British Comedy Guide

The Sitcom Mission 2017 Page 4

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simon wright

  • Monday 12th June 2017, 1:20pm [Edited]
  • London, England
  • 431 posts

"One more from disgruntled Alf again, and this time to entrants, they'll know who, if what I'm stating has happened, not necessarily this year but any year, and was not a genuine admin error, hmm."

If we ran a coherent sentence writing competition we would have rejected the above regardless of the writer's gender.

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Tuesday 13th June 2017, 2:24pm
  • Aldershot, England
  • 5,229 posts

But are you swayed by a writer's gender if for example you've picked your shortlist of scripts then see there's no (let's say) female writers' names on that list. Are you then tempted to replace a script with one written by a female, for some gender inclusiveness? Or is this not a concern? Because this is what some writers I know of are hoping to exploit in writing comps now. That was my point, and it's not aimed at anyone I know here, but put here only because I don't do twitter or other forums but I often enter scripts for comps. It's a general query based on admissions of some regular writing comp entrants I know of.

The same con trick can be applied to content of course, scripts written by males (let's say) with female centred themes and characters the writer may or may not know much about. Why? Because every writing comp or outlet is pushing the female centred sitcom or drama; and the ethnic minority centred shows, which I suspect may be getting some exotic name changes from entrants too. Don't worry, I just have a poor opinion of some amateur writers, who'd sell their mums to see their work on a screen.

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simon wright

  • Tuesday 13th June 2017, 3:06pm [Edited]
  • London, England
  • 431 posts

But are you swayed by a writer's gender if for example you've picked your shortlist of scripts then see there's no (let's say) female writers' names on that list.

No.

Are you then tempted to replace a script with one written by a female, for some gender inclusiveness?

No

Or is this not a concern?

No

...every writing comp or outlet is pushing the female centred sitcom or drama.

Not this one.

We're looking for funny, marketable scripts with series potential. That's all.

There is no hidden agenda.

As for hiding behind a nom de plume, how do I know that 'Alfred J Kipper' is actually a bloke? You could be female for all I know or care.

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Wednesday 14th June 2017, 12:09am
  • Aldershot, England
  • 5,229 posts

:O Madam please!
Okay Simon you've answered my query well enough, and a query's all it was after a barny with someone who says he's done that for here and elsewhere. So peeved at this was I, I didn't waste my time and money on entering. Personally I hope he's written a stinker then we're all happy. Cheers.

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Declan

  • Wednesday 14th June 2017, 7:21am
  • England
  • 753 posts
Quote: Alfred J Kipper @ 14th June 2017, 12:09 AM

:O Madam please!
Okay Simon you've answered my query well enough, and a query's all it was after a barny with someone who says he's done that for here and elsewhere. So peeved at this was I, I didn't waste my time and money on entering. Personally I hope he's written a stinker then we're all happy. Cheers.

Look at it from our point of view, Alfred. It's not a query, it's an accusation. And have a think about it - we're hardly going to say 'yes' are we?

And what did Bafta Rocliffe and BBC Writersroom say when you asked them the same question?

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Paul Wimsett

  • Wednesday 14th June 2017, 11:02am
  • Folkestone, United Kingdom
  • 2,609 posts

If you think you have a case, create an article for Chortle or BCG?

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kate to the party

  • Wednesday 14th June 2017, 11:37am [Edited]
  • England
  • 38 posts
Quote: Alfred J Kipper @ 11th June 2017, 1:54 PM

One more from disgruntled Alf again, and this time to entrants, they'll know who, if what I'm stating has happened, not necessarily this year but any year, and was not a genuine admin error, hmm. If it hasn't happened then this is just a philosophical query/rant. Do you think it fair and ethical to change the gender of your entry name, presumably in the hope that it sways the judges of a competition to your entry? I ask only because some writers I know have been doing this for years in all manner of writing comps and don't see it as a really low thing to do, even for scruple light desperate amateur scribblers.

Two things strike me immediately from reading this forum:

1) If you had Twitter/followed the comp on there you would have seen that two people just entered scripts with the same name*. One got through and one didn't. The two writers even addressed each other in a friendly, positive manner.

