Video games writer turned screenwriter Rob Yescombe recently sold an original action comedy to Netflix UK based on a one-sentence pitch, and worked as an action consultant on the upcoming Fast X, taking what he learned in video games and applying it to the big screen.
“There’s an element of writing to it,” says Yescombe of the latter project, the tenth film in the Fast & Furious series. “But what I’m doing is trying to design a specific and unique set of rules that will create interesting conditions for those characters to operate under.”
After studying fine art at Kingston University and then Central Saint Martins until 2002, London-born Yescombe decided against becoming a full-time artist. A stint writing comedy sketches for Indian cable TV led to a job with a UK games company in need of a writer for its $30m video game. “Back then the idea of a specialist games writer didn’t exist, so I was very fortunate,” he says. “The barrier for entry was quite low.”
Moving to Nottingham in 2005, he embarked on a career in games, working on big-name franchises as well as the award-winning Farpoint and adventure puzzle RiME which is currently being adapted for the screen. His virtual reality Agatha Christie-style murder mystery The Invisible Hours was showcased in Cannes Marché du Film’s NEXT hub in 2017, but he really wanted to write features. “I just didn’t know how.”
Outside The Wire, his first attempt at a screenplay, was optioned by UK producer Ben Pugh, and the action thriller premiered on Netflix in 2021, racking up 66 million views in its first month. His next two scripts, action comedies Grand Theft Lotto and 67 Punches, were picked up by Roth/Kirschenbaum with John Cena and Dave Bautista, respectively, attached.
Now dividing his time between Los Angeles and the UK, Yescombe has films in development with Keshet International and Grey Matter Productions and is also writing the games Arizona Sunshine and RiME2. Going forward, his goal is to create high-concept action comedies that are bright, inclusive and fun. “I would love to do something that has the mystery and creativity of Total Recall, the pace of Mad Max: Fury Road, and the comedy and skill of [Jackie Chan’s] First Strike. That’s the fantasy. Now, I have to do it.”
Contact: Sam Greenwood & Nish Panchal, Curtis Brown
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