Going behind the camera
A Horsham screen writer tells Charlotte Pearson about the inspiration for his latest film.
A self-confessed Pink Floyd fan it was while researching one of the bands founding members that led scriptwriter Josh Merritt to director his first short film.
“Syd Barrett was one of the founding members and when he left the band he kind of disappeared,” reveals Josh.
“He became a recluse but there were documented incidents of him popping up at things every now and again.
“He had mental health problems and people weren’t sure if he always had them or if it was brought on by the drugs like LSD or acid he was doing.
“The more I looked into those years when he disappeared the more interested I got.”
This coupled with his fascination with famous recluses, like The Catcher in the Rye’s author JD Salinger, it led Josh to write ‘Echoes’.
The first draft for the film script was 22 pages long and he admits it was fuelled by ‘adrenalin and a passion for the subject’.
The film was shot over two days in May and focuses on Merv an ageing, reclusive musician who decides to give a rare interview with an anxious young journalist.
Josh career started in comedy where he worked as a scriptwriter for people like Rory Bremner, before he moved on to screen writing for the big screen, but as he points out ‘Echoes’ is not a comedy.
“I think as I have got older I don’t really want to write comedy anymore,” he reveals.
“Echoes has comedy snippets in it but just like any other human drama there are those comedic moments but I think it is quite a dark film.”
Having acted as a screenwriter and producer in the past ‘Echoes’ is Josh’s directorial debut.
“I had always wanted to direct but you have to be really obsessed with the film as you become surrounded by it,” explains Josh.
“I just thought when I had finished writing it - ‘why not now? why not this film?’ and everything just fell into place.”
The world premiere of ‘Echoes’ took place last month (November) at the Crossing the Screen film festival in Eastbourne, which saw 841 entries from 69 countries.
“There were about 70 films in total at the film festival,” says Josh.
“They had so many entries from Sussex that they created a special category called Made in Sussex.”
But it isn’t the first time a film Josh is involved in has been featured at a festival.
‘Delays Imminent’, a film he wrote and co-produced, was directed by the actor James Cotter, who has worked with Brad Pitt on ‘World War Z’.
“It was accepted to international festivals such as Bangalore Short Film Festival,” he says.
The film is the story of a young autistic man, trapped in the throes of bereavement for the death of his mother and under the care of his ill-equipped father, who is brought back to life by the surprise appearance of an old friend.
Horsham resident Josh says growing up he always loved writing stories but his parents always like to remind him that he would ‘get so excited about the next one that he would stop and move on’.
“I think it is why I like open-ended films,” he says.
When it comes to the process of writing he explains it is ‘very loose’.
“I have the idea and then develop the characters but on the whole it is very loose,” he smiles.
“I let it evolve, if I am hired for a job I have a brief and everything is figured out but when I write for me I don’t plan too much as it can make it boring.”
With writing a ‘great way to purge himself to stop him going mad’ it will be interesting to see where Josh takes his audience next.
To find out more about the film Echoes and Josh’s other work, visit joshmerritt.co.uk or facebook.com/Echoesfilmshort