Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

48 Hour Film Challenge… London! September 23, 2012

I was kindly asked by new collaborator theatre director Ahmed El Alfy to be his designated scriptwriter for the 48 Hour Film Challenge in London. And of course I took him up on the offer. All the actors involved were Mountview graduates and from a theatre background, some had even graduated that same day. We met at Alfy’s flat.

FRIDAY 9:30pm – We’d been given the following elements to complete for our entry:
GENRE – Drama
PROP – Cream
LINE – “Let me tell you a secret”
CHARACTER – Charlie Cipriani (a minor celebrity)
Faced with 6 actors we then set about meandering our way to a story. I got everyone to take a few moments and think of something that had happened to them that day which they considered a drama, no matter how large or small they were. This opened up discussion from each story and then it was rapidly approaching midnight.
SATURDAY 12:00am – Straight into an improvised ensemble scene. I wrote down an intention for each actor to have in their pocket that only they would know and got them to interact in small groups. It was interesting to watch (I only knew one of the actors) and to grasp people’s abilities and strengths. I sat at the sidelines and scribbled anything that caught my eye and ear.
1:30am – We sent the actors home to return at 7am. Then it was up to me. The more I thought about it the more I realised I didn’t actually have that long. With such an early call time for the actors I needed to get a move on and fast. I definitely decided that it would be a collection of vignettes rather than a standard narrative. With 6 actors to juggle I wanted everyone to have a balanced story and I was never going to get that with everyone and keep it under 7 minutes.
2:30am – I sketched down ideas. I listened to Spiritualized (Let It Come Down). I listened to Nick Cave (Abattoir Blues). I listened to PJ Harvey (Is This Desire?). I didn’t know the password to the Internet connection at that point which was probably for the best. I had grasped a rough template of what I wanted to achieve and I nudged Alfy who was tweaking his first short film next to me. We discussed it and he asked me questions about the moments I had chosen to explore. Then I went back and fleshed out the story. The sky is an odd colour.
5:30am – Sitting at the computer I tapped, typed, took my time but ended up finishing a script. I woke Alfy from his slumber and we were both happy with the end product. I tentatively point out that I’ve written two exterior scenes, I ask what the weather’s going to be like later today.

7:00am – People start arriving and trickling into the living room. I’ve still not slept but don’t feel tired. I’d gone to bed late Thursday night and slept in till Friday lunchtime to conquer this.
7:40am – First read through of the script. It was a real treat seeing people notice some of the moments and dialogue they’d crafted from the improvisation seep into the script. Everyone seems happy with what we’re going to be working with.
8:30am – Actors are tasked with being off book asap. Most of them, if not all, do this within half an hour.
9:00am – Some folks have the brilliant idea of cooking sausages and fried eggs with bread rolls en masse. We are beginning to not be so concerned about the mammoth task ahead. Eggs and sausages make everything alright. This fuels us to chat more about individual scenes and character motivations and collectively scout for locations. I’ve written one pub scene, one park scene and one street scene. People soon realise they will be multitasking throughout the shoot.
10:45am – We arrive at the pub where scene two (and a small scene three) are set. The landlady’s been nice enough to let us in before the pub opens for business and this is through one of the actors who works there (and is also in this scene).

12:15pm – The pub opens for the general public and there’s football on. The locals are inquisitive and accommodating and surprise us all. They creep around like mice and watch the actors work. This amuses me greatly and I smile knowing there are nice folks. Things are taking time because the pub is next to a main road which meant lots of excess noise. We sit outside in the sun. It is sunny, my interior monologue high fives Ra.
3:15pm – Second location for us to find – a park with a free bench. We stroll to one near the pub… Which is small and filled with children. We walk to the other one close by and find a football match happening and a free bench just past them. We walk. Someone asks about the props for this scene… No one’s bought them. Off someone goes to the shop. People are beginning to feel more tired. I’m surprisingly awake still. I wasn’t even going to stick around the filming but I’m glad I did. We start shooting scene four, the last scene of the film.

4:00pm – One elderly jogger runs around us several times making sure to avoid the camera. Another younger jogger runs straight through shot each time on every lap. He does stupid arm exercises each time he gets to our patch. I laugh as I say that Alfy and Jack look like French auteurs as they smoke whilst working – they clamp the cigarettes between their teeth.
4:45pm – The squirty cream used as a prop has no squirt left in it. The strawberries look mushed to fuck. I buy Red Bull for myself and Alfy.
5:30pm – We head off to the last location to film the opening scene for the film. A dodgy street to film a mugging where in real life it’s known as a mugging hotspot. Great, authenticity. At one point we have to wait for two policemen to walk past before rolling.

