Story and Horse

Inspiration is Everywhere with A.D. Cooper

May 21, 2022 Hilary Adams Season 1 Episode 30
Story and Horse
Inspiration is Everywhere with A.D. Cooper
Show Notes Transcript

Inspiration is Everywhere with A.D. Cooper

We are celebrating our 30th episode with A.D. Cooper! A.D. is a creative practitioner who works in many different forms of expression. She is a writer, scriptwriter, copywriter, director, playwright, journalist, university lecturer and a rather average beekeeper.

We talk about the the soothing nature of bees, cake as currency, and her love of playing with words. A.D. offers fantastic advice for getting past creative blocks, and shares several inspirational quotes she keeps by the desk to help us all get up and get going when we have a dream to create.   

A.D. Cooper's Bio:
A.D. is a writer director from an advertising copywriting background. Her short films have been screened at many international festivals and garnered many awards.  She's also presented her  plays on London fringe stages, had audio dramas produced as podcasts, published articles on film making and women's rugby as well as a couple of joke books.

Connect with A.D.:
Website: https://hurcheonfilms.com
Website: https://alicewrites.co.uk
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/a_d_cooper2eg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hurcheonfilms
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alicedcooper
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicedcooper/
Audiobooks: https://www.towtonaudio.com/

Host Hilary Adams is an award-winning theatre director, coach, equine-partnered facilitator, and founder of Story and Horse. She is all about supporting creative expression and sharing stories with the world.

Connect with Story and Horse
www.storyandhorse.com
Facebook: @storyandhorse
Instagram: @storyandhorse

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Intro:

Welcome to Story and Horse, a podcast where we hear stories from creative lives. Meet new people, hear about their challenges and triumphs, and get inspired to move forward with your creativity. Now, here's your host, Hilary Adams

Hilary Adams:

Hello, thanks for joining me on the Story and Horse Podcast. I'm your host, Hilary Adams. Here on this podcast we meet people living creative lives, hear their stories and gather inspiration for our own creativeness. Today we are joined by A.D. Cooper. She's a writer, script writer, copywriter, director, playwright, journalist, university lecturer, and a rather average beekeeper, welcome A.D.. So glad to have you joining me here today.

A.D. Cooper:

Hi, from London.

Hilary Adams:

So glad to have you with us. Can you start us off by telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do it?

A.D. Cooper:

I am what could be called a creative practitioner. So that means I have another a number of creative roles. It depends on the day of the week. Sometimes I'm a copywriter. Sometimes I write corporate scripts. So I've just been doing some work for an agency in New York. Even though I'm based in the UK. Sometimes I'm a script writer. Sometimes I direct short films, short documentaries, charity films, poetry, films, and corporate films. And sometimes I teach screenwriting, at university level, bachelor's degree level and sometimes master's degree level. And sometimes I work in a shop. It depends on the day of the week.

Hilary Adams:

Do you have bees?

A.D. Cooper:

I do have bees. I keep bees. Yes, I've kept bees for a long time. And there they are. They've just been to see my bees today. I've lost a couple of my hives over the winter. But I've got one high which is absolutely thriving. But they just bees just do what the hell they like they don't they don't read. So they don't read the books that we read. And they just do what the hell they like they out whit me every year, every year without fail.

Hilary Adams:

How did you start bees, I just have to ask. I'm so curious.

A.D. Cooper:

Oh, I got some friends of mine club together and game gave me a beehive for a birthday. And I did ask for it. I did, I thought it'd be lovely idea. And I just kind of stuck with it. And it is it's one you have to move very slowly. Because they have they're very soothing. The more slowly that you move, the less you upset them. So it makes you slow down. You can't you can't just whip through it because then everybody gets crossed then. So you have to move slowly. It's very soothing that and then do little things. I mean, they've got no break. They've got no brains at all, instinct on smell. And they are extraordinarily clever, extraordinarily clever, considering they're literally a hive mind. But they will, they will sting you that makes me swear a lot. But then you get very fond of them is the most bizarre thing. They wouldn't recognize you at all. They just don't. But you know, they're just lovely.

