Friday, January 12, 2024

What’s in store for Fieldwork in 2024?

by Suw on January 12, 2024

In which I make a plan for the next year and publicly commit to a deadline. Eek.

In May last year, I broke down the process of writing Fieldwork into four stages:

  1. Background research
  2. Comedy research
  3. Script development
  4. Funding for production

I’ve largely completed Stage 1. Last year, I did ten interviews and picked up a few anecdotes via our online form. I’d have liked to have done more interviews, but I got some really great stuff out of the conversations I did have, so I feel content with that. (Unless you’re an ecologist who would like to talk to me, in which case please get in touch!).

This year is therefore going to be devoted to Stages 2 and 3 and, in a somewhat unprecedented move, I’m planning the first chunk of the year month by month. That plan was in large part prompted by advice from comedian Dave Cohen, who said in a recent newsletter:

If I’m entering that BBC Writersroom competition in Q4 I’ll want a good third draft or so by the end of Q3. Have had some kind of professional feedback and be working on rewrites after that. In which case I’ll want to have completed the first draft by the end of Q2. That gives me Q1 to thoroughly work on the idea, Q2 to write it.

To help me keep to my schedule, I’ve signed up to Dave’s From Zero to First Draft in 8 Weeks course, which starts on 19 April and walks participants through the development and writing of a pilot half-hour sitcom or comedy drama. Although the aim for this project was to produce a script for a 10-15 minute short film, I’m not going to look a gift half-hour script in the mouth!

Working with someone as experienced as Dave will also help me to produce the best work I can, the first step of which is to produce something terrible. I’ll be happy to do that, though, because I’ll know that Dave will pull me up on anything that’s not good enough and make me work harder.

I’m pretty bad at writing without deadlines, so having both the BBC Writersroom open call deadline on the horizon and having to prep/write stuff on a weekly basis from April to June will be a huge help. To support that process, I’ve had a think about what my timetable will have to be:

  • January: Read through existing transcripts; do some more background reading and research on comedy.
  • February: Continue reading; begin character work; write two vignettes to test out how those characters respond to plot.
  • March: Continue character work; write two more vignettes.
  • April: Begin Dave’s course; work on basics of the idea; develop themes and hone basics.
  • May: Develop characters further; outline plot ideas; outline script.
  • June: Write pilot; incorporate feedback; refine pilot.
  • July: Write short film based on pilot; refine pilot; submit both to colleagues as final deliverable on iCOMET project. Discuss ways to take project forward.
  • August to December: Continue refining pilot; submit to BBC Writers room; continue to explore funding opportunities and open script calls. Assess opportunities to turn into radio play or podcast.

I’m also going to commit to writing at least one post here a month to update you all on my progress.

In addition to all of that, or in support of it perhaps, I have amassed a fairly large reading list that I’d like to get through, including:

And along with all that, I’m continuing my improv lessons, which have turned out to be ridiculous amounts of fun. I can feel them already loosing up the nuts and bolts in my brain and helping me to develop my comedic instincts. Before Christmas I had an absolute cracker of a scene about having never been to visit Santa Claus in his grotto, so I’m starting to believe that I might actually be quite good at it. Wednesday evenings have definitely become the highlight of my week!

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