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I started screenwriting as an amateur actress in London trying to get seen for good parts in film and theatre. As I have a degree in literature from London University it was easy to compile a story that I thought would be appealing so I wrote a Gothic Horror novel called Vandella. I came up with the name first after I had a dream about it while sleeping overnight on my friend Don Oparah's floor at Cambridge University. I then wrote the very last page in my hometown of Bournemouth on the South Coast of England. At the time I was living in a small apartment on a cliff-top near the sea in an old Victorian mansion building, so I included this as the home of my main character, Vandella. I created a tragic end having been very inspired by tragic writers such as Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare. I think the Gothic Horror theme was also inspired by classic Gothic writer Mary Shelley who owned a house in the area where I have also lived and went to school in Boscombe in Bournemouth (England) and whom is buried in the graveyard of the church in the centre of my hometown. I had previously been very impressed by new actor Keanu Reeves who I modelled my main character of Elliot on. I had first seen him while still attending University in the surfing film "Point Break". The film had nothing to do with my story but I needed someone to base my character of Elliot on so I took the look of the actor, how he walked and talked and the clothes he wore in the film and combined what I thought was his real personality with a typical young working guy from my home town and that is how I came up with the character of Elliot. After finishing writing the whole book in three months I decided I would like to play the character of Vandella myself but had little acting training or experience. So I joined an actors' group for people with learning difficulties and the director of that group encouraged me to audition for drama schools in London. My first one was RADA (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) in London and I applied to join their classical Shakespearean acting course after auditioning with speeches from Shakespeare's Macbeth and Miss Julie by Strindberg. To my surprise I got in on my first audition, but had no money at all to pay for the course which was very expensive for me. With help I wrote to over a hundred people and organizations for sponsorship with very little response but eventually the Oscar winning actor Anthony Hopkins offered to finance part of my course. This kept my place open at the school which I was then able to take up. After I finished my course I wanted to get the actor, whom I had focused the character of Elliot on, to possibly show interest in my work in the hope Vandella would be produced as a film. I knew he played guitar in a rock band so I saved the money to fly to Los Angeles in the hope of being able to pass him my manuscript for Vandella. After checking local press in LA on a daily basis I eventually found that his band was playing at a venue called The Dragonfly in Santa Monica so I bought a ticket for the gig and to great trepidation hired a car. When I went to the gig I was completely overwhelmed by the number of people at the venue, there were more than a thousand people there, it was completely jam-packed and it was full of what looked like a lot of heavy rock enthusiasts. I quickly realized I would never see this actor except on stage and it would be impossible to meet him to give him my manuscript to read. So I went and stood at the bar and decided to give up on my fruitless endeavour and just enjoy the night. To my shock Keanu Reeves came and stood right next to me to buy a few drinks at the bar. He looked like a very typical guy from my home-town but after staring at him for a while I understood it really was him. I pulled myself together and nervously introduced myself. I told him about my book and my ambitions for it and asked him if he would consider reading it. He said that he would and he took the manuscript from me that, looking back, was very amateurishly tied together with dark scarlet silk ribbons. Then off he walked behind a curtain at the back of the venue with his drinks in one hand and my manuscript in the other and I really was in a state of elation; I had been in LA for the grand total of two weeks and one day. The next day I flew back to England and waited to hear from the actor, but unfortunately he never got back to me. So after receiving a free ticket from a well-known airline that had burnt me on flight with a hot drink I went back to Los Angeles again and in a rather gutsy fashion called into his management office in Beverley Hills. I was told by an assistant that she did not believe my story, but nevertheless she took my phone number and address in Los Angeles. A few days later a friend of mine from Australia whom I was sharing accommodation with invited me to a book signing at a book shop called The Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard for the science fiction writer William Gibson, whom had written the screenplay for the film Johnny Mnemonic that had starred Keanu Reeves. I went with Amanda and managed to chat with Mr Gibson about how he himself had struggled to get his screenplay to the actor Keanu Reeves. He told me his story and I told him mine and he encouraged me to keep on with the endeavour, plus he signed my own copy of Johnny Mnemonic. The Science Fiction Channel from Sky was there with a film crew and heard my story. Three times they asked me if they could interview me for their show and I refused, but they implored that they loved my English accent and asked me again, so I eventually gave in after much encouragement from Amanda I agreed to the interview and told them the same story. I do not know exactly when the interview went out but I can say that not so long after I received a letter from the same assistant from the actor's management company that not only had the actor lost my manuscript at The Dragonfly that neither had he even read it. Naturally I was devastated. I understood it was not professionally written and neither was I professionally represented by an agent but I believed her letter and that he had lost my very precious manuscript. Some time later the very same manuscript gained me a place on a professional post-graduate screenwriting course at UCLA Film School. So my feature screenplay Vandella was my first piece of work and I also wrote a second feature, a science fiction, cyber-punk story called CrazyJane that has been inspired by my extreme experiences of trying to get my first manuscript to Keanu Reeves in LA. It is also heavily influenced by the work of William Gibson and Japanese Manga. You can read the feature Vandella here on The Black List. I have written two original, contemporary screenplays and also am now attempting to write a stage play in England called The Garage. I am very interested in the work of others and love watching new films from both studios and independent film companies and classical and contemporary theatre.


Kathleen Mortimer
Mystery & Suspense Horror

Gothic Horror; As a newspaper journalist by day and a flesh-eating vampire at night, Vandella is brought to the realization of her crimes when Elliot, an urban town bank-clerk, falls in-love her resulting in strange and tragic circumstances. .