Hilary Adams:

That sounds like when you're with them and you slow down and you have to be like sort of present tense with them. I work with horses don't thin you, but they do have instinctual reactions and sort of helps us when you get back into deep creativity that does that help you change your headspace?

A.D. Cooper:

Um, actually swimming does that more. Swimming, swimming releases everything because if you've been crunched over a keyboard all day and your shoulders get really tight, then swimming really helps a lot. And it also I have some of my best ideas in the pool. I don't know how but because he's kind of you're not really thinking about them. It's like your brain carries on working. So what I call sort of back brain thinking like there's a little computer in the back of your head that just carries on thinking and it does it does things like you go to see a film or do a theater play. And within five minutes, your brain soak focused on that you suddenly crack the thing you've been you've been stuck on in a script or whatever. within about five minutes it's it's almost like you have to relax to make your give your brain the space to work on its own curious thing.

Hilary Adams:

That is curious. And before I started recording, you mentioned that you have a film that's over here in Denver in a festival right now. Can you tell us? I

A.D. Cooper:

I do have it's on it's StockerCon which is a three day horror film festival. This sounds like the most fun and it's a little a little thriller little three minute thriller film, which has just won its third award so it's doing quite good business. I've also got another film on in the new Your sci fi Film Festival, which is a film I made, which is a supernatural film I made a few years back, which is still finding it. So it's way around the festival scene. I worked another film that's just been selected for a film in Toronto Film Festival in Toronto, a big one, and also a film festival in just outside London. And there's one other thing. Another thing I can't remember. Anyway, there's there's lots of stuff going on with film festivals and juggling and things going on. So it's that's all that's quite, that's quite fun. The fact that you're when you get accolades, someone else saying, we think it's good as well. That's done. That's that's always really gratifying.

Hilary Adams:

Congratulations.

A.D. Cooper:

Thank you. Yeah.

Hilary Adams:

And how can people find out about your creativeness? We'll put that in here.

A.D. Cooper:

So if you want if you want to go and look at my work, my website is https://hurcheonfilms.com/, which is spelled H U R, C, H, E O N films.com. And if you're wondering what a hurcheon is, it's the old English old Scots word for a hedgehog.

Hilary Adams:

So now, I definitely have to ask why?

A.D. Cooper:

I just I like hedgehogs, you know, and there already was a hedgehog film. So I thought, well, I'll call it. And also it sounds a bit like it's something frightfully sort of classical Greek or somewhat something. But actually, it just means. I quite like the hedgehog.

Hilary Adams:

hedgehogs are wonderful. In all of the creativeness that you did, do you have a favorite mode of sort of expression or creating?

A.D. Cooper:

I think I've always been a writer. So words, words are always my thing. So I've published joke books, and I've done journalism work. I've had theater plays on audio plays on I work. If you want to listen to one of my audio plays, it's on theirs. It's on. You can download it from a company called https://www.towtonaudio.com/, which is T-O-W-T-O-N audio.com. And they've made one of my audio scripts into a podcast. So you can go and listen to that if you want to. I've had a couple of theater pieces on in London, freakish theatres. Just just just I just like communicating, it's like playing with words.

Hilary Adams:

Did that start when you were really young?

A.D. Cooper:

No, actually. I went to a school where if you were in any way creative or individual, it was very much squashed. You were never never encouraged to be creative. Never encouraged to turn a phrase beautifully or be elegant. But I always had a very silly sense of you're my father in a very silly sense of humor. And I just love wordplay and puns, crushing problems, love them. And when I was about 20, I've said I'd said I'm going to do a copywriting course and learn how the art of copywriting, which is a real skill, finding, finding something clever, or clever way of saying something that's sometimes for a brand can be monumentally dull, but finding a way to lift it and give it energy. That's really fun. So I said to my friends, I was going off to do this, this copywriting course and they all said, yeah, of course you are, you're always going to be a writer, did you think to mention it to me, because I didn't know. I didn't know. And that's where that's where it all started. So and then the copywriting lead to script writing, and the script writing lead to directing. And funnily enough, the more the more I've directed, the better my kind of writing profile has become. Which was a really real surprise. I thought I might get a profile for directing, but I've got a different one for writing now.

