Gemma always knew she wanted to write for a living, but not necessarily for the screen. She was intrigued by the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and the escapism of the movies, but she had no idea how to get into the industry. As the daughter of a painter/decorator and NHS worker, she didn’t know anyone who could help her into this career, so instead she took on a string of PA jobs, quitting every summer to go to the Edinburgh Festival and put on plays. Eventually she decided she needed to commit to her writing.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Gemma was worried the industry would become risk-averse and her new career might be on hold for a while longer. Then director Rob Savage got in touch, with whom she’d previously had an interesting discussion about exorcisms over coffee! He had a vision for a devised horror film, but he needed a writer to plot the story and create the characters. After a fortnight of intensive Zoom meetings, Host was born, and ten weeks later it was available on a platform called Shudder. Gemma and Rob expected it to entertain a few horror fans, but the film went viral and the success was stratospheric. Gemma says the experience was surreal and wonderful - other than being sick through nerves just before going live on BBC Breakfast! She only met the film’s cast at a belated premiere, months after the film went online.
Host was Gemma’s first official credit, but it changed her life, opening so many doors and making everything seem more possible. The sequel, Dashcam, is out soon, and she’s working on other projects for the BBC, Netflix and Working Title. She’s thrilled to follow in the footsteps of previous Breakthrough UK participants, and is excited to access the mentorship and support the scheme provides.
Gemma’s Breakthrough credit is feature film Host