2) There are still people (in 2017!) who see a woman's name in a competition shortlist and automatically assume that there must be some terrible mistake.

We're writers! We have lives which we occasionally mine for their comedic potential (some of which will inevitably involve gender-based humour because that is what we have lived)! There is nothing to be afraid of once you stop seeing us as some kind of weird tick-box exercise.

(On a separate note, congratulations to everyone who did make the list!)

*btw this is believable because The Office exists.

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Ponderer

  • Wednesday 14th June 2017, 4:25pm
  • England
  • 696 posts
Quote: Declan @ 14th June 2017, 7:21 AM

Look at it from our point of view, Alfred. It's not a query, it's an accusation. And have a think about it - we're hardly going to say 'yes' are we?

And what did Bafta Rocliffe and BBC Writersroom say when you asked them the same question?

I honestly didn't read this as an accusation about you guys, Dec. I think it was an accusation about people trying to exploit a perceived bias. If you were to bet on where such a bias might possibly exist, a large bureaucratic organization with a lot of rules, templates etc. would be a much more likely option than smaller, independent outfits.

I am sure it happens (the attempt), but I suspect that if there is any bias on the part of the reader it would be largely be subconscious. I'd expect that there are very few occasions where, even when an actual bias exists, this would be enough to make a difference; if people are betting some of their valuable time/reputation on you, they would surely care so much more about the quality of the writing than your genitalia, wouldn't they?

Unless you are running some kind of elaborate grooming operation here?

I think corporate/industry bias is probably just one of the many comforting stories we unsuccessful peddlers of comedic prose tell ourselves. Luck maybe plays a part, I doubt bias does.

Except in my case; I could tell you some stories...

Quote: kate to the party @ 14th June 2017, 11:37 AM


2) There are still people (in 2017!) who see a woman's name in a competition shortlist and automatically assume that there must be some terrible mistake.

It does strike me that those of us who are generally the beneficiaries of bias tend to get most worked up about any perception of it working the other way (not Alfred in this case, but their acquaintances).

And, as you say Kate - congrats to all those whose gender/racial/social/political profile fitted with Simon and Declan's template sufficiently well to get selectedWhistling nnocently

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Thursday 15th June 2017, 12:51pm [Edited]
  • Aldershot, England
  • 5,229 posts

Thank you Pond, and Declan it really was not an accusation of your set up in any way but a general hypothetical query about a contentious matter never brought up on these forums or this one at least and I don't do the facebook and twitter thing and have only signed up to this forum. I did my best to say that and put it as generally as I could without accusing anyone. Give it to a reader and see what they think. The alternative was not posting it at all, not a bad idea in hindsight but then this subject concerning ALL writing comps in general would not have been brought up.

Yes I've emailed both BBCWR, the comedy commissioning dept. with no reply, they're above all that. Asked the same philosophical question. As I have more than once with Rocliffe! I have plenty to say about them on their perceived bias which isn't exactly a secret. You are the last major comp or outlet I've brought it up with, and as I said I have no suspicion at all of you, my main grumble as the Ponderer says is with the writers who told me they do this and the post was meant for entering writers to think about, not you and Simon. It happens, every writers' circle or coterie will tell you some writers try to exploit current trends in material used or wanted by broadcasters and that includes gender specific material which I shouldn't need to tell you is hot hot hot at the mo, it's no secret. Glad to hear you're only interested in quality scripts.

Kate, absolutely no one in the industry thinks that of women writers, it is the complete opposite these days! Cheers.

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Declan

  • Thursday 15th June 2017, 1:56pm
  • England
  • 753 posts

Ok, thanks for clearing that up, we love you too, let's put this to bed.

We know of female writers that use male names because of the industry bias against them. George Eliot did it. JK Rowling did it.

We're proud of our record of promoting ALL our writers that work hard, take notes, rewrite, enjoy the process, bang their heads against the wall and come back fighting. It's those people we're interested in working with. And promoting their quality scripts

Some of them are men. Some are women. Some come from an ethnic background. Many are white males.

