18 July 13
Writing duo Brona C. Titley & Tony Cooke travelled to New York to showcase their script Nannies at the NYTV Festival.
The Script: Nannies
Synopsis: Maisie and four other under paid, overworked child minders on her exclusive London street, are paid to parent the next generation of the ridiculously rich.
How did it feel to be shortlisted for Rocliffe?
Delighted of course! It's very exciting and I'm happy that my plan to change the world via the medium of sitcoms is finally coming into fruition.
What are you most looking forward to about attending the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum event in New York?
When I write comedy I spend most of the time by myself or with Tony trying to squeeze hilarity onto a computer screen. Am most looking forward to actually being able to meet other humans in the industry and speak to them about their experience. And... there'll be free food, right?
When did you get involved in writing comedy?
In a previous life I was both Stan Laurel AND Oliver Hardy. But since I can't prove that "scientifically" I'll just go ahead and say - when I was in university and I co-wrote and directed a comedy show with a cast of 60 freshers.
What inspired you to write comedy for the screen?
I rarely listen to music but I never go a day without watching a sitcom. I spent my childhood and teenage years with the cast of Friends, Frasier, Father Ted and Faulty Towers... and even some other shows that don't begin with 'F'. I love TV comedy, it's my home address.
Which part of the writing process do you find most difficult and which come most easily?
I find it easy to be silly and come up with gags, but more of a challenge to channel that silliness into a story people will find engaging. I think it just takes practice and I'm enjoying the ride.
As a comedy writer, you spend a lot of time alone, staring at a computer screen, only moving to fetch another biscuit or change your onesie... If you're lucky enough to have a writing partner, you might occasionally get to stare at their face as a break from the computer screen – but try not to stare at them without blinking for too long or it gets a bit awkward, TRUST me. There is a whole world of film and television production happening out there that you might never get to see, as your bit occurs when you write words on your screen and click send. Your script goes out into the ether, (hopefully for other people to make and have fun with), but you probably won't be a part of any of that because you're in charge of the words- the precious precious words. As an actress I get to leave the writing room occasionally to dress up as a tooth fairy or role play an angry parent or create another Irish nun, but for the most part the magic happens back in my sitting room, away from any cool and interesting television people. Mummy, what are people?
When Tony Cooke and I won the BAFTA Rocliffe, and got the chance to see our script 'Nannies' performed at the New York Television festival, and attend the Edinburgh Television Festival, it was a real game changer in terms of interacting with other humans. Of the human variety. The BAFTA Rocliffe is an overwhelmingly supportive initiative where the incredible staff from both organisations 'bully' the writers into networking as much as is physically possible. And I use the term 'bully' with great love and gratitude! As writers we tend to think that we can exist in a vacuum, but actually getting out there, meeting people in the industry, talking to them about what they want and making connections is just as likely to get you your next gig as your agent emailing them out of the blue. Perhaps more?
Shortly after we found out we won, we were invited to a drinks reception for the winners and finalists at Apartment 58, which was well attended by industry guests; executives from networks, production companies, members of the jury, directors, established writers, etc. PEOPLE! REAL PEOPLE! It was great to make these contacts and I felt very grateful to BAFTA and Rocliffe for putting us in the same room as them... but then I realised I could actually reach out from my sitting room myself. I began to look up the people I had just met - on twitter and LinkedIn etc - and follow them. I realised I needed to know who the decision-makers were in the places I would like to have my work produced in the future, so I looked them up too. Before we went to the Edinburgh festival, Tony and I took a deep breath and sent out a few introductory emails to executives we knew we were going to the festival. 'Hello, we're comedy writers, we're going to be in the same building as you for two days, could we have 5 minutes of your time to introduce ourselves and find out what you're up to at the moment?' type emails. And you know what? It worked! People replied! When you reach out to them, more often than not, humans are nice...
In New York, the networking was a bit more organised. There were events scheduled almost every day for artists and executives to meet. At first the idea of 'organised networking' was abhorrent. What, actually talk to people in order to get more work? That's so vulgar! But we are a social species (at least most of us are) and when confronted with the chance to work with someone talented that you know or someone talented that you don't know, most people would choose the former. Twitter, email and festivals aren't the only ways to make these connections, there could be someone on your commuter train or at your gym or at your competitive dog grooming class that you could end up working with if only you took the chance and talked to them... SO TALK TO PEOPLE! What's the worst that could happen? They could spill a Dr Pepper all over you? Don't worry, you can get your wool jacket dry cleaned, AND MAYBE YOU'LL MEET SOMEONE INTERESTING AT THE DRY CLEANERS?! It's a small world, talk to people. I'm going back to my sitting room now for a while, I've been talking too much....
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