Vincent was born in North London and grew up in Basildon, Essex, the son of a coach driver. He was uneducated at St Nicholas Comprehensive School, and went on to York University, where he studied English Literature and Philosophy. At York, he was very active in student drama, where he acted, directed and wrote his first plays. Several of these were successfully staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and one, ‘Mr Lovert’s Occupation’ was subsequently performed in Belfast and Newcastle.
He stayed on in York, working both as a stagehand at York Theatre Royal and Community Theatre Director at York Arts Centre. He continued to write, and was Director of York Community Theatre, writing and directing a number of large scale touring theatre shows. He went on to direct the Sheffield Street Show for Metro Theatre Company, performed by a company of over a hundred actors. He then moved to London, where he became a Script Associate at the Royal Court Theatre, and was a member of the Writer’s Group there, writing and directing for their production of new short plays ‘Shots In The Dark‘. A short work by Vincent was also performed on the RC’s main stage to an invited audience. Vincent was a founder member of Loose Exchange Theatre Company, writing a play SCARECROWS which toured England with Arts Council assistance and ran for two months at two London fringe theatres. He also wrote and directed in ‘Improbabilities‘ for the Loose Exchange residency at the Soho Poly Theatre. Vincent wrote a play cycle FIVE MINUTE WARNINGS for Basildon Youth Theatre which opened the Helen Mirren Studio at the Towngate Theatre in his home town, and first met there a 17 year old actor called Sarah Kane, who became a lifelong friend. Vincent enlisted Sarah as Assistant Director with Loose Exchange for their production at the Soho Poly, and she skipped off school to fulfil the role.
While at the Royal Court Vincent engaged his first agent, Leah Schmidt at Curtis Brown (and moved with her subsequently to The Agency). This coincided with interest from the BBC, where he was comissioned for a string of dramas. He wrote a Channel 4 short film, LIFE’S A GAS around this time. His first feature film commission, VICIOUS, was a collaboration with director Alan Clarke – a great hero of Vincent’s – but Alan became ill as the film was preparing for production, and he died in the summer of 1990. SWEET NOTHING was Vincent’s first feature length production with the BBC, broadcast as a ‘Screen 1’ in September 1990. It was dedicated to the memory of Alan Clarke, and won an Honorable Mention at the San Francisco Film Festival.
Both Vicious and Sweet Nothing were developed with producer Louis Marks and script editor Paul Marcus. Paul, who went on to produce the mould-breaking ‘Prime Suspect’ series, became a great friend. Paul brought Vincent a project at that time inspired by a book by journalist Shirley Green, the subject Peter RACHMAN. They worked on this a while, but could not at the time obtain the rights to the book. But the project remained a shared passion for many years…
A string of BBC commissions followed, of which CRIMINAL received a number of awards including Royal Television Society Best Single Drama in 1995. In the same year his feature film ID won a number of international film festival awards and was short-listed for Best Screenplay by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. ID had also won the inaugural British Script D’or, and another screenplay by Vincent was also shortlisted for this (SULPHUR KISSES, originally commissioned by Paramount Pictures and later developed at the BFI).
Concurrently with these developments in film work, Vincent was also involved in a number of revolutionary theatre projects. With Sarah Kane, who was now an undergraduate at Bristol University, he set up NIGHTMARE PRODUCTIONS and took two shows to Edinburgh in the summers of 1990 and 1991. DREAMS, SCREAMS AND SILENCES and (boringly titled) DREAMS/SCREAMS 2 consisted of a series of short works written by Vincent and monologues written by Sarah – her first publically performed work. Some of this work was re-shaped and re-presented at the Brighton Festival Fringe in 1992 as three nights of plays, monologues and comedy (by the stand-up Rory Motion), themed and titled as ‘LOVE, DEATH AND SEX’.
Throughout these years Vincent was regularly employed in television script writing using it as a way of perfecting screen writing craft, at the same time as using the income to sponsor such loss-making theatre projects as those above. His first screen credit was for an episode of the popular BBC1 drama ROCKLIFFE’S FOLLIES, for which he wrote an episode called WITCH HUNT. At the same time he wrote an episode of the Yorkshire TV crime drama YELLOWTHREAD STREET – his episode was entitled THE LOST MAN, though he subsequently took his name off the credit. More radically, Vincent removed his name from the writing credit for a three hour story of the second series of Granada TV’s CRACKER, his episodes were written as THE BIG BANG (available here to download), subsequently broadcast as THE BIG CRUNCH. Despite problems in the production of these scripts, Vincent was subsequently commissioned by Granad to write a US-set feature film based on the Cracker format and character – CRACKED CITY. He also developed an original series for Granada based on the Lynda La Plante character Detective Inspector Oswald, developed under the generic title DEEP SECRETS. This became the format for a subsequent BBC drama and was also substantially adapted by La Plante for a separate drama, but Deep Secrets, controversially, was never put into production by Granada. Vincent was also involved with a number of other writers in developing a major Channel 4 series THE WORKS with Alan Plater and Ken Loach, and wrote the opening episode for the series, which eventually was sidelined. He also wrote another single drama for the BBC, THE MARTIANS ARE ALREADY HERE, which started life as a short Royal Court play, and was commissioned to be directed by Paul Marcus, but remains unmade.
