Going Loco

I decided to attend the Writer's Day of the LOCO 2019 Comedy Film Festival at BFI on the 14th July. The previous two days had been aimed primarily at Producers and Directors. The organisers reduced the price at the last minute, making it great value at £70 for 5 sessions. Most of the sessions were panels, including delegates who'd attended a few years earlier.

The first sessoin was about getting representation and making money. Charly Clive and Alex Cartlidge from BRITNEY along with agent Chris Quaile and Stephanie Walton from Compulsor makde up the panel. BRITNEY was a successful play and led Clive to be cast in the lead of tv series Pure. The panel stressed the importance of making your own work and how agents can advise on how best to present yourself.

Panel 2 was on life skills with Helen Simmons, Lee Dilley and Emily Man. Emily had a career in tv and stressed the importance of saving early. The panel suggested audio as being a good way in. Writing was compared to making keys for a lock you've never seen. Lee talked about looking and applying for any opportunities; he's currently on the BBC mentors scheme. Helen talked about making her low budget feature Chubby Funny for £40-60k using a Canon C300. She used a pub as a base, paid people in royalty splits and used well known recordings by lesser known orchestras. Cinema releases were done on a 50:50 profit basis with an agent and it's now been picked up by iTunes. 

During lunch, Mark Clark from the The Film and Television Charity was available for chats. Writing a Comedy Drama was next and features Frog Stone, Matt Roberts and Staten Cousins-Roe. Matt Roberts was one of the founders of Papatango. His feature Masters of Love is in post-production and cost about £12k to make. Frog Stone made a teaser of about 8 minutes that got picked up and made into a series on BBC 4 in a fast production schedule. A trailer is more likely to be watched than a treatment is read. She mentioned that often a joke may appear superflous but can reveal character. Staten raised about £30k from crowdfunding and added more to that. He recommended sticking to your guns to maintain the voice yours. 

The final panel session was on writing in groups. Christine talked about the process of working on Trollied. They ran a 2 week writers room where each came with 2-3 stories on each character. They choose the best ones and then assembled them into A, B and C stories for each episode. Over the next few months, they did outlines, scene by scene descriptions then episodes. On HIGNFY, Nat explained how 3 writers would generate 5-8 jokes for each 1 used by the host.

Nat took the final session where we workshopped in groups, coming up with jokes based on news stories. We really struggled with this, I think partly as it was late in the day as well as not having met each other. Nat told us about a few techniques such as the Langden where you describe somthing or someone leading to it appearing to be about one entity but it turns out to be about another. We talked about how you can use a sort of mind map to think of things that relate to your main item, you pick one of htem and do the same again. You then try to link an item two away form the original. Looking for stereotypes can help and thinking about what negative traits are represented by well known people. You can punch up. 

We had a story about how a single dose of a flea treatment on a dog can kill 60 million bees if ingested. Our punchlines were:

  • Experts say the dog's owner should just put up with the fleas
  • Experts say only married dogs should receive the treatment
  • The bees said they weren't bothered as they were thinking of going vegan, anyway

It was a good day overall and I'd go again although probably for more days so I can network with some Producers and Directors.