Hilary Adams:

That's an interesting that your friends knew.

A.D. Cooper:

Yes. Well, I could have mentioned it. I couldn't go on with it, but quicker.

Hilary Adams:

It was a good thing. You came. You found it. Yeah, right. No, yeah. So you're clearly a very prolific artist you enter you explore many different genres. Tell us share a little bit about your creative process.

A.D. Cooper:

Well, it's a bit like trying to sort of pin pin something on a balloon. I think. I just I like playing with stories. I think the really studied story structure. So I like you're going back and look at fairy tales. And how storytelling came out of you know, campfires, itinerant storytellers, going from village to village earning their money just telling stories. And then you look at the visual side of storytelling, do cave paintings. You know you've got pictures of people chasing chasing down buffalo or deer or whatever, I mean, now that are they recording what happened in the hunt? Are they teaching someone how to hunt. So there's, you know, the visual storytelling is all part of it. But some ideas can sometimes come out dreams, I've certainly had some dreams scenarios where I work at that would make a great film, just write it down. Also, if you find inspiration everywhere, there's I've read the newspaper a lot. stacks and stacks of files, just little nuggets of ideas of something. And there are there are ideas and stories everywhere. The key is to find a way of telling it that no one else has told it. And that's the tricky thing. And getting other getting to see the other people to see that you're telling it in a way that's completely unique - slash -bonkers. Or is more scary or more moving or whatever it is you're trying to do with the audience. And this is just the for me, the greatest joy has been sitting in a darkened cinema, listening, listening or watching. Mostly listening people listen to people, watch my films, and hear them sometimes they laugh sometimes they cry, and sometimes they make this fun little nihilist who's a bit like oh, and that for me, that for me is just completely joyful. That's just like it's worth all the pain. I think making short films is like great a drugs it's bad for your health. Bad your bank balance bad your relationships. As soon as you've done one, you'd want to do another one. It's terrible. It's a shocking addiction. And it must be you forget the pain of it. They are incredibly hard to make and incredibly difficult your blagging favors. I also pay a lot of people in cake. Cake has currency who knew? So I'll ring up a post production house and say oh, why don't you help me? I need a great lunch if you know what a great it does when you're making the colors all look similar. I don't really have a budget back and meet you cake and quite often responses. Oh, well, we don't really work for free. What sorts of cake? I mean, literally straight straight out. No, no break out the cake. Cake as currency. So now I kind of define my films as being like it was a 10 cake film, or, and you can want one film I paid everyone hand in honey. So you know, I think if you make an effort to pay someone or do something, and always, always feed them well always pay their expenses. People are in the film, it's your fantastically generous with their time. And you're I'm now paying it forward on the neck. The next project I'm doing, I've been asked to I was asked to judge this competition in the script competition. Then I donated the script editing to make sure that the winning script was as good as it could be. And for in for you for I knew I'm directing it now. Okay. So I'm doing that in 10 days, that's only just slightly terrifying. But no, just the whole the whole process of telling stories is just great fun. And there are stories everywhere. And a lot of lot of the stories about extraordinary women I like true stories that that people haven't told yet in quite a lot them about women because men tend to write history when the the victors tend to write the story of the Battle even tell about the gallon someone who did something. So I like true stories that people haven't haven't told yet. And there are some some great stories. But of course, their history historical means expensive. It means costumes. It means you know, tricky times with different kinds of weapons and guns and whatever it is, but so it's always expensive people people do gulper term shooting period pieces, but I'm determined to do it. So it's fine.

