"We are like girl scouts, but instead of selling cookies, we sell insanity. And we sell it for free."
Joseph Scrimshaw is a critically acclaimed actor, an internationally produced playwright, and an independent theater director/producer. His current project with Tim Uren is the upcoming DVD entitled SpookySpookyScaryScary featuring the misadventures of two cultists named Chuck & Dexter. Mr. Scrimshaw was kind enough to stop by the LNN and tell us a bit about the film, which is set to screen at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival next month.
LNN: How would you describe the basic premise of your film?
JS: It's about the relationship between Chuck and Dexter--two socially awkward Lovecraft fans who convince themselves that Cthulhu actually exists and set out to form a cult and let people know the "bad word" about Cthulhu.
LNN: Is a working knowledge of Lovecaftiana required to appreciate the humor in the film?
JS: Nope. It certainly enhances it quite a bit and there are some subtler jokes that will warm the cockles of Lovecraft fans, but we set out to do a comedy that would be steeped in Cthulhu-ness but still accessible to the masses. Basically, since the film deals with Chuck and Dexter's attempts to draw other people into their Cthulhu world there was a lot of room for their twisted exposition about who Cthulhu and Lovecraft are and what they are about--so it's funny to non-Lovecraftians to get the tip of the iceberg explanation and funny to Lovecraft afficiandos to hear this complex mythology boiled down into super simple and not entirely accurate rants.
LNN: Most of the people we interview have rather pedestrian jobs and their creative, Lovecaftian output is a mere hobby. (Though perhaps "mere" is the wrong word) You, on the other hand, are a veteran actor and playwright with such titles as "Die, Clowns, Die!," "Fat Man Crying," and "Adventures in Mating" to your credit. Was SpookySpookyScaryScary really that much of a stretch for you?
JS: Doing this large of a film project was definitely a departure, since both Tim Uren and I have done much more work in theater and improv comedy, but no spending all day dressed up in weird costumes or making to do lists that include "memorize lines, practice screaming, and wipe the fake blood off the knife" is the kind of thing I do most days. By day, Mr. Uren works at Fantasy Flight Games often tinkering with Lovecraftian projects like Arkham Horror, so all pretty familiar territory for him as well.
LNN: Besides your humorous projects, you have been involved in numerous serious works as well. How does your experience in Shakespearian theater translate to playing a cultist?
JS: Most Shakespearean characters are either obsessive egomaniacs or socially awkward idiots. And that's pretty much my character in a nutshell. Also, even though the film is a bizarre, outlandish comedy--a lot of the humor comes from the relationships, so it was important to treat it with a lot of actor-ly care--finding the motivation, the right emotional note--all the things actors do all the time. Or should be doing all the time.
LNN: Who is your target demographic for this project?
JS: Primarily, Lovecraft fans and the larger geek community in general. We know we already have a connection with those audiences so our hope is to start there and then take advantage of the overlap between those communities and the general independent film community and spread it out to our widest possible demographic: anyone with a good sense of humor and a few bucks to buy our DVD.
LNN: If religion is the opitate of the masses, and the internet is its methamphetamine, why on earth have you not posted your preview trailer on Youtube yet?
JS: Does that make youtube like the straight shot of Jameson's of the masses? I ask because I'm drinking Jameson's and watching our short trailer on youtube right now at this link:
We're also working on getting the full trailer on youtube, but for now it's available at: http://spookyspookyscaryscary.com
LNN: Tell us about Tim Uren: how did you two get this project started, and what does he bring to the table?
JS: Tim and I have been pals and comedy collaborators for many years.
We plotted out the story together and thanks to the amount of time we've worked together, it takes less rehearsal time to get nice little nuances of relationship across in individual scenes.
We developed the characters of Chuck and Dexter for a couple of short films we made with another production company in 2004 and 2005. We wanted to expand the characters and their world so we were looking for a technical crew who might want to tackle that project. Some friends of ours had formed a production company after working on another independent film called THAC0 and their experience, equipment, and availability matched ours so we all tackled it together. If you know what I mean.
LNN: While looking through your authorial blog I noticed a recurring motif featuring whiskey and the Wii. Were either of these essential items involved in the production of this project?
JS:Yes. We actually wanted to film Chuck and Dexter playing "Eternal Darkness" on the gamecube but we were worried about copyright issues.
LNN: What are you plans post HPLFF?
JS: For now, we're going to work on marketing "SpookySpookyScaryScary". It'll be available for sale on ye olde internet and we'll look into sending it off to other film festivals. But Chuck and Dexter might return down the road.
Beyond that, Tim and I are onstage either together or separately pretty much all of the time that we are not drinking whiskey and playing Wii.
LNN: What do people get when they actually send in their email as the film requests? Does it involve anything that will require confession at the hands of an ordained priest?
JS: We're waiting to see what kind of responses we get and if anything goes wrong, Tim has one of those minister licenses you get out of the back of Rolling Stone magazine. That's as close to a priest as we can provide.
LNN: Is there, or are their plans for some place people can go to view or purchase the film online?
JS: There will be trailers and hopefully other digital treats available on my production company's web-site (which will be launching in early October) at jokingenvelope.com. So the DVDs will be available for purchase off that site as well as http://spookyspookyscaryscary.com.
That's the plan--hopefully, the stars will be all right.
LNN: Anythings else you want to add?
JS: Thanks so much for your interest and we hope to see you all at the Film Festival. Feel free to talk to Tim or I--we have much better social skills than our characters!
Thanks, Joseph, and best wishes at the festival!
-Check out the homepage for SpookySpookyScaryScary
-View a second trailer for the DVD hosted here: http://thestarsareallright.com
-Learn more about Joseph Scrimshaw and his other projects at his website here: http://josephscrimshaw.com/