6:30pm – It’s cold and I wish I had a coat. Still not slept, but still not feeling the need to. Everyone is so lovely and there’s no tension at all. One actor has to ‘mug’ the other actor many times and be shot from different angles each time. The last take he stacks it and falls to the ground, rolls it out and pegs it down the street as planned. The scene carries on and he jogs back. We don’t shoot that segment anymore (we don’t need to.)

7:00pm – It’s a wrap. We head back to one of the actor’s for well earned cups of tea and congratulate ourselves for the hardwork. Alfy looks like death and it’s only then that I feel my body stiffening with something that can only be described as reluctance to move.
9:30pm – I’m still at Alfy’s because I can’t be bothered to make the trek home. My gait has slowed and my eyes look like I’ve been crying for days. Still not slept.
10:00pm – I leave Alfy and Jack to start the long process of logging everything and syncing sound to start the mammoth intense session of editing. I’m on a bus heading to St. Pancras and sleep and nonsense are beginning to invade my limbs.
10:20pm – I stand at the ticket machine for a good 5 minutes before realising I was trying to buy a ticket to St. Pancras and the reason that wasn’t happening was because I was standing in St. Pancras. I buy a single journey ticket for St. Albans.
11:00pm – Dad comes to collect me from the station. I warn him that if he keeps the car this hot that I will fall asleep.
SUNDAY 12:01am – I’m emailing Alfy and Jack (producer) some music to be considered for the film and clambering into bed. I’m finally tired.
We then get word Sunday afternoon that there’s been technical difficulties. We won’t be able to hand in a version of the film to be considered for the competition because there’s no time to amend and edit before the cut off time. No one is angry, we’re all respectful of the hardwork we’ve all put in and are still excited by what we created. We’re all happy to have been involved in something great in a short amount of time and even though it won’t be part of the competition, we made a film and had a brilliant time doing it. A film is still a film and once it’s done and ready for folks to see, you’ll see it. I loved every second, shot, film roll, sound roll, and sleepless hour I got. 36 hours with no sleep and a bunch of new friends and a film. That’s not bad going considering we were all doing it for the experience… I think we’ll have to credit the sausages and the eggs. 


My First Restaging Of Work With @WeAreOryx August 18, 2012



Oryx Productions, some lovely folks who run a new writing pop up night at 93 Feet East, have selected one of the first short pieces I ever had performed in London to be included in their next night. The piece is called, “Love-Aged-28” and is part of the Interrobang Trilogy I had put on at The Book Club back in 2010. I’m really intrigued to see how it will differ from the original staging… It’s an odd piece to begin with, abstract with direct addressing to the audience, and in terms of theme it’s a little bizarre. A bit like “Brimstone And Treacle*” but with menthol fags and no forced sex.

If you’re free to come along to the FREE event, then please do. I’ll be there so come along and say howdy if you can make it. It’s Tuesday September 4th starting at 7ish and it’s in the bar. Which means gin, right? Right!
[the gin is not free]


*If you have not read this play, do. It’s the play that got me into being a playwright and that. At least the first ten things I wrote were a rip-off of it.


Miniaturists 33 January 31, 2012

Coming up on Sunday 5th February at The Arcola is The Miniaturists, a collection of short plays that have been written by playwrights who have been invited to do so. And I have been kindly invited to write one and do so. Working alongside my brilliant director Abigail Graham and the superb actors Geraldine Alexander and a Josh Darcy, we’ll be airing an experiment of an idea that I really want to explore further. The piece is called ’18+’; Tom and Lily’s daughter was a porn actress until she was hit by a car. Tragic. The only way they can remember her is watching her back catalogue. It was her job, they are very proud of what she achieved. Disconnection of intimacy and how grief can alter our relationships with each other not just with the person in question. It’s a snapshot of a larger idea that I want to spend time really delving into, but at the moment I want to take the idea out for a spin to see if it’s got legs. And what better way to do it than this.
I’m in good company with the other invited writers being Jon Brittain, Brierley Thorpe, Kate Russell-Smith and Al Smith. I’m really looking forward to this short being put in front of an audience. The last few short pieces I’ve written have been a step apart from what I usually write in terms of chronological narrative and style, but I’m really enjoying this approach.
There are two performances, one at 5pm and the other at 8pm. Do come along and say hallo.