Hilary Adams:

A lot of cake,

A.D. Cooper:

a lot of cake, a lot of cake. Currency.

Hilary Adams:

Do you have a favorite cake you'd like to make now that we're all drooling?

A.D. Cooper:

I've had I have a chocolate cake I make which to which I've had several marriage proposals, usually from married men, much to the annoyance of their wives as well as one I make which is a chocolate cake. Within in American terms, it would be with melted Hershey balls and in the icing. Seriously, chocolaty.

Hilary Adams:

Very nice. I'm wondering if you have in your inspirations in your in your collection of ideas, do you have one in particular that is calling you to if you could do it now you would?

A.D. Cooper:

Oh, and I bought it I bought a feature film script that I wanted to do. Which is kind of a supernatural story, because I don't think people ghosts, people, ghosts are portrayed. Truthfully, they're kind of given the role that the writer wants them to do. But actually, if you, if you, if you have some knowledge of what ghosts can do depends you believe in ghosts, of course, ghosts are quite clever. But the great thing is you don't actually have to show them, you just have to show the effects. So that makes them inexpensive. You don't have to pay them in lunch or cake. So I, I'm trying to get I'm trying to find a producer to help me raise the funds to get to make the make my pitch feature debut as a director. That's, that's the thing I want to do.

Hilary Adams:

So do you have a story that comes to mind that has, you've already told us of all the creative story that you'd like to share?

A.D. Cooper:

I think once you start directing, you're looking at storytelling in quite a different way. Because you're especially when you're trying to tell when you start screenwriting it's Can you show Can you show the story rather than tell it so you don't have to say this is a picture of a dog because we can see it's a dog. So there's one there was one. I made a short film set in the hospital. And it was very talking, there was a there was a man lying on his back in a neck brace couldn't see out the window, and the man in the bed beside him is telling him what's going on in the outside world. And the cinematographer said to me, too much dialogue too much. You need to do a film with no dialogue. So the next film I did with a note with no dialogue, which was about two little kids on bicycles annoying, apparently annoying an old man. And spoiler alert, he he then comes back and in his way plays with them, and kind of outwits them. And there was no dialogue in it at all. And that that went that film went on, were all around the world, because there was no dialogue. And it meant it was completely universal. So the kids were completely recognizable in any language. And it got picked up and screened in places like Reunion Island. It's a little dot in the Ocean between Africa and India. I mean, literally, it's a tiny, tiny, tiny little island. But it screamed at the reunion, reunion night Reunion Island, Film Club, you know, or film festival what it was, but he went all around the world went to South America, it went to Australia, It screened in all around Europe, all across America. It had no dialogue. So that was a real it was a real challenge to do. And it was a real challenge to get children to two little boys not to talk. But they do they do. Yeah. Next one I'm doing has no dialogue in it. So that's quite done. And actually having no dialogue makes life actually incredibly much easier. Because you don't have to have a sound man. It will sound a sound recordist. But that actually makes doing doing the filming ever so much easier. You're not waiting on the sound guy and not waiting for silence. You can just you can everyone will just shout as much. They're like, No, no, it's really helpful.

Hilary Adams:

If people are listening to this, and they're thinking, wow, this is so inspirational, you do so many different things and and they're feeling a little stuck in their creativity. So you have a suggestion for them.

