Written by Standard Issue

Arts

Kickstarting a sitcom

Getting a TV show made has never been easy but nowadays, says Brenda Gilhooly, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Here’s how you can help her. (To be clear, no actual cats will be skinned.)

The cast of The MayoressOver the years I have seen that it’s sometimes difficult for a woman in comedy to have her voice heard. I’ve been working in comedy for many years, starting out as a standup, then doing a character act, Gayle Tuesday. I’ve worked as an actress and written for TV and radio, most recently being one of the writers on ITV’s Harry Hill’s TV Burp.

So, when I wrote a sitcom script about a larger-than-life (and unsuitable) mayoress of a local council – a show with three other good lead roles for women – and it was turned down by a main terrestrial channel, I remembered that these days I don’t have to let that stop me. There are other options to get a show made.

There’s a social media revolution going on: viewing habits are changing with TV streaming and online shows, while Netflix or Amazon Prime are creating their own series. And lots of fantastic projects these days start out from crowdfunding.

So, I thought crowdfunding was the way to go as it seems a brilliant way to connect the comedy lover directly with the comedian, cutting out the middle man. Behind every woman there’s a middle man trying to stop her.

Once I’d decided to try to make the show another way I showed the script to Jack Dee who said to count him in. Then Harry Hill said the same. Then the actress Michelle Colllins came on board. And then Romesh Ranganathan. Soon the project had started to gather real momentum.

I play Susan, the mayoress, who is a bit too glam for some. Harry plays Roger, who’s silly and eccentric. Jack plays daft and pompous Tim. Michelle is Denise, who’s a bit nouveau and a social climber and Romesh plays Ravi, the only sane one of the lot. Comedy actress Ella Kenion plays Linda and I’ve yet to cast the part of Tanita the very young office manager.

The show is very silly and mainstream, merrily satirising the insular mentality of middle England, local politics, daft bureaucracy and the deluded nature of small-time power.

Now we need to crowdfund the pilot script (that can also stand as a comedy short), put it online to view for free then hopefully sell it as an online series.

“Crowdfunding seems a brilliant way to connect the comedy lover directly with the comedian, cutting out the middle man. Behind every woman there’s a middle man trying to stop her.”

Fantastically, all these stars have said they will do the show for FREE so the budget is just for production costs. They are brilliantly investing in the show themselves by lending their names and time to the project because they believe in it so much.

So we’ve put the project on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site for the arts and we’ve got until June 8 to raise the money. It works on an all-or-nothing basis: if you don’t reach your target you don’t get any of it so it does feel a bit like a race against time.

Kickstarter works though a ‘rewards’ system with backers pledging money for rewards. In the case of The Mayoress, pledges start from a fiver for rewards such as joke newsletters, joke compulsory house purchase orders and joke parking tickets. Pledges can go right up to the higher rewards of an invite to the premiere or an executive producer credit.

So, if anyone is interested in pledging and getting involved they can find our Kickstarter page here – the project can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

If we make it happen it will be an empowering experience for all of us, the creative team and, I hope, for the audience who back it. We’ve got the script and we’re ready to go; it’s such a great cast, an outstanding combination of comedy talent. All we need now is the backing to give the show the production values it really deserves. We intend to make a great show – if we get the chance to do so.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/themayoress/the-mayoress-the-sitcom
https://www.facebook.com/TheMayoress
@MayoressSitcom

@brendagilhooly1

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Written by Standard Issue