Succession writer and co-executive producer Lucy Prebble was last night awarded the 2019 Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship, the prestigious UK screenwriting bursary given by the charitable organization the Wellcome Trust in partnership with the BFI and Film4.
The Fellowship awards a screenwriter £30,000 ($39,000) to explore the intersection between screenwriting, health and science and gives the writer access to cutting edge scientific and humanities research. Previous winners include Jonathan Glazer, Michaela Coel and Sally Wainwright.
Acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Prebble, a WGA and Emmy nominee, is among the most fitting recipients, given that she used to write a weekly tech column for UK national newspaper The Observer.
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She said yesterday, “I am hoping to explore issues of biology and transformation for a horror film I am planning to write, as well as looking into the amazing collection of curiosities and information on the golden age of magic that their (Wellcome Collection) recent exhibition has housed, for a long-term project.”
In an interview with Deadline, the in-demand Brit elaborated, “I used to write about games and technology and have always thought that technology has the possibility to both destroy and save us. My first love was video games. I was born in 1980 at the beginning of the games boom.”
“I’m so delighted and excited about this award,” she continued. “The world of medicine and biology speaks to me in a way that perhaps other arts awards celebrations don’t. They can feel a little self-congratulatory, whereas Wellcome does feel genuinely progressive and forward-facing in terms of thinking about how technology and medicine can help us and help us express ourselves through the arts.”
Prebble, who is currently filming Sky series I Hate Suzy with her Diary Of A Call Girl collaborator and friend Billie Piper, expanded on the horror idea she is prepping, “There are a few things I’m looking at. One is a contained horror movie. It doesn’t need to be a big budget. It’s about transformation and metamorphosis, a little inspired by a female version of An American Werewolf In London. I’ve been thinking about how women’s bodies need to get used to massive change all the time, be it puberty, pregnancy, menopause or other stages of life. The level of trauma and metamorphosis a woman’s body goes through, there’s a rich tradition of that in horror.”
Prebble and her fellow Succession writers have begun writing on season three of the HBO smash, which she says will likely shoot in spring for a late summer air date. “I work on it at night,” she says.
“The writers’ room is very democratic. We look at, and re-write, each other’s work and the final scripts go to [creator] Jessie [Armstrong] who does a final pass. Like a lot of U.S. TV, it’s very democratic.”
What can the show’s hordes of fans expect in season three? “It’s early days in terms of storylining,” reveals Prebble. “One of the difficult things about the show is that you never want it to be too on the nose about what is happening now in the world. You want the emotional aspect of it to be true but not too parallel to what’s happening today. There are a lot of conversations about what the season two ending means for that particular relationship [Logan and Kendall Roy].”
She continues, “But there are also a lot of talks about going more international than we’ve gone before, which is to do with the relationship between the media industry and international countries. The way international countries input, control and fund the media in ways that aren’t talked about as clearly as they should be. I can’t talk too much about it because we might not make that arc but there are big conversations about how countries and media intersect at the moment.”
Russia, China, and the Middle East come to mind.
The international ties to Succession have always been strong. Armstrong and Prebble are among Brits behind the show, which was originally conceived of as a Channel4-backed, London-set drama with a heavy focus on the Murdoch family. The Roy family themselves have a strong Brit connection, of course. Brian Cox, Sarah Snook and Hiam Abbas are among the international leads.
Prebble has made a brilliant young career exploring the intersections of power, corruption and crime. Her most recent play A Very Expensive Poison recently wrapped its run at London’s Old Vic. An adaptation of Luke Harding’s non-fiction book of the same name, the play is about the assassination of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko by means of the invisible radioactive isotope polonium 210. She hopes the play can have “another life” somewhere, either in the UK, Europe or stateside.
Her well-received play about the Enron scandal was once picked up by Sony as a development project, but that is no longer in the works, she says.
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