A.D. Cooper:

One of the things I teach screenwriting that I say goes deep screenwriting, one of the things I would say to my students is if you get blocked, if you get writer's block, there's normally a really solid reason why. And it's because you've, you've had a brilliant idea. And you've set off at a gallop, and you're going this is marvelous, and you're getting the you're writing as fast as you can type. And it's you're going this is going so well. So other ones, so well tell her and then suddenly you don't know where it's going. And then you put all these days and days of energy, and it's been exhausting and brilliant. But now you've no idea where the story's going. And what I in my experience tends to cause that is that you haven't worked out your story. So you don't really know where your character is going, what they really what they want, and what they need. And characters often set off on a journey of a story arc of a film with an idea that they want this. But actually, they need to learn that they need something else. And if they don't learn that, then it's often a tragic story ends in death and mayhem. But if you the writer, if you don't know what the structure is, and you don't know all the kinds of beats you have to hit, which are classic within a three act structure, or a 5x structure or 1x structure or whatever structure you're using. You're building a house on sand And, but you've got halfway out into the ocean and your your Pier has fallen in, you're just you don't, because you don't know where you're going. And then then you get really, really depressed that you put in all this effort. And it's also brilliant and it's all marvelous. You've wasted all this time and you get really low. But if you, if you take the time to set up your structure, and work out, design your characters properly, and really know what are they what do they fear? How do they mask that fear? That one of their best traits? What are their worst traits? What did they despise? And other people? What do they admire in other people? And how do they get rid of the mask of their fear? And who is the antagonist? Who is often got the same fear but masks a different way? How do how do they how do they work it out? And there's I can't remember the film it is but you looking at antagonists or not all kinds of baddies. They have they they think they're the hero in their in their own life. All characters do we do I think I'm, I'm the hero in my life. God knows there's no one else on here. And this was a film I currently did is within the hitman. And he was asked to go and you know, shoot some somebody. But he was given the given the project to go and shoot some guy. And he said, so I can't do that. I've got to pick up my kids from school. And he says that kind of roundedness of you know, he has family responsibilities, but he's still hidden. So the one of these things you have to work out first, then create a structure. Otherwise, literally, you're building a house on sand, and it will suddenly go boop, in the quicksand. And you'll be really learned depressed, and you think I'll never write again, I'll never write again, I'm absolutely useless. But get your structure, right. And it will read it will really help you create a rounded thing. And then when you've written it, the art of screenwriting is to write it again and write it again and write it again. It's not any, any fool can write a first draft, but it's the art is rewriting it and making it better making it better making sure somebody's making sharp and making everything that would be my my thing to get over the the writer's block situation.

Hilary Adams:

Thank you very much. There was so much so many wonderful things in there for people. I was struck in the very beginning, you said, there were two things. One was he talked about fear, and the masking of fear and the removal of masking a fear because I find that that is sort of universally inside of all the characters that I've worked with in theater, and then people in real life. So I was just struck by that I thought, Oh, I hope people really hear that when they're working with characters, and that's a great thing to discover, is to think about their fears. And I also thought about when you said that, in your own life, when you started doing the copywriting and that led you to understanding that you're needing writing, I think you'd say in your in your world, you're talking about that as characters that sometimes they say they want one thing, but they don't, they don't know what they really need. And I just thought, oh, that's kind of like when you set out and didn't know that you needed writing your role.

A.D. Cooper:

The other thing about masking fears is that you're your antagonist. And your protagonist often have the same fear, but they mask it in a completely different way. So they often can be almost mirrors of each other. But one, one may mask it by being aggressive and one way mask it by being passive. And that may change. So you know, there's, there's all this all to play with, you've got to work, you've got to work it out. You've got to work it out first.

Hilary Adams:

What does the antagonist and protagonist having the same fear but masking it differently? Do for the story,

A.D. Cooper:

when it quite often creates the friction. But also there'll be some part of the antagonists character, which is the thing that the protagonist despises most in all the world? Because it's already it's to despise it. It's within you. If you see what I mean. Give me a for example. Luke Skywalker has to go to the dark side to find his light. So he has to go he has to go into into kind of a perder. To because he recognized that the antagonist is bad, but he has that badness within him. See what I mean?

Hilary Adams:

I do. Yeah, that's a good start principle too.

A.D. Cooper:

Yeah.

Hilary Adams:

Thank you. Is there anything else you would like to share with us before we wrap up today?

