2014 Writing Talks by John Richards

February 20, 2014

john richards

Looking to book a talk for your library, writers group or geostationary killer satellite? John Richards has a range of talks about comedy and screen-writing which would be an excellent addition to your event calendar.

John is a writer, broadcaster and public speaker, best known for the ABC1 series Outland (“Polished, assured and full of zing” – The Sunday Age, “Sensational writing, a great ensemble, and universal themes of love, loss, and friendship… a hit…” – The Weekend Australian). He’s also written for stage and radio, presented the podcasts Splendid Chaps and Boxcutters and is a regular contributor to radio and print, including ABC774, Joy 94.9 and RRR.

These are some of the talks he offers:

How To Write Funny: Tools For Sitcom Writers

How did Mad About You develop plot out of of characters traits? How did John Clarke construct an episode of The Games? How did Dan Harmon use an 8-step process to plot Community? John Richards, writer of the acclaimed ABC1 comedy Outland, will show techniques and tools you can use for writing narrative (funny or otherwise).

When TV Goes Wrong

No matter how well-planned or organised your production, things can go wrong. An actor dies; a network wants a change of direction; or the original idea simply doesn’t work. Suddenly your suburban soap opera is full of vampires, your lead has a new face and you’re burning through a pile of money while sobbing in a corner. John Richards, writer of ABC1’s acclaimed comedy Outland and presenter of the Splendid Chaps and Boxcutters podcasts, presents an exploration of the television shows that adapted, mutated and occasionally triumphed under the weight of external pressures. From Chances to Supertrain, The West Wing to Frontline, this show will give hope and despair to anyone interested in narrative storytelling.

The Outland Story

In 2005 writer John Richards and comedian Adam Richard wrote a pilot script for a sitcom about a gay science fiction fan club. After being turned down by the ABC and SBS, John decided to film it in his lounge room on a budget of 500 dollars. It travelled the world’s film festivals before being seen by the ABC, who thought it might make a good sitcom. Outland was finally filmed at the end of 2010, edited in 2011 and aired in February 2012 to critical acclaim. John discusses the writing and development of Outland, how it went from an idea in a cafe to a six part series on ABC1, and how to have an overnight success seven years in the making. He’ll share his experience and advice for writing comedy and how to get a show on the television in (slightly) less than a decade! Inspirational story or cautionary tale? You be the judge!

The rate for each talk is $300, which covers a 50-minute talk (including video clips) with discussion and question period afterwards. If you would like to engage John as a speaker for your library or organisation, contact him at outlandonline@gmail.com.

●●●●●●●

John Richards is a writer and broadcaster who was co-creator and writer of the ABC1 comedy Outland (“Sensational writing, a great ensemble, and universal themes of love, loss, and friendship… a hit… Pick Of The Week. ” – The Weekend Australian. “…quite frankly, one of the best Australian series I’ve ever seen. Outland is an outrageously great series” – Trespass Magazine). He has also written sketch comedy for ABC television, Channel 10, and radio including JJJ and Radio National. He was a writer and performer on RRR’s acclaimed mid-90s sketch comedy The Third Ear (“boldly rides roughshod over the concerns that feed the modern media… The Third Ear is good.” – The Age Green Guide). In 2013 his Eurovision-themed play Songs For Europe was deemed “Pick Of The Fringe” by Aussie Theatre (as well as “refreshingly original – the writing is crisp and multi-layered and the performances terrific. …you should consider this an absolute must-see of the Fringe” by Stage Whispers and “an impressively rendered telling of loss, hope, art and spirit” by Crikey).

He was a presenter on the TV discussion podcast Boxcutters from 2008 to 2013 (deemed one of the world’s best podcasts by both ABC 774 and The Age, and winner of the Chronos Award in 2011) and part of the iTunes-chart-topping podcast Splendid Chaps (“part intellectual panel discussion and part nerdy Tonight Show” – The Age, “combines analysis, enthusiasm and irreverence” – Sydney Morning Herald, “a smash hit” – Time Out). He has hosted radio shows on JOY 94.9 and RRR, been a contributor to Red Symons’ and Jon Faine’s shows on ABC 774, a guest on BBC Radio Five Live and John Safran’s Sunday Night Safran on JJJ, and featured on ABC TV’s Big Ideas, hosted by Waleed Aly.

He is a regular contributor to publications including Encore, Mumbrella, Cult and DNA, contributed to the text books Media Reloaded (Cambridge University Press) and Queers Dig Time Lords (Mad Norwegian, USA) and is a script assessor for Screen Tasmania. He has been guest lecturer and speaker for many organisations including RMIT, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Wheeler Centre, The Screen Youth Futures Festival at BMW Edge, Continuum 7 at ether, the Emerging Writers Festival and various Melbourne libraries.

If you would like to engage John as a speaker for your library or organisation, contact him at outlandonline@gmail.com.


