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Los Angeles Comedy Shorts Film Festival: I Write, I Produce, Therefore I Am

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Sunday morning’s seminar focused on tips for creating your own product. Comedy writer-producers participating included Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!, Night at the Museum 2), Robert Ben Garant (Reno 911!, Balls of Fury), Laura Kightlinger (SNL, Will and Grace, Lucky Louie), Linwood Boomer, (Malcolm in the Middle, Third Rock from the Sun, Night Court) and Rodney Barnes (Boondocks, Everybody Hates Chris).

Thomas Lennon. Before the panel started the moderator asked if someone could close the door to the theater. Thomas jumped up ran to the back of the theater and closed the door. When he got back he said, “That’s how you get things produced. Take action.”

Thomas Lennon"Reno 911 sat on the shelf for three years. Then Comedy Central liked it because it was cheap. Executives like cheap shows."

"Dress all your actors the same all the time. It saves on retakes."

"Even if you only want to be a writer, do some acting. You become a much better writer by learning to improvise."

"How to market yourself on the Internet? Put buzzwords in your YouTube video keywords. Jeff Dunham became famous because he used the keyword 'terrorist'."

"The amount of people who can actually make things happen in this town is very small and they trade places a lot. Television executives just want to stay in their jobs for a few years. Help them out."

"If you produce something you can get around the gatekeepers. It’s easier for someone to watch a 30-second short than read a 30-page script."

Robert Ben Garant is Thomas Lennon’s writing partner.

Robert Ben Garant"Register everything you write before you send it out. We register everything before it leaves our computer."

"Never write something because you think somebody else will like it because that will just result in terrible stuff."

"You don’t get a meeting because of the hits you have on the Internet. They have you in there because you made them laugh."

"Always be writing, always be writing, always be writing."

"If you can do it cheap, do it cheap."

"Whatever you're doing, do it. Do it and put it up there and if it’s not very good, do another one. On the Internet between the comments about your tits will be some helpful comments."

Laura Kightlinger started in stand-up and was hired for an acting job, but was fired and given a job as a writer instead.

Laura Kightlinger "Best Internet keywords? Terrorists and big tits."

"I’m in the token program. On a lot of shows I’m the only female writer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a token if you’re getting paid to write."

"You should have fun writing at first because after you make it people just whittle away your stuff and it's not as much fun."

Linwood Boomer started as an actor, became a writer, made enough money, and retired.

Linwood Boomer"Write TV spec scripts. I wrote Malcolm as a spec script just to keep in practice. The guy at FOX who bought it got fired for some other reason and we were ignored for 12 episodes. By then we had critical acclaim so they poured all kinds of money into it. We had seven years of doing whatever we wanted to. It was like winning the lottery."

"How to get a job in TV? Write scripts and send them out. You need four or five good scripts and they will do your auditioning for you. If you don’t get any calls write some more."

Rodney BarnesRodney Barnes came to Hollywood on an invite from Damon Wayans, but when he got here Wayans had changed his phone number and Rodney ended up sleeping in his car. Four years later they reconnected and Wayans hired him.

"When I was growing up everybody laughed at the same things. Somewhere in the late '80s people began to segregate comedy. Write for everybody."

"Don’t spend time worrying. Just do it."

"Get a job as a production assistant or a writer’s assistant. I know a lot of writer’s assistants who got script assignments just because they were in the room."

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About LeoOfMars

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.