Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Notes from our December 4th screening

Hello and welcome, Iron Mule fans!

This last Saturday we welcomed back many old Iron Mule friends, and also some new ones, for our monthly showcase of the best in short comedy films.  This month, as host Jay Stern explained, we tried a little something different: sampling work from a couple of different web series, interspersed with a few other odds and holiday-specific ends.

But first up, host Victor Varnado shared a trailer for the new "not-quite-reality" series he's producing.  The show follows a group of contestants engaged in Live Action Role Playing (LARP), which looks a lot like real life Dungeons & Dragons, in the woods, without dice.  It also looks like a lot of fun to watch.

Priming the pump for holiday season, local actor and Christmas Carol officianado Craig Wichman introduced his film, "A Christmas Carol in 8 Minutes," featuring every imaginable big- and small-screen version of the classic Dickens tale.  Craig shared some of his knowledge of the many liberties taken with adapting the novel to the screen, and host Victor was particularly smitten with the oft-repeated phrase, "Look under my robe!" which he proceeded to oft-repeat as well.

For our first block of films, we began with a new series by Iron Mule BFF, Dale Goodson, entitled "Things Could Be Worse," an animated series which takes an irreverent look at the debate over health care.  In between the three episodes of this series, we also presented Lake Cop II: Ripple Effect, a mock trailer by Graeme Morgan and Brent Cooper about a vigilante lakeside policeman that is now being made into a feature, and the first episode of another series previously seen at Iron Mule -- Old People News.  The latest iteration of this series, entitled "Tech Report" and created for Atom.com by Kevin Maher, stars Lynne Rogers and Arthur Anderson as the titular Old People, reporting on some perplexing 21st century technology such as the iPhone and the Twitter.

Dale Goodson was on hand to talk about his continuing forays into animation, and how he himself learned to use technology to straighten lines and get a smoother "hand-drawn" effect in his films.  With so many irons in the fire, between this, his occasional music videos and the continuing Man Without Shirt series, we're not sure what Dale will come up with next, but we're sure we'll see him again soon.

Jay and Dale
Next up, we featured a couple of episodes from the popular New York web series, "Broad City," by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.  This time, we showcased Ilana's advice on dealing with being a "Dick Magnet," and Abbi's struggle to get kissed "Under the Mistletoe."  We also squeezed in another episode of Old People News: Tech Report, examining the "easy way out" of Kickstarter.  One half of the Broad City team, Ilana Glazer, joined our hosts to talk about the many ways in which their show imitates life, and the future plans for the show, which include an upcoming second season and a short film.

Victor, Jay, and Ilana

For our third set, we presented "The Guarantee," another documentary by multiple award-winner Jesse Epstein in her series on body image.  This film tackles the true story of a ballet dancer who was told he needed to get a nose job in order to continue getting leads at his dance academy.  Since the subject didn't want to be filmed, Jesse worked with a storyboard artist to illustrate the story, lending an extra visual layer to the film.  Jesse joined hosts Jay & Victor to talk about the choice to use illustrations in the film, and the road from hearing the subject's story on a set to filming it many years later.

Victor, Jay, and Jesse

Rounding up the films in competition, we presented the final episodes of Old People News: Tech Report, and also revisited the perennial Iron Mule holiday favorite, "White Blood Cell Saves Christmas."  Kevin Maher & Lynne Rogers of Old People News came on stage to talk about the origins of the series and its potential future (including product placements).  Whatever form it takes, we look forward to more of Kevin's razor-sharp satire and more of Lynne using words like "sexting".

Victor, Jay, Kevin and Lynn
The audience was given a reprieve from laughter in order to vote for their favorite film of the evening, and while the votes were being tallied, they were treated to this month's Wanna Be A Star? film, "Peanut Factory," starring audience member Meredith Flood.  A parody of The Glass Menagerie, the film was directed by Gabriella Willenz and kept the audience in stitches as only making fun of Tennessee Williams can.
Gabriella, Victor, Jay, and Meredith
We had another double winner for the evening, as Jesse Epstein once again won both the Judges' Award and Audience Award for her film The Guarantee.  Congratulations, Jesse!

And we hope to see many of Saturday night's new audience members back for more short comedy films when we reconvene on January 8th for the next Iron Mule screening!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

As some of you know, I am in pre production of my new feature film, a low-budget independent musical.

You may be asking, "Low-budget independent musical? Do they even make those?" Well, it turns out that they do, and successfully so.

Independent filmmaker Damien Chazelle's Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is such a movie. After a run on the international festival circuit, this film is now playing at Cinema Village in NYC. If you're in the NYC area this weekend come on out and support independent filmmaking! Damien will be there for a Q&A on Saturday.

And if you can't get enough indie musicals, also check out adventuresofpaulandmarian.com!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Movies We Like: Sans Dialogue

Of course the birth of comedy filmmaking is rooted in silent cinema, which relied on pure visuals to tell a story and create hilarious comedy.

There are several contemporary short comedy films out there that emulate silent classics.  Ones we like include Kevin Maher and Casimir Nozkowski’s silent homage Silas and Mange...

stunt-man turned Buster Keaton fan Cliff Cronan’s The Lucky Penny...

...and from one of our earliest shows, the very first collaboration between Iron Mule legends Jay Stern and M. Sweeney Lawless, Suffer the Little Children.

But you don’t have to just copy Buster Keaton to make a comedy without dialogue.  Animated films do this all the time.  Below are some short films that prove that good ideas and good comedy can be made without people shouting one-liners and saying funny things in words.

