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Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School Horncastle

Taking to the Big Screen 

Laura Turner

Screenwriter, playwright and actress Laura Turner grew up in Tattershall and attended QEGS. After studying English Literature at the University of York she pursued her passion for writing starting with short plays before graduating to short films and later her own feature-length film Lapwing.

Can you tell us more about your experiences since leaving QEGS and how you reached your current role?

I have always loved stories, drama and English but never considered it as a career. Whilst studying for my degree at York I immersed myself in stories and developed my hobby as a writer. I loved inventing stories around student drama and realised that I could do this as a living. I decided to change my plans from continuing down an academic route and after graduating moved back with my parents to give writing a go. I started writing short plays and stories and joined writing groups including the Hull Truck Theatre to train as a playwright.


I started working for Chapterhouse Theatre Company in Lincoln adapting classic novels; with my love of English literature this was a perfect first job for me. A few years after graduating I began to establish my writing career alongside my day job as a theatre administrator and production assistant.


I gained a place with the BBC on a programme for younger writers and wrote for E20 (an EastEnders spin off for BBC3) and other shows such as Holby City and Casualty. Although working on these shows was amazing, it made me realise that I preferred crafting my own characters rather than being limited to characters with established personalities, so I went back to short film and building up to a feature length film. I began writing Lapwing in 2016, which is a film set in Elizabethan Lincolnshire salt marshes. It deals with themes including coming of age, change, oppression and domestic abuse. It was a project of passion and took until 2020 to finish production and was released on Amazon Prime, iTunes and SkyStore in November 2021.


Has growing up in Lincolnshire influenced your work?

When I was at school I couldn’t wait to get away from Lincolnshire and I went to live in London for a while. I actually found London overwhelming, creatively stifling and similar to pressure cooker as there were so many people in the same position as me, trying to become playwrights and screenwriters. I gravitated back to Lincolnshire which made me freer and more creative.


What is your fondest memory from your time at QEGS?

Everything to do with the drama department - I remember being excited and alive when in the studio. When I was in 6th form, I set up a drama club for some of the younger students and actually wrote my first play for that group called I Love Christmas. I also acted in Vinegar Tom, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Little Shop of Horrors and Pygmalion.


Who was the person who inspired you during your time at QEGS?

Mrs O’Neill ignited my passion for creativity. Miss Woodhouse awakened my love of literature.


What subjects or activities helped prepare you for your current role?

Drama club pushed me to start writing my own scripts. I took A-levels in English, theatre studies, history, physics and French.


What has been your biggest achievement?

Lapwing is the project I feel proudest of. It was a long journey from writing to distribution with several hurdles (including budgets and a global pandemic), growing from me scribbling in a quiet room to it widening out and sharing the story with the production team. I love to speak to audiences after viewing and holding Q&A events around the country. The film is, I hope, thought-provoking and opens conversations about abuse and oppression.


What advice would you give to a current student at QEGS, who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Self-motivation is key. Make an active choice and embrace it. Do something every day to push yourself, be it writing a sentence, learning a new monologue or performing in front of someone. Start talking about your work and share your passion with others; it’s hard to do but you will get feedback and develop your ideas. Deciding to write is a journey; in order to figure out what to write and what you want to say you need to be questioned. Know yourself. Live your life. Challenge yourself. Put yourself out of your comfort zone as new experiences will give you more material to draw on.