Educational background I went to an old fashioned, state Grammar School (rugby or field hockey, no football allowed; Latin, Greek and Russian – none of which I studied). I have a degree in Fine Art. (All the traditional media, but mainly a lot of written work, film and video.)
Without my submitting anything, one of my videos was selected as the UK representative for a touring compilation of European video art. As a result, I can tell people I’ve shown a film at the Sydney Independent Film Festival, and the Berlin Film Festival, among other places. And they can walk away, bored.
After leaving college, among other things I wrote the libretto for a friend’s opera, got an Arts Council Grant to make a film, worked as a video outreach worker with young offenders, for a left-wing theatre group (the pay for which was less than I’d have received had I been unemployed)… and then decided I needed some money.
Money I took a temporary clerical job in a specialist recruitment section of British Telecom to pay off my art college debts. Someone noticed I could write and offered me a job as an all-purpose writer – I wrote information packs and technical user manuals for a small, independent systems development section of the company, which was more fun than it sounds. (It was staffed entirely by the mentally unstable and run by a jazz musician who insisted on playing two saxophones at once). I also wrote their newsletters – one official one, and one funny, unofficial one (no prizes for guessing which one got read) and contributed to a comedy magazine in my spare time.
Freelance journalist In 1990 I sent off some reviews to a new, humorous games magazine; they offered me work and suddenly I began working full-time as a freelance journalist. For several years I wrote for computer game, computing, football, men’s lifestyle and humour magazines, including many of the best-selling mags in each sector.
Freelance editor Around 1996, I started working as an editor and contributing to some of the earliest commercial magazine websites – all owned by Emap. I worked for Empire, Q, New Woman, Total Sport and Classic Cars online. At the time, there was a lack of acceptance of websites within the company, but the battling over content-use was good news for the website editors, because it meant that we wrote most of our own content.
As a writer, I reviewed music, produced eating-out guides and wrote a huge microsite (apologies for the oxymoron) on the history of sex in mainstream cinema for Empire. It featured one of the earliest-ever Flash games, and remained on the site for several years, until well after I’d moved on to other things. I was freelance editor of the Empire website for around 18 months.
Web-writer Toward the end of this period I also began working for the Daily Express sports website, Express Sports Live, and for the BBC, for what was at the time a comedy website with original content (it was later turned into a shop). Among other things, I wrote original programme support material an interactive sitcom.
I also worked as a feature writer and illustrator for seethru.co.uk, a website for a BBC TV drama about a fictional Internet start-up. I also researched and wrote a factual guide to heroin for their Drugs Guide. (There’s a backup site online, but it’s kept there by someone who’s using it to promote his own work, so much of it the content is wrongly attributed.)
Copywriter 2000 was the year that I made the transition from being what I considered to be a journalist-style writer to a copywriter – in that I was now usually writing un-attributed work for my clients.
I worked for Uefa on their official Euro2000 website, writing around 50% of the site. I also used old broadcast footage to edit and dub match highlight videos of games from past tournaments for the video section of the site. (This video editing work later led to me spending a couple of seasons editing match highlights videos for the Champions League for the official uefa.com website. However, since it involved overnight work, it was too tiring in the middle of a normal working week and I gave up.)
For Channel 4’s 4Homes site, I worked as an illustrator and writer, producing property guides, programme support material and plant guides for their gardening programme (thereby outraging my friend who’s a landscape architect and knows I’m a colour-blind idiot who only knows the name of three plants).
I then worked as a project manager, copywriter, and then editor on the Intranet site for the Chairmen of Unilever; I wrote Bridget Jones’s Diary (as mentioned in my CV) and my first entire websites. I wrote them for, among others, a new media consultancy, a freshwater management company, the DfES (mentioned on my CV) and – while freelancing for Spin Communications - an independent qualitative market research company.
Amazingly, the site still seems to work today (only in IE, and only using the numbered section links): Scorza Planning and Qualitative Research http://www.spqrlondon.co.uk/index_ns.html. I’m still quite fond of it, because it was the first time I managed to convince a client to change their ideas about the way the site should be written, and because they were so pleased with the results – and I liked them as people, so was happy that they were happy. While with Spin I also wrote all the work for their Nike account.
I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter ever since.