It was one of the best nights of my life.
We’d been to the Alamo Drafthouse Open Screen Night before, and we’d been gonged. The we here was myself, Scott Raulie, Justin Tunkkari, and Jason Rude. The Alamo allowed anyone to bring a movie to screen, and every film would be given at least two minutes, after which time, the audience was free to clap or boo, with the hosts determining whether the response suggested to keep the movie rolling or bang a gong on the stage and move on to the next. At the end of the night, a winner would be chosen based on audience reaction.
We were determined to win the audience award, which came with a cash prize of $100. We were gonged.
The video we presented, which was gonged, was called Heisters. Here it is (I play the guy with the burlap over his head).
Shameful, that gonging. But, you know, it was pretty scripted, what we were doing. And what can I tell you? All those continuity errors and the wedding rings on the guys … that was all intentional. All for laughs. I still think Heisters is pretty funny. But we licked our wounds and regrouped. We decided that next time, we would make something that had a running time under two minutes, so that there would be no way possible for our film to be gonged.
So we went and made Curious George and the Mysterious Box. I have to admit that I was giggling furiously the entire time we were filming it. Scott at one point said, “I’m getting a little sick to my stomach,” which only made me laugh harder. I can’t say for certain, but my euphoria over the project might have resulted in some distance between me and my soon-to-be-ex wife.
But a month later, we returned to the next Open Screen Night with our second film. Watching this play on a movie screen in front of a real audience that had no idea what was going to happen–and hearing them react in real time–was one of the single best things that has ever happened to me.
And what do you know–the second time around, we won.
To my friends I left in Austin–guys, I miss you, and I’ll always love the stuff we put together.