Brendan Cleaves p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. The premise for the seven and a half minute comedy film Roger, is tight and to the point. Stephen (played by comedian and actor Seann Walsh) arrives home after six months in Mongolia, to discover his best friend Roy (John Bradley) has replaced him with a ventriloquist's dummy called Roger. I asked Brendan Cleaves, director and co-writer with Stuart Foreman, about his comedy short film.

Brendan Cleaves has worked extensively in making commercials and music videos, including interactive videos. He teamed up with stand-up comedian and writer Stuart Foreman, to write the short comedy film Roger. They also plan on making a feature length version of the film. The short film, Roger, can be viewed online on Vimeo. It has appeared in numerous short film festivals, including the London Short Film Festival, the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and the British Shorts in Berlin Festival. See rogershortfilm.com.

READERSVOICE.COM: Once you’ve come up with a comedy situation, what are the structural features you like to have in a comedy story, whether a short film or feature length version?

BRENDAN CLEAVES: I think all stories are fundamentally based on the same structure: beginning, middle and end; whether it be a comedy, horror or sci-fi. I think the good thing about shorts as opposed to a feature, is that you have the ability to bend the rules a little. Roger was never really written as a short; it was an adapted scene from a feature project. We had already written this script and it follows the basic screenwriting structure elements. The funny thing really is that the short and the feature have the same premise. It’s sharp, snappy and screams comedy.

RV: There was a Mr Bean dashboard wobble doll in Roy’s car. Was Mr Bean a major influence in your comedy, and what other movies or shows or comics have you liked?

BC: The reason for the Mr Bean is that we just thought about the kind of character Roy is: he is the kinda guy that would love Mr Bean. We could imagine him sitting there on the sofa with Roger watching repeats, cracking up laughing. It also kinda sums up Roy a little: the kinda guy that wouldn’t hurt a fly. There is this innocence to Roy, the same with Mr Bean. It also looks pretty funny in shot ;) I think regarding comedy influences, I grew up with Dumb and Dumber, John Candy, Alan Partridge and Only Fools and Horses. I think this comes across in our writing a little. Stuart [Foreman], my writing partner, used to be a stand-up, so he has been writing jokes for years now.

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– copyright Simon Sandall.