The Occasion #2 — Sian Laycock & Joel Stephen Fleming

Originally written for Continuance Pictures

‘The C Word’ is a Brisbane-based comedy series written by Sian Laycock and Joel Stephen Fleming, which is in development with Continuance Pictures and backed by Screen Australia.

“Essentially ‘The C Word’ is a comedy drama,” said Sian, a writer/art director. “Continuance Pictures helped us with our application to Screen Australia. At the moment we are looking at six, half hour episodes for a first series.”

Continuance co-founder Tristan Barr said, “It’s just come out of development with Screen Australia. We received funding for a writers’ room, and also to have the script edited. The writers’ room included Julie Eckersley, who notably produced ‘The Family Law’, and Roger Monk, an experienced writer/producer who is writing a Netflix series at the moment. He is the script editor. Writer/director Leela Varghese, whose short film ‘Crush’ won Best Screenplay at Tropfest 2019, was also in the writers’ room.

“Like the recent series ‘Search Party’, this kind of series is a funny and stark look at the issues and dramas millennials face,” Tristan continued. “Something we’ve been assessing is how to draw empathy with a character that has behaved unethically. It’s a big question that we’ve been able to address in our writers’ room, and the script editing will be a big part of that.”

Here’s the logline: 

Siobhan is a 20-something, single, aspiring poet, who is searching for her place in the world. In her desperate quest for transformation she tells a terrible lie that will change her life forever. 

The writers’ room via Zoom lasted five days. “It was our first professional writers’ room,” said Joel Stephen Fleming, writer/director, 13th Street Films. 

“We’ve done it before with emerging practitioners, but with these guys it was on a different level. Julie was in Melbourne, Roger in NSW and Leela was in Adelaide. They literally called it ‘Interrogating Your Idea’ and it really is like the police pulling apart your story! The tricky thing is you’re developing this idea, and it’s changing, in the room, every day. They ask you how a character is going to react to something. But by Thursday, that character’s reaction is different from what it would have been on Monday.”

“We’re so new to the whole tv writing thing,” Sian said. “It’s such a big step for us, so it was important for us to show what we do. We stuck to our guns on some things that we are passionate about. When you have your own idea you are going to be precious about it, saying exactly how you want it to be. But we both found this to be a really eye-opening experience.” 

“Julie talked about ‘The North Star’ in astrology – how it guides you home,” Joel continued. “She said, ‘Know what your North Star is, what the show is about. Then you can always come back to that one thing.’ Once we had that, it really helped with the writing process. It was a great tool to guide the overall feeling, drive and purpose of the show.”

“By the end of the week we had a much clearer picture of what we were trying to say,” Sian said. “They have so much experience, and they had great ideas. It’s funny, at some point it felt like a therapy session where everyone was sharing different stories from their lives. It was nice, and you can draw a lot from other people’s experiences. We ended up with a lot more than the sum of our own two brains. There was also some vulnerability, which maybe I found a bit challenging since I’m not really out there. But it was good. If you can get to that point then it helps the writing. The tone was set really well and we felt very looked after.”

Tristan was keen to highlight the location of ‘The C Word’. 

“It’s really a Brisbane-focused story. We would look to gain partnerships with Screen Australia or Screen Queensland, and make it a really iconic Brisbane series. The writing introduces the Brisbane music scene, which is renowned – several top Australian bands come from up here. It’s something we’re including which is iconically Queensland.

“Once the script is ready we will go out to market, with the idea of attaching notable Australian cast, possibly involving our U.S. partnerships. With those attachments in place we will pitch to networks to move it into the production phase,” Tristan concluded.  

SEPTEMBER 30 , 2020/ BY J. FUNK (EDITOR)

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