BAFTA Announces New British Comedy Talent Chosen for International Showcases
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and Rocliffe today announced the winners of a nationwide competition to find the UK's most promising comedy writers without a television commission, who will showcase their work in front of the cream of the UK and US television industries at one of two major international television festivals:
• Karen Reed and writing pair Tommy Rowson & Nick Beasley will see an extract of their comedy script performed live in front of high profile industry attendees at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (GEITF) on Thursday 21 August, where they will receive feedback from a panel including: Myfanwy Moore, UK Controller of Comedy Production at the BBC; Amy Hartwick, Senior Vice President, Creative Development, ABC Studios; UK actress, writer and comedienne Sharon Horgan (Pulling, Little Crackers); and US comedian and internet sensation Rob Delaney.
• John Sheerman and writing pairs Nicole Paglia & Daniel Brierley, and Neil Warhurst & Izzy Mant, will fly to the US to have their work performed at the New York Television Festival (NYTVF), which runs from Monday 20 to Saturday 25 October.
The events, delivered under the banner of 'BAFTA Rocliffe New Comedy Showcase', are a special incarnation of the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum, the Academy's flagship writing programme in partnership with Rocliffe. This year's activity follows successful events at the New York Television Festival, held annually since 2011, and at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, which is hosting the initiative for a second year.
A jury of comedy professionals from the UK and US helped select the winning entrants, including: writer/producer Anil Gupta (Citizen Khan, The Office); writer David Quantick (The Thick of It, Veep); producer Caroline Norris (Horrible Histories, Raised by Wolves); writer/actor Tom Basden (Fresh Meat, The Wrong Mans); Commissioning Editor for Channel 4 Comedy, Fiona McDermott; and representatives from all the major UK broadcasters.
BAFTA, with its branches in New York and Scotland, and Rocliffe are delivering the activity in partnership with British Airways, GEITF and NYTVF.
In addition to having their work performed by professional actors at GEITF or NYTVF, the winning writers will receive: feedback during the event from top industry guests; one-to-one development mentoring sessions by top UK and US comedy commissioners and independent production companies; meetings with top UK talent agents; a GEITF festival pass and/or an NYTVF 'Official Artist' pass; pitch and networking training; travel and accommodation for the festival for which they are selected; and bespoke industry networking opportunities.
Andrew Newman, Chair of BAFTA's Television Committee and Chief Executive of Objective Productions, said: "BAFTA is delighted to bring these exciting new writers and writing teams to the attention of the international television industry through the BAFTA Rocliffe New Comedy Showcase. Attending GEITF and NYTVF offers invaluable exposure and a fantastic learning opportunity for the writers; we are thrilled to be working with the festivals again."
Lisa Campbell, Festival Director of the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, said: "Not only will these new writers have their work performed at the Edinburgh TV Festival, they will also be able to learn from some of the greats in our masterclasses, from Jed Mercurio and Jeff Pope to Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, as well as US showrunner Ronald D Moore. We hope this once-in-a-lifetime experience bolsters their chances of success."
Terence Gray, Founder and Executive Director of the New York Television Festival, said: "Our annual collaboration with BAFTA has proven to be one of the NYTVF's most important international partnerships, each year proving to be better than the last. We're thrilled and honored to continue this partnership and look forward to welcoming the writers to our 10th annual event in October."
Farah Abushwesha, Founder of Rocliffe, said: "With the selection process being completely anonymous and knowing that these writers are chosen purely on the strength of their comedic voices, I get excited to meet with the person behind the characters they create. What never fails to impress me is how excited the industry is too and how it gives this initiative its full support in judging, mentoring, developing and employing these writers. This platform open doors in ways that knocking alone as a new talent can't because from start to finish every aspect of the initiative has industry support."
All unsuccessful applicants receive a detailed script report to help them to develop their writing and story skills.
Biographies and Project Synopses of the Writers
Winners for Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival
Karen Reed - Nice to See You
Synopsis: A sitcom about game shows, lost loves, new friends and fierce competition - as well as never giving up your dreams. Even when you're dead.
