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Who's Pitching To Whom And Why (...And Also How)? The Future For Pitching Comedy In The UK: Brighter, Faster, More Confusing
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Who's Pitching To Whom And Why (...And Also How)? The Future For Pitching Comedy In The UK: Brighter, Faster, More Confusing

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A talk to the Entertainment Masterclass, Luzern, May 2008 by Charlie Skelton and Alan Connor about pitching sitcoms in the UK

A talk to the Entertainment Masterclass, Luzern, May 2008 by Charlie Skelton and Alan Connor about pitching sitcoms in the UK


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  • 1. Who's pitching to whom and why? (And also how) --the future for pitching comedy in the UK: brighter; faster; more confusing
  • 2. “How the fuck do we clear this for broadcast?” thetrailermash.com
  • 3. “How the fuck do we clear this for broadcast?” we’ll come back to this
  • 4. Pitching as it was (as we imagine it) Hullo. What’s it about? Will it be funny? Which Oxbridge college did you go to? I can only let you have one series for now.
  • 5. Lots of lovely channels
  • 6. not commissioned
  • 7. not yet commissioned
  • 8. not yet commissioned we’ll come back to this
  • 9. Armando Iannucci, “The Comedy Controller”, BBC7
  • 10. Narrative comedy credit residuals prettier people saying your words see some new faces dignity creative reward
  • 11. Many channels Who to take your sitcom pitch to?
  • 12. Many channels Who to take your sitcom pitch to?
  • 13. Many channels Who to take your sitcom pitch to?
  • 14. Second guessing
  • 15. Second guessing writers
  • 16. Second guessing writers audiences
  • 17. Second guessing fashion writers audiences
  • 18. Second guessing fashion producers writers audiences
  • 19. Second guessing fashion producers writers audiences
  • 20. Second guessing fashion producers writers audiences
  • 21. Second guessing commissioning editors fashion producers writers audiences
  • 22. Second guessing commissioning editors fashion producers writers audiences
  • 23. Second guessing commissioning schedulers editors fashion producers writers audiences
  • 24. Second guessing commissioning schedulers editors fashion producers writers audiences
  • 25. Second guessing commissioning schedulers editors fashion channel producers controllers writers audiences
  • 26. Second guessing commissioning schedulers editors fashion channel producers controllers writers audiences
  • 27. Second guessing commissioning schedulers editors fashion channel producers controllers writers critics audiences
  • 28. Second guessing commissioning schedulers editors fashion channel producers controllers writers critics audiences
  • 29. Who loses out? audiences
  • 30. Who loses out? audiences
  • 31. How to pitch: The Bible
  • 32. How to pitch: The Bible
  • 33. How to pitch: The Bible
  • 34. Citizen Kane shooting script
  • 35. Citizen Kane shooting script “A brothel [was] nominated as a locale for Set C. But the Production Code demanded that it be dropped.”
  • 36. Citizen Kane shooting script “What is important to know, as an aspect of Welles’s intention, is that the scene had only been written in for trading purposes in the sure knowledge that it would have to be cut…”
  • 37. Citizen Kane shooting script “…but in the hope that other, less obtrusive, items would then slip through, as they did.”
  • 38. Brothels now less problematic
  • 39. Brothels now less problematic
  • 40. Second guessing “Will the next person think this is too…?” SAFE EDGY NATURA- TRAD LISTIC LIKE OTHER UNLIKE STUFF OTHER STUFF
  • 41. Who’s in it? I don’t A bunch of people none know of us have ever heard of Whoever auditions I don’t care best for the rôles …various unacceptable answers
  • 42. Who’s in it? the right answer.
  • 43. Who’s in it? or is it?
  • 44. Who’s in it? What if they become unavailable for the part they were unsuitable for?
  • 45. Born With It The “real world” material
  • 46. Born With It The pitch
  • 47. Born With It The taster tape
  • 48. Assessing the outcomes commissioned not commissioned hit miss
  • 49. Assessing the outcomes: the writer’s P.O.V. commissioned not commissioned hit miss impossible impossible
  • 50. Assessing the outcomes: the writer’s P.O.V. commissioned not commissioned CHOOSE AVOID hit miss impossible impossible
  • 51. Assessing the outcomes: the commissioner’s P.O.V. commissioned not commissioned AVOID hit miss AVOID
  • 52. Limbo
  • 53. Limbo ? “Were they getting back to me, or…?”
  • 54. Limbo ? “Which pitch was that character from again?”
  • 55. Limbo SHAME ? “I’m a writer, not a stalker. Aren’t I?”
  • 56. Limbo SHAME
  • 57. Limbo SHAME
  • 58. Limbo SHAME First-time pitcher’s allocation of values: Yes Maybe No
  • 59. Limbo SHAME Grizzled veteran’s allocation of values: Yes Maybe No
  • 60. Limbo SHAME
  • 61. Limbo SHAME
  • 62. Who else is pitching?
  • 63. Who else is pitching? Everyone.
  • 64. Who else is pitching? thetrailermash.com
  • 65. A short word about virals SHORT-FORM TELEVISION WEB VIDEO SITCOM passably diverting wholly engrossing  maximum c6mins 30mins (or 24’15”)  entirely new material  remix of others’ (ready for remixing) expensive material
  • 66. A short word about virals SHORT-FORM TELEVISION WEB VIDEO SITCOM passably diverting wholly engrossing  maximum c6mins 30mins (or 24’15”)  remix of others’  entirely new material expensive material (ready for remixing) we’ll come back to this
  • 67. A short word about virals SHORT-FORM TELEVISION WEB VIDEO SITCOM passably diverting wholly engrossing  maximum c6mins 30mins (or 24’15”)  remix of others’  entirely new material expensive material (ready for remixing)  320x240 degraded  telly video
  • 68. A short word about virals SHORT-FORM TELEVISION WEB VIDEO SITCOM passably diverting wholly engrossing better30mins (or 24’15”)  maximum c6mins quality entirely new material  remix of others’  expensive material than (ready for remixing) YouTubetelly  320x240 degraded  video
  • 69. A short word about virals SHORT-FORM TELEVISION WEB VIDEO SITCOM passably diverting wholly engrossing  maximum c6mins 30mins (or 24’15”)  remix of others’  entirely new material expensive material (ready for remixing)  320x240 degraded  telly video  free  worth buying on DVD
  • 70. A question for…
  • 71. A question for a sitcom writer try asking: Is the sitcom going the same way as the one-act play?
  • 72. A question for a sitcom writer practice asking: Would you like fries with that?
  • 73. A question for a commissioner try asking: Which is better at being the web: TV or the web?
  • 74. Ensnaring the young people Screenwipe, BBC4
  • 75. What’s competing with the show you just commissioned?
  • 76. What’s competing with the show you just commissioned? Everything.
  • 77. The world in your living room What do you add to the archive that has everything?
  • 78. Let us pledge together…
  • 79. Let us pledge together… It’s like Benny Hill crossed with Schindler’s List A twelve month moratorium on intertextuality.
  • 80. Let us pledge together… Let the web be the web.
  • 81. Let us pledge together… We can expand our narrative canvasses…
  • 82. Let us pledge together… …for the Facebook generation …but we can’t plan communities.
  • 83. Let us pledge together… There are no new stories…
  • 84. Let us pledge together… …so let’s tell some.
  • 85. Danke Grazia Schön! fitge! Grazie Merci! mille! …so let’s tell some.