Bede's Welcomes Oscar Nominated Writer, William Nicholson

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Last week, Bede’s was delighted to welcome two-time Oscar nominated screen writer and novelist William Nicholson for ‘A Life in Writing’, a fascinating insight into his distinguished career, his creative process, and what still inspires him today.

Taking time out from post-production work on Hope Gap, a Sussex-based film he has written and directed, Nicholson was everything a student could hope for: engaging, witty, full of enthusiasm and sage advice for those aspiring to write for a living.

Beginning with a powerful address on the importance of failure and persistence, Bill told us of his early struggles in gaining recognition for stage works and novels. Even students well used to hearing the old adage — that success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration — were struck by the conviction of his belief: that failure is a necessary threshold for all truly worthwhile creative endeavours.  A message students may have heard before, perhaps, but from such a charismatic speaker, it certainly resonated. 

As Bill confided his stories about the challenges of collaborative movie work, generously sharing anecdotes about some of his best-loved films, there was a collective sense that we were given a very rare insight into a world often hidden from public view. Discussing his script for the Oscar-winning Gladiator, Bill explained the processes of script revision, painstaking re-writes and even total re-thinks that happen behind the scenes in order for the finished pictures to look so good on the big screen. 

When it came to the time for audience questions, it was clear that students and parents could have happily gone on late into the evening. Bill spoke of his award-winning script for the 2012 film of Les Miserables, the musical of which will be performed by Bede’s students this year, as well as his approach to bringing historical figures to the big screen, as in his critically acclaimed Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

When the evening finally ended, it seemed that Bill would remain trapped at Bede’s longer than he had planned; a queue of inspired students formed at the front of the Recital Room and proceeded to pepper him with yet more questions. It is hard to remember a guest making quite such an impact. As for the students in the audience, perhaps one day they too will see their own words on screen or stage.  Having heard from a remarkable writer, they now know exactly how to proceed.

Pictured is Mr Peter Goodyer, Headmaster; William Nicholson; and Mr Matthew Oliver, Head of English


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