A Look Into the Making of a Bunch of Shorts

Hello Fiends,

Kellen here. Haven’t done one of these for a long time. Since April it looks like. Yeesh! Well, we have a few shorts under our belt that I have yet to discuss. LET’S GET AFTER IT.

Trapped in the Bathroom: Chapter One

How did this bizarre idea come to be? I was in between living situations and staying at a place I was just getting used to.

I had just taken a shower and stepped out of the tub. My hands hand been dry lately so I figured, eh what the hell, I'll slap some of this moisturizer on. I think it was mine. Heck, I don’t even know. Who cares. Moisturizer should be free like air.

After I worked it in to my desert hands I reached for the doorknob and turned it. My hand slipped right around it. I thought to myself "That was weird." Then I tried it again and the same thing happened. For a second I envisioned myself getting trapped in the bathroom like a huge idiot because I decided to moisturize my hands like a responsible adult. All I wanted was to get rid of the bleeding cracks on my hands, but then I trapped myself in here. Luckily, I was barely smart enough to get out. I wiped the excess moisturizer off my hands with my towel. I opened the door and went on about my day. What a stupid problem.

Really, any person would be able to figure out how to get out of this predicament better than our lead character did (or didn't). We all know there are several things you could do to get the moisturizer off your hands even if you didn't have a towel in there with you. But the main thing with our shorts is finding ways to escalate the situations as quickly as possible.

The title was Billy's idea, which was genius because it's a take on R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet: Chapter One which is one of the most outrageous songs ever. When I asked Nathan, the other actor, if he wanted to be a part of the shoot he was down immediately and said he had Trapped in the Closet: Chapter One on his iPod and maybe chapters 1-23 on DVD. I don’t think he was kidding and I am very okay with that.

Check out the the music video below.  It's kind of amazing how it looks like they used the same cinematographer who shoots every single Hallmark movie.

Starring: Billy Sommers, Nathan Rouse, Kellen Berg. Written by: Billy Sommers and Kellen Berg. Shot and Directed by Kellen Berg.

Written with Writer Duet. Shot on a Canon 80D.

6 Ways to Know Your Relationship is Doomed

We had the idea for this sketch for a very long time—ever since we did 6 Ways to Fail a Job Interview. We found success with that and decided to do another take on the concept. Plus, we liked the concept too because you could fit in a variety of jokes in a short amount of time and we thought that served viewing it on social media well.

We came up with a large amount of silly scenarios for the couples to go through and we eventually whittled it down to a handful. I am particularly fond of the Arby’s jokes in there because of my undying love for them. Also the video of Joey Chestnut chugging the hell out of hot dogs. So disgusting, yet viciously impressive.

This shoot was a blast for us. Our two actors, Diana and Jay, were great to work with and super game for whatever. When Jay first did his Dane Cook impression I had to change my diaper because I was so blown away.

Starring: Diana Jurand, Jay Kistler. Written by: Billy Sommers and Kellen Berg. Shot and Directed by Kellen Berg.

Written with Writer Duet. Shot on a Canon 80D.

Dangerous Dan’s Super Loco Bullet Fiesta

Dangerous Dans’ Super Loco Bullet Fiesta was inspired by SNL’s Kickspit Underground Rock Festival videos. I find them so hilarious. We wanted to mimic them somehow and I think we did a pretty good job. Check out Dangerous Dan above, then watch a few of SNL’s below to see how they match up.

Writing this took some time because we kept coming up with more and more ridiculous ideas and we kept revising it. We had some pretty outrageous jokes in the script at one point, but we stripped it down because we thought it was too much. Yes, we had weirder jokes in there.

Shooting was the easiest part. We had issues with the teleprompter, but we got it all set up. Will, our actor, was very ready to scream that night and plowed through multiple takes.

The hardest part by far was editing. When we had only one set up with Will we just let the camera roll and didn’t cut as much as we probably should have. Classic. This gave us a lot of footage and it was tedious to skim through and trim. Once we got Will’s takes chosen we had to add in text graphics, other video, photos, and sound effects. The one problem that was discovered as we dropped those in was that it didn’t feel full enough. There was always more we could add to it, specifically sound effects so we really did our best with adding those in. This sketch up wildly up and down—a bit schizophrenic you might say—and everything had to feel that way, whether it was visual or aural.

Starring: Will Prescott. Written by Billy Sommers and Kellen Berg. Shot and Directed by Kellen Berg.

Written with Writer Duet. Shot on a Canon 80D.

The Small Screen Screamer

The inspiration for The Small Screen Screamer came partly from a true story. I had a barely supernatural experience while visiting friends in another state. I never expected anything like that to happen to me and didn’t necessarily believe that ghosts were real. Sure, I got excited when someone told me their ghost story, but I was never yearning to have my own experience. Well, lucky me, I did.

