On Tour: Wilimington, DE

4 Mar

February 18th, 2014  | The Exquisite Corpse Project | Wilmington, DE

This isn’t our first tour. We finished The Exquisite Corpse Project in 2012, and since then we’ve done three tours: the festival circuit, a college tour, and now our On Screen/In Person. And each tour has been completely different.

Festivals screenings have all the initial excitement of finally getting to watch your film with an audience (after years of sitting at a computer becoming numb to everything that you made excited about your film in the first place). You can finally listen to how the audience reacts, what they laugh at, and what they don’t laugh at. As a comedian, this is the part of the process I most looked forward to while working on the movie, and I can’t even begin to explain what a tremendous relief it was to sit in that first laughing audience.

College tours are a mixed bag. You get paid for your screenings, which is awesome, — and not true of most festival screenings — but there’s no guarantee that you’ll have an audience, because there are always half a dozen different events happening every night. At one college we screened at the same time as a free Macklemore concert. Three people came to that screening. We were very careful not to mention the concert, because we were worried our three attendees would go, “Oh no! We forgot about Macklemore!” and run out of the room.

What makes touring with On Screen/In Person unique and exceptional is the community events. As part of your OSIP tour, each host city arranges a community event that is specifically related to your film. For instance, at my last stop, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts, they arranged a night of amazing DC-based standup comedy, and branded our screening as one part of a comedy-themed weekend. At Christopher Newport University, my community event involved speaking with a workshop of film and theatre students who had responded to our movie by writing their own feature-length exquisite corpse project using the same parameters (I know I mentioned this already in a previous blog post — but I’m going to continue mentioning it, because I can’t get over how cool it is. Imagine if you had enjoyed 12 Years A Slave enough to write your own feature-length slavery biopic, and then imagine how honored Steve McQueen would be. That’s not a very good analogy, but I’ll keep it since it’s the only time our dumb movie is going to be compared to 12 Years A Slave).

But the award for the Most Original Community Event Yet (the coveted MOCEY Award!) has to go to Wilmington, Delaware. Tina, the Executive Director of the Light Up the Queen Foundation and our wonderful host, put me in touch with FEARLESS Improv, a Delaware-based Improv group that was interested in performing alongside our movie using a format that was inspired by the format of our film. In The Exquisite Corpse Project, five writers each wrote 15 pages of a feature script, with the constraint that each writer could read only the previous 5 pages of the script. So, in order to reproduce that effect in an improv game, FEARLESS needed to come up with a format where there was an existing story or structure, but the performer entering the game had limited knowledge of what that structure was. They came up with several great games, the most similar of which involved an improviser leaving the room, entering halfway through a scene without hearing anything, and having to continue the scene seamlessly without any information. Since I had a copy of the script with me from one of the previous community events, they performed another variation where two improvisers took the stage – one of which read a character’s lines from the script for an entire scene, and the other of which had to respond in a way that made logical sense. It was hilarious and impressive – and, if nothing else, made it even perfectly clear how huge of a challenge the writers on our film faced, and how amazing/fortuitous/unbelievable it is that our movie had a watchable story whatsoever.

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Ben Popik.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.

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