11 CMC Survival Tips
Tony Cooke co-created CBBC’s ‘A Long Long Crime Ago’, and was a lead writer on two series of ‘Diddy Movies’, winning the BAFTA for Best Comedy 2014. His kids’ writing credits also include: ‘Scream Street’, ‘Danger Mouse’, ‘Floogals’, and ‘The Legend of Dick and Dom’. www.tonycooke.net
This will be my fourth CMC in a row. I know this because I already have a pile of three Cartoon Network shoulder bags in my attic.
Also, being a writer, it’s one of the few times I actually get to stay in a hotel ‘for business’ and I’ve just finished my 2012 stack of mini-toiletries, which I absolutely did NOT take home on purpose. This year it’ll be a little different for me, as I’m producing a session. It’s called ‘The Write Stuff’ on Thursday at 3.40pm in Hubs C. If you’re a writer, producer of scripted content, or even remotely script-curious, I’d urge you to come along.
We generally hear a lot from writers about writing, but this session will put a wise and experienced panel of producers and script editors on the spot about writers and the script process from their side. It’s the session I’ve always wanted to see at CMC, and with the panel’s credits spanning shows like ‘House of Anubis’, ‘Danger Mouse’, ‘Dixi’, and ‘Grandpa in My Pocket’, it promises to be a terrific hour. Read more about it here.
Of course, there are 50+ other sessions going on too, alongside all the great CMC traditions – the Crucible drinks, the party entertainment, the laying of the Edd the Duck memorial wreath… I’m still a relative CMC newbie. But for the totally uninitiated, or the plain forgetful, here is my 11-point CMC survival guide:
1) You don’t need a passport. Sheffield is located in the UK. Somewhere. Your train driver knows.
2) Remember the official CMC days. Wednesday is ‘Not Pizza Day’ – when everyone thinks there’s pizza, then realises pizza is tomorrow, then really wants pizza now so buys it today as well. Thursday is ‘Marathon Day’ – natch. Friday is ‘Caffeine Awareness Day’ – after 48 hours of free filter coffee, St John’s Ambulance crews are on standby.
3) Be adventurous. Some my most rewarding CMC sessions were not directly related to script writing. Marketing, financing, digital platform realignment… Where else can you broaden your industry knowledge with experts from across the industry? Okay, maybe Kidscreen. And MIPCOM. But this is Sheffield!
4) Explore all the venues. As CMC adds more sessions than ever, this year The Hubs will be buzzing with juicy stuff throughout the conference, including The Write Stuff at 3.40pm on Thursday. Check across the whole width of the schedule so you don’t miss out on a gem.
5) Don’t wander off. This isn’t Manchester. Pampered media folk have been known to stray into Sheffield looking for an artisan bakery with wifi and a macchiato, and never be the same again. CMC lays on pretty much everything you need for the day.
6) Cheat. Pretend to important people you meet at the party you really DID listen to what they said on their panel by quickly reading the crib notes on every session written up by the dedicated team of bloggers – it’s a fantastic way to catch up on stuff.
7) Let the Channel Controller / Head of Programming / Vice President take the last lunch cookie. I learned this one the hard way.
8) Go viral. Ask a question at a session, and it could get uploaded as part of a podcast or video when the sessions are put online! Actually, that sounds like a threat.
9) Forget the tennis. For the first time in a few years, CMC won’t clash with the final week of Wimbledon. So relax, this time there’s no need to have that Murray scoreboard on constant refresh.
10) Stay to the end. Some of my best contacts at CMC have happened in the dying minutes. By then, people’s bones are weary, their minds are wrung dry, and they’ve entered a weird zen state of mind where they’ll agree to a follow-up meeting with anything from a writer, to a squeegee mop in a wig.
11) Go and see The Write Stuff. Not sure if I mentioned it’s on Thursday at 3.40pm in Hubs C. It’ll be grand.
Consulting Executive Producer
Series Script Editor/Producer
Adastra Development Ltd
Executive Producer, 'The Dumping Ground' & 'Wolfblood'
The Mustard Corporation