When I got back from the trip, I wrote a 10-page sort-of-horror script for it called She Came From the Hills. I was planning on shooting it, did a few tests, but realized that it was going to be very difficult to film and it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t going to fit in with the Comedy Fiends’ voice. I set the script aside.

Almost a year later I watched Steven Soderbergh’s film called Unsane. It was shot entirely on an iPhone. This was not the first time anyone had done this. One of the first feature films to be shot on an iPhone is called Tangerine. Other shorts had been shot with it too. Soderbergh used an app called Filmic Pro to shoot the entire movie. He had a few other gadgets to help him make it look slick, but overall I was really impressed with how it looked. Mostly I was amazed that I had access to this technology too. Everybody does. I had the phone and all I had to do was buy the $15 app. At that point I was sold on the idea of shooting a short this way. I thought it would be a good experiment.

I started writing the rough draft and implemented a few elements from the original script I wrote. The first few drafts were pretty dull. Not a ton of comedy, just a lot of ghost stuff. There was also a montage that we cut thank god, because it would’ve been a pain to shoot and a bore to watch. Eventually, Billy helped add in more comedy and we took a few of our favorite jokes from previous unfilmable scripts of ours notably The Kurt Bender Story, a 30-page short about Kurt Bender reconnecting with his sister.

I used a few of the elements from my original short screenplay and combined them with bizarre phone calls and binge watching TV. I tried to make fun of the fact that there is so much content on Netflix and how people stay inside for whole weekends to watch entire seasons and don’t even go out to see their friends. God forbid you get out of your sweatpants to interact with an actual human being and not stare at a soulless monitor that’s burning your retinas. I’m not sure if this worked in the final version. I’m too close to it at this point or maybe I don’t feel like analyzing it anymore.

Shooting on the iPhone was certainly manageable, but there were a few hiccups. The Filmic Pro app takes some time to get used to and I found it very difficult lining up a shot when I was shooting by myself. Although, good news, If I watched this without knowing it was shot on an iPhone I’d assume a DSLR was used. It’s truly impressive what iPhones can do. Personally, I don’t think you’d need to shoot on anything else if you’re producing only videos for the web.

After we shot the majority of this scenes with Billy and myself, I had an idea to fit in a character we had created over a year ago named Dutch Cleveland. He’s the person Billy’s character references in episode one. He specializes in plowing ghosts. I was going to have the main character give him a call to see if he can help him get rid of this ghost. There was going to be a bunch of sexual innuendoes, which resulted in lots of of hilarious miscommunication and confusion.

In addition to that, I had an idea to shoot how the ghost character was killed. He was going to be murdered by a robber in 2004 right after the Frasier series finale aired. He was going to be talking on his landline phone with his friend about how great the series finale was and how all he wanted to do was sit down and watch the entire Frasier series again, but then this robber steps in and blows his face off. I actually had all of these scenes written out in the script, but we never shot them. We got too busy in other areas of our lives and there was no way to fit it in.

Starring: Kellen Berg, Billy Sommers, Kelvin Hatle. Written by Kellen Berg and Billy Sommers. Shot by Billy Sommers and Kellen Berg. Directed by Kellen Berg.

Written with Writer Duet. Shot on an iPhone 6s using the Filmic Pro app.

Stayed tuned for another blog post detailing what we’ll be working on next!

-Kellen

What's Going On in The Wide Wide World of Comedy Fiends?!

What have we been up to? Short answer: Lots of stuff, dawgs.

For the long answer, read on.

The month of January was spent prepping for our Z-Fest Film Festival short entitled Invest in Yourself. If you're a die-hard Comedy Fiends fan you know that that was actually what one of our previous shorts was entitled. Well, we remade it. YES. We pulled a Hollywood and we revamped it HARD. You can check the original below. 

We added a few bells and whistles to this version, plus we co-produced it with Woolly Rhino Productions to make it extra legit. We'll release it online sometime after March 9th, because that's when it screens at the festival. You can check out a bunch snazzy behind the scenes photos below, but first...

There is one more thing you should know. We're releasing a completely new short in March that relates to St. Patrick's Day. And then in April we're going to release another one which has already been shot. You know what? We're going to be giving you a lot of goods this year so stay tuned and give us a shout whenever to show us that you're there, because we like hearing from you. Stay frosty and enjoy an assload of behind-the-scenes photos below.

 Our lead Joe and Comedy Fiends regular, Nathan, discussing thermodynamics. 

Our lead Joe and Comedy Fiends regular, Nathan, discussing thermodynamics. 

 Our actress Kelli trying to remember where the nearest White Castle is located. She eventually figured it out.

Our actress Kelli trying to remember where the nearest White Castle is located. She eventually figured it out.

 Joe demanding his own trailer with a water bed in it. Yes, a water bed. We thought those died in 1996 too.

