comedy

Response to “Workout” prompt

Here is my doodle animation inspired by the word “Workout.”  Don’t blink or you’ll miss it; don’t turn up the sound, it’s silent. It’s very brief and simply made on mobile phone.

It seems to be that I’m getting slower and slower to respond to the prompts.  I wonder how you are getting on with them, if they are interesting or genuinely make you want to create.

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6 tips for Writing Comedy from Script Editor

These tips for writing comedy come from Andrew Ellard, an English comedy writer and script editor who has worked on hugely popular British TV sitcoms such as “Red Dwarf” and “The IT crowd”.  In the video below, he’s giving advice about writing sitcom – but much of what he says will help us writing comedy of any type – whether in books, plays or for large or small screen.

Here’s a brief, non-executive non-summary of the main points in the video:

1. What makes a good sitcom character?

The main character should have a central flaw, a problem, of which they’re unaware.   (more…)

creative pledge

Screenwriting Masterclass: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Phil Lord and Chris Miller, screenwriters or producers on such diverse projects as “The Lego Movie”, “21 Jump Street”, “Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs”, TV’s “How I met your Mother” (3 episodes), “The Lego Batman movie“…. give a masterclass on screenwriting and producing.  They break it up really well.  So although they speak for 53 minutes, they’re worth hearing.

They have a relaxed way of presenting together, bring in some crazy fun but over and over again repeat that they’re obsessive about making every tiny part of their projects absolutely brilliant – refusing to settle for merely excellent.  As the presentation continues, and this is repeated, you realise that they are speaking truly.

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 02.26.15They speak for under an hour – and then there is a further 30 minutes of questions and answers – which are good – so worth setting aside the full one hour and a half to watch in its entirety.  They are amusing, honest about early failures and difficulties and how they won through was – no surprise, folks – lots of hard work.  They write and rewrite and rewrite and tweak and rewrite, show to friends, rewrite.

 

 

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One tip which came across clearly was to show your script to other people – no matter who they are in the studio pecking order or whether they’re friends/family – they’re a person with an honest opinion – and as writer you should listen up, because you are too close to the project to see its flaws.  It’s humility – but it’s also good sense.

The two voices give variety to what is said, and there are plenty of illustrations and clips from their projects:

Along the way, they present their maths of working as a partnership:

half the money, twice the effort, twice the time = an output which is 1.3 times better!

They also lead the audience in a pledge to make work, and are adamant that all humans are creative, anyone can do the work they do but it is hard work, done repetitively.

What they’ve also learned along the way are, like all important learning, found through failure and near failure.  One vital lesson was learning to listen to other people’s feedback and recognise that making a film is a hugely collaborative venture.  Also, to recognise that even at the end, the film is actually ‘made’ in the imagination of the viewers.  And this is one reason given for really listening to someone/anyone who has an opinion on the work – because if they don’t get the story clearly, then likely the final paying punters will find it puzzling in the same way.

A film is about RELATIONSHIP not just CHARACTER.

This is a great insight – at one point, “Cloudy with Meatballs” was about a main character and a situation – it was funny but there wasn’t a real sense of involvement, until they made one of the characters the father of the hero – and the hero wanted to get his taciturn father’s approval.

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 03.31.32If you want to be a screen writer, then watching this interview is a good thing to do – yes, it is long, but that gives enough time to talk pleasantly and with humour through the whole career process.

In fact, the whole series of “Genius” strand of masterclasses by BAFTA looks worth a checkout.  See them here.

14 tips for new TV comedy/drama writers

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The tone of this seminar at Xponorth2017 was very positive – some advice specifically for Scotland but generally useful for UK writers.

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Advice….

Main advice for new writers:

  1. Look at the website BBC Writersroom for writing opportunities in BBC but also theatres
  2. When there’s an open call for submissions, send in your scripts.
  3. Keep sending them your work so they get a sense of your writing style and you are on their database for future reference
  4. Easier to be a writer/performer (you already have your own audience)
  5. If you get your writing onto podcasts or youtube videos or theatre or radio – it will be spotted by these TV producers
  6. “The Break” is a great opportunity for new writers with no writing record
  7. If you want to write for River City get to know the show and its twenty-odd characters so you can write quickly and appropriately for them
  8. Write a sample script of an hour’s length – but make the first 10 pages fantastic – as these are definitely read
  9. make and send videos to the BBC Social programme
  10. find out the names of producers of TV programmes you like and try to contact them (they’re always looking for new content)
  11. an upcoming script editor is a great person to show work to, as they will champion you as a writer if they like your work (there was an example given where this got a writer noticed)
  12. be prepared to begin work in children or continuing drama (e.g. River city) as starting points, learning to write drama – many wellknown writers started out that way
  13. even tiny bits of experience on your c.v. (e.g sold a comedy sketch) will count towards getting you noticed
  14. the BBC Writersroom website has tons of resources – video interviews with writers, blogs, a script library with examples of layout – do use itIMG_2890.JPG(Lto R: Audrey, Keiran, Rab, Angela)

What are the BBC looking for in a new writer?

  • characters seem full and engaging
  • characters are fresh
  • you can write domestic (ie the ordinary) scenes well and make them exciting
  • a unique voice in the writer
  • you can write a full-length script for 30 mins drama
  • clear story
  • not derivative, something original
  • the reader instantly feels s/he cares about the characters

3 new major opportunities for Scotland-based writers:

  1. from October, the Writersroom based in England changed to have separate writersroom in the regions – so more local knowledge and chance to become known
  2. there is an upcoming new TV channel, BBC Scotland, which will need more content (begins broadcasting Autumn 2018) more on this at http://bbc.in/2m70MPf
  3. there is a new scheme coming up in August for 4 writers to become Shadow Writers for River City (ie be given the same brief as the professional writers, and given a chance to do the same work, in a separate stream).

 

(notes from a panel discussion at #Xponorth2017 in June 2017)