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SXSW Film 2014

How To Make Anything Funny, Even Economic Collapse

"False Profit" is a satirical mockumentary about the global financial crisis. It recently wrapped shooting and is due for release in the spring of 2014. Directed by Second City icon Jeff Michalski (director of Robin Williams, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert), it is shot in the style of a PBS documentary, featuring Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson), Denis O’Hare (True Blood), Dave Pasquesi (Veep), George Wendt (Cheers) and other improv comedy stars, in an absurdist depiction of the life of the fictitious idiot who single-handedly caused the entire global crash—from the mortgage meltdown, to the Euro crisis, to the Occupy movement. In this SXSW presentation, the film’s star, co-writer and co-producer, discusses, with humor and passion, how to use crappy digital cameras, Kickstarter, and Del Close's rules of improv, to make anything—even financial crises—funny.

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  1. "Have we finally reached the point where anyone really can make a movie?" YES: Our movie was shot on sub-$1000 cameras. Our crew never exceeded six people. We were funded exclusively by Kickstarter. But we shot in four states, with multiple Tony and Emmy-winning actors. So, yeah.
  2. "Can even the wonkiest of subjects, like a financial crisis, be made funny?" YES: Improvisation is one ingredient. But the rules of satire are another. This presentation will explain how the comedic principles of the Upright Citizens Brigade and the Second City can turn tragedy into comedy.
  3. "Why should we care what comics say about the financial crisis?" BECAUSE: Comedy is all about amplifying human behavior. And no one hasn’t been touched by the financial crisis.
  4. "Did you seriously get the voice of Homer Simpson to perform in your movie?" UMM: Yes. Yes, we did.
  5. "How does working without a script make a better movie?" WELL: We asked our actors to reach into themselves to answer financial questions about which they had no clue. When their characters drop specifics about finance, the actors are actually talking about their first love, or a sports team they like. Improv is an amazing tool for finding the truth about anything.



Josh Zepps, Host / Producer, HuffPost Live

Meta Information:

  • Tags: writing
  • Event: Film
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Comedy
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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