Flowerpot, from Austin, TX filmmaker Steve Collins.

flowerpot - watch more funny videos

Any movie by Hotdogboy, our favorite Canadian short comedy comedy film duo.

The Modern Daydreams films by Mitchell Rose are simply beautiful and also funny.

Jay Stern and M. Sweeney Lawless’ Turkey Shoot features the first appearance of Iron Mule regular Ramona Floyd who later became one of our producers.  Not using dialogue made it much easier to mask the fact that this film was shot entirely in Central Park.

Do you know of some good short comedy films (non-animated) that are dialogue-free?  Leave a link in comment section.

Notes from our November 6th screening

Welcome, intrepid Iron Mule followers!  Despite a few technical difficulties, the show did in fact go on last Saturday night, as hosts Jay Stern and Victor Varnado led an enthusiastic crowd through yet another fun-filled evening of short comedy films that at least one audience member described as, "intimate."  We're taking that as a compliment.

Running the show from a jerry-rigged laptop, Jay shared the trailer to his currently-developing feature film, "The Adventures of Paul and Marian," a romantic comedy musical adventure (if you missed the show, you can catch the trailer here).  Then, due to a last-minute cancellation, Jay & Victor solicitated material from the audience, to fill the time left by the missing film.  Unfortunately, nobody had come prepared!  Note to filmmakers: always bring a reel with you when out on the town, as you never know when the hosts of whatever you're watching may ask for, say, a comedic film under 10 minutes.

Guest Judge Ioli Andreadi with Jay and Victor
Continuing the program in earnest, Aaron Hughes was back with another pixilated film, "Strangers," about flowers coming out of strange places and the perils of smoking.  Aaron and frequent star Maori (previously of "Maori's Morning") talked a little bit about the process of shooting one of these curious films and how to make a person appear to fly out of screen.

interviewing Aaron and Maori
Jay then introduced a block of "Foreign" films; one from Romania, one from France, and one from a Seattle ex-pat.  "The Scream," from returning Romanian filmmaker Mirel Bran, features some unusual lessons about love and outdoor defecation.  From the acclaimed animation school in Paris, Gobelins l'Ecole de l'Image, we presented Oktapodi, a high-paced romp through an idealised Greek town following two octapi on the run from a hatchet-wielding butcher.  And rounding out the block, Iron Mule regular Dale Goodson presented the latest in his Man Without Shirt series, "Hangs Too Much."

with Dale Goodson
Checking in with the evening's special guest judge, Ioli Andreadi, a London theater director and native of Greece, she informed us that the town depicted in Oktapodi must be a very rich place because all the houses had swimming pools.  Shows what we know; we thought all Greeks had pools.  But Ioli seemed to enjoy the movie anyway, and we moved on to our final block of the night.

Starting us off was "Stages of Emily," written by and starring Danielle Uhlarik and directed by James C. Newell, from Chicago.  The story follows a newly-engaged woman who believes she has only 48 hours to live.  The filmmakers pull quite a few laughs out of this dark story of mortal wedding anxiety, thanks in no small part to a strong cast of Chicago stand-ups and improvisers.  And our last film in competition was, "Tombstoned," an SVA student thesis film by Dillon McCarthy.  The partially-animated sci-fi film follows three slacker astronauts who attempt a stoned moon landing.

Dillon McCarthy
But before the night is through, an Iron Mule show wouldn't be complete without this month's Wanna Be A Star? film (for more details, visit our website).  This month's retro-awesome entry was entitled "Secret Sunshine" and starred audience member Paula McDonald as a renegade lone-wolf secret agent named Sunshine.  Director Andy Brown and star Paula were on hand to talk about the concept of the film, shooting action scenes on the fly, and the original theme song that played over the end credits.  Stop by next month to see what director Gabriella Willenz can make out of the title, "Peanut Factory," starring lucky audience member, Meredith Flood.

Paula McDonald and Aaron Hughes
After all the ballots were counted, our Audience Award winner for the evening was "Oktapodi," and our Judges' Award winner was "Stages of Emily!"  Congrats to our winners, we're sorry the filmmakers couldn't attend the screening and receive all the accolades and free drinks coming to them.

And that's it for us this month, but join us on Dec. 4th at the 92YTribeca for a special holiday show featuring the return of "White Blood Cell Saves Christmas," a special 8-minute edit of every version of A Christmas Carol imaginable, new films by Dale Goodson and Jesse Epstein, and new episodes of Iron Mule faves Old People News and Broad City!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Notes From Our Oct. 2nd Screening

This last Saturday, Iron Mule made a triumphant return from our two-month hiatus with a gaggle of new short comedy films and all the hijinx you've come to expect.

Except one. Held over in LA due to an extended shooting schedule, regular host Victor Varnado was sadly absent from the evening. Fellow producer Lin Sorensen attempted to fill Victor's considerable hosting shoes, and while some may debate the merits of their respective styles, there's no denying Lin was taller.

Thankfully, host Jay Stern was present to provide the audience with some much-needed continuity, and the show began, in honor of Halloween, with a trailer for Jay's upcoming haunted house feature, "Spirit Cabinet." Producer/cinematographer Alan Smith and producer/writer Meg Sweeney Lawless were also on hand to witness the trailer's world premiere, and while it wasn't as funny as the films that came after it, it was certainly spookier. Stay tuned for more Spirit Cabinet updates as the team comes around the last bend of post-production and hopes to bring the finished product to a screen near you.

