More times than she cares to remember, at a critical point in Maddie’s life she’s had to make difficult, even life-changing decisions. At college she was faced with choosing a career path; her heart said ‘The Arts’, but her head said ‘There’s no money in it.’ So she gave up her beloved English studies to go down the engineering/science path. But even then things didn’t quite go smoothly, and she realised in her first year at university that technology education in the 1980s was woefully behind the curve. In Aston they were still teaching COBOL, PASCAL and ALGOL 68R, but in industry digital logic and microprocessors were coming to the fore. So she left and joined a seismic surveying company. Within a few weeks of leaving university she was collecting data in the North Sea, and later the North Atlantic, using state-of-the-art digital computer systems. The same computer systems being used by NASA at that time.
“Most of the time at sea was tedious, but the sea itself is always interesting, and when I was off shift I did a lot of reading. We’ll gloss over the times when we hit port and everybody got drunk. It’ll all be in my memoirs. Heh heh.”
Okay, not a conventional start to a career perhaps, but following seventeen years working full time in various technical environments for organisations including national security and telecommunications, she struck out on her own as a freelancer, providing IT consultancy to many major companies on a contract basis. The money was good, sometimes spectacular, but all the time she wrote. She wrote many stories and ideas for role playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy adventures for friends and magazines. She wrote stories including full length novels which she has self published (see here for details), and she learned the craft of writing screenplays from studying books such as Syd Field’s excellent teaching guides, but she also read screenplays and has an extensive collection of them including actual shooting scripts (Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Brothers Grimm’ being a particularly prized example)
As a freelance Technical Writer she honed the key skill of connecting with her audience; translating sometimes complex, or difficult ideas and concepts into readable, accessible text. As an engineer she had often needed information from manuals and reference books only to find it was almost opaque due to poor writing.
After more than another decade freelancing Maddie’s path crossed Mike’s. They were both working for a global telecoms giant, but only to pay the bills, rather than a chosen vocation. In fact Mike was part of a two man interview panel, and he has his own story to tell how the interview went. They soon realised they had shared ambitions on the writing front, and after a memorable afternoon in the company canteen, where Maddie pitched an idea for a sitcom screenplay, L’eau Co Productions was born. From then on Maddie knew that she wanted to get out of working for an endless procession of IT companies, and take control of the next phase of her life. It wasn’t an easy decision to close down her IT consultancy business, but after ‘running the financial numbers’ past friends and financial advisors she now works full time as Senior Writer for L’eau Co Productions. On LinkedIn, the industry social media system, she defines her role at L’eau Co as ‘Director of Wordification & Imaginerifery’, a title she made up, partly to describe what she likes to do best, but also to put off the IT world (she still gets weekly enquiries from companies and agents wishing to employ her)
“David Bowie once coined a phrase ‘The Tyranny of the Mainstream’ when describing the pressure to continually produce what the agents and commercial organisations relentlessly demand. Of course I want success, but not at any price. I’ve been at the beck and call of that tyranny, now I’m much more in control of what I create, and I get great pleasure when others find enjoyment in what I do too. Money’s not as available as it was, but hopefully success will improve the situation in the near future; a bit of ‘starving in my writer’s garret’ won’t do me any harm.”
On Sunday 31st March 2019 Maddie sacked herself from her own company, closed it down, and now writes for the cinema and television full time. When time allows she continues to develop her novels, and a new novel, based on a screenplay is soon to be published.
Meantime, Mike balances working full time with forming links and relationships within the film and television industry in the evenings and weekends. After some near misses, Mike and Maddie are hopeful that agents and producers will collaborate on a number of projects in the near future.
Mike has a clear ‘vision’ of who L’eau Co want to work with...
“We had to turn down one firm offer for one of our screenplays. It was obvious that the production company just wanted our ideas and were only prepared to pay next to nothing. It was an easy decision for us; we’re well practised in our old ‘day jobs’ at figuring out who we want to work with, so we passed. The right collaborators are out there.”