Miranda Hart, Tim Key and Fred MacAuley
As part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Fred MacAulay hosted a Fringe to Screen masterclass offering pearls of wisdom about getting a show from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival through to television.
His first guest was producer Charlie Hanson (Life's Too Short, Whites, Extras) who commented "...the Fringe is the perfect way to hone your material."
Lady Garden performed a sketch before Eleanor from the group joined Fred and Charlie on stage. She explained how they "...altered a sketch to make it work from stage to screen by re-working the ending and hiring a choreographer."
Here's the outcome:
Next on stage was Tim Key, who believed opportunities such as working on Life's Too Short (Stephen Merchant took an interest after seeing his show in 2009) and writing for TV and radio were thanks to performing at the Fringe "...which helped build up confidence in my material."
Isy Suttie took to the stage to perform a song from her latest Edinburgh show.
And finally, Miranda Hart joined the panel completing the line-up.
With the panel now complete, it was time to open up the floor to questions.
Miranda Hart, Tim Key, Fred MacAuley, Isy Suttie, Charlie Hanson, Eleanor Thom
Question: Is it better to write and perform or just write your own material?
Charlie said both are equally valid ways to get material shown. People are always looking for new writers, but the unique quality of performing your own material is it gives a sense of where it's come from.
Tim commented that performing his material himself gave him an opportunity to see what worked, allowing him to be more honest about what didn't.
Isy suggested visiting the BBC Writersroom website, plus writing radio sketches is a great way to get your material heard without necessarily performing it yourself.
Question: What is most gratifying - live comedy or filmed for TV?
Miranda particularly enjoys performing live, which is why her sitcom is filmed in front of a studio audience. She needs the punctuation of laughter through the show, although there's a maximum of two takes before the audience laughter tails off.
Charlie has worked on both, but when he's working on a single camera comedy (without a studio audience) he always remembers when the performers read the script in a room together for the very first time. That way he can imagine the audience reaction without having a live audience there.
Question: Is it possible to transfer a show from the free Fringe to screen?
Charlie said producers do go to free fringe shows but usually on a recommendation, so word of mouth is key. He believes the free Fringe is a great place for new talent without the financial risk.
Tim recalled he lost £7,000 performing his first Edinburgh show.
Question: What's the next step for Fringe performers?
Charlie suggested if you believe your material is as good as it can get, then perform it elsewhere - don't just stop after Edinburgh.
Isy recommended starting your own gig night along with a couple of other acts as a regular way to show off material and an opportunity to try out new stuff.
Thanks to Charlie Hanson, Lady Garden, Tim Key, Isy Suttie, Miranda Hart and host Fred MacCauley. There's more from the Fringe on the Edinburgh 2011 site.