Vincent began directing film after the production of ID, which he felt failed to deliver the script at all satisfactorily. His first two short films were partially self-financed, and were distributed on the same reel as a package of two interlinked dramas. CONFORM and DEFORM constituted SEX CRIMES, shot on 16mm and also written by Vincent. The following year he directed Sarah Kane’s script SKIN, financed by Film 4, which was shortlisted for a Golden Bear at Berlin and toured widely around the world, garnering several prizes at international film festivals. He also made a number of no-budget experimental films, which he wrote, directed, shot and edited, including LIVING SPACE and HAPPY HOUR. He wrote and directed the BBC-funded Schools Drama BEYOND THE BOUNDARY, which won a BAFTA for Best Film in its category. Vincent moved agencies at around this time, and joined Elaine Steel.
Over recent years Vincent has created and written a number of major commissioned tv series. DARK DAYS is a three part serial telling the untold story of the people’s war in London during the Blitz, originally commissioned by the BBC. Another BBC commission is TALKING TO STRANGERS, in which a strong female psychotherapist works with clients at the edge of personal crisis; a series bible and two-part opening story were written. HAPPINESS IS EASY was another BBC commission, a three parter in which a bereaved woman goes undercover into the pharmaceutical industry investigating the death of her partner. ROCKING JESUS is a four part serial telling the story of a charismatic young musician who goes missing on the cusp of fame, and was also commissioned by the BBC. THE PLAGUE YEAR is a major long running series commissioned by Channel 4, about a small coastal town apparently struck by plague, Vincent wrote the series bible and the first two episodes. None of these series were eventually produced. Dark Days, Rocking Jesus and Happiness Is Easy are all now being developed by Vincent as feature film projects. The idea behind Plague Year has been radically reconceived as a piece of epic theatre, PLAGUE MYSTERIES, written for commission by the National Theatre specifically for its Olivier stage. The NT passed on the script, which is now looking for a home with a theatre or community theatre able to stage a large scale work.
Two other pieces were written for television as single drama commissions for Channel 4. THE SUICIDE SHOW is a two-hour satire on celebrity culture and is being reworked as a feature. LIVE FEED was a one hour thriller, on which Vincent commissioned as writer/director.
Through all this time Vincent has maintained a passionate interest in creative education and arts in the community, and has valued the cross-fertilisation between his writing and directing output and nurturing, mentoring and passing on skills. He has taught at a number of universities, held writing residencies and given workshops and one-to-one mentoring. His 3-day SHORT FILM WRITING COURSE has proven a powerful launching pad for a number of writers.
Much of this television writing has proved the starting point for stories which have subsequently been developed as features. In addition Vincent has written a number of commissioned features. In addition to the previously mentioned SULPHUR KISSES, commissioned by Paramount and further developed at the BFI, and VICIOUS, Vincent wrote KISSING THE BUTCHER, a psychological thriller set in the Bosnian war, CRYING OUT LOUD, a writer/director commission by the BBC, a warped coming-of-age drama set in an Essex newtown, IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING, a writer/director commission from Film 4, an erotic pyschological thriller that starts in Marrakech and develops on train journeys through the European heartland. INTERIOR NIGHT is a low budget psychological thriller investigating the nightmare inner life of a documentary maker.
Two of these films, Kissing the Butcher and In the Land of the Living, along with the planned feature based on Rocking Jesus, form a planned trilogy of films based on journeys through Europe. Vincent hopes very much to one day realise his EUROPE TRILOGY.
Most recently Vincent has written RACHMAN – EMPIRE OF DIRT, a feature based on the very strange life of 1950s slum landlord Peter Rachman, which Vincent is engaged to direct for LAB Entertainment/Redspur Films. He has also written a sequel to his original undercover film ID – ID2. Both these scripts are fully developed and at a production-ready stage.
Theatre remains also an important medium to Vincent, who has a number of plays in development, including a commission for the Lyric Theatre. He recently directed at the National Theatre Studio a 20+ cast rehearsed reading of his play PLAGUE MYSTERIES.
Giving an introductory talk at the 2012 International Beckett Festival.