Our first film of the night, a pilot for Adult Swim entitled "Wunderkrafthaus," was put together by many of the folks who brought you the Mighty Five video, Check This Out! which premiered at our July 3rd show. As the creators Doug Olsen, Derek Muro and Patrick Groneman explained afterward, although the show originated with characters they portrayed, they were required to cast other actors in the roles. However, when the director went AWOL, they finished the shoot themselves, thereby regaining control of the project from the other side of the camera. The show follows the titular German art collective as they try to make the most of a mistyped ad describing them as "The Wunderkrafthaus of Pancakes."

The next block of films featured two documentaries, one real and one fictional. The first, "Wet Dreams and False Images," about the denizens of a Brooklyn barbershop who discover that the pictures on their "Wall of Beauty" are not as "natural" as they think, is part of a series of short documentaries about body image by director Jesse Epstein. The second, "Los Four McNifikos," from Spain, follows an aging breakdancing troupe as they struggle to keep the dream alive. Hosts Jay & Lin did a tag-team interview with Jesse and "McNifikos" co-writer Michael Dukes about making documentaries funny, their respective methods of engaging the audience, and the quirks of international collaboration. (Special thanks to Michael for flying in from Cincinnati for the show!)

Rounding out the evening, our last set of films showcased three very different kinds of animation. Continuing the wildly popular internet series (and oft-played Iron Mule favorite), Eun-Ha Paek and Erin Bradley Perkins returned with "Strindberg & Helium: At the Beach." This was followed by our second animated film from Argentina this year, "El Empleo," which follows a day in the life of an office worker and may hit a little close to home for those with day jobs. We finished the films in competition with the latest animation by Iron Mule regular Dale Goodson, a music video entitled, "Little Ghost." Dale was on hand to discuss the origins of the film, which is part of a series of videos aimed at toddlers and featuring music by Chris Ballew, formerly of the band Presidents of the United States of America and now performing children's music as Caspar Babypants.

But it wouldn't be an Iron Mule show without the famed "Wanna Be A Star?" competition, and tonight was no exception. Every month, our helpful audience shouts out a title for a short film, and an audience member is selected at random to star in the aforementioned film, to be produced for the next month's show. October's star was Orla Murphy and she was featured in Ant Farm, directed by Aaron Hughes, whose film "Backwards" won the Judges' Award at our June 5th show. The film was shot in Aaron's "pixilated" style, a kind of stop-motion cinematography that was also used in last month's, "Maori's Morning." Check back next month when audience member Paula McDonald will star in "Secret Sunshine," to be directed by Andy Brown.

And after an audience drumroll, the winners of the evening were announced. Jesse Epstein was the big winner of the night, taking both the Audience Award and Judges' Award for "Wet Dreams and False Images." Congratulations Jesse, and thanks to everyone for making us a part of your October weekend. Join us on Nov. 6th for more short comedy films, more raucous after parties, and more Victor Varnado.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Auction for "The Adventures of Paul and Marian"!

Hi folks, it's your Iron Mule producer and co-host Jay Stern. I'm making a new, exciting feature film, the kind that will remind you what it is you love about movies.

The film is called The Adventures of Paul and Marian.

We are a group of professionals making a REAL independent film, and in order to get this film made, we need your help. We have just launched an online auction that will help fund the project. Check it out here.

Here's how you can help:

Very simple -- bid for an item in the auction! We have amazing items for all budgets, from vacation packages, VIP Lady Gaga concert tickets, to books and DVDs, and a visit to our set.

Let your friends and colleagues know about the auction. The more the better. And this helps create buzz for this amazing movie which you're supporting, so it's a win-win situation! Join us on Facebook and Twitter and visit our website at www.adventuresofpaulandmarian.com.

This auction will last until September 12th and we can add items as we go along. If you have any goods or services you'd like to add to our efforts, please send them our way.

There is also an option to donate cash on the auction page.

I'll post back here with periodic updates as we move into production. I'm looking forward to sharing this movie with all of you Iron Mulers!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Notes from our August 7th Screening

A full house of filmmakers and film fans gathered at 92YTribeca on Saturday night for a new Iron Mule lineup.

Jay and Victor, freshly returned from the Woods Hole Film Festival, told a story about being mistaken for a married couple when they were presenting films out on Cape Cod.
Well they do wear matching outfits, but as Victor pointed out, the two of them are not nearly stylish enough to be considered a gay couple.

Next Jay and Victor brought up guest host Geoff Klock.  Geoff is a writer, professor, and all around culture fan who has written a book about superhero comics, and another one about poetry.  He expressed his excitement for the evening ahead, and then it was on to the films.

Geoff Klock

The first film in the lineup was Lost at Sea, by Adam Beamer and Dan Samiljan, a daffy look at a film shoot spiraling out of control.  Next was Dale Goodson's Warning, the latest installment in his Man Without Shirt series.  Jay and Victor interviewed Dale about his work, poetry, filmmaking, and animation.

Dale Goodson

Next in the lineup was Jean-Christophe Lie's animated mini-masterpiece, The Man in the Blue Gordini.  This film was from France, which explains its incredible use of style.  And all the nudity.

Following this was Andy Brown's adaptation of an Anton Chekhov short story, the dark and beautifully done A Joke.  After Andy's movie, Jay and Victor spoke with him about adapting the short story (to use voice over or not; differences in Russian and American attitudes, etc).  Also, they talked about the difficulty of classifying this work as a comedy.  The verdict was that it is, although Andy had doubts about submitting it to a comedy film festival.
Jay, Victor, and Andy Brown

The next block of films featured Alex Italics' A Ballpoint Story, some Canadian animation courtesy of Christopher Diaz's The Inkwell Shuffle, and Daniel Wright's animated adaptation of material from his book Patently SillyNuclear Attack.  Daniel talked about his website, and whether or not inventors are happy with what he's doing (they are).

