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Eric Kissack p3

Director Eric Kissack gives some insights into writing for comedy, and the difference between directing drama and comedy...

READERSVOICE.COM: I read you were making a heist film with some of the cast from Love, Sex and Missed Connections, your first feature film. How is that progressing?

ERIC KISSACK: The heist film has been abandoned for now, sadly. That happens a lot in this business. You get very excited about a project and tell everyone that you’re going to do it and then… it just dies. Perhaps there’s some central flaw in the idea or the people involved get drawn into other projects or the marketplace just doesn’t have a lot of interest in the project. It’s very, very hard to get films made these days, unfortunately.

RV: You entered Love, Sex and Missed Connections into various film festivals. What other avenues are there for indie feature films once they are made?

EK: I honestly don’t know if there are any other avenues… unless you have a big (or biggish) “name” in your film. Even then, it’s pretty tough. The film festival world is pretty well adapted to discovering new and talented filmmaking voices. People complain about the film festival world a lot but, in my experience, it’s quite effective. That said, I do wish that they’d pay more attention to comedies. Many festivals seem to consider comedies second class citizens in the indie world, which is a shame.

RV: What differences are there in directing sketch comedy actors from other actors?

EK: There really aren’t any. A talented sketch comedy actor is, at heart, just a good actor.

RV: What are some editing technique differences between making comedy films like The Gunfighter, from drama films?

EK: There are definitely more similarities than differences but there are a couple of big differences. First, comedy is almost always better when it’s shorter. The number one thing I tell people after viewing their comedies is to make it shorter. There’s pretty much always a joke or two or ten that can be cut.
Second, comedy is much more about featuring reactions than drama is. In drama, we tend to want to be in the mind of the protagonist. In comedy, we want to identify with the people surrounding the protagonist so as to fully appreciate the absurdity of their position.

RV: When writing or co-writing comedy scripts, what are the most important things to remember?

EK: Story, story, story. Focus on your story. You could have the funniest jokes in the world but if the viewer isn’t engaged in your story or invested in your characters, your movie isn’t working. Get the story working first… the arcs of the characters, the declaration and resolution of your theme… then worry about the jokes.

– See erickissack.com to watch some of his short films like The Gunfighter, and for information on his other movies like Love, Sex and Missed Connections.
– copyright Simon Sandall.