Back in September, Channel 4 announced its collaboration with our Hot House, headed up by scripted comedy exec, Emma Lawson, in partnership with NFM. Following an open call for applicants, 24 digital shorts by North East comedy talent were commissioned with the aim of injecting regional voices into the national comedy scene. With only a couple of months of nurturing and development from the Hot House, shorts from three regional production companies will now be going live, with more to follow over the coming weeks. Fresh, original, diverse, and backed by a major broadcaster: welcome to the new North East comedy scene!
Raul Kohli, Couch Potato Films: ‘Too Proud To Split The Bill’
Stand-up comedian and Newcastle native Raul Kohli has made his first venture into broadcasting with Couch Potato Films’ ‘Too Proud To Split The Bill’. Starring alongside Aatif Nawaz from BBC Three’s sketch comedy show ‘Muzlamic’, Raul also wrote the short, who he claims is ‘for every Asian kid who’s ever been humiliated by their elders’ generosity when going out for a meal!’. The development journey from stage to screen has been a huge one for Raul, who says the Channel 4 project has been ‘immensely rewarding, and one you don’t often get to do in the North East’.
Producer of Hartlepool-based Couch Potato Films, Adam Bouabda, says that his company ‘have really enjoyed working with the North East Comedy Hot House and NFM. Emma has been a great exec; we’ve learned a lot from her and will continue to as long as she’ll have us around!’. This project has developed Couch Potato Films’ ability to deliver to broadcast and Adam is hopeful for future projects: ‘As part of the Tees Valley Screen Steering Group, I hope that we can bring more opportunities like this one to the region, helping new and emerging talent to get their ideas on screen’.
‘Too Proud To Split The Bill’ is out now on Channel 4’s Facebook, click here!
Joby Mageean and James Craggs, Roundhouse Pictures: ‘We’re Gannin’ Oot, Oot!’
Roundhouse Pictures’ ‘We’re Gannin’ Oot, Oot!’ is an exciting venture for both writer Joby Mageean and director James Craggs. Joby is an up-and-coming stand-up comedian from Newcastle; his shows are known for their whimsical sense of humour and musical components. Creating a film with Roundhouse Pictures was a new experience for Joby: ‘It was fantastic to see the sketch I wrote come alive in front of me. It is completely different to what I’m used to, performing comedy, it’s a lot more about creating a visual aesthetic and telling a story. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I absolutely love the end result’.
For Head of Film at Roundhouse Pictures, James, directing ‘We’re Gannin’ Oot, Oot!’ was also a huge source of professional development. Speaking of the ‘unique and incredible opportunity’, he claims: ‘The reason why we’ve gleaned so much from it is because, up to this point, Roundhouse Pictures had been a production company grounded almost solely in the corporate world. This was a real change!’. Like many working with the North East Comedy Hot House on this project, James feels there will be a shift in the work produced by Roundhouse in future: ‘It’s made us even more driven to produce more and different types of content, helping to establish the North East as a bigger part of the commissioned landscape’.
‘We’re Gannin’ Oot, Oot!’ will be released on Channel 4’s Facebook this week.
Jen Gallagher, FNA: ‘If Boobs Were Like Balls’
Hailing from the Tees Valley, Jen Gallagher is a first-time writer and director, debuting her talent for FNA’s first short: ‘If Boobs Were Like Balls’. Although the Channel 4 project has been an opportunity to feature funny new talent across the board, it has been particularly refreshing to champion women like Jen working behind-the-camera roles. She says: ‘Working with Emma Lawson and the North East Comedy Hot House to bring my comedy shorts to life for Channel 4 has been absolutely incredible’.
Zahra Zomorrodian, producer of FNA, has relished the experience: ‘Being supported and challenged by both Emma and the North East Comedy Hot House has had a hugely positive impact on the profile of FNA, regionally and nationally’.
‘If Boobs Were Like Balls’ hits Channel 4’s YouTube channel soon.
Channel 4 and the North East Comedy Hot House
The Channel 4 initiative has been designed to provide a platform for bold, experimental, and socially-shareable comedy. The content will be showcased exclusively across Channel 4’s social media channels, including Facebook and YouTube.
Laura Marks, the Channel 4 Commissioner for the project, said: ‘Showcasing new writers and talent from across the country and providing a platform for them to try the things they wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do is hugely exciting for us’.
Emma Lawson, Executive Producer of the North East Comedy Hot House, adds: ‘I’m thrilled to have finally had the opportunity to develop and make comedy with the brilliant programme-making talent here in the North East. The Hot House initiative was formed especially for us to get more involved with the comedy community here, and thanks to Channel 4 we were able to hit the ground running! I can’t wait for the shorts to start hitting screens, and I hope this is the first of many collaborations with the production companies in the region’.
Alison Gwynn, our Acting Managing Director, comments: ‘These broadcast commissions have two things in common: they are made by people who live in the North East, and they make us laugh. We know the North East is a region brimming with creative talent and Northern Film + Media is working on a number of activities to support the growth of our production companies. Initiatives like this project with Channel 4 and Emma Lawson are essential to support the growth of the screen sector in the region. It has given our talent a space to experiment and find collaborators, helping them to take their comedy production to the next level and be seen by huge audiences’.