Jay, Victor, and Daniel Wright

The final block of films in competition included Aaron Hughes' live action / animated film Maori's Morning, followed by Taco Mary, Mary Novak's film about an atheist who sees the Virgin Mary in a taco, and must decide what to do about it.  Mary came all the way from Chicago to attend the screening, and talked to us about how the film came out of the experience of being a Catholic married to an atheist.

Mary Novak, Victor, and Jay

The final movie of the night was the world premiere of this month's "Wanna Be a Star film," The Sisterhood, directed by Susan Hippen, and starring audience member (and legendary actor) Arthur Anderson.  The film also starred Lynn Rogers.  This wasn't their first Iron Mule experience; they appeared on screen together in Old People News back in January, 2009.  Susan had a great time working with such seasoned professionals, and the feeling was mutual.

Next, guest judge Geoff Klock announced the winners: the audience favorite went to The Man in the Blue Gordini, and the judges' favorite went to A Joke.  Then it was off to the cafe for an after party, which, as usual, stretched into the wee hours of the morning.

We're taking September off, but join us for more Iron Mule fun this October!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Iron Mule at the Woods Hole Film Festival

On Saturday night, we took the Iron Mule on the road and curated the opening night screening of the Woods Hole Film Festival on Cape Cod.  Jay and Victor presented 90 minutes of some of our favorite films to a sold-out house.  Filmmakers Alan McIntyre Smith, M. Sweeney Lawless, and Massachusetts local Ritchie Wilson were there to see their work on the big screen.  It was a great chance to share some Iron Mule classics with a new audience.  Thanks to all the Woods Hole Film Fest people for hosting us!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Iron Mule at The Woods Hole Film Festival

Iron Mule is curating the opening night screening at the Woods Hole Film Festival on July 31st!  Join us up in Cape Cod for a night of Iron Mule favorites followed by the festival's opening night party. For more information, go to www.woodsholefilmfestival.org.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Geoff Klock to guest judge August 7 Iron Mule!

We are excited to announce that Geoff Klock will be joining us at the August 7th Iron Mule screening as a special guest judge.

Geoff Klock (D.Phil, Oxford) is an assistant professor at BMCC-CUNY, where he serves as Director of Writing and Literature. He is the author of two academic books, one on superhero comics and the other on 19th and 20th century poetry. A frequent presenter at Kevin Geeks Out, he once hosted a panel on Superhero and Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He can be found online at twitter.com/geoffklock, and is only sort-of funny. Like maybe a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Notes from our July 3rd Screening

Like sardines in a canning factory, the Iron Mule packed 'em in last Saturday, thanks to the presence of many visiting filmmakers and the support of the local press (thank you, New York Times!).  To get things started, hosts Jay Stern and Victor Varnado shared some of the insights they'd gained from their recent production experiences (Jay was involved in the Lincoln Center Director's Lab and Victor has been directing a concert film for Comedy Central).  They discovered that different performers have different needs: theater actors need a lot of rehearsal and discussion time, comedians need constant feedback, and film actors need cocaine.  We look forward to seeing how they use that knowledge on future projects.  On to the movies!

Former host of Kevin Geeks Out! and Iron Mule BFF Kevin Maher was our honorary guest judge for the evening.  Kevin shared some of his judging criteria for the evening, explaining to the full house that he would not only be judging the films, but also the audience themselves.  On his list of negative qualities: clumsy plot exposition ("Of course I will, I'm your brother!"), and mockumentaries.  Some positive attributes: funny wigs, fake poo or vomit, and hilariously excessive plot exposition.  Kevin will return to 92YTribeca with an encore presentation of Kevin Geeks Out About Sharks! next week, but Saturday he was dedicated to the fine art of criticising short comedic films.

Our first block of films began with Ad Men, by Todd Alcott.  Todd's reading of his poem Television Is A Drug was the source of last month's film by the same name, and he was back this month with a short film about an ad agency asking the immortal question, "What kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs?"  The film also stars film actor and past guest judge James Urbaniak (Henry Fool, American Splendor).  Following that was Don't Text and Drive, a beautiful and unique animated rendering of what can happen if you ignore the title's advice.  Filmmaker Adrian Garcia came down from Boston to talk about the piece, and how classical music makes him think of car crashes.

For our next block, local comediennes Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson were on hand to present their web series, Broad City. They described the show as an exaggerated version of themselves, exploring dilemmas familiar to many New Yorkers such as pushy yoga parents and the lengths people will go to have convenient access to a washer and dryer.  The three episodes featured were "Subway on a Sunday," "Yoga," and "Laundry," and these and many more can be found on their website.  Abbi and Ilana talked about their working process, the balance between between scripting and improvising, and who's really the boss (the verdict is still out on that one).

Our third block featured another internet series, Sassy Gay Friend from the Second City network.  This group of three shorts ("Romeo & Juliet," "Hamlet" and "Othello") suggests that things might have turned out better for Shakespeare's heroines if they'd been told to "write a sad poem in your journal and move on!"  Interspersed with these were two Iron Mule firsts: Heat Wave, our first film from Romania, about a high-temperature communication breakdown; and Lapsus, our first film from Argentina, an animated film following a hapless nun's journey through the seven deadly sins.

The final block of competition films featured a musical short from Ireland, Separations Agency, in which a man receives an alarming break-up message in the form of a jolly barbershop quartet, and Blackout Roulette, our first film from Arizona.  Filmmaker Alex Italics was kind enough to travel from Tucson to discuss his cheeky black-and-white comedy noir, about a desperate host who resorts to some lethal means of enlivening his party.  Alex was inspired by The Twilight Zone in making the film, and plans to start spreading it around the festival circuit.

