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Channel 4 Production Training Scheme - Writing for Comedy training...

Alaska Harrison, trainee researcher at Objective Media Group as part of Channel 4's Production Training Scheme tells us about last month's Writing for Comedy training:

We are four months into the scheme and after months working with the Objective Fiction team, I have read an abundance of original scripts and many more treatments. Being able to read and review others' work reminded me how much I enjoy writing myself – and so when I discovered thinkBIGGER! had planned a writing session with comedy writer Chris Head for myself and fellow scripted trainee Rashida at last month’s training I was overjoyed.

Rashida and I are 2016 - 2017 Production Training Scheme trainees, both working as trainee researchers; Rashida is based with Retort TV and I am working with Objective Media Group in their Objective Fiction department. Both Rashida and myself are passionate writers in our free time, Rashida is mainly focused on comedy drama whilst I am interested in writing television comedy and stand-up.

Each monthly training introduces us to some great industry talent and has proven to be useful but this session was somehow even greater than usual. Chris was engaging and had clearly catered the whole session towards Rashida and myself specifically, so every piece of advice and knowledge was like gold dust.

We began the session by focusing on characterisation and how to construct and sort them in a naturalistic and organic way. “Write what you know” seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to characterisation in a new piece, it’s imperative that you keep it in mind.  We all know that story often comes from character, so after discussing different functions characters can carry out, Rashida and myself had come up with a solid, realistic and dimensional main character within the first half an hour.

We decided on our main character “Trish”; a 20 something who just got her big break in the music industry with her brand-new job - regardless of whether it was through nepotism or completely lying through her cv and interview; she shouldn’t be there. We then had to set out her character’s main drive and goals, without this there is no story. All we had at this point was our main protagonist, but from discussing this character’s needs and aims we had already began constructing the bones of our story.

We then focused on plotting and its effect on writing with various factors such as the intended broadcast channel, country of release and sub-genre of comedy/fiction. Once we had finished creating and discussing various types of characters as well as our own, derived from real-life, we realised we had not only created an entire shows worth of main characters, we had half of a shows plot lines written out.

I have read many books on screenwriting and comedy, countless biographies and a huge abundance of podcasts and blogs, however, none of these compared to the knowledge I have gained after speaking with Chris Head. For the first time in years I have been consistently writing new material, jokes and ideas of a much higher quality than ever before.

This session has really helped me to not only develop my own writing and stand-up material, it has enabled me to read other people’s scripts with a much higher level of clarity and understanding. 
Additionally, it’s given me an abundance of confidence and imperative knowledge about getting my writing commissioned and starting my writing career in a professional capacity.

So once again, thank you to thinkBIGGER! for another great session and to Chris for teaching us some well-known and incredibly niche techniques whilst also pushing us with our own ideas.

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