Charles Harris is an award-winning writer-director and novelist who has worked with top names in cinema and TV, from James Stewart to Alexei Sayle. His debut novel The Breaking of Liam Glass hit the Amazon top six for satire.
As consultant, Charles has worked with professional writers from all over the world, and lectured at international film festivals, universities and film schools. His book Teach Yourself: Complete Screenwriting Course is regularly at the top of the Amazon best-seller lists and along with Jaws in Space: Powerful Pitching for Film & TV is recommended reading on MA courses.
Charles Harris came to directing and screenwriting after a varied early career which ranged from projectionist to published short-story writer and theatre director. He trained in acting with Peter Frye of Lee Strasberg’s New York Actors Studio, and then worked his way up through the industry to TV cutting-room assistant and then editor for BBC and LWT. He has written and directed for BBC and Channel 4, creating internationally award-winning documentaries and TV drama.
His first cinema script, a thriller, was picked up for packaging by CAA in Hollywood and led to a number of commissions for cinema scripts in the UK and Europe. His debut movie as writer-director – the bittersweet coming-of-age story Paradise Grove – won awards, including Best New Director at the Palm Springs Festival of Festivals.
He is also a qualified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and 6th Dan black belt in Aikido and publishes regular articles about screenwriting in his Write On blog - www.charles-harris.co.uk.
Read a Scriptwriter Magazine review of one of Charles Harris's workshops. (This is in pdf format - you may need to download the free Acrobat reader from here).
Q: What’s your favourite film?
A: So many! I have a different favourite film every week... Currently it's neck and neck between Seven Samurai, His Girl Friday and School of Rock. But in seven days' time...
Q: What’s your most memorable action scene?
A: The climax of Seven Samurai set the bar high for every action movie that followed. Essentially, everything in the previous hour builds to it. Many climactic scenes in movies are either not properly set up, or fail to come good on what's promised. In SS, Kurosawa delivers in full. The final battle
takes a massive amount of screen time, but never feels long. The twists and turns are not simply action, but fulfil all the thematic and character promise that came before. The ending is tragic, uplifting, elegiac and a profound meditation on the futility of violence, all in one.
Q: What’s your most romantic encounter on screen?
A: The whole of Before Sunrise/Before Sunset is one romantic encounter with a nine year gap in the middle. It may not be to everyone's taste, but I find it the most engrossing and truthful account of the passions and fears of
falling in love that's ever been put on screen. I'm now waiting for the next (Before Noon?) nine years further on.
Q: What’s the most scariest moment for you in film and TV?
A: The single moment that scared me most came in a movie called Wait Until Dark. Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman who becomes unwittingly involved with two vicious drug runners. Most of the action takes place in her home,
where, near the end she (and we) think she's killed the remaining thug. And then... it's the only time in my life that I genuinely remember physically leaping off my seat - along with everyone else in the cinema.
Q: Who’s your favourite screenwriter and why?
A: There are so many great writers who have worked on the screen - but if you push me to choose it's a tie between Robert Towne, Ben Hecht and Nora Ephron for movies. For TV the pantheon has to include Dennis Potter, Trevor Griffiths and Aaron Sorkin.