Three years ago, a motley crew of heroes gathered at Shepperton studios to make TV history.
Over four glorious days, we made a pilot; and now here it is for your critical eyes and ears.
What started as a cheap thing myself, David Bussell and Ben Ricketts were going to self fund and shoot ourselves on whatever camera we could borrow, ended up in a huge film studio, with sets and forests (Yes, a forest!) being built, and the likes of Kevin Eldon, Alice Lowe, Steve Furst and Isabel Fay speaking our lines with their very own mouths.
It came as a surprise to say the least.
I’m proud of our little pilot, and it looks amazing. Maybe one day we’ll get the opportunity to resurrect it, because it really was a big ball of crab-handed fun, and there’s so much more we could do; this doesn’t even come close to all the places we want to take it.
So it was about four years ago that I first wrote a sitcom script that I thought was good enough to interest producers. I had written four or five before that, and enjoyed them at the time, but as soon as I finished this script, I just knew I’d stepped it up. The first few scripts had been practice, this felt like the real deal. I don’t know if this is the same for all writers, but I remember being strangely certain.
The script was called ‘Shoot The Moon’ (for reasons too sexy and long-winded to go into here) and it did indeed end up being the first script of mine to get serious interest from producers. It got me my first actual meeting, was the first thing to be developed and pitched to channels (as a Baby Cow/Assembly co-production) and helped get me my first (and current) agent.
So if you’re a new writer, don’t expect the first thing you write to be ‘the one’; that you’ll send it out and have producers begging you to come in for a chat. Or the second script. Or even the third; chances are that with these scripts you’ll just be learning your craft, and when you get to the point of writing something worth other people’s time, it’ll be obvious.
Here we go then, I thought I’d share the first ten pages of ‘Shoot The Moon’. It’s a bit cartoonish, and I’d like to think I’ve developed since writing it, but what the hell, follow the link:
Now we writers often think the only thing we should have to do is poop out our beautiful words onto the page and waft it under a producer’s nose; and in a perfect, easier world, maybe that’s all we would have to do. In fact that is all some people have to do, but screw those guys! Idiots.
I’ve self produced projects a couple of times now; there’s the sort of sketch show thingy, starring comedy legends Kevin Eldon and Alice Lowe, ‘Missing Scene’; which you can see a clip of here:
There’s another sketch show pilot, which isn’t quite ready yet, but will come complete with its own website; I’ll post all about that when the time comes. There’s also a sitcom taster pilot we’d like to film which is in the early stages of being thunked about.
This is my latest self-produced project off the blocks, a taster pilot for a radio sitcom, ‘Here To Help’. This one I put together all by my lonesome, utilising the acting chops of a super talented cast of dicks. I wrote the lead, Jane Jones, with Isabel Fay ( http://www.isabelfay.com/ ) in mind, so it was lucky she said yes. ‘H.T.H’, as all the cool kids will refer to it as, also stars the Lizzie Daykin shaped half of acclaimed sketch duo Toby ( http://wearetoby.wordpress.com/ ); and Sarah Campbell ( @sarah_campbell ), stand up, writer, half of sketch group Christmas For Two, and part-time crime fighter. Token man Stuart Laws ( http://stuchopslaws.wordpress.com/ ) also features; Stu is a stand up comedian, in some ways, and runs Turtle Canyon Comedy, who kindly let me take advantage of their recording suite. Token tool David Bussell ( http://www.davidbussell.com/ ) fills out the final role, but you don’t want to hear about him, he’s an awful waste of skin and balls.
I could, of course, have just sent a pilot script for ‘Here To Help’ around town, but I already do that for most of my projects, and if you were a producer, wouldn’t you rather listen to the thing working for 15 minutes than slog through reading another script??
The beauty of self-producing a radio pilot is that it’s really easy, even for someone as stupid as me; all you need is a mic (rophone), a computer, simple edit software, a script, and a berk or five to read out your words in the right order. (Or even the wrong order, you can fix it in the edit.) Recording your own radio pilot is also, of course, dirt cheap. You probably have a computer, so the only real expense, if you don’t have access to a record suite, would be a microphone, and you can pick up a decent one that will do the job for peanuts.
The idea of self-producing your own video content that will be of a decent finished quality may well be daunting, the logistics of it and the potential cost, but with audio, that all melts away. It’s EASY.
The software I used to edit was Audacity, which is free to download off the internet and more than up to the task. Yes, free.
‘Here To Help’ will now be shoved at every producer I can find, even if they only produce experimental dance about cheese for regional theatre; why not have a little listen, see what you think? And then why not produce your own?
It can be a long, lonely, hard slog tossing script after script into the cold, heartless void, only to get nothing in return; so why not stop waiting for others to give you the greenlight, and instead give yourself the greenlight? It may well be that self-produced project that finally catches someone’s eye/ear; and if not, isn’t it nicer to have a few completed video’s and radio pilots to nestle alongside all those ignored scripts in your bottom drawer?
Hello! Okay, time for a few more audio sketches. These are pretty darn old, but still decent I think. YOU DECIDE. They feature the mouth talent of standup comedians/writers/actors/human people David Bussell (@BussellComedy) and Sarah Campbell (@sarah_campbell).
So who likes Kevin Eldon and Alice Lowe? Everyone? Me too!
Alongside David Bussell (http://www.davidbussell.com/) and Ben Ricketts (Has no website, what a loser!) I co-created and co-wrote a non-broadcast pilot for a sort-of-sketch show titled ‘Missing Scene’. It starred not only Eldon and Lowe, but also Steve Furst, Isabel Fay and the mighty Bussell himself. We loved writing it, we loved making it, we hope one day, somehow, no matter how long it takes and who we have to sleep with, that we’ll get to make more one day.
Until that day, ‘Missing Scene’ is strictly under wraps. Sorry.
Oh-apart from this B-Movie-licious snippet in all its beautiful black and white glory.