5 February 2012

Arcola Theatre


5pm and 8pm



LSFF and YARN December 31, 2011



On the 11th of January YARN will screen films originally commissioned for the Letters Festival in Milan, interweaving them with new works inspired by the films across a range of mediums, including music, theatre and spoken word. The evening will feature work by filmmakers including Ruth Paxton, Helena Astbury, Kate Jessop, Michael Rittansberger, Alexander Taylor and Serena Corvaglia.

I’ve been asked to write a response to one of the films to be performed on the night as part of the London Short Film Festival. My film in question is called Vittorio Gassman by Alexander Taylor and my response is called, No One Writes (Them) Like That Anymore. More information about the event can be seen here.

(I’ll be honest, it’s one of the more surreal things I’ve written. It involves a re-enactment of The Lion King, bad handwriting, grotty B&Bs, sex noises and televisions that don’t work properly. Poppy Corbett is the director at the helm and I’ll blog about it later once rehearsals are underway.)


As you can see from the trailer above, it’s bound to be an interesting night and the festival itself is superb at highlighting the talents within the short film industry. Unfortunately I won’t be in attendance as it’s the private viewing of the Simone exhibition the same night, which I’m quite gutted about. It seems I’ve got busy once again… But go along and support the festival. These are two brilliant and unique groups of people who are extremely passionate about the work they share. If you can, go along to any of the other events that both YARN and LSFF organise. You’re bound to be in for a treat when you do. 

Wednesday 11th Jan

YARN presents… An Evening of Cinematic Soliloquies
Starts 7pm
£6 tickets, available in advance here



‘Simone’ Exhibition December 21, 2011

As this year comes to and end it also signals the fruitful passing of time for the Simone project. Just a quick recap for those who don’t know… I’ve been collaborating with a fantastic illustrator called Natalia Wilkoszewska throughout the year on a variation of the games of ‘Consequences‘. And Simone is the culmination of it all. I write a piece of flash fiction and Natalia would illustrate it, then she’d illustrate the next part of the story and then it was up to me to write the response, then the next part of the story… And so on. We never forced each other’s hand to bend the story, we simply gave each other cliffhangers and free reign. And now we have a year’s worth of Simone’s life documented for all to see. It’s been an adventure.



I cannot believe a year has passed on this. Each month we did one image and one text and in January 2012 the entire collection will have it’s first public viewing at Oxford House in Bethnal Green. We’re chuffed, thrilled and ecstatic to be able to have the opportunity to let it unfurl in a public forum, especially in a building like Oxford House where they’re keen to exhibit upcoming artists.


This is something new for me (I’m going to be ‘exhibiting some work’ – odd!) and the idea of having work up for people to see for a prolonged period of time is a good kind of crazy. What initially started as an exercise to keep each other creatively exercising, has turned into a beautiful project and we’re keen to get people to go along and see not only our work, but the others on show.



Simone will be displayed from 12th January till 31st January 2012 in the Oxford House cafe which is open from 9am till 4pm. We’re hoping this won’t be the only outing for the project, so I’ll blog about any future developments about other exhibits. Do let us know if you go along and more importantly, enjoy it!


Last Chance To Catch Me This Year November 17, 2011

The Lovely folks over at C54 Theatre Company are putting on a Christmassy night in Belsize Park at Oliver’s Village Cafe called ‘Winter’s Tales’ on the 8th and 9th of December. The whole event will be fuelled by mulled wine, mince pies and I hear a lot of good cheer will be present. Niceness.



I’ve written one of the tales and it’s called ‘Extension’ and this will be the last time this year I’ve got some work on for you to come see (and possibly for a while). I’m really looking forward to this night as it’s a more intimate venue and basically a nice reason to have some well earned hot alcohol juice and mince pies. A cosy evening with some new writing and smiling faces. Heck, I may be becoming sentimental as I age, but at least I’ll do it with a glass in my hand.

The details to get tickets are on the poster above (email/mobile number) and I hear that the first night is almost sold out. Do come along and raise a glass to the year that’s whizzing by. 2012 eh? Yeah, it’s just around the corner. But first, let’s have some more mulled wine…