maisy was born and the script almost wrote itself... the characters voices where so clear. I knew I had to base the moral on my Father-In-Law's positivity after recovering from illness. Like many people in today's society, I have been affected by severe illness. Sepsis, Cancer, Motor Neurone's Disease and Stroke. But it was my Father-in-Law (William Buckland) who was the main inspiration for this project. About 5 years ago he suffered a severe stroke. Having been involved in his lengthy recovery, over several months I got to see first hand how terribly we deal with illness. The people who have immediately decided that their glass if half empty, looking at what they've lost and then those, like my Father-In-Law, who somehow find the strength to make the conscious choice that their glass will be half full. Grateful for being alive, taking charge of whatever is left and making the most of every second of this precious life.

What has the feedback for this screenplay been like so far?

The feedback has been absolutely incredible for Maisy. With the Breakout win it takes the screenplay to a total of 7 Award wins and 4 Nominations which is just amazing. I was contacted by producer (Charlotte Atkinson) in the summer after she had read the script and we are currently working our way into Pre-Production.

What type of impact would you like this screenplay to have?

I would love for the screenplay to make people stop and think. Think about what a positive mental attitude can do. Think how much of a difference we can make by starting a conversation. Think about others. To realise that whatever our external differences, there is always something to learn from another human being. And this is exactly what Maisy teaches Mrs Foster, to enjoy every moment, to ask questions, to laugh, have fun and ultimately, it reminds us to care and have a glass that's half full. My Father-In-Law made a much greater recovery than expected and everyone involved, including the Doctors and specialists, believe that it was entirely due to the fact that he, at the moment, decided that some life would be better than no life at all. And although he may have limited walking ability, no use of his right forearm/hand and difficulty speaking..... he lives life to the full, making the most of every second. What a hero!

When did you realize you had an interest in screenwriting?

I've always had an interest in writing. Short sketches, Voice Overs and the odd commercial. But Short Screenplays.... probably for about 5 years. I feel I am starting to find my voice now, so I definitely won't be stopping any time soon.

What's next for you?

I’m currently in Post Production on a new short film 'Blood Means Nothing'. My wife (Dawn Buckland - who is the queen of the twists) and I wrote the screenplay, which has already picked up a Best Screenplay Award and a few Nominations. We wrapped at the beginning of October and are in deepest darkest editing at the moment.