1.  What do you do?

I’m a full-time scriptwriter, working in television, radio and animation, based in Cornwall

2. Who do you look after?

I share childcare with my wife for my two children, Eliza and William, although now they’re twelve and fourteen, there’s not quite so much looking after to do. When they were very young, my wife had just started her own tech copywriting company (which went on to employ seventeen people), so I did the majority of the childcare (and cooking, shopping and so on) as well as my own writing work.

3. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a parent/caregiver in the screen industries?

The biggest challenge was trying to find time and energy to get everything done. While the kids were at primary school, my working day ran from about ten to half two, which didn’t leave much time to really get immersed in a project. Also made it difficult to travel up to London for meetings, and being in a writers room was unworkable.

4. What does a bad day look like?

A bad day at the time was when the writing didn’t start coming together until after lunch, which meant I had to try and get it all down before it was time to go and pick the kids up from school. I remember before I had kids thinking I’d be able to catch up on work in the evenings or at the weekends. It somehow never occurred to me that I’d be too tired in the evenings, and where did I think the kids would go in the evenings, exactly? Maybe they’d be stored in large pieces of Tupperware, like that episode of Eerie, Indiana.

5. What about the best day?

Best day would would be when I’d got a decent amount of writing done, then after I’d picked the kids up from school, I’d sit with my son on the sofa and we’d practise reading together. Seeing it come together in his brain was more rewarding than I could have imagined. Never needed to do that with my daughter as she somehow learned to read practically overnight, the weirdo (I vaguely remember my brain working like that, too).

6. What one thing would make your working life better?

Having a working replicator from Star Trek that magically makes food appear would make my life better. I enjoy cooking, but somehow having to think about what to make for the evening meal, get the ingredients together then actually cook the damn thing somehow seems to take up a quarter of my working day. That said, I’m a terrible control freak in the kitchen so I refuse to let anyone else do it, so it’s entirely a self-imposed burden.

7. What is your favourite piece of advice from our Creating Inclusive Productions Resource – or is there something we need to add?

I hadn’t known about Raising Films when my children were young, but probably ALL of it would have been helpful! That said, I was able to work from home, so it was much easier for me than friends who had to properly step away from jobs like television directing to focus on childcare, only to find they’d dropped off the employment radar by the time they were ready to work again.

8. Tell us about someone who is doing excellent work.

My friends Matthew Graham and Emma Frost are doing amazing work with the production company they’ve set up, Watford & Essex. They’re really committed to working with a diverse group of writers and giving those who are outside the often rather privileged world of television all the support and encouragement they could wish for.

James Henry began his career writing for Smack The Pony and Green Wing and has written for many classic British animated shows like Shaun The Sheep and Hey Duggee. He is currently working on a Radio 4 comedy show to be released in May 2023 and releasing a children’s fantasy novel, The Cabinet of Curiosities, as a podcast/audiobook.

He’s on twitter as James Blue Cat

2023-01-23T10:15:15+00:00January, 2023|Interview|