Sometimes all it takes is a Sketch

People don’t often realize the monumental amount of preparation that goes into making a feature-length film. Scouting locations, writing and editing scripts, storyboarding, casting, wardrobing — the list goes on and on. That’s why it’s so impressive to see Science Bear — a group of local comedians ­– tackle the medium with a 75-minute comedic treatise called Sketch on the state of racial comedy. It’s all the more impressive when you realize that they did it without a lot of the aforementioned prep.

The Gauntlet: In the summer of 2009, you guys put together your first feature length film?

Jeffrey D’Silva: Yup, we were doing shorts for a while, just around town, for different contests and stuff. Last summer, we decided, ‘You know what? We are going to do a feature.’ We improvised the whole thing, probably for lack of planning. It’s been in post production over the last year and we just found out that we are going to be in the Calgary International Film Fest and Edmonton as well.

G: So tell us about the technical aspect of this. It seems to me like there are so many of these do-it-yourself productions going on around the city. The price of this equipment keeps going down and down. How experienced were you guys before you decided to make an hour-long film?

JDS: Well the group we work with has a freelance production guy up in Edmonton who has all the equipment. Also, our editor, Ian Day, is an experienced editor. We’re all from the Calgary and Edmonton area and we had access to some equipment. But we used a lot of local actors, getting them to volunteer their time and shot at locations like Tubby Dog and at the old CJSW and around the community. It’s awesome. People were super helpful and super pumped. It seems like some kind of grassroots thing, where people just jumped on board and helped out.

G: So the movie is called Sketch. Tell us what it’s about.

JDS: It’s like a Curb Your Enthusiasm type thing, where we are playing extensions of ourselves. We play a sketch group and I’m a guy who always gets told to do racial humour but I’m not into it. Another member of the group embraced the racial humour and sky-rocketed to fame and makes some cash-money. He’s trying to push me over to the dark side. We reunite the group and awesome things happen. It’s like the best comedy to deal with racism since Amistad. It’s like Amistad 2.

G: Those are strong words.

JDS: It’s huge. Amistad-er I guess would be the title. I’m super pumped. If you like Curb and The Office, it’s that style.

G: For people that just go to the movies and watch, they don’t really understand the production that goes into it. Someone just doing this in their free time is a pretty considerable effort.

JDS: It was two weeks of 16-hour days and then a whole year of post production and meetings and trying to figure things out. Good thing we all love each other. At the end of the day, that’s why we were able to get through different things, and work through things and stay focused.

G: So what’s next for you guys?

JDS: We’re hoping to write stuff. We have a few things written and hopefully this gives us leeway to do bigger projects with a budget that we can use to buy more than snacks with. We’re hoping to pitch at a few different TV places and taking this movie throughout the States, hopefully.

G: What would you recommend, having gone through this process now, to maybe some other aspiring filmmakers that have worked with the camera a little bit?

JDS: I think the planning was something that we kind of learned on the fly, but in hindsight we would have probably planned a few things to make it easier for our editors and stuff afterwards. They put in so much work and if we didn’t have their patience and if they weren’t part of the project, then we would have spent a lot of money with them just sitting in the editing room, trying to pull out a story. It’s amazing — their ability to piece together a story from improvised dialog just blows me away. You guys will have to see it though I guess!

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