EXCLUSIVE: James D’Arcy (Homeland, Dunkirk) and Ellyn Daniels (Funny Girls) are starring in an off-the-shelf comedy series from Burn These Words, a new UK production outfit established by former advertising executive Will O’Connor.
Created, written, and directed by comedian and actress Daniels, The Show tells the darkly comic story of sitcom star Hayley Harris creating a one-woman stage show following the death of her mother in North Carolina. It draws on Daniels’ own experience of staging a one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
D’Arcy features as Harris’ brother, Edward, while other cast includes Nicholas Farrell (Chariots of Fire, The Iron Lady). The Show was entirely financed and produced by Burn These Words during the pandemic.
O’Connor is now taking the finished product to market in the hope of selling it to streamers or traditional broadcasters. Helping him with the sales push is Andreas Lemos, a former commercial director at Banijay Rights who now runs Out There TV Consulting. He is acting as Burn These Words’ U.S. sales agent.
Lemos is in the early stages of distribution and described The Show as an “edgy” and “authentic” project, which has echoes of series including Fleabag. Burn These Words hopes that the show has the potential to run for a number of seasons once it has found the right home.
The Show is the first series to emerge from a “fighting fund” Burn These Words has assembled from a variety of private backers. The company is also working with Seb Billings, who directed romantic horror short My Bloody Valentine, to adapt an upcoming comic book under the title Confusion Agent. Feature films are also on the agenda.
O’Connor is basically applying the film financing model to television, a growing trend seen on shows including Alex Rider, which Sony Pictures Television self-funded before taking to buyers including Amazon in the UK. He is confident about Burn These Words’ prospects despite a period working outside of the TV and film business. “At the end of the day, it’s about having a product, and it’s always a lot easier when you have a product to look at and go, ‘This is where we are’,” he said in reference to The Show.
Prior to launching Burn These Words, O’Connor founded creative agency Fire Without Smoke, which provided advertising services to video game publishers and developers. The company was acquired by Keywords Studios in 2018. Previously, he spent four years as managing director at film, TV, games, and advertising production and financing company WROCA, while he was also MD at post-production house Crow TV (now Radiant Post Production). He also held positions at SVEN, The Mill, and Escape Studios.
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