We'd love to promote more aging, white male curmudgeons WHO HAVE A QUALITY SCRIPT. If you know of any that can come up with a REALLY GOOD SCRIPT, please send them our way.

We'll see anyone going to the screening of 2013 Sitcom Mission winner GIRLBAND by Those Three Girls tonight.

Cheers, Dec

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michael b

  • Thursday 15th June 2017, 9:15pm
  • England
  • 33 posts
Quote: Alfred J Kipper @ 15th June 2017, 12:51 PM

Thank you Pond, and Declan it really was not an accusation of your set up in any way but a general hypothetical query about a contentious matter never brought up on these forums or this one at least and I don't do the facebook and twitter thing and have only signed up to this forum. I did my best to say that and put it as generally as I could without accusing anyone. Give it to a reader and see what they think. The alternative was not posting it at all, not a bad idea in hindsight but then this subject concerning ALL writing comps in general would not have been brought up.

Yes I've emailed both BBCWR, the comedy commissioning dept. with no reply, they're above all that. Asked the same philosophical question. As I have more than once with Rocliffe! I have plenty to say about them on their perceived bias which isn't exactly a secret. You are the last major comp or outlet I've brought it up with, and as I said I have no suspicion at all of you, my main grumble as the Ponderer says is with the writers who told me they do this and the post was meant for entering writers to think about, not you and Simon. It happens, every writers' circle or coterie will tell you some writers try to exploit current trends in material used or wanted by broadcasters and that includes gender specific material which I shouldn't need to tell you is hot hot hot at the mo, it's no secret. Glad to hear you're only interested in quality scripts.

Kate, absolutely no one in the industry thinks that of women writers, it is the complete opposite these days! Cheers.

Alfred, why do you have such a beef with the BBC Writersroom and Bafta Rocliffe? Their rules are fair and very clear - when you submit an entry, the script readers/judges have no idea if you're male or female.

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kate to the party

  • Friday 16th June 2017, 4:33pm
  • England
  • 38 posts

This is a question for Simon & Declan; semi-related to what's been discussed here (although to be clear I'm not criticising the current system/also don't have the energy to debate a bunch of dudes over whether sexism in the industry is still a thing):

Are blind submissions something you've ever considered for the Sitcom Mission (or are there too many administrative issues involved)? Again not a criticism; just interested as the level of communication with entrants seems very non-standard compared with other comps and must bring with it its own unique pros and cons.

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simon wright

  • Friday 16th June 2017, 5:17pm
  • London, England
  • 431 posts

If we had blind submissions, I promise you that we would select exactly the same scripts as if they had names attached. Every time.

Why wouldn't we? We want to put the best possible material before the commissioners. If we don't, they won't come back.

The only reason therefore, to have blind submissions would be to pacify forum man.

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Saturday 17th June 2017, 2:29am
  • Aldershot, England
  • 5,229 posts
Quote: michael b @ 15th June 2017, 9:15 PM

Alfred, why do you have such a beef with the BBC Writersroom and Bafta Rocliffe? Their rules are fair and very clear - when you submit an entry, the script readers/judges have no idea if you're male or female.

Because Rocliffe contrive to pick a female winner every year I've looked at the comedy script results. And with Beeb it's their newish diversity rule which favours them. Both make much of the anonymous entry thing, it's an irrelevance. They'll sift for female and ethnic minority subjects and characters in scripts to make sure a good number make the shortlist. And how do we know they don't match scripts up with the names if they want to check? They have all the details there, why should we instantly believe them?

Quote: Declan @ 15th June 2017, 1:56 PM


We know of female writers that use male names because of the industry bias against them. JK Rowling did it.
Cheers, Dec

Yes, that's the old crime and thriller novel market though where agents encouraged all authors to adopt a snappy mannish name or get poor sales. Broadcast fiction has gone the opposite way now.

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Saturday 17th June 2017, 2:34am
  • Aldershot, England
  • 5,229 posts
Quote: Declan @ 15th June 2017, 1:56 PM

We'll see anyone going to the screening of 2013 Sitcom Mission winner GIRLBAND by Those Three Girls tonight.

Cheers, Dec

:OSee!Angy

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