A.D. Cooper:

I think I think two things if you're depending on if you're creative. There are an awful lot of people who are going to rain on your parade. There's an awful lot of people who I will put various tenants above my desk. One is don't take a no from someone who couldn't give you a yes. Because you there's an awful lot of projects you you put into commissioners or development people or producers. And you send them a treatment or a script or whatever, and they come back and go, Oh, it's not for us. And then when you actually find they'll and they kind of diss it, and you actually find that they could never made it not in a million years, and but they've taken the opportunity to tell you their honest opinion on it, which sometimes is quite mean. So don't take a yes from someone who, from a no from someone who couldn't give you a yes. The other one I've got is Anthony Hopkins favorite one, which is be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. And every time you're poised and thinking I can't I can't make that call. I can't do that thing. I can't do this good dad, just do it. Just do it. And it use it always works. You just have to know. And the other one. If you don't ask the answer is still no. And what's this one, I need to look at this piece of paper, it says difficulty is a miracle in its first stage. So those are the things that have been the bane of my desk to remind me to just get on do it. The Steven Spielberg doesn't know where you live. He's not going to knock on your door and say I have been a marvelous project. So you've got to get up. You got to dust yourself down and get out there. Because people aren't waiting for you. You've got to go in and grab them by the throat metaphorically, no, no violence intended, and say, Look, I'm a really good storyteller. I've got stories that no one else can tell. I can tell them like no one else does. No you better jokes, or better horror or better, whatever it is. Only you can do that. The world, the world is not waiting for your view to turn up. So you've got to go and show them that you exist.

Hilary Adams:

I'm digesting the quotes.

A.D. Cooper:

They're really good ones out there.

Hilary Adams:

Yeah. Would you mind saying them again for us? Just for those listening?

A.D. Cooper:

Anthony Hopkins is one he's very ones be bold. And mighty forces will come to your aid. Don't take a no from someone who couldn't give you a yes. If you don't ask the answer still no. It's if you don't ask them. If they say no, once you've asked then least you nothing's changed. But if yeah, and difficulty is a miracle in its first stage.

Hilary Adams:

Thank you. That's really appreciate that. One more time how to reach you just to make sure

A.D. Cooper:

you can find me at https://hurcheonfilms.com/, which is spelled H U R, C, H, E O N films.com. Common at the various of my little short films, there's a couple that are still behind passwords on Vimeo. Because film festivals like to think they'd have some exclusive exclusivity. If something's readily available online. There's not much point in them selecting it instantly in on some instances, because they like to think that people are going to come on come to the festival and see the film reel. So for the first year or so we have a film festival round. You have to keep it offline. But if people want to see the two that are currently offline, then just drop me a text throw the message for my website. And I'll share the links.

Hilary Adams:

Thank you. That's wonderful. I am so glad you're out there making stories. I celebrate you and your stories.

A.D. Cooper:

Oh, that's good. I'm proud. I can't help it. It's an addiction. It's just I just have to tell stories.

Hilary Adams:

That's a fun thing isn't it's like you can't do anything about it.

A.D. Cooper:

And then anyone who's who tries to resist it. That's that's the another mistake to make. Don't resist it if the world is calling you to tell stories. You know, we all need entertainment, escapism. You know we all had a terrible two or three years. You know, we all need to be taken somewhere and entertained and taken out of our unhappy lives. People keep sending me the things like would you like to read my experiences of scripting my experiences during lockdown? No, we've all we all went through it we don't want to know yours. It's not an it's not really any more fun than mine was so don't know. It'll take us joyful places. entertainers. Informed foremost, you know, do tell stories that raise our spirits or move our hearts you know, don't don't say this is me doing yoga and making salad over for three And please don't

Hilary Adams:

here's to raising our spirits and find joy in our hearts and cake. Lots of

A.D. Cooper:

Cake and tea, cake is king.

Hilary Adams:

Thank you A.D. I really appreciate it.

A.D. Cooper:

Good to chat.

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