Although our competition segment was complete, there was still one more treat in store for our audience (well, two really): the world premiere of the Mighty Five music video, "Check This Out!"  The video was a collaboration between host Jay Stern, his frequent cinematographer Alan M. Smith, and writer M. Sweeney Lawless, and featured The Mighty Five against a variety of spacey-retro greenscreen backgrounds as they deliver the funk to a planet in need of grooving.  Victor spoke to the band about the process of shooting the film, their hopes for continuing the Mighty Five storyline, and the advatages of having a dedicated designer attached to your band.

After the audience had the chance to vote for their favorite film, we showed the results of this month's Wanna Be A Star? competition, an Iron Mule tradition.  Our audience winner this month was frequent Iron Mule contributor dp, who not only starred in the film, "Right Guy, Wrong Turn," but wrote, directed and edited it as well!  With the votes tallied, guest judge Kevin Maher announced the winners: for the Audience Award, "Blackout Roulette," and for the Judge's Award, "Broad City"!  And the lucky winner of next month's Wanna Be A Star? competition -- Arhur Anderson!  This veteran of stage and screen will team up with writer/director Susan Hippen for "The Sisterhood," which you can only see at the next Iron Mule show on August 7th! (and then later on Vimeo...)

Before we called it a night, the good folks at 92YTribeca facilitated an encore broadcast of the Mighty Five video in the Cafe, where filmmakers and audience members mingled and networked and savored the air conditioning before a scorching hot Fourth of July weekend.

To keep up-to-date on all the Iron Mule happenings, join us on Facebook!  And we'll see you next month for more of the best in short comedy films.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Iron Mule in the NY Times!

Thanks to the New York Times for the article - it led to a sold out show on Saturday!

You can read it here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Hey everyone!   It's Victor Varnado here!  I hope you get a chance to come to the concert portion of this comedy film I am directing!  Many great comedians that you would have to pay big bucks to see normally.  If you are in NYC then make a special trip!


Here's the info!




That’s right! – One of New York City’s best comedy shows, TELL YOUR FRIENDS!, is becoming a movie!

Here is a special message from the creator of the show, Liam McEneaney:


You read that right. For the next two Mondays, TYF! at Lolita will go dark as we gear up for the filming of our first ever concert movie experience.

We are finally going to capture everything you have loved about our little basement show in one major motion picture.

Some of your favorite performers will be on-hand to film their acts; KURT BRAUNOHLER & KRISTEN SCHAAL, REGGIE WATTS, CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, LEO ALLEN, ROB PARAVONIAN, and our house band A BRIEF VIEW OF THE HUDSON. And as usual, your humble host will be LIAM McENEANEY

You're going to get event invites as soon as Facebook stops being a jerk.

I know the name of the show is usually a suggestion, but for this show we're going to need as great of a crowd as possible to both fill the room and support with the kind of good energy and positive vibery that has made you guys one of the favorite audiences for some of the biggest names in comedy.

In a way, YOU will be the biggest star of the movie. Specifically, in the way that doesn't pay you residuals. So please, please, come yourself and don't forget to forward this via e-mail, to post this on Facebook, to Tweet it, and to TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

Thank you for your years of support. Here's to many many more years together.


Here’s the info:
The Onion Presents:
Be in the audience of the LIVE FILMING of the concert movie based on New York City's longest-running alt. comedy show, starring some of the scene's brightest comedy lights: Kurt Braunohler & Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts, Christian Finnegan, Leo Allen, Rob Paravonian, and hosted by Liam McEneaney.

Tuesday, June 22nd


DOORS: 6:30pm; 9PM

Buy tickets to the 6:30 show here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=2160585

Buy tickets to the 9:00 show here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=2160615




18+ to enter/21+ to drink

Please forward this event and TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview Prep

Well, om getting ready for the first day of shooting on my new movie... Did we talk about that? The new movie is www.tellyourfriendsmovie.com

Should be loads of fun. In order to save money, I will be directing and playing cinematographer on some of the interview sections. I was a bit nervous, but I think the first test shoot came out great. Here is a frame from the shoot with our reluctant subject Myq Kaplan.

Thank you Canon HDSLR cameras!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Notes from our June 5th screening

It was unseasonably warm in NYC on June 5th, as Iron Mule fans gathered in the air-conditioning of the 92YTribeca screening room for another night of short comedy films.  Jay and Victor started off the night with updates about their latest projects -- Victor is working on a comedy concert feature called Tell Your Friends, and Jay was gearing up for a photo shoot and test shoot for his new feature The Adventures of Paul and Marian.

Then we brought up our special guest judge, screenwriter Will Rokos.  We talked about short films -- Will is a fan and impressed by how economical and simple shorts can be as opposed to features.  He talked about his own work a little bit (he tends to write intense dramas rather than comedies, although he loves comedies and has one potentially in the works) and announced that he's just been hired to join the writing team of Southland for their next season.

Then on to the films!  The first was Delivery Date, by New Mexican filmmaker Matthew Page.  This film tells the story about a man who finds an unexpected surprise on a blind date.  Nice production values, a decent, full story, and stand-out performances by the two charming leads were the stand out qualities of this film.

Our next block of films featured H√§lkke 9, a 1950's commercial spoof from the UK by filmmaker Richard Jung, the surprising and high-production-value film from North Carolinian filmmaker Kenneth Price, The Late Mr. Mokun Williams, and Atlanta-based Beth Fulton's interpretation of a poem written and performed by screenwriter Todd AlcottTelevision is a Drug.

