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:

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:

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

Notes from our April 3rd Screening - 8th Anniversary!

We remember being eight years old; it's a great age.  You can pick out your own clothes, you can sort of read a menu, you can write your own name and, these days, you also know how to pay your cellphone bill online.  Last Saturday, we got to relive the glories of being eight through Iron Mule, a monthly short comedy screening series that can totally dress itself but hasn't yet mastered cursive.

Thanks to all of you who came down to the 92YTribeca on a lovely spring weekend to help us ring in the Iron Mule 8th Anniversary Double-Feature Special Show(s)!  Our first show featured some of the best Audience Award winners from the last twelve months, including Stalk Much? by Bill Baykan of Chicago, Introduction to Physics by Caleb Foss, and hometown favorite My Apartment by dpShortsKasey Williamson & dp of dpShorts shared a little bit about the movie and the temporary pause in their highly-prolific year.  It seems they're both writing for other people, but we hope they'll be back with more material soon, especially the kind with rapping.  We were also proud to highlight some great international animated films, including the beautiful black-and-white love story Yulia by Antoine Arditti of France, and the deliriously-bloody and bravely-uneducational Factoids & Slapstick by Doug Bayne of Australia.  Mixed in with all that were a few samples from our Wanna Be A Star? competition, held every month, in which a lucky audience member is chosen at random to star in a film with a title chosen by said audience and produced for the next month's show.  In the future, Iron Mule will be posting our Wanna Be A Star? films online, so watch this space for more details!

But it just wouldn't be a year-long roundup without some illustrious awards, so at the end of our program we asked our attentive and opinionated audience what they thought was best.  Their verdict?  Stalk Much? by Bill Baykan took the cake as our Audience Favorite.  And although there was, in fact, no cake (or any award of any kind), Bill can sleep soundly in the knowledge that he has all the populist bragging rights the Iron Mule can bestow.  At least, until next April.

After a brief, drink-refilling break, we moved relentlessly onward with our 2nd program, the Judges Award winners.  Highlights of the past year included How To Be Popular by John Dilley of California, Knock Knock by Iron Mule fave Jack Ferry, and Time Travel: An Allegory by Ritchie Wilson.  Jack and Ritchie were on hand to talk a little bit about their next projects: Jack and producing partner Melissa are developing an internet series called "Written Off," about a group of washed-up soap opera stars who develop their own show for the internet, and Ritchie is working on a couple of new scripts and moving out of Portland, Maine.  We also shared some favorite selections from around the world included our first film from Norway, Nemesis by Stian Hafstad, about a man in search of superpowers and a friend; and Technology, a hilarious document of one man's attempt to explain basic physics, by Alex Kelly and Third Angel of the UK.  Selections from our top-shelf animation offerings included three short films by local animator Laurie Rosenwald, including her collaboration with David Sedaris, "David's Diary"; and the award-winning bittersweet sci-fi tale, The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! by Jake Armstrong.

Since this part of the evening was dedicated to selections dear to the cold, analytical hearts of our secret cabal of judges, they were the ones to do the award-granting honors.  And the bragging rights for Judges Favorite of the Year went to Nemesis by Stian Hafstad, and runner-up How To Be Popular by John Dilley.  Congratulations, Stian and John, for making us laugh and making us think, often at the same time!

You can always find out more about our monthly screening series at and on Facebook.  We hope you'll join us for our 9th year of showcasing the best in short comedy films, beginning May 1st at 8pm!

 The Iron Mule Team: from left, Lin Sorensen. Victor Varnado, and Jay Stern