The Day of the Jackal

As a script writer for hire I spend a fair amount of time doing different things, beyond actually writing scripts. One of these is research; I’m often found reading books, fiction and non-fiction – or watching documentaries about subjects I’m expected to write about.

I also, obviously watch a lot of film and TV. Music is important too, when I’m working on a project I often listen to music that suits the mood.

I also work full time for a charity, I work in internal communications and my role finds me writing articles for the charity magazine, or working on the charity blog. I make video for the charity, take photographs and work on the design of internal marketing materials. I also help moderate the charity’s internal social media network.

What else do I do beyond script writing? I follow Leeds United, I make films for YouTube, I’m a keen investor in stocks and shares and a blogger (you’re reading my blog now). I like photography (both vintage 35mm film and digital). I like messing around with Super 8mm cine cameras and I spend a good deal of time keeping up with the latest digital trends. I enjoy travelling, and I’m about to buy a camper van. I’m married, and I’ve got a step daughter and three small dogs that I like walking in the countryside near-by. I also enjoy shooting air rifles and shotguns.

Shooting is a bit of a buzz for me. I only shoot clays or targets, I’ve never shot an animal (and wouldn’t). I’m a pretty decent shot and I find that shooting field targets helps me relax, my mind is only on the target.

Shooting is a good thing for writers, especially those who often write the macho guff I’ve turned out from time to time (both on spec and as a script writer for hire). Knowing about guns, how they work and what it takes to shoot one properly often adds a level of detail to a scene or a script. Of course, when a film goes into production there are specialist people who look after guns and teach actors how to use them correctly.

What else does shooting give a writer? It gives you a sense of seeing, of knowing what’s in a frame (or a scope) – shooting is a great point of view shot.

So all of this brings me to The Day of the Jackal – this is my favourite film about shooting and guns. A historically accurate film about the attempted assassination of French Premier DeGaulle. I actually learned how to set the sight on my air rifle from a scene in this film.

The film is long, involved and very detailed. It’s also pretty racy for its day and the suspense which builds slowly is well handled by director Fred Zinnemann. There’s been a terrible reboot but let’s forget about that.

Below is the scene where the Jackal is hired for the job – see the film as soon as you can, even if you don’t like guns…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. Matthew was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge, the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on