Our final block were three animated films: Sharon Colman's Oscar-nominated Badgered, a tale of a badger who just wants to be left alone to hibernate (from the UK), Sijia Luo's outlandishly cute Kidnap (from California), and the impressively structured film by local animator Aaron Hughes, Backwards, which is told backwards, from finish to start.  Aaron was in attendance so we brought him and his producer Lisa LaBracio up for a brief interview.  We talked about how Aaron made the film (partly backwards, partly forwards) and discussed how animators, alone in a dark room, labor for months without feedback so they often have no idea if their movies work at all.  Luckily, Aaron and Lisa's movie works wonderfully.

Then, the audience placed their vote for audience favorite, and while the votes were tallied, we screened this month's "Wanna Be a Star" movie starring audience member Willa Jaffe, who traveled all the way from Philadelphia to star in the movie and again to attend the screening.  This film was directed by Iron Mule producer Jay Stern, and the audience-determined title was Jesus Pot Pie.

Then it was up to guest judge Will Rokos to announce the winners: audience favorite (our first ever tie!) was Delivery Date and Television is a Drug, and the judges' award went to Backwards.  This was a particularly hard month for our audience to determine their favorite film we were told afterwards, since they all were quite good and all very different.

After the awards were announced, filmmakers and fans moved into the cafe for our after party where fun was had by all!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Will Rokos to guest judge June 5th Iron Mule Screening

Will Rokos is an Academy Award nominated screenwriter from the woods of Georgia.  Will's credits include Monster's Ball, Bleeding Heart, Shadowboxer (as William Lipz) and he recently co-wrote the script for the video game Dante's Inferno.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Victor Varnado and Cast of Awkward Comedy Show appearing at Apple Store Soho

Fri May 7 at 7:00 pm - FREE


Address:  103 Prince Street New York City, NY 10012 (212) 226-3126

After The Awkward Comedy Show's premiere on Comedy Central and it's release on ITunes and DVD, join the film's cast and creators for an appearance followed by  a Q and A.

Victor Varnado - Creator, Producer, Director, Cast (Conan Obrien, Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Marina Franklin  - Cast (Jay Leno Show,  Chappelle Show)
Eric Andre - Cast (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The NEW Jamie Foxx Show)

Moderated by Jay Stern, Producer (Iron Mule Comedy Festival)

Subjects covered will include:

 - Taking the film from concept to independent production to Comedy Central.
 - Low budget that looks like high budget
 - Cast careers and behind the scenes stories
 - And more!



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Notes from our May 1st Screening

Filmmakers and film lovers gathered once again on the evening of Saturday, May 1st, for an evening of short comedy films at 92YTribeca.

Jay and Victor began the show announcing this week's DVD release of The Awkward Comedy Show, which Victor directed and Jay produced.

Then Jay tried out his pitch for his new movie The Adventures of Paul and Marian.  He has a fundraising event coming up and needed the chance to try out his pitch in front of strangers.  That's just one of the perks of running your own festival.

Next the hosts introduced this month's extra special guest judge, Daily Show writer Elliott Kalan.  Victor got to ask Elliott what Jon Stewart smells like, and Elliott told a story about being fired from a newspaper for being too funny.

Then we introduced a very special guest, red carpet reporter Doug Hyde, who was in town from LA and agreed to serve as our interviewer for the night.  Doug told us a little about his job and shared a story about being yelled at by a celebrity.  He certainly brought a welcome dose of Hollywood class and sparkle to the show, and his interviews with the filmmakers were top notch.  More on that below.

Now it was time for the films.  First up was Susan Hippen's movie Me, Myself, and Your Husband, a film about a woman who feels pressure to get pregnant and enlists her brother-in-law to do the honors, much to the dissatisfaction of her sister.  In the interview following the film, expertly done by Doug Hyde (certainly putting Jay and Victor to shame), Susan talked about the difficulties of casting two women who looked like sisters and who were also solid actors and comedians.  She also talked about how lovely it was to work in HD, which she did for the first time with this movie.

Next up was a block of two films, Thomas De Napoli's Hipster Job, a Williamsburg adaptation of the Biblical tale of suffering, and Kriota Willberg's dance extravaganza Sunscreen Serenade.  In the Doug Hyde interview following the screening, Kriota talked about her work as a choreographer and how she used a nice grant to both make this film and hire dancers for a good rate, who in her film didn't have anything to do but dress their fingers up with paper dolls and have them dance around a table.

We checked in with Elliott at this point, who is a Busby Berkeley fan and appreciated Kriota's Berkeley-inspired choreography and cinematography.

Next we introduced our old friend Will Carlough, with a new Carlough Brothers film.  In typical laid-back fashion, Will presented his movie, part film, part live performance.  You can see a video version of the whole thing here, but Will's work is really unique when you get a chance to see him do it live.

Next up was our commercial block: the spoof pharmaceutical commercial Fellayshe-O from Maine filmmaker Ritchie Wilson, Dats Hats, a parody of Tom's Shoes by LA-based Mario Kyprianou, and RPF: We Pitch Dallas BBQ, a movie showing the worst ad agency powerpoint pitch ever, from our old friend Thom Woodley.

In the Doug-Hyde-run interview with Mario (in from LA for the screening) and Thom, the filmmakers spoke about their experience in the actual ad world, and Mario mentioned what happened when the Tom's Shoes people saw his spoof (they didn't like it).  But we did, and we checked in with guest judge Elliott, who was enjoying himself thoroughly.

Our final block of movies for the night were two animated films,  Signe Baumane's The Very First Desire Now and Forever and Peter Ahern's Down to the Bone.

