Photography by Prudence Upton

What We Learned Surviving The Writers’ Room At Bingefest

On paper, Bingefest’s Writers’ Room handily emerged as parhaps the most uncertain-yet-unmissable event on the weekend’s lineup (that doesn’t involve Shia LeBouf).

Bringing together Community-creator Dan Harmon, Please Like Me’s Josh Thomas and Rosehaven co-creators Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola under the guidance of Gretel Killeen to develop a concept for a TV show sounds like a recipe for something special. However, while the panel itself didn’t take long to fly off the rails of that premise, that didn’t stop it from being one of the most compelling sessions of the weekend.

There were plenty of fascinating exchanges between the very different panelist that all ended in either hilarity or revelation. Here’s what we learned:

All writers are lazy

Gretel Killeen opened the panel by introducing each member of the fictional writers’ room. Each was supposed to have brought a concept or idea for a TV show to pitch. All “forgot to do their homework,” as Killeen put it.

The road to success is paved with rejection letters

So instead, the early part of the panel turned to a discussion of how many pilots it took before each member of the panel got their first success greenlit. Luke and Celia ran through several of the pitches and failed show ideas that eventually took them to Rosehaven. Meanwhile, Dan confessed that he’s actually lost count of how many of his early pitches were rejected.

Good writers know how to sell their idea

A recurring idea during this first half of the panel was the real struggles faced by everyone when it came to selling their idea to executives.

Josh Thomas said executives reading scripts ahead of time didn’t ‘get’ the mental illness aspects of the show and that his struggle to get them on board was ultimately validated when the show was nominated for awards.

Showrunners have a responsibility to try and address the gender balance in the writers room

One of the most vibrant discussions of the panel was the one about addressing the often male-oriented gender balance in most modern writers’ rooms for television. When it came to this area, Dan emphasized the importance of meeting a gender-balance not a gender-quota. He said it freed up female writers to just focus on being good writers and not have to worry about being the representative for their gender on the team.

Ditto when it comes to racial diversity

The whole panel agreed that generating racial diversity in TV was also an important one – and also that it had to be approached very differently. Josh Thomas spoke a little about the dilemma of choosing to cast smaller roles as either against or supportive of certain stereotypes, a problem exacerbated by the smaller pool of acting talent in Australia.

More Rosehaven is coming

A small nugget of news dropped at the end of the panel was that Celia and Luke are indeed working away on a second season of Rosehaven, albeit in bits and pieces. Nothing has been confirmed on the production side of things as of yet but it’s sure to be good news for fans nonetheless

The Writers’ Room took place at this year’s BingeFest weekend in Sydney over the 17th & 18th of December. 

If you missed it, you can catch up by watching The Writers’ Room on Red Bull TV tonight.

Photography by Prudence Upton