Karen Reed was raised in Weymouth and now lives in London. She graduated from the University of Central England Birmingham with a degree in Visual Communication. Having worked as a copywriter and art director for 18 years, Karen gave up her Creative Director post at Leo Burnett to pursue her passion for comedy writing. After taking a screenwriting course at St Martins, she went on to collaborate with Nicole Adams with The Kids Downstairs which was entered into last year's Rocliffe competition. She has also leapt head-first into the London improv comedy scene and has a show at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.
Tommy Rowson and Nick Beasley - The Maesllwch (mys-look)
Synopsis: Huey's pub is the keystone of the community. It's up to him and Cledwyn to keep people getting drunk there any which way they can.
Tommy Rowson and Nick Beasley both graduated from the London Film Academy and live in London. They first collaborated on short film The Gentleman Burglar which Tommy used as part of his show at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013.
Tommy is writer, filmmaker and comedian from mid Wales. In 2006, Arrowman Sam which he wrote, produced and directed, saw him named Cinemagic Young Filmmaker of the Year, and reach the final for the Broadcast Young Talent's Writer of the Year. He has since gone on to write for Baby Cow Productions, World Productions and BBC Comedy. Tommy started performing stand up in 2010 and won showcase competition So You Think You're Funny? the following year, going on to become a finalist for the BBC New Comedy Award in 2012, and to be nominated for a Chortle award in 2013.
Nick grew up in Surrey before studying at the London Film Academy. He continues to write and direct his own independent film projects, including the award-winning short Hidden Border. He recently took on a filmmaking role at independent charity 24-7 Prayer, where he produced a 36 part video podcast series that peaked at number 1 on the iTunes chart.
Winners for New York Television Festival
John Sheerman - Gilding the Lily
Synopsis: Deep in the heart of London, a motley band of under-achieving bar staff, drunks and tour guides attempt to keep their beloved pub, the Gilded Lily, open and upright by any means necessary.
John Sheerman grew up in West Yorkshire and now lives in London. He has been writing comedy and performing for the last four years with the sketch group So On & So Forth. The group has recently been commissioned to write and perform a sketch comedy pilot for BBC Radio 4.
Nicole Paglia and Daniel Brierley - American Nails
Synopsis: Slacker George and "business dickhead" Tarik figure out adulthood, independence and the Polish word for cockroach while running a shoddy East London Nail Salon.
Nicole Paglia and Daniel Brierley met doing a promo for Cartoon Network where they had to bark to the tune of Jingle Bells. They have since gone on to make a comedy short to mark WOMAD music festival's 25th Anniversary as well as several music videos.
Nicole grew up in Boston, U.S., began her career in Sweden working in television and on feature films, and now lives and works in London. In 2004 she joined Cartoon Network in London, first as a Promo Producer and then Development Executive at the studio where the BAFTA award winning TV show The Amazing World of Gumball was created. She went on to work at eOne and Disney and in 2014 she was selected for the LOCO Comedy Workshop. She currently has two feature screenplays optioned by Main Man Films.
Daniel grew up in Somerset and is now London-based. He graduated with an MA in screenwriting from the National Film and Television School and has written plays including Turning Barley, The Hobo Code (Soho Theatre), Daytrippers (Theatre Royal East) and Farmyard Rules (Bush Theatre). His feature script Toyhunters has been optioned by Gunslinger films and his 2010 sitcom Gypos was a finalist in BBC's All Mixed Up and performed as a stage play at the Soho Theatre. Previous projects include a short film for the BBC starring Olivia Williams as a giant panda and My Face in Space, nominated for Best British Short at Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2012.
Izzy Mant and Neil Warhurst - Out of Time
Synopsis: Sam and Alice's only day off is Sunday...a day of fun and relaxation, of rediscovery and taking stock, and of frantic time-bound panic.
Izzy Mant and Neil Warhurst have been friends for many years but this is the first script that Izzy and Neil have written together.
Izzy was raised in Brighton and attended Oxford University before moving to London. She is a TV comedy producer with a background is as a script editor and director of theatre, radio drama and live comedy. For TV she has produced, amongst other scripted comedy, Harry & Paul, Peep Show and Badults. This is her first full script as a writer.
Neil is a writer and performer who grew up in Liverpool and London and now resides in the latter. He has had several comedy series on Radio 4, including Edge Falls, and Clayton Grange, and two afternoon plays. He scripted the film Beyond the Pole, and currently has a theatre play Taking Charlie on tour in the North of England.
