Barnaby Thompson Q&A

I’ve been asked by quite a few people to give them the highlights of the insightful London Comedy Writer’s Q&A with the Head of Ealing Studios Barnaby Thompson and Head of Development Sophie Meyer. Of course nothing beats being there but I did make notes and here is a summary of the chat they had with Festival Director Chris Jones.

What type of film are Ealing Studios look for? High-concept and culturally specific films. So films like Full Monty and Four Weddings and a Funeral are prime examples of this.

What are the key components to think about when writing a comedy film? To have an idea that makes you smile when you think about it . To create a world of fun. So Full Monty: ‘five unemployed men become strippers.’, 4o Year-Old Virgin: the title explains everything. Also, to have a simple story that is told in a more complex way or a complex story told in a simple way.

How do you get a script read by Ealing Studios? You do need a agent as its not practical for them to accept unsolicited material, particularly as there are legal issues such as idea-protection etc. But they do accept Spec scripts from agents and these can get writers considered for other in-house productions. They estimate between 300-400 solicited scripts are sent to them in a year.

Top tips on writing comedy:

Challenge every scene – UK writers are too content on what they’ve written. They need to look at every scene and ask what can be funnier, what can be a bigger threat etc. Scripts, in general, need more drafts.

Reveal character through dialogue

Simplify a story and then go off tangents from that spine

Laugh WITH the characters and not at THEM. Warm comedy rather than cynical comedy.

Make sure the ending has enough laughs. Tying up the story shouldn’t completely take over.

These are my personal highlights, a lot more was said and it was recorded so you’ll hopefully be able to watch this session in the future.

AND OF COURSE visit the London Comedy Writer’s Festival for more unmissable advice and networking. (£25 discount with code: NUTS).

One response to “Barnaby Thompson Q&A

  1. Thanks for sharing – most useful!

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