festival formula interview



We welcome on the blog today Adam McNicol of Brainwrap Comedy, a night of short comedy films that happen in both North and South London. They also do a wicked raffle.

Tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…

I mainly see myself as a film director and set up the short film company Invisible Man Filmswith animator Tom Rourke and photographer Bobby Goulding to make dark and interesting comedy films with comedians. This was great but we noticed that just putting films on YouTube and Vimeo was an anti climax and we really wanted a deadline to work to other than the yearly film festivals.

So utilising my experience working at comedy clubs and as a projectionist I thought why not get everyone together in a big room with beers and a projector and everyone can show what they’ve been working on. Brainwrap Comedy was born and loads of people started sending in shorts. And since then we have discovered some of the best independent comedy filmmakers, including picking up some amazing supporters of the night along the way including Robert Popper andPeter Serafinowicz who have very kindly given us their shorts to show.

And now were taking it all up to the Edinburgh Fringe for a short run from the 2-9th of August at Pivo 2-6 Calton Rd, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH8 8DL 16:45 to 17:45

London is a hive for short film nights, why do you think they’re popular?

I think people are getting disenchanted with most TV comedy. Don’t get me wrong, there is some great stuff being produced and this reflected by shows like Inside Number 9, Black Mirror and Toast of London. However commissioners seem to take fewer chances than they used to.The Young Ones or Spitting Image just wouldn’t be made today, as it would seem too much of a risk. The best thing about the short film night is that it can be as risky and dangerous as it likes, there’s no censorship apart from the programmers that genuinely want to promote great new comedy and challenge peoples perception of what is funny. Well I do anyway.

Brainwrap focuses on comedy, which in itself has sub-genres, niches, and many nooks-and-crannies. Have you seen an increase in any particular style or theme since you started the night?

It’s strange actually, it’s not the style but what happens to the overall sets that confounds me. You don’t see it when you’re selecting individual films. But once you stand back and look at a set as a whole, I have definitely realised that one has been love themed, one has been break-up themed, one was parody themed. Maybe filmmakers have one collective brain?

Be honest, how hard is it to run a night like this?

It’s tough not least because it’s the filmmaking I want to focus on. Getting productions together for even the simplest of sketches is immense in itself. Then combining that with organising an event, designing flyers, promoting, building connections, radio interviews, getting prizes for the raffle and getting tiny plastic brains bespoke made… You’ve got a bit of a busy time on your hands. The rest of the team help massively with Tom taking over projection and animation duties and Stefan (an amazing performer in the filmed sketches) DJ’s on the night in between the films, and afterwards when the networking begins.

We’ve spoken about how sketch/character comedy and comedy films on the same bill don’t always work as well as we’d like. What would you say is hindering that from working?

I think when you see a stand up you automatically expect something from them, you want to be entertained instantly and are not forgiving. Playing short comedy films is an experience where you give things more of a chance. I’m not saying that it can’t work but they are two different forms of entertainment. I used to introduce the night with a very blunt “I’m tired because I’m a filmmaker and I’ve been up all night editing to get everything finished”. My colleague Sami Abusamra said he enjoyed the night more because I drained all the energy from the room. I’ve got better since then, but still think it should be all about the films. Which it is.

You’re a filmmaker yourself, do you get lured to festivals as well as other film-nights?

I always end up at the same events and bump into the same group of people. For some reason there’s a network of comedy directors that are all bad at networking and we all end up in the corner chatting about how bad we are at networking at these things.

Presuming you’ve said yes there, we’re now going to ask which ones…

Ah yes. London Short Film Festival, LOCO the London Comedy Film Festival, anything at the Ritzyor Hackney Picturehouse, Rich Mix. I also like catching anything at the BFI, The Phoenix, ICA,Soho Theatre and Up The Creek, Hen and Chickens and The Miller.

What’s your advice to someone who gets a rejection from a festival or film-night?

Just keep going. Try and look it at it objectively. Is it the very best film you can make? Also be prepared to let it go. If it’s not worked, make something better. It can end up costing you lots of money to enter festivals and the last thing you want to be doing is showing work that doesn’t reflect your true abilities. Also have you submitted to the correct festivals? Festival Formula has helped massively in selecting the right festivals for us. [NB: That plug was absolutely not prompted by the way!]

Tell us the best and worst part of your job.

The best part is telling people that they’re work is amazing and that they’re in the programme. I also love meeting new people to work with. I recently had an amazing time directing a short with a comedy duo called Lazy Susan, and we met simply by doing events at the same building.

The worst is telling people that their work is not suited to the programme I really hate telling people it doesn’t work, but try to encourage people to keep going and submit for the next event.

Share with us one of your favourite films and tells us why you like it…

One of my favorite films is The Transaction by Tim Key directed by Jonathan van Tulleken. I’ve met them both and they’re just great funny people, and they have the ability to really create and expand on these amazing nonsensical worlds to create silly magic with a dramatic tone.

Thanks to Adam for taking the time to speak to Festival Formula, we wish them all of the crowd up in Edinburgh. Remember you can send you comedy shorts into Brainwrap Comedy, submissions info can be found here.

Below is Adam’s biography:


Adam McNicol is a London based film director and exhibitor of short films through the comedy film night brainwrap comedy. Originally from Derbyshire he did his film degree at The University of Leicester before moving to London and working as a cinema projectionist. He formed the short film company Invisible Man Films in 2011 with animator Tom Rourke and photographer Bobby Goulding. His films have since been selected for many national and international film festivals and has been screened at many prestigious venues including The BFI and The ICA.

In order to keep active as a filmmaker Adam set up Brainwrap Comedy in 2011. The event showcases up and coming comedy film talent, is hosted and programmed by Adam and has been featured in Such Small Portions, The Evening Standard as well as Computer Arts MagazineWhen you going to sort yourself Out,The Huffington Post, Shoreditch Radio andReprezent Radio.

Follow @brainwrapcomedy / @adammcnico1