Signe's movie is intended to be a very philosophical and meaningful film about mankind's struggle for satisfaction from the very first moment of birth, and she was shocked to learn that the film was banned from YouTube because of perceived sexual content.  The film shows a baby being thwarted in his attempt to suckle his mother's breast, and Signe said that the fact that someone sexualized that moment says a lot more about that person than it says about the film.  You can see the movie (now on another YouTube channel) and judge for yourself.

Peter's Down to the Bone is another film about childhood, quite disturbing, but staying (just) on the line of not too disturbing.  Signe pointed out that the film just made the finals for the student Oscars!  She's an Academy member, so she should know.

Peter's film was made the old fashioned way; he drew each frame and scanned them one by one into the computer.  It was great to see a young filmmaker who prefers to work this way, and Peter's attention to detail really shows in the film.

Then the competition was over, and we showed our last film of the evening, our 700th film nonetheless, dp's Funky Kimono, this month's "Wanna be a Star" movie, starring audience member Amber Kain.  As the spokesperson for a store selling the funkiest of kimonos, Amber Kain lit up the screen and held her own with dp's collection of high caliber comic talent.

After this movie, Elliott Kalan announced the winners: audience favorite went to Down to the Bone, and the judges' prize went to Me, Myself, and Your Husband.  Then it was off to the after party, where we closed the 92YTribeca cafe and went to SoHo for food and drink where we mingled and talked movies until the wee hours.

So a special thanks to the filmmakers, special guests, and audience members who made for such a memorable show, and our condolences to the many audience members who were trapped on the subway for an hour due to the police shut down of Time Square.  Sorry you missed the show, but we look forward to seeing you at our next show on June 5th!

The Awkward Comedy Show releases TODAY


Finally, the DVD is out!

Please pick it up at Best Buy, or Amazon or on Itunes.

ALSO, cast and crew are appearing live at The Soho Apple store for a Q and A on Friday!. Come to that!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Come See us LIVE at Comix on Monday in NYC



Directly following the premiere of our highly rated and positively reviewed Comedy Central special, THE AWKWARD COMEDY SHOW. We are about to celebrate the release of our DVD and soundtrack with a live performance and after party DJ'd by hip-hop legend Prince Paul.

The entire cast is reunited for the first time since the original comedy concert!

For information and reservations, please visit: http://comixny.com/event.aspx?eid=743&sid=2669

HOSTED BY: MARINA FRANKLIN - from Comedy Central and "The Jay Leno Show"


from the movies "End of Days" and "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," and the TV shows "Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

is a writer for "Saturday Night Live" and has been seen on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"

is the star of USA's new show, "Facing Kate"

is a touring comedian who has been seen on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham"


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Awkward Comedy Show DVD Release Show DISCOUNT TICKETS




7:30 PM




Order your tickets now with code  AWKWARD and get in for only $10




The entire cast reunited for the first time since the original show!

After Party with guest DJ Hip hop legend PRINCE PAUL!


Join us at Comix as we celebrate the DVD release of the new Comedy Central special, "The Awkward Comedy Show," with performances by the special's director/producer/headliner VICTOR VARNADO, the ENTIRE CAST, and special SURPRISE GUESTS, as well as an afterparty DJ'ed by HIP-HOP LEGEND PRINCE PAUL.

"The Awkward Comedy Show" is a special that showcases stereotype-shattering African-American comedians of a different hue; comedians who are more likely to talk about video games than booty; comedians who are more interested in Simon & Garfunkel than Smith & Wesson; comedians who are likely to drop The N-Word - if that word is "Nerdy." TACS airs on Comedy Central on April 9th.

For information and reservations, please visit: http://comixny.com/event.aspx?eid=743&sid=2669

The lineup:

HOSTED BY: MARINA FRANKLIN - from Comedy Central and "The Jay Leno Show"


from the movies "End of Days" and "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," and the TV shows "Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

is a writer for "Saturday Night Live" and has been seen on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"

is the star of USA's new show, "Facing Kate"

is a touring comedian who has been seen on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham"


Wednesday, April 14, 2010




You can preorder copies of Roboto Supremo right now! What is Roboto Supremo?

Copies are only available as a reward for donations to the kickstarter project.

It has been a while since I turned my attention to finishing Roboto Supremo. Luckily I had a good excuse for waiting around. I made a feature which sold to comedy central and has already premiered! Awesome.

Now it's time to finish the post production on Roboto as well as try out a new project with Kickstarter!

Read on and jump in!


The "Spirit Cabinet" Shoot - a feature in five days

About a year ago, Victor Varnado and I made a bet in front of the Iron Mule audience that I would have a feature film shot by February, 2010. Our plan at one point was to shoot a ghost story called Spirit Cabinet. However, it turned out to be too complicated a project to shoot by the deadline. So I made another film instead.

But the Spirit Cabinet script was still around, and we had a cast and crew ready to make it. So we shot it over the course of five days in March and April.

Five days you say? Are we crazy? Well, maybe. But we did also shoot a feature in one day. And Victor shot one in three days.

It was a grueling experience, and not necessarily recommended, but it goes to show that it is indeed possible to shoot an actual feature-length movie with an an actual script, an ensemble of 8 actors, real production design, and special effects in just five days.

Some of you may know that we shot my first feature The Changeling in six days, so a ridiculously short shooting schedule isn't new to me. But the main reason the first feature was possible to shoot in such a short amount of time is that we spent a huge amount of time preparing beforehand. The actors rehearsed on and off for nine months, and the director of photography and I spent time at the location in which we set up each shot and practiced shooting the movie with me standing in for the actors.

