Success Stories

BCG Pro Success Stories: William Vandyck

William Vandyck

Here's what happened. I sent my sitcom scripts to everyone I could think of and got a flood of no replies. I won a couple of competitions which got an intro to some producers. They suggested a social media campaign to build interest - the commissioners will have to respond to something with a million followers, right?

There's precedent, for example - and respect is due - Michael Spicer and Rosie Holt. But solo characters reacting to news events is logistically simple, and immediate. Obviously different challenges arise for a sitcom.

This sitcom is about an agency, Ethical Reputation Management.

Viv, Head of Image Strategy, knows the importance of claiming to be ethical and fights to solve the crises of her clients, despite her team. So we decided to post "leaked audio" of them being consulted by people in the news. The idea being that people might be attracted by the topicality and then stay for the characters. If one of the real people in the news sued us... well, that'd be great, said Viv.

This needs a team of funny people to play the roles. Being a proper writer I am socially awkward and know no-one. But comedy hat off to the British Comedy Guide at this point: through one of BCG's meet-ups I'd met Sam Bartley and Bec Bartley of BAM! Comedy who are stunningly good at being funny quickly, and game.

And hunting through BCG's website, I came across the amazing talent of voice-over artist Debs Wardle. I hit on the genius strategy of asking her to be involved and that seems to have worked. I asked the genuinely proper film star Annes Elwy if she'd play Viv and reader she said yes. And she introduced me to Joe Windsor who is an effortlessly cool, clever and good looking young actor - so we made him be the idiot.

So once or twice a week I send out a couple of minutes' script on WhatsApp and they send back their lines on voicenotes. I edit those into an audio of less than 2 minutes 10 seconds (X's limit for free stuff), using free sound-editing software, Audacity. Then I turn that into a video using the free Clipchamp video-editing software, attaching pictures of the characters commissioned via the website fiverr and headlines of the news stories.

This all takes a few hours but, and don't tell anyone, technically it isn't that hard and costs nothing.

Hey presto, for almost no money, we're putting out examples of how the team of characters would operate in the world of reputation management, on X and Instagram: @ermleakz and #ermleakz. And it's fun. And it's been wildly successful, getting voted, "Funniest Web Series 2024" by BAFTA and "Most Exciting Comedy Potential" by the Royal Sitcom Jury at Cannes. Okay, Viv suggested we put those bits, but, you know.

Viv, Head of Image Strategy at Ethical Reputation Management

Obviously it's now going to be commissioned and that's great. But in the meantime, a genuine unexpected joy - and a reason I really would recommend trying something like this - has been getting the readings back from talented people. It's like they sprinkle magic dust on the script.

So often there's something in there I hadn't thought of. Annes brings a proper actor's heft to Viv that grounds everything. I'd envisaged the old barrister Tony as being pompously offhand, but Sam does him with an energy that makes his lack of self-awareness funnier. As the researcher Jada, Bec gets lumbered with some straight lines, but nails a Gen-Z disdain for the work and Tony. Joe underplays the high idiocy of Rylan, giving it much more punch. And Debs gets to show off her unbelievable range by doing most of the clients.

So I'm writing this after it's been commissioned in the not too distant future (and by the way your great-great-great-granddaughter is pretty fine).

But it only happened because people like you were prepared to help a struggling fellow comedy person by following and spreading the word. I'm incredibly grateful, when I think to 2024 when it was slowly building followers.

And not only do those 2024 people who follow @ermleakz and #ermleakz have the satisfaction of knowing they got on board early, I can now afford to pay them. Yes, I can pay, with free hard cash, all those who liked and followed it to make a comedy team's dream come true. I'm not begging you're begging ok I'm begging, go on go on go on.

@ermleakz, #ermleakz.

Thank you.

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This article is provided for free as part of BCG Pro.

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