Joe demanding his own trailer with a water bed in it. Yes, a water bed. We thought those died in 1996 too.

 Assistant Camera, McKade, smashing equipment together. 

Assistant Camera, McKade, smashing equipment together. 

 Director Mike testing out his brand new look. We told him to stick with it. It worked for Dahmer. 

Director Mike testing out his brand new look. We told him to stick with it. It worked for Dahmer. 

 Writer/Producer Kellen acting like he's taking photos of people, but he's not. He doesn't even know what that thing is in his hands. 

Writer/Producer Kellen acting like he's taking photos of people, but he's not. He doesn't even know what that thing is in his hands. 

 This pig came onto our set, uninvited. We told him to leave, but he refused. He wanted to watch us work and we were like fine. You're welcome for that story.

This pig came onto our set, uninvited. We told him to leave, but he refused. He wanted to watch us work and we were like fine. You're welcome for that story.

 Cinematographer Bryce holding back vomit. 

Cinematographer Bryce holding back vomit. 

 Writer/Producer Billy drinks from a Seattle mug, dreams of Seattle. 

Writer/Producer Billy drinks from a Seattle mug, dreams of Seattle. 

 An essential prop hangs out. 

An essential prop hangs out. 

 A photo of another fat pig who just wanted to watch us work. 

A photo of another fat pig who just wanted to watch us work. 

 Someone's pants ripped. That's how you know it's going to be a good shoot.

Someone's pants ripped. That's how you know it's going to be a good shoot.

 A necessary black and white photo of everybody running around and Mike being blurry.

A necessary black and white photo of everybody running around and Mike being blurry.

 A black and white photo of Mike not being blurry.

A black and white photo of Mike not being blurry.

 Wow, there's a lot of elbow in this shot. 

Wow, there's a lot of elbow in this shot. 

 Joe in character, chilling in his filth.

Joe in character, chilling in his filth.

 Kelli and Joe just mad hanging out in between takes. 

Kelli and Joe just mad hanging out in between takes. 

 Bryce dreaming of chicken nuggets. 

Bryce dreaming of chicken nuggets. 

 Our murder-stab-stab-blood-gut room. 

Our murder-stab-stab-blood-gut room. 

 Bryce and McKade pose in front of their work. Really good work fellas. 

Bryce and McKade pose in front of their work. Really good work fellas. 

 This BAMF (Will) is the killer. Straight up fright all up in ya right now. Check your diapee 'cause it's probably full. 

This BAMF (Will) is the killer. Straight up fright all up in ya right now. Check your diapee 'cause it's probably full. 

 Dead guy Luke gets splashed with blood. 

Dead guy Luke gets splashed with blood. 

 Dead guy Luke busy being very dead. Good job, bud! 

Dead guy Luke busy being very dead. Good job, bud! 

 Will stabs Luke. Joe takes a photo. #memories

Will stabs Luke. Joe takes a photo. #memories

 He's a pro. Very relaxed on set. Very confident. Would not shut the hell up about how good  Justice League  was.

He's a pro. Very relaxed on set. Very confident. Would not shut the hell up about how good Justice League was.

 Just two pals having a TIGHT day. 

Just two pals having a TIGHT day. 

 Mike and Bryce at the Z-fest kickoff party going over the shot list for the next day.

Mike and Bryce at the Z-fest kickoff party going over the shot list for the next day.

 A god among men, our grip Trevor, stares at a wall. That's like all he did while on set. It was weird, but he helped out a little so we were like "Cool dude, you do you."

A god among men, our grip Trevor, stares at a wall. That's like all he did while on set. It was weird, but he helped out a little so we were like "Cool dude, you do you."

 A photo of God. 

A photo of God. 

 Another essential prop.

Another essential prop.

 Bryce complaining about how this mustache just won't leave his face.

Bryce complaining about how this mustache just won't leave his face.

 Director Mike messing around with a FAKE GUN. IT'S FAKE. 

Director Mike messing around with a FAKE GUN. IT'S FAKE. 

 Joe and Nathan working together like real adults. 

Joe and Nathan working together like real adults. 

 Nathan looking like he just skipped out on 5th hour study hall to get some soda at the gas station.

Nathan looking like he just skipped out on 5th hour study hall to get some soda at the gas station.

 Director Mike telling Joe and Nathan Dane Cook jokes. 

Director Mike telling Joe and Nathan Dane Cook jokes. 

 A photo of this shitty looking skull that was featured in the trailer for the first "Spooking Hour with Vincent Price." It somehow showed up on set. 

A photo of this shitty looking skull that was featured in the trailer for the first "Spooking Hour with Vincent Price." It somehow showed up on set. 

 Mike trying to stay warm and SUCCEEDING. 

Mike trying to stay warm and SUCCEEDING. 

 Bunch of dudes just hanging out trying to figure out life or some shit shut up.