We didn't have that luxury on Spirit Cabinet. We had to work out a lot of the details as we went along. Also, unlike The Changeling, a large section of this movie involves scenes with eight people, which, if you've never tried, is a staggeringly difficult thing to shoot so that you can understand what's going on and still have nice-looking shots.

But we went forward, a little frightened by the task ahead of us, but undaunted. I knew in my gut that we could make this work, although to be honest, I had no idea how we'd actually be able to pull it off.

Here's why we were able to pull it off:
M. Sweeney Lawless, our screenwriter and producer, is a supreme organizer and tirelessly focused on details. She worked night and day to prepare for the shoot, and did about seven jobs on set at the same time, without missing a beat.

Our line producer and Iron Mule producer Lin Sorensen spent countless hours planning and finalizing all the necessary details to get the set up and running. He also was the pleasant face of the production and fearlessly venturing out into the neighborhood and getting people to turn their music down when we were shooting. No small task in NYC!

Alan McIntrye Smith is the fastest cinematographer I've ever seen on set. He is both an amazing lighter and intuitive camera operator. We shot the entire movie handheld to save time and to be able to cover the action, and Alan always knew where he should be. Since Alan is also a director, he was able to understand the rhythm and subtleties of the acting and shoot accordingly. Alan was on his feet all day every day, so the shoot was physically demanding for him, but he worked quickly and kept his focus. He also brings his own camera team made up of his colleagues and students, and they are all excellent.

Eric Berkal, AD extraordinare, kept a firm hand on the set and kept us moving, helping us schedule 17-22 pages of shooting a day, in spite of his better judgment (normal movies shoot 3-4 pages / day).

Robert Eggers, our production designer, came up with a simple concept for the set which was quick to set up and played to our strengths. And once the house was dressed it could pretty much stay dressed.

After a day on the set when it sunk in to the cast and crew just what they were going to have to do (shoot 20 pages /day; learn lines without ever having heard their acting partners say them; rehearse and shoot at the same time; break scenes down into small chunks which don't make sense out of context), they stepped up their game big time for the rest of the shoot. Without their focus and commitment we would have never completed the shoot in 5 days.

Between shooting days, M. Sweeney Lawless rewrote as necessary to combine scenes and otherwise streamline the rest of the shooting process. All this while working on other projects and going to work during the week, as we all were doing.

Why would this team of people go through this grueling experience without getting paid huge buckets of money? This is where I come in. I have been fortunate to assemble a great team of people together in my many years working in theater and film. And for some reason they trust me. Also, they really enjoy the chance to work together. Plus, M. Sweeney Lawless wrote a script that was both funny and scary with great moments for each character, and gave a chance for each department to do some interesting work. And that doesn't come up very often for actors and technicians on paid jobs.

So we leaped at the chance to do this together. The support team and their effort was herculean, but expected. No one for a second doubted that we would do this (at least not out loud).

The result? Sure you can shoot enough material in five days. You can technically do it in one (see earlier post). But shoot good-looking, compelling material that makes a movie as strong and compelling as if it had an actual shooting schedule? You all can be the judge of that when we're done with post production. But I'll close by saying that the performances were of a very high caliber, and Alan McIntyre Smith can light scenes with just a candle or natural light from a window and make them look as good as any Hollywood production and Robert Eggers and Polina Roytman (our costume designer) can define mood, style, and character with very few resources. On top of this the script was compelling, and better than many many other larger budget projects. I only hope that the work I did as director did justice to everyone's commitment and skill level. Stills from our shoot are below.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Daily Show Writer Elliott Kalan to Guest Judge May 1st Screening

We are thrilled to have Elliott Kalan join us at the May 1st Iron Mule screening!

Elliott Kalan is an Emmy-winning writer for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" as well as co-host of the bad movie podcast "The Flophouse".  He hosts the monthly series "Closely Watched Films" at 92YTribeca.  In previous lives he performed as one-half of the sketch comedy duo The Hypocrites, and was a weekly columnist for the free newspaper "Metro".

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Movies We Like: Funny Women

Very often when we watch submissions, we find ourselves wondering if the filmmakers (almost always male) have ever met a live female human being.  The roles for women in short comedy are often either non-existent, insulting, or not very interesting, while the male parts get all the laughs.  See this blog post for a short essay on this subject.

We'd like to take a moment here to post some films we like, by both male and female filmmakers, that feature strong, funny lead roles for women.  It's not that hard a thing to do, but surprisingly few people out there making short comedy films seem to bother.

Ramona Floyd (who actually knows how to shoot) was randomly chosen from our audience to star in this movie.  We had such a fun time with Ramona that we made her a producer of our festival!

A movie by Nic Holland in which the woman gets to be the funny one while the guy is the straight man.

An amazing film by John Dilley that chronicles the experiences of popular girls in high school.  Done with honesty and heart.  Unfortunately only the trailer is online.  Here it is:

The woman drives the action in Toby Robert's poetic comedy from the UK.

Antonine Arditti's story about true love and travel to another dimension.

Artist and animator Laurie Rosenwald usually features herself in her work, so we're not sure if it exactly applies here, but we like her work so much we're including it anyway.

Eliza Skinner's charming movie about dating shows that nice women and crazy women can both make for good roles in a short comedy film.

Victor Varnado's movie about a woman and a monkey.

Lastly, we can't list strong roles for women without mentioning Signe Bamane's work.  This Latvian animator has made many wonderful short films with women protagonists.  You can see some of them on her website, and find out more about the Teat Beat of Sex series here