Top image: Martin Freeman, Marc Wootton and director Debbie Isitt on set of ‘Confetti’

Directing Comedy Performance: 9 May 2014

10am – 5pm. 2 Northdown St, London N1 9BG. LOCO are hosting a one day training course for up to 35 emerging film directors working with comedy performance. Directing Comedy Performance is supported by Creative Skillset.



When and where?

Friday 9th May. 10am – 5pm. Doors open 9.45am for tea and coffee. 2 Northdown St, London N1 9BG London.

How much?

£45. This includes lunch and refreshments in the morning and afternoon. Bursaries are available if you need help to cover costs. See below.

Who should attend?

This course is designed for new or emerging directors working with comedy film. The course could also prove useful for writers, producers, actors, performers and anyone else interested in working with actors and performers to create comedy film. Participants must be over 18 years old.

Course content

There will be up to 35 participants on the course and we will be encouraging you all to bring questions, make notes and get your learning hats on. Sessions will be presented as a mixture of interviews, panel discussions and workshops, and will include the following:

Casting Comedy Couch with Nicky Bligh

This is a chance to hear advice from a top casting director, learn more about what they do and gain professional tips about casting your comedy films. We’re asking participants to bring any casting problems they’re having and share them with the experienced casting mastermind.

In conversation with Debbie Isitt

We’ll be talking to Debbie about her approach to directing comedy performances in her highly successful feature films, which include large ensembles and big name talents.

Making the most of comedy improvisation with Jacqueline Wright

Jacqueline will take participants through four points in the filmmaking process where improvisation is useful – writing, auditioning, rehearsing and on set. During Jacqueline’s two hour workshop, she will demonstrate techniques live with professional actors and give you some exercises to test out on the day.

An extract from LOCO’s discussion with the Zucker Brothers

LOCO’s very first event was a screening of AIRPLANE! with special guests the Zucker Brothers. We’ll be sharing an exclusive video extract from their post-screening discussion with LOCO, where they talk about their experience directing the film and how they worked with the actors to achieve the right comedy tone in their performances.

Networking drinks

At the end of the course, we’ll be inviting LOCO networks – including training participants, past and present – to meet us at a local watering hole. A chance to digest what you have learned and forge new connections. If you are unable to attend the training day but would like to attend the networking drinks in the evening, please let us know you’re coming by registering via this link.

Help with costs

LOCO is proud to be supported by the Creative Skillset Film Skills Fund, which enables us to deliver year-round career development for emerging filmmakers in the UK, as well as enabling us to provide bursaries to help with course fees. A limited number of bursaries are available to participants who would not be able to attend the course without extra financial support. The maximum bursary we can award per person is up to £80, which can be made up from the following:

  1. Course Fees – £25;
  2. Travel – up to £50, to be reimbursed after the course upon production of valid receipts. Only available if you live 50 miles or more from the venue;
  3. Accommodation – up to £50, to be reimbursed after the course upon production of valid receipts. Only available if you live 50 miles or more from the venue;
  4. Childcare subsidies – up to £40 upon production of valid receipts.

Bursaries are unfortunately not available to those in full time education. Please apply for a bursary before you buy a ticket. Bursaries will be assessed and awarded on a first come first served basis and we aim to respond to your application within 24 hours. To apply for a bursary, please fill in your details on this online form.

The speakers

© Simon Walden

© Simon Walden


Debbie originally trained as an actor but was heralded as ‘the future of British Theatre’ (The Guardian) when she wrote and directed a series of award-winning black comedies that took the Edinburgh Festival by storm. She spent her youth touring the world with her internationally renowned theatre company, Snarling Beasties and Debbie’s play The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband is still performed all over the world. More recently, Debbie has become better known as a filmmaker, creating a stir with her debut feature film Nasty Neighbours starring Ricky Tomlinson. Debbie won a prestigious BAFTA award for her Channel 4 adaptation of The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson in 2004. Debbie went on to make the smash hit improvised comedy feature, Confetti (Fox Searchlight 2006), which was nominated for a British Comedy Award and starred a host of British comedy talent. In 2009, Debbie released her third feature film, Nativity! Starring Martin Freeman, which won two Richard Attenborough Film awards and was nominated for best breakthrough movie at the National Movie Awards 2009.  Her follow up Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger starring David Tennant was released in 2012 and took over £1.6 million in its opening weekend, making it the top new UK release, it went on to take 10 million pounds at the UK box office.  Debbie is currently in post production on Nativity 3 “Dude, where’s my donkey?!” starring Martin Clunes and Catherine Tate. Debbie recently directed her first TV comedy-drama Love and Marriage for ITV starring Alison Steadman, Celia Imrie and Larry Lamb. Debbie’s unique improvisational methods have attracted the cream of British comedy talent to star in her film projects including Ricky Tomlinson, Martin Freeman, Alan Carr, Ashley Jenson, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Mangan, Alison Steadman, David Tennant, Martin Clunes and Catherine Tate. As a songwriter Debbie co-wrote all of the original songs in all three Nativity movies and is currently developing the first Nativity! into a full blown musical for the stage.


Nicky is an experienced freelance Casting Director with over 10 years experience. Previously in-house at the BBC, she has been freelance for over 3 years, working with many different and varied production companies including Tiger Aspect, Hattrick, Universal Films, and the BBC. She has worked on tv, features, as well as short film.

Her recent credits include Flack written by Oliver Lansley (Hattrick/Channel 4), Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC), Bluestone 42 (BBC), Bad Education (Tiger Aspect/BBC), Mount Pleasant (Tiger Aspect/SKY) and Psychobitches (SKY Arts). Psychobitches stars some of the UK’s top comedy talent including Rebecca Front, Julia Davis, Sharon Horgan, Samantha Spiro and many more. It has been nominated at The British Comedy Awards 2013 for Best New Comedy Programme, and Best Sketch Show. Whilst ‘Bad Education’ has been nominated for Best Sitcom. Nicky is a member of The Casting Directors Guild.

Jacqueline Wright headshotJACQUELINE WRIGHT

Jacqueline Wright is a director and writer, working in commercials, film, and television. Her short films have screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes Lions, and the Edinburgh Festival; her TX pilot LifeSpam was made by TalkBack for BBC3.  Recent work includes 2 x 30 sec spots for Frightfest 2013, which have travelled to Motel X and Beyond Fest, and Mute, a short film based on a Stephen King story. In 2010 she created Jackal Films with long-standing collaborator Alice Lowe, making a short film each month of that year (www.jackalfilms.co.uk).  In 2013, BAFTA programmed a Jackal Films ‘In Conversation’ event, screening a selection of the shorts followed by a Q&A hosted by Clare Stewart of LFF. Jacqueline has been selected to take part in Vipers Nest 2, a filmmaking co-operative of writers, directors and producers making their debut feature-length films. She is currently developing three feature projects: a Satanic horror-comedy; a black comedy about a werewolf; and an arthouse horror about families and demons.  She is represented by Independent. LOCO Training is proud to be supported by The Creative Skillset FIlm Skills Fund,  which which is funded by the National Lottery via the BFI and through the Skills Investment Fund.