Bags Of Fun

October 18, 2011

Just like at the Oscars, guests attending the Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival get a goodie bag. The Oscars bags are famously lavish, containing things like diamond jewellery, human growth serum or Justin Timberlake. But what’s in a queer film festival show-bag? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Let’s start with the bag itself – it’s a red plasticy shopping bag with “xfinity” written on it. They’re one of the major sponsors of the festival, I think. I have no idea what xfinity do but from their name I would guess they either sell multidimensional travel or they make CGI alien porn in the style of Avatar. I can think of no other options.

A copy of the latest issue of Seattle Met, which warns of “The Return Of Ryan Leaf”, presumably a variant of Dutch Elm Disease.

“W Hotels Present Global Glam Fall 2011 Collection”. It’s a fashion guide that’s actually intended to promote a hotel, which seems a little confusing (mind you, I just went to a pizza party to celebrate an HIV documentary held in a car showroom, so what do I know?). Mostly it appears to be a spotter’s guide to mad women:

Yep, she’s totally crazy.

One 23 gram bag of popchips – “popped chip snack”, barbeque flavour (yes, spelt with a “q” in place of the “c” for some reason). Already eaten (by me, I mean. It wasn’t already eaten when I got it. Quite tasty).

One can of Zevia “all natural soda”, grape flavoured. Quite vile. But I suspect that “grape flavour” is just a cultural difference between our nations. After all, you can’t buy roast-quokka flavoured milkshakes here either, and at home they’re ubiquitous. The drink is apparently “sweetened with Stevia” which is not a phrase you want your mind to rest on for too long. I don’t even know who Stevia is.

Starbucks-related product. In Seattle this is inevitable – the bag also contains a wing flap from a Boeing 747-8F and a vial of Bill Gates’ tears.

The Damron Women’s Traveller guide (2011 edition). Curiously,when it comes to Australia only Sydney gets listed. It appears there are no lesbians in Melbourne. Sorry, ladies.

Marriott-branded luggage tags. They’re done up like a bag of lollies, so this could be a choking hazard for very stupid children with extremely wide mouths. IT COULD HAPPEN.

30ml bottle of bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo with wheat proteins and anti-static actives, the shampoo that doesn’t believe in capital letters. Or making any sense. Again courtesy of W Hotels. This is either the stuff all the crazy women in the brochure use, or THE THING THAT DROVE THEM MAD IN THE FIRST PLACE. You be the judge!

A genuine sex toy! Bet they don’t get that at the Oscars! Well, they probably do, and it’s diamond encrusted and designed by Philippe Starck, or something. Anyway, this is provided by Babeland (“sex toys for a passionate world”) and it’s one of those Japanese “egg” things that Brenda talked about in the second season of Six Feet Under. Batteries not included (but there is a 10% off voucher for future purchases).

And while we’re talking about sex:

It’s a piggy key-ring to promote the Steamworks gay sauna. I’m not sure what “transparent green” means in the hanky code, but I’m guessing it’s “enjoys independent cinema”.

Not one but TWO pens celebrating both literacy and King FM 98.1, the classical music station formerly known as KACL, home to grumpy radio psychiatrists. That could be a lie.

Incidentally, this photo genuinely shows you how they achieved the “floating pen” effect in 2001: A Space Odyssey, only they used double-sided tape and it probably wasn’t a coffee table.

There were also a stack of vouchers offering discounts on meals and drinks, a gymnasium offer which promised something called “toesox” (previously thought wiped out in the middle ages) and an Orbitz-branded box that looked like a pack of cards which – surprisingly – actually turned out to be a pack of cards. And not a guide to hidden bars, or the best countries starting with “e”, or Seattle’s best meat lockers, or anything. It says something that people from Melbourne now expect anything that looks like a pack of cards to actually be an artfully-designed guide to hidden secrets and not – you know – cards.

And finally my favourite. From the good people at Bob Byers Volvo it’s this:

It’s blue plastic, translucent, with a spiky bit with a razor blade on one side, and on the other there’s a white brush. The slogan “your travelling companion for life” is printed on it, but that might be referring to a Volvo and not to the device. Hell, it might be referring to Bob Byers. Turn it over…

…and there’s a black switch that makes a smaller, black brush poke out the end. What the hell is it? Feeling it might be something exclusively American (a sharpener for fourth-of-July flags, perhaps, or a pop-tarts utensil) I asked my fabulous hosts. They both immediately recognised the sharp bits as a letter opener (fancy!) but the brushes remain a mystery.

If my bag was a Swiss Army Knife, this would be that tool that gets stones out of horses feet. And I cherish it, even though it bewilders me.

So thank you for the gifts, Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival! Now I’m off to drink Bill Gates’ tears. And to buy some batteries.

John Richards is the co-creator of Outland, the bestest-gay-science-fiction-fan-comedy in the southern hemisphere. It plays the Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film festival on October 18th & 19th at Central Cinema, 1411 21st Avenue, Seattle. More details here. Remember to look at the insanity of the Where’s Outland? tumblr here.