For further information, please contact:
Daisy Jestico at Kindred Agency, London
Tel: 020 7010 0834
Hollie Rendall at Kindred Agency, London
Tel: 020 7010 0829
Marlea Willis at Marlea Willis Communications, New York
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. In addition to its awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round, international programme of learning events and initiatives that offers unique access to some of the world's most inspiring talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the UK, Los Angeles and New York.
BAFTA New York carries the Academy's mission forward on the Atlantic Coast through its commitment to the film, television and documentary communities. Its activities include screenings, In Conversation series, masterclasses, Q&As and panels focusing on industry trends in film, television and multimedia. BAFTA New York's educational outreach is aimed at underserved youth in New York City and includes the BAFTA New York Media Studies Scholarship Program, which was established to support students pursuing media studies at undergraduate and graduate level institutions within the New York City area. www.bafta.org/newyork.
BAFTA Scotland has been championing the country's film, television and game industries since 1989, celebrating and rewarding excellence through its annual British Academy Scotland Awards and BAFTA in Scotland New Talent Awards. BAFTA in Scotland is at the core of Scotland's screen industries, regularly engaging its members and the wider industry while reaching out to the public via a comprehensive range of screenings, educational events and masterclasses. www.bafta.org/scotland.
BAFTA relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its ongoing outreach work. To access the best creative minds in film, TV and games production, visit www.bafta.org/guru . For more information, visit www.bafta.org.
Rocliffe created a series of events, notably the New Writing Forums, now held at BAFTA and renamed the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum. It has a popular blog Farah's Rocliffe Notes which is being published as a book in 2014. With its inception in 2000 by founding member Farah Abushwesha and a team of dedicated volunteers including award winning director Susan Jacobson and casting director Laura Dickens CDG. The format of the New Writing Forum is truly original - following a public script call-out in the months before the event, three diverse pieces are selected from the hundreds received and performed live by professional actors in front of a live audience. The pieces are framed by especially composed music by new composers from Air Edel and digital art. The event showcases undiscovered talent - a must attend for agents and talent scouts alike; development focused discussions generated by the readings; exposure to and advice from experienced industry members; feedback from an audience and an invaluable method to test out new concepts and material. Given the often isolating nature of the industry, the forums create the ideal environment for networking as well as unknown writers the chance to get their work seen and heard. Past featured writers include James Dormer, Jack Thorne, Josh Appignanesi and Claire Wilson.
Now in its 39th year, the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival powered by YouTube is the UK's leading TV festival. GEITF 2014 takes place 21 - 23 August.
• From Kevin Spacey to Google's Eric Schmidt, global heavyweights set the industry agenda at GEITF. The 50+ sessions present thought-leaders who'll cut to the heart of the issues in the TV business with headline-making viewpoints
• The Festival is attracts delegates from around the world, representing the full spectrum of the industry - from chief executives, controllers and commissioners to producers, directors, marketers, writers, new media companies, distributors and press.
• GEITF is a charitable organisation. Proceeds from sponsorship and the sale of each delegate pass support the GEITF's talent schemes, the Network and Ones to Watch. These schemes identify and support emerging talent to promote a healthy and diverse future for our industry.
• Mel Leach, Managing Director, Twofour Broadcast, is the 2014 Advisory Chair.
•Elaine Bedell, Director of Entertainment and Comedy, ITV, is the Executive Chair.
• Join in the conversation on Facebook/ThisIsEdinburghTVFestival, talk to us on Twitter @edinburghtvfest and network with us on LinkedIn.
Established in 2005, the NYTVF constructs new and innovative paths of development and talent identification, while simultaneously complementing the traditional television development model. By partnering directly with networks, studios, production companies, digital platforms and brands, the NYTVF provides its Industry Partners with a streamlined development model, leveraging its vast creative community of over 14,000 independent producers and production companies, to create content with specific partners in mind. During the annual New York Television Festival - held each fall in New York City - the NYTVF brings together its top artists and industry decision-makers for a series of events designed to foster networking, collaboration and education. The Festival also marks the culmination of the organization's yearly development efforts and features screenings of top independent content, educational panels, fan events, red carpet premieres, and more. For more information on the NYTVF and the annual Festival, visit www.nytvf.com, and to learn about opportunities to submit for its year-round competitions, visit http://www.nytvf.com/submit.html.