We’ve been podcasting for almost six years and it’s fascinating to see how much the world of comedy has changed and how much has stayed the same. The number one priority remains as true as it’s always been, isn’t it?
1 Our Story Begins With A Brilliant Script
We could quibble over what kind of script, and James and I often do. We would both love to see more of your audience sitcoms, while understanding the reticence you have towards producing them. If even the gatekeepers don’t know for example whether Back To Life is a sitcom or a comedy-drama, what chance do we have?
None of that matters. Comedy, comedy-drama, dramedy, coma – everyone knows a brilliant script when they see one, we simply aren’t writing enough of them, and I include myself in that list.
This was the stand-alone advice given at every screenplay event I attended I the 1990s, and every comedy panel I’ve been part of for the last 15 years. It was the answer to all questions including “how do I get an agent?” (write a brilliant script), “why is everything I watch so boring?” (nobody’s seen your brilliant script, or you haven’t written it yet), “Should I use Arial or Times New Roman?” (mate for all I care you can scrawl it in biro but as long as I can read it and it’s brilliant you can write in 24 point comic sans).
Everyone loves direct answers to simple questions, but the industry is changing and I would now modify that statement and say:
2 The Brilliant Script Is Now Your Minimum Entry Requirement
Not what you wanted to hear was it, as you pressed send for your truly brilliant masterpiece? Nowhere in that mountain of advice on the internet about how to write a brilliant script (and to which I am a guilty contributor) is there anything that says “well done, you’ve written that brilliant script, you’re enrolled at the University of Brilliant Scriptwriters as a first year. Now it’s time to compete with Richard Curtis, Phoebe Waller Bridge, Ricky Gervais and everyone else scrabbling for those diminishing slots for comedy shows.” But this is where it starts to get interesting. Because
3 The Gated Communities Are Out Of Touch
Keep looking for ways in to those gilded palaces. They are lovely places to be.
But be aware of what happens when you’re inside. You lose touch with what else is happening, and the changes happening in comedy right now are most advantageous to you, whether you’re starting out or have been bashing away for years.
4 YOU OWN THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION
In the early days of Sitcom Geeks James and I cautioned against trying to go out and make your own stuff. I’ve always been as advocate but from everything I’d seen in the first years of DIY You Tube comedy sketches I was yet to be convinced that doing this would be anything other than a waste of your precious time and money.
Equipment was expensive. Apple Macs were the early pioneers of editing but they’ve never been cheap, plus you still needed cameras and sound equipment and people to lug them around. Now every one of you reading this owns an all-in-one writing-producing-shooting-editing machine that fits in your back pocket.
Like it or not, you are now a capitalist. And what do capitalists do? They run businesses.
5 Congratulations! You Are A Writer-Producer
Writers have sat back over the last couple of decades and complained at how the industry has been taken over by writer-performers. They get all the best slots on TV don’t they?
This is your chance to change all that. Even if you don’t know what it means yet. You may well want to be a writer above everything else, but now you have the means with which to build that career. Instead of viewing that mighty pinnacle of the brilliant script as your only goal (and like I say once you get there you’ll find it’s only the beginning), you can plan your own circuitous route to a world where it’s possible to make a living by utilising those means.
How do you do this? With this.
And over the next few weeks I’ll be explaining how to move your professional career forward.