Poetry and Pop

May 12, 2011

A couple of quick plugs for the weekend ahead for all you Melbourne-based arty-types – I’ll be hosting an event for Australian Poetry at The Wheeler Centre on Saturday the 14th May. It’s called one.seven.six and will feature readings from Terry Jaensch as well as Susan Hawthorne, Elizabeth Beaton, Trevor Ball and m d west. You can find out more by going clickety-click right here.

Then on Sunday night it’s the official Boxcutters Eurovision Party at Seraphim (formerly Vibe on Smith), 123 Smith Street, Fitzroy. Look at the classy poster!

So if you want to stalk me, you know where I’ll be…


Pop-Culture Melbourne

November 7, 2010

Yes, I’m aware that the updates here have been… um… sluggish. I’ve been writing a TV show! Leave me alone! Anyway, in September I gave a presentation about Melbourne and pop culture at Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. Here is an edited transcript:

Melbourne is a city of culture. We have more cafes you can discuss arts funding in than any other Australian city, and many live music venues that are now pizzerias. We’re also home to Australia’s most exciting cultural institutions – ChamberMade Opera, Chunky Move, Circus Oz and Bert Newton.

But as well as all that “unpopular culture”, we also are a city that celebrates the popular stuff, being home to music, comedy, film, television and Bert Newton.

We’ll start with film, because Melbourne was home to potentially the world’s first feature film, The Story Of The Kelly Gang, which was filmed here in 1906. I say potentially because – like The Macra Terror – only about 10 minutes of it still exists and no one can agree on how long it was. It was filmed in bushland around the city, as well as in St Kilda, and it was made for 1 100 pounds, roughly double the average Australian film budget of today.

Read the rest of this entry »


Interview: Robb Reiner from Anvil

September 14, 2009

anvil

Australian cinema-goers have their chance this month to enjoy the glory of Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. This documentary follows veteran heavy metal band Anvil as they attempt to bring their sound to the masses. Glibly described as “a real life Spinal Tap”, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil is an exploration of the glory of music, and is full of heart. And hair. John talked to Robb Reiner (not that Rob Reiner), the drummer of Anvil, about fame, ambition and music.

You’re travelling the world, you’re supporting AC/DC, your albums are being re-released, all effectively on the back of a documentary about how you’re not successful. Is that ironic?

Well, it’s ironic that we have been successful in my point of view, the fact that we’ve recorded 13 albums and we’ve been touring for 30 years. But mainstream success is what’s now coming about. It’s a great thing, the movie shows the truth, it tells the story, people are engaging and it’s a great thing.

Read the rest of this entry »


Radio Show #2

July 16, 2009

On Friday’s show:

Acclaimed author Doug MacLeod talks about writing for Young People, Steve from Glitter & Tonic visits the Forever Barbie Exhibition (so you don’t have have to), Narrelle M Harris discusses the CSI Effect, Glenn Dunks looks at what happens when stage musicals go to the cinema, Josh Kinal goes rant-tastic over Masterchef, Almost Fabulous visits the 19th Century, and Adam C’s Crime Against Pop was Filter Section’s singular cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Please do not reveal the secret ending to your friends. All this and our musical challenge too!

And podcasting is now go! You can find the podcast in the usual places or download it directly from here!

The Outland Institute – you know you want it. Every Friday from midday to two on Joy 94.9.

Show notes after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Radio Active

June 30, 2009

custom_1240924846831_768600012_7955d2513d_o_01

Hello, dear reader.

I know it might seem lately that I’ve neglected you. I don’t write as often as I once did, and perhaps you think my love for you has waned.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, that may not true – there’s probably some things that are further from the truth, like “space octopi open convenience store in Geelong”, but you get the drift of my gist. While updates to this site have been – let’s say “sluggish”, shall we? – behind the scenes it’s been all systems go. Or go-ish.

On Friday July the 10th the exciting new radio version of The Outland Institute will be unleashed, and your ears will never be the same. Every Friday from midday to 2pm (Melbourne time) we’ll be exploring pop-culture in audio form on Joy 94.9. There’ll be plenty of exciting guests, plus some boring ones to make up the numbers. And we have a glamorous selection of resident experts, including Josh Kinal from Boxcutters, Glenn Dunks from Stale Popcorn and Anne-Marie Peard from Aussie Theatre. There’s even a theme tune by David Ashton from Destination Moon – take that, ABC 2’s News Breakfast! Not so big now!

So please join us on the 10th of July – you can listen on the wireless at 94.9FM in the Melbourne metro area, or hear it streamed wherever you are through http://www.joy.org.au/listenlive, or download the podcast version from the Joy website (I’ll provide more podcast details in due course). And keep listening after the show for Flip The Tape, Joy’s fantastic indie/eclectic music show hosted by Adam C. It’s grouse.

The website will also continue to function, with both complimentary and new material, plus you’ll be able to comment on the radio show and basically make life just that bit more bearable.

To finish with, let’s look at some Canadian bilingual kite-flying, set to The Free Design‘s 1967 classic Kites Are Fun.

Au revoir!