Paul Feig Master Class: Comedy GoldComplications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022


Friday, July 29, 2011

Kristine Kazias at the CFC was kind enough to invite me to Paul Feig's master class at the Just For Laughs Comedy Conference yesterday. Paul Feig created FREAKS AND GEEKS and directed BRIDESMAIDS, among other things, so I suppose he knows a thing or two about comedy. Some of the points I found most interesting:

He doesn't try to finish a script before casting. "We get the moves down," then they cast. He feels you can't really write a character until you know who's going to play them. Also, "if someone comes in and is brilliant, but wrong for the part, we change the part." (Note: he almost always says "we.")

He writes audition sides. For many parts, there may not be enough lines to really give them something to audition with. So he writes a scene where the character gets a few meaty speeches. Then he gives an "adjustment" to see what the actor does with direction. And then he has someone run an improv with the actor.

He thinks joke comedy is old hat. He likes "behavioral" comedy. People are used to seeing real people be ridiculous onscreen from reality TV and YouTube. So when you get 8 year olds talking like 40 year olds, it's alienating. Comedy should come from the character and the situation, not the line. This is a constant battle with studio execs, who complain that his scripts don't read funny. And it's a battle with writers, who like to write lines that read funny, especially when they're going to be read by 8 year olds.

He likes to let actors improv on set. That means he cross shoots -- he has cameras on both actors -- otherwise it's too hard to cut together. He'll get the take he wants, and then tell them to "take a take" and do what they want. (Obviously this is easier on a 40 day schedule than a 15 day one.)

He warns that sometimes people audition well in the room, but don't look good on screen, while other times an actor doesn't read well in the room, but "the camera makes sense of their face."

He suggests keeping a comedy script as simple as possible -- "just enough story to keep it going forward." If people get confused, they stop laughing. That's why "I don't understand this" is almost always a valid note, while "I would have done this differently" almost never is.

On BRIDESMAIDS, they did 8 screenings. They'll do a "p" or polished screening -- their best cut. They'll also do an "e" or experimental screening, where they try stuff out. Sometimes there's stuff that doesn't seem like it will work that absolutely "destroys" in front of an audience. The see the movie in terms of "pods." They mix and match various cuts of the pods to see what works best overall.

They always sit in front at screenings, so they can hear the laughter clearly. They also record the screening, so they can sync it up and watch it in the edit room. That way you don't have to remember what worked and what didn't. You can hear it in the editing room.

He says even a comedy has to come out of your own experience. Otherwise you just recycle other movies. "You fail when you chase" the audience. You don't want to try to be commercial as such: "Commercial means people want to see it."

Pretty fun stuff -- all in just an hour. Thanks for organizing this, Kathryn Emslie and her fearless CFC crew!



thanks for posting those nuggets of insight for those of us who wish we could have been there too!

By Blogger M, at 10:37 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.