Bunch of dudes just hanging out trying to figure out life or some shit shut up.

 Nathan? Joe? I can't tell anymore. 

Nathan? Joe? I can't tell anymore. 

 Joe scarfin' up like a boss. 

Joe scarfin' up like a boss. 

 Kelli tickling Nathan. HAHA. Oh wow, that's a good joke. 

Kelli tickling Nathan. HAHA. Oh wow, that's a good joke. 

 TWINS. 

TWINS. 

 Joe trying to take a nap. 

Joe trying to take a nap. 

 Bryce considering leaving and getting chicken mcnuggets. 

Bryce considering leaving and getting chicken mcnuggets. 

 Mike watching our talented actors rehearse while Nathan sleeps on the floor. 

Mike watching our talented actors rehearse while Nathan sleeps on the floor. 

Random Snaps

After our weekly Comedy Fiends meeting we decided to stand in the snow and take photos. 

 Convinced Billy to stand under a light. 

Convinced Billy to stand under a light. 

 The scene outside while writing. 

The scene outside while writing. 

 Not sure why both of us look pissed in every photo we take. 

Not sure why both of us look pissed in every photo we take. 

'Til next time. 

A CF Update

Greetings fellow fiends!

Sadly, we haven’t had time to produce a sketch to release this month because we’ve been occupied with holiday festivities and endless Nic Cage movie marathons. That being said, we’re still going to give you a nice little treat since we haven’t shared any new content since late December. We’ll dive into the Comedy Fiends archives and outline a selection of slightly humorous behind-the-scenes details regarding one of the sketches from 2016.

Last January we released “An Old Salt’s Tale” for all the world to see. A few folks loved it, many didn’t understand what in the wide wide world of sports was happening. The feedback from the folks that disliked it said it took way too long to reach the big, visual punchline at the end. There are many “jokes” we sprinkled throughout it, but they’re all in the dialogue, which is probably why it doesn’t register for the viewers that disliked it; visual punchlines are more successful than aural ones. Unless we’re talking about flatulence. Perfect example: the timeless Eddie Murphy film The Nutty Professor. :)

How did the idea for the Old Salt come to be? Billy and I dreamt up this ever-inebriated man via Facebook messages and text message chains. At the end of every text chain/FB message it was revealed the Old Man was either on the toilet or he didn’t have any pants on. Classy. Initially, it never occurred to us he’d be an old sailor, but we needed a reason for him to ramble for a ridiculous amount of time. That’s when we thought about the infamous Quint monologue from Jaws. We’d make the sketch an homage to one of the greatest monologues in film history. There are a several similarities between that scene and "An Old Salt's Tale,” the caliber of performance not being one of them.

Filming the big monologue in the bathroom went, for the most part, well. It was a heavy amount of dialogue to memorize and we had to do 8 to 10 takes. One moment I remember vividly is my cat springing onto a loosely attached shelf in the closet and knocking it down in the middle of a take. The shelf almost hit Mike, the cinematographer, which would’ve been a bad turn of events. Orson usually ends up knocking things over during shoots so it’s an occurrence we’re getting more and more accustomed to. Another blooper-esque detail: I ran baby powder through my hair to make it appear gray, but a small amount found a home on my peacoat collar. It’s clearly visible in the shot if you look for it. Congratulations if you noticed it on the first viewing. You win a pack of menthol cigarettes.

We filmed the exterior shots on a sidewalk right outside my apartment on a very frigid Sunday. It was -7, the perfect temperature to lay on a concrete sidewalk. Before we ventured into the cold, we concocted a fake blood mixture out of ketchup, chocolate, and antibacterial soap. Once we were outside, I quickly dumped the fake blood on the sidewalk to lay next to for the shot and it froze immediately. We stared at it. The blood looked like shit. Just a frozen blob plopped onto the sidewalk. Very unrealistic. We were so cold we decided to go with it. LET IT RIDE, BABY. We quickly grabbed a few takes and then hopped into my slightly warmer car to review them. We quickly realized we had to make a few adjustments even though our bodies didn't want to. We stepped out into the cold and did a few more takes. Eventually, we got it. As we drove away, we saw a guy walking his dog along the sidewalk and it started licking the frozen blob of fake blood. A few days later I checked to see if there was any sign of the fake blood on the sidewalk. Nothing. I imagine all of the neighborhood dogs walked past it and had a quick little snack. If that is the case, thanks for cleaning that up, guys. Really appreciate it. Hope that chocolate and soap didn’t murder your insides.

After having a year to reflect on what we’ve created, Billy and I are very satisfied with the final product, but acknowledge its imperfections. There’s always room for improvement. Give it another watch if you’re willing. Maybe you’ll pick up on the jokes buried in the dialogue. If you don’t, just remember: a lot of dogs ate fake blood to get this sketch made.

You’ll hear from us next month.

-Alastor Moody