IF YOU HAVE THE ABILITY, DO IT YOURSELF.
These words echoed days after I had a meeting with the head of development at Comedy Central in Santa Monica in October 2016. I had been in Los Angeles studying screenwriting at the New York Film Academy (LA campus), full of optimism and hope, or stupidity (yet to decide).
I've set myself huge goals and creating content in America is something I've vocalised to everyone I know. Through a connection from my job at Sportsbet in Australia ("It's all about networking") I landed a meeting with Comedy Central. Only problem was I had nothing to pitch, now I think it was a blessing not going in for a pitch meeting. I got to have an open chat about the challenges facing the ever rising number of platforms that all demand content, a conversation for another time.
The morning of the meeting I ironed my shirt (a true rarity), grabbed a new DVD of the TV show KINNE I co-wrote and directed and arrived an hour early. As I was lead up in the lift by an assistant my heart was fluttering but I stayed relatively cool. It didn't help walking by South Park, Inside Amy Schumer and Key and Peele production posters on every wall.
He was on a call so I had to wait near his office for 5 minutes, I had an internal battle that went "Get your phone out and take a photo. Don't get your phone out, you must play it cool!" I regret not taking a photo now. He greeted me at the door, we sat down and within a minute this executive cut to the chase, "What do you want?" I do need to establish he was one of the better blokes you'd meet but that really put me on the spot. "GIVE ME A TV SERIES!" I yelled in my head but with no spec script in front of me I held back. I simply wanted to know what is the best way to get attention?
It was relatively simple advice. He first turned around and pointed on his desk where a pile of pilots were stacked almost a metre high... "That's not much fun!" he said explaining that reading script after script every day can truly ruin your soul, and I had to agree. He mentioned web-series and I stupidly butted in, "Ugh, web-series what a waste of time, no one really watches them." His reply was like an explosion of obviousness for me, "I know no one watches them, but we do."
WHAAAT. Of course they do, how did I not ever register that? He then went on to tell me about the show Workaholics and how that was a shitty 6 x 6 minute web-series that was shown to him online. "I got them in here, one was a struggling stand up comic, one worked in a shoe shop and the other was a 'sandwich artist' at Subway." Just on a side note, isn't calling someone who throws ham and salad on some bread an artist a bit of a stretch? Anyway, he granted them a $1,000,000 pilot. They smashed it and now they're flying with success, not weed.
After that example he leaned in, I knew it was time for some real advice from someone who had been in that industry for over 12 years. He picked up the KINNE DVD, "You seem like you are talented, if you have the ability, do it yourself." He knew I co-wrote, directed, shot, edited and acted in the TV show and created a lot of YouTube content before that. "Make it and send it to me, if we get to see it we are much more interested." I loved it, it was amazing advice but the producing side of me had one question. "What if it looks terrible?" I raised. "We don't care about production value, that's something we can fix. Just make the content good."
Need I say more? It was simple, inspirational and motivating advice about writing and doing (producing, technically). Now back in Melbourne I'm back teamed up with my partner in crime Troy Kinne, and along with Josh Lawson we've written a pilot. We like it and we're halfway through shooting it. Spread over weekends and public holidays we are working our arses off on this project whilst still trying to juggle full-time work and a social life. We have so many people to already thank and I hope they know how much it means to us. Unfortunately it's a not for broadcast pilot so I can't share it with you but hopefully it goes that one step further and you could see it on your smart televisions, or dumb ones.