Strood Scriptwriter Robert Rivett’s new sitcom Dusty

CommunityAd catch up with Strood’s favourite scriptwriter, Robert Rivett.

 

This September, Robert Rivett’s latest sitcom Dusty will have a private screening in a 300 seater cinema and we had the pleasure of catching up with Robert where we discussed his first sitcom The Dump (2019), the idea behind Dusty and how it felt ‘living his dream’ for 9 days on set…

 

To readers who may not know, can you give us a synopsis on Dusty?

Dusty is a story about the bond between two brothers and their Grandad. We meet Mike and Bob as Mike is released from prison, the brothers have to once again live in each other’s life. Even though the brothers are close in age they couldn’t be more different in personality; Bob wouldn’t say boo to a goose, Mike would hunt the goose down, break it down emotionally and then steal its wings without the goose realising.

 

Where did the inspiration behind Dusty come from?

I always wanted to base a sitcom around me and my brother, also called Mike, as the dynamic always amazed me, same parents, same area, same interests e.g. football, movies, sitcoms and yet at some point he became a crazy Ray Winston and I became the background. Also, I love films like Uncle Buck, The Three Amigos, Blues Brothers, Inner Space… I could go on, so I wanted to write a sitcom that’s not only funny but has a warm and cosy backbone and family is that backbone.

Am I right in thinking a relative of yours, Dave, also stars in Dusty? How did that come about?

I made The Dump 10-minute pilot in 2019 and honestly it put me in a financial hole, I sold my car, left my flat, left my job and used all my funds to pay for The Dump location, actors, crew, equipment and a whole load more that I was unaware I needed. So this time round I wanted to do the opposite, I started by reaching out to people I knew that might be interested in playing a role in a virtual read through of the script, which I did and it worked.

Then I started googling location, looking at actor websites, thinking about props all knowing I was not going to shoot it anyway, I was doing it for fun. I rewrote the script a number of times and made it as good as possible, did a read through again but this time the reaction was ‘If you ever film this, I will do it for free’ from a few of the actors. I then thought well if a few are willing to, could I fully cast and crew this? And I can only describe it to you as pushing a snowball down a hill. It got bigger and bigger until it smashed into a tree… no! I mean it was happening, I had people reaching out to me: composers, make-up artists, actors, sound engineers, local community locations. It was incredible.

So to answer your question… my family are not entertainers of any kind, never been in front of the camera, I had succeeded going outside my comfort zone, I wanted them to feel that same buzz so I asked my mum Jackie, my dad Dave, my niece Emily and my nephew Freddie and they were all in. I am proud that one day anyone can look back and see them on screen, even Emily and Fred’s own kids one day.

You stated that you got to live your dream for 9 days being on set and in charge during the shooting of Dusty, what did you enjoy most about those 9 days?

Being able to fully engage who I really am, I could leave the ‘professional’ office world behind and joke, laugh, create, encourage, learn and be around like-minded people. I like to give people freedom to explore the character or the scene and doing so gave every scene the feel that anything could happen and we had to go with it. It was pure 100% fun, not work at all.

 

You have mentioned in a previous feature that your fiancé has helped bring the best out of you, is it fair to say if you met Vicki 10 years earlier you would possibly have even more sitcoms under your belt?

I want to say yes because she will probably read this but honestly I had no ambition, passion or drive to do anything. My blueprint was to get a job, get a girl, marry her, mortgage, and kids then retire. I didn’t have any idea that a kid from South East London, no education, no aspirations and no dreams could try something he knew nothing about like writing and performing. I had my box of work and pub and that was my life, if Vicki or anyone said to me back in the day ‘Try writing or comedy’ I would have laughed them out the front door. I had to be that lazy, TV watching, pub going person to be who I am today.

 

CommunityAd Exclusive - Strood Scriptwriter Robert Rivett’s new sitcom DustyHow did The Dump help you in terms of developing confidence?

The Dump taught me how not to do it, everything I did for the Dump, I did the complete opposite for Dusty. My Mum always said ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’ and so I started asking.

I always knew after The Dump I wanted to go again and make something else but without financial stress so it was all about asking favours, asking for local people to read the script and get honest feedback and actually listening to it and taking it on board. Nobody ever wrote one script and it was perfect, in fact a script is never perfect which is the exciting part of it.

I will always be grateful to everyone who helped and worked on The Dump. It was the start of something beautiful but I went away after the release and thought next time I will do it the right way, not the expensive way.

 

Do you have to pinch yourself at times to realise how far you have come in such a short space of time?

I try not to think about how far I have come, I like to think of myself as a working class, fat, bald, pale, ginger idiot making it up as I go along, I am comfortable in that mould and it helps keep me grounded. Maybe one day I’ll look back and think about the journey but for now it’s all about the next checkpoint and that is the screening.

 

How would an 18-year-old Robert look at the amazing few years where you have achieved so much?

I don’t think he would care, honestly. I feel sorry for him really, he is in his bedroom wishing he had a girlfriend, playing FIFA, watching Jurassic Park for the millionth time and dreading going to work tomorrow. I think if he saw me now he’d probably say ‘what happened to your hair?’. No, he would say ‘I wish I could do that; it’ll never happen’.

It’s a sad picture really but hey, I loved FIFA and Jurassic Park so who needs a girlfriend?

 

How can readers keep up to date with your work and Dusty?

The Dusty Sitcom by Robert Rivett Facebook page is the best place as I have no idea what Tikchat and snaptok is or how it works.

Also check out Elimination Podcast on any music app, now listened to in 117 countries.

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