Get To Know: Screenwriter and producer Leon Mayne

  • Emma Clarke
  • Leon Mayne

We hear about the TV and film writer’s creative rituals, and what projects he has coming up in 2022

Soho Works member, Leon Mayne, is a screenwriter and producer who works across digital, TV, and film. He was featured on BBC’s New Talent Hotlist and Powerlist magazine’s Most Influential People of African Caribbean Heritage. Mayne has worked with Netflix, Channel 4, BBC, BFI, Untold Studios and Warner Music, and has written and produced content for The End Of The F*cking Worldand Brothers With No GameHow did you first get into writing? ‘Under duress! We were kept behind in English class at junior school and forced to write a poem about the river next to our playground. Bear in mind that no grade was attached to this. So, after numerous failed attempts at a haiku-sized piece so I could leave and play football, I sat down and used my imagination to write an actual poem. I’ll never forget my teacher’s reaction to it. I knew at that point I had a gift of sorts, so that’s when I started my creative writing journey.’ Do you have certain rituals that help spur on your creativity? ‘I always write scripts on paper first. It helps stimulate my mind, as it’s a form of freewriting and allows me to come up with ideas, rather than the kind of mechanic or official action of typing on script software. Also, if I know I’m about to work on a specific genre, I only watch shows in that genre until I finish the first draft of my script – just to keep myself engrained in that world.’ How do you overcome writer’s block? ‘I came to the conclusion a few years back that there’s no such thing as writer’s block – just more, or less, perfectionism. If I write freely without too much focus on getting everything how I want it, it’s much easier for me to finish a draft, which I can then come back to later to make changes. That’s how I overcome it. Alternatively, I think it’s important to compartmentalise work and yourself. I’ll give myself a certain time each day to work, and once that time is up, I don’t go back to it until the next day. It allows me to have some breathing space and the chance to prioritise other things. It gives you a fresh mind when you come back to it, usually.’ How do you balance your production and writing roles? ‘I have no idea. When I first started out it was a hobby, then it became a necessity, and now it’s a purpose. On each step of the way, I not only picked up the experience of juggling projects, but also humility in knowing that my purpose is my hobby. As long as I approach it with the right mindset, and it’s something I enjoy doing, it becomes easier to do. But I still don’t know how I do it.’ What project are you most proud of? ‘I would say my first digital series, Brothers With No Game. It opened so many avenues for myself and others creatively, professionally and financially, and continues to do so a decade after its inception. It was a super-amateur project made from a labour of love, and the love has been given back in a life-changing way.’ And what’s in store for 2022? ‘It’s an extremely busy year ahead. I’m currently in a writer’s room for an Apple series development; I have three projects I’m developing for TV; I have an audio drama in the works; a script exhibition called Closure that I’m planning for the second half of the year; a new season of my podcast, The Circle, and I’ll be hosting events for a network I co-run called Insight. I’ll stop there because I’m even exhausted just saying it.’