Happy New Year! (A 2018 Future-Spective, By Joz Norris)
And here's Part 2, in which I outline the projects I'm hoping to focus on throughout 2018.
1. 7 Assorted Development Projects. As I mentioned in the previous blog, because I've channelled a lot of time and energy this year into scripted projects for TV, radio and film, it's resulted in a few producers approaching me and suggesting ideas we can work on. This is lovely and gives me a nice big slate of projects to work hard on in 2018. As ever with development, I've no way of knowing which, if any of these, might see the light of day within the next year, or even within the next five, but it's really nice to have multiple ideas to split my time between. Also, as they're all cooking away behind closed doors at the moment, there's no point my spoiling them by giving away too much, but in the interests of having something specific to look back on in a year's time, the seven things I'm currently working on are - my sitcom Please Be Normal; a mockumentary about the paranormal; a radio sitcom about career criminals; a character-driven series of shorts about a children's entertainer suffering from liberal guilt; a narrative character-based thing for radio about mothers and sons and Gustav Holst's ghost; a factual entertainment thing about robots; and a bunch of very short sketches I've written for the BBC that they may or may not want to make. Enough to be getting on with. If one or two of them see concrete progress by next year I'd be delighted.
2. 60 Minutes After Feeling Sad. I've decided not to do a new stand-up show, or even anything resembling a conventional "comedy" show this year, and won't be doing a whole Fringe run in 2018. Instead, the part of my brain that develops live ideas is working on this project, a sort of comedy/theatre hybrid somewhere between stand-up and play and theatrical monologue. A work-in-progress version will be playing at VAULT Festival in February, and after that I'll be talking to various theatres about possibly providing me with the space to help me develop it further. I won't be making huge progress with it in 2018 as it's very much an experimental foray into new territory for me, but I think I'd quite like to secure a theatrical run for it in the autumn or winter with a view towards touring it to regional theatres in 2019 and then playing a theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe that year. My brother knows more about this stuff than I do and is helping me produce it, so we'll see how this goes.
3. Independent Film Ideas. Though I've got my work cut out with the various projects I'm working on in partnership with production companies, I'm still a great believer that some of the best creative work you can do is just to have an idea then get on and make it. Over the last year or so, the film collaborations I've embarked on with Matthew Highton and Ed Aczel and Lucy Pearman have been some of my most rewarding projects and have resulted in some really good shorts. I'm keen to make more of these this year. Matt and I have an idea for a new film about copyright and identity, Lucy and I have an idea for a horror film about sneezing, and I'd like to make a sequel to World's Worst Ghost Walk that revisits Jonathan Spooky and sees what new line of work he's got into a year later. I'm also hoping to make more How To... sketches with Matt and more episodes of Apoca Lips with Alex Hardy.
4. Weirdos, ACMS & Comedians' Cinema Club. This is an ever-present on these New Year lists, though I no longer have much to add to it. I remain perpetually committed to these three collectives and love the creative space they provide to indulge in stupid ideas. ACMS and Cinema Club have new residencies in the New Year which I'll be at as often as possible, and Weirdos is still something I'll leap to be involved with whenever Adam decides what the next strange project it undertakes might be.
5. Neil Young. Like I said, I'm not planning on doing a full Fringe run of a new show this year, but I'll feel sad if I don't go up there at all and do something for the audience up there, who have been very loyal and good to me. So I'm planning on doing a one-or-two-day bit of nonsense called something like Joz Norris Is Neil Young For One Night Only in which I sit behind a piano and pretend to be Neil Young for an hour and badly play his songs and take questions from the audience. It might have Ali Brice cameo-ing as David Crosby. I've road-tested it twice at Lottie Bowater's Depresstival Presents... gig and it's gone surprisingly well both times. I think I'm also doing it at the Brighton Fringe as part of Bob Slayer's new free alternative to the Brighton Fringe, which I'm very excited to be a part of as that festival is prohibitively expensive and any movement to encourage them to reconsider their business model to be fairer to artists is a very important movement indeed.
6. Acting?! I'm putting this one on here again in the hope that this year that big sitcom role comes a-knocking, but we'll see. I'm also doing my best to do a decent amount of work of my own in this regard too, and make sure I keep doing as much acting as I can myself. I'm still playing Nathan Sullivan in The Family Tree Podcast in some upcoming episodes, and have got a few roles lined up in some short films being made by some of my regular collaborators in the coming months, and 60 Minutes After Feeling Sad is pushing my performance style into something more theatrical and less self-aware which might open up the possibility of doing more theatre acting. So who knows where this goal will lead me?
7. Interesting Live Projects. And finally, I continue to view gigging as something to do for fun and to try out ideas for bigger live projects or film ideas or full shows at the moment rather than considering myself a gigging comedian who needs to have a big presence on the circuit. It suits my mindset and plays to my strengths better to think of myself that way. As I'm mostly working on theatre pieces or TV, online or radio projects this year, I won't be gigging a huge amount outside of my regular commitments to Weirdos and Cinema Club and ACMS, though I'll hopefully try to be part of big special events like All Day Edinburgh or ARGComFest again as I really enjoyed them this year. However, I'll continue to try and take advantage of any unusual live projects that might want to have me involved with them, anything that tries to innovate with the notion of what live comedy can be. In January I'm contributing to Adam Larter's new advertising-themed live comedy experiment Tone Of Voice, and I'm hoping to further contribute to Ben Target and Pope Lonergan's Care Home Tour during 2018 as well. Hopefully the number of unusual live projects that challenge an audience's conception of what live comedy should be will only increase over the year, as I really enjoying being part of these sorts of unusual projects.
I think that's it for this year - only 7 items this time as opposed to 9 last year, but to be fair, that first bullet point has a lot of different projects in it that all happen to fall under the umbrella of the same part of my brain, so I think within these 7 I've got more than enough to be working hard on in 2018. Here's to an exciting year, and let's see how well I do next time round!