Friday, 10 February 2017

TRIBUTE - Interview with Philip Shelley

Launching today is the new podcast, Tribute, by Philip Shelley. My script Bookmark is part of the anthology series which deals with death and the multitude of emotions that can throw at you. I'll post more about my episode in the coming weeks, firstly to give you more of an idea of the series as a whole here's an interview with the creator Philip Shelley.

What is the premise of Tribute, and what lead you to the idea?

The TRIBUTE PODCASTS are 13 short dramatic monologues – the premise being that they’re eulogies/celebrations/musings on a recently deceased fictional character. What lead me to this was having to do the eulogy at my own mother’s funeral in March last year. My mother had written a 30 page or so account of her life a few years ago, and much of my eulogy was taken from this. Reading it reminded me that it was me who encouraged her to write it in the first place. My mother didn’t live an objectively extraordinary life – but even so, so many extraordinary things had happened to her and so much of the detail of her life was fascinating and rich. It made me think about how every single life is unique and extraordinary – and how a eulogy/tribute is a great dramatic format for recounting the story of a life – particularly if there’s something distinctive about the relationship between the deceased and the person giving the eulogy.
I was also lead to the idea by the succession of celebrity deaths in 2016 that meant something to me – particularly David Bowie.

Would you say Tribute fits into a genre or does it cross over into multiple genres?

It fits into the genre of dramatic monologue – but I think the eulogy aspect makes it distinctive and compelling. I also think as a genre/format, it’s ideally suited to the medium of podcasts. I’m a big podcast fan – but all of the podcasts I enjoy are factual rather than fictional. I think there is a place for more fiction - drama and comedy – podcasts.

How many Tributes will there be?

There are 13 in this first series. I’m hoping the response to this first run will be positive enough to justify a second series. And that I can find a source of funding to pay for the 2nd series!

How did you go about choosing which stories made up the series?

 I put out a call through my fortnightly screenwriting newsletter (go to to subscribe and check out the archive!) and received about 60 scripts. I was blown away by the quality – but these 13 were the outstanding submissions – they all stood out and made an immediate impact when I read them.
I knew I was onto a good thing when I received the first script within an hour of sending out the newsletter – and it was wonderful (Grandad by Daniel Brierley).

Can you give us a hint of what stories we can expect to hear?

It was important to me that we had a really wide range of different tones, characters and stories. Of course, some of the monologues are heart-breakingly sad – but I think the overall tone is uplifting and life-affirming.
Stories range from a prison officer talking about a dead prisoner; a woman saying farewell to the neighbour who has made her life a hell; an art critic celebrating his pupil, a famous sculptress in the Tracy Emin mould; a son talking about his father, a celebrated international statesman – to a mother saying goodbye to her daughter.

And who is in the cast for the series?

We have some really wonderful actors involved – Finty Williams, Joe Sims, Samuel Crane, Sarah Thom, Paul Chapman, Patrick Brennan. Without exception, the actors brought qualities to the scripts that brought them alive in ways we hadn’t expected.

Why do you think there is a resurgence in the anthology approach to storytelling, with the success of Black Mirror, Inside Number 9 recently?

Self-contained dramatic stories will always be with us. In conventional TV drama, these stories sometimes have to be smuggled in (think ‘Ordinary Lies’) but with the explosion in dramatic content (TV, podcasts etc) I think single, self-contained stories and anthologies are ripe for a creative rebirth.
What do you hope the audience get out of listening to Tribute? What was the intention for the series?
I hope the audience will be moved, entertained – but above all that the series will make them think anew about their own lives and the lives of those around them. The theme that holds all of these monologues together is death – but also life, and the celebration of different lives. I hope this will be uplifting not depressing!

When and where can people go to listen and subscribe? 

 You can access the podcasts via the website or download them via iTunes

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