Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hmmm... This is awkward.

Ooh dear -- Look what I forgot to mention...

Before I went to the London Comedy Writers' Festival I placed in the top 6 of a competition running in conjunction with the fest called 'Laugh a Minute'. Sadly I didn't win. But as my mother one said after I came second one year in the easter bonnet parade, it's always nice to be noticed. She cried for weeks after, but I think that was just because the daffodil she had crafted from tissue paper needed using up and she never was a wasteful person.

Now you might notice someone called Christiana Brocklebank in that list of runners up... That is me. Frankly, as an alias it doesn't really cut the mustard. Especially when your name is down correctly in the first batch of finalists.

And, just in case you were wondering, it's pronounced Brock-le-bonk (Yah, French you know).

ANYWAY... Back on topic. Watch as I clunkily try to validate my bragging by insisting that there's purpose to this post...

This was a pretty good opportunity. The script could only be one page. Any more and you would be (quite rightly) decapitated. Your head would (quite rightly) be displayed on spikes at the entrance to Regents College, London as an example to others during the festival and (quite rightly) remain there until it had fully decomposed.

As well as being something that (compared to most competitions) didn't require too much time and commitment, it emphasised the importance of brevity. It forced you to really look at every single word in your script and question its right to be on the page. That is a great lesson for any writer to learn and improve on. Particularly in the rather pernickety world of comedy writing, where one misplaced word or jumbled syntax can make or break a gag.

How was that? Yeah?! Convinced?!


Monday, 11 April 2011

It's a funny old world

It seems like only yesterday that I was at the London Comedy Writers' Festival.

Actually it was yesterday. And the day before.

Before I went, I was nervous that maybe that I shouldn't be going... that I wasn't good enough. (I know what you're thinking, an insecure writer? Surely not?!) I was dubious about whether I would be able to get anything from it and would spend most of the weekend sat in a corner rocking slightly until it was safe to retreat back to the dark whole from whence I came.

I'm glad to say that one again my paranoid and worrisome psyche was wrong on both counts. I met some truly great people. The speakers were humble and reassuring but not afraid to tell you that you need to love what you're doing to be in this industry because it's not always easy. Fellow delegates were supportive and extremely friendly. It was the type of atmosphere that encouraged new friendships and possible writing partnerships to be created. You never knew whether the next person you talked to would be the Eric to your Ernie, the Baldrick to your Blackadder, the Sooty to your Sweep. And that was exciting.

Under the colourful umbrella of the comedy genre, there were talks on a diverse range of subjects. My favourites bits, I hear you ask? My top three sessions? I hear you specify?

1) Why you need to break into radio comedy with Tilusha Ghelani, James Cary and Max Dickins.

2) Acting Funny: Writing great comedy that actors want to perform with Stephen Mangan, Jessica Hynes and Declan Lowney

3) What they don't teach you at comedy writing school with Robert Popper.

Oh and the agenting session with Julian Friedmann. Brutal but brilliant.

That's four really but I never was good at maths.

To be honest, I couldn't fault a single session I attended. My only regret is that I didn't get to go to all of them. On the plus side most sessions were recorded so that I'll be able to look back the ones I missed. The script chats, for me, were the overall highlight of the festival which were rather more intimate Q&A sessions with each of the speakers. All were so generous with their time and it really was a wonderful opportunity to network and gain valuable inside information from people who really know what they're talking about.

So to conclude... There's a lot to be said for getting out there and meeting like-minded and sometimes not-so like minded people.

Did you know that 97% of writers suffer from Vitamin D deficiency? Thanks to a rather sunny session of networking held outside, I have surpassed my Vitamin D quota for the year meaning I don't need to go outside again till next January.

But, you know what, I think I will. If there's one thing this weekend has taught me is that to be a truly successful writer/general human being, you need to get out there. Talk to people who intimidate you, they're usually lovely and willing to share their advice and experiences. Make new friends who'll motivate you when you haven't slept for six days because you've forgotten how to come up with ideas. And if no-one else will turn your script into something wonderful, what exactly is stopping you?