Moontower Comedy and Oddity festival in Austin, TX this past weekend did not disappoint. Event organizers and planners did a wonderful job, selecting terrific venues (my favorite being St. David’s Bethel Hall), the majority of which were in walking distance from one another, and if you had a badge you were allowed to park in the One American Center Parking Garage for free, in the evenings located at 7th and Congress – only a few blocks away from most of the action.
In only it’s second year, Moontower delivered – the talent was stellar. On Thursday night alone I caught Neal Brennan, Myq Kaplan, Chris Hardwick, the legendary Dom Irrera, Andy Kindler, The Lucas Brothers, Marc Maron Judah Friedlander, and this awesome sad faced singing clown named Puddles.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with a few comedians performing at Moontower last week.
Check back with LCC later in the week for in depth interviews with Andy Kindler, Myq Kaplan and the The Lucas Brothers.
Michael Black has been working in Los Angeles as a professional editor for over ten years. Black talks about what it was like going to film school during what he calls “the best and worst time to be studying film”, and how sometimes, dropping out of college is the best career decision one can make. He also shares his experience working on 4D interactive animation and explains what makes an editor great, and not just good. All that, career advice, and more…
Where are you from originally and how did you get your career?
My first job was in high school. I got an internship at a little production studio in Austin where I did industrial stuff and local commercials. I started out as a graphics intern, and learned a lot from this UT (University of Texas) student working there at the time. The first semester I was working as an intern, and by the second semester I took over the graphics role and became the only guy working there in that capacity. I was 18 when I got the job. That’s where I learned to edit on Avid and Final Cut, along with my first exposure to After Effects and Photoshop.
What have been your favorite projects to work on?
It’s been fun the past few years working on these 4D animation projects that have interactive elements, the seats move and shake and they spray water on you, stuff like that.
The project I’m working on now, editing as well as directing, HERO FACTORY, is an all animated TV show. It’s been fun because it’s a style and genre that I like. Getting to work on the LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out was the most fun and most stressful because I cared a lot and wanted to get it right. I’m something of a Star Wars fanatic and getting to work on that and go to Skywalker Ranch for the sound mix was nothing short of a dream come true.
Did you go to film school?
After high school I was accepted into the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I wanted to move to New York the summer before school started, and looked up production offices/studios in New York.
Opposites, a two man improv troupe, performs each and every Wednesday night at The New Movement theater in downtown Austin, Texas. If you attended the show, you didn’t witness any punchlines, they didn’t go for any cheap jokes. There was no steady, comfortable rhythm of laughter to settle in to.
And that’s what made it great.
Patrick Knisely and Mark Carpenter aren’t afraid to venture into those dark corners, those uncomfortable weird silences, and dedicate themselves fully to their character and scene. The performance had that suck-you-in kind of realism that a lot of comedy fails to achieve. And when a laugh out loud moment does happen on stage, it’s that much funnier, as it is in real life. Think about it, if people went around farting constantly, it wouldn’t be funny. What makes a fart funny and not just plain disgusting is timing, and the more unexpected the better. And it’s best when a fart breaks up a dramatic moment. It’s a quick reminder that we’re just a bunch of filthy animals. Opposites seems more concerned with exploring relationships than trying to be funny, providing their audience a much more fulfilling comedic experience.
And Knisely and Carpenter aren’t limited by being a two man troupe. Towards the end of the show, Mark and Patrick called back two of their characters created from previous scenes, and did a masterful job of juggling four characters at once, each speaking for two characters, switching seamlessly back and forth on stage. I spoke to Carpenter and Knisely before the show:
Describe Opposites in a sentence.
PK: Two guys who can’t connect in real life because of their differences do an improvised show and connect through performance.
MC: Opposites is the most dramatically comical world that two guys can conjure up in a thirty minute show without alienating their audience too much.
In Part 1 of The Misadventures – Sci-Fi on a budget, we’ll be talking with Adrian Croom, co-founder of Alleyway Art Entertainment and co-creator of The Misadventures web series. In Part 2 we’ll hear from The Misadventures co-creator Jon McMahon who represents the other half of Alleyway Art.
Adrian Croom – Photo by Lucas Purvis
Many artists run into creative dead ends when their imaginations are bigger than their budgets. Ideas get scrapped, scripts get shortened, visions are scaled back. In some cases, projects that have a lot of potential never see the light of day. But if you believe in your idea and you want it bad enough, you find a way to make it happen. Meet Adrian Croom, co-creator of The Misadventures.
What sort of content do you and Jon create and how long have you been doing it?
Alleyway Art really just started as comedic entertainment. Beaver Kneaver was the first film that Alleyway Art jumped into, and we have developed lots of smaller short films over the years. Alleyway Art is an ensemble of Austin local artists, making what we consider clever entertaining content. Jon and I met in middle school and have been best friends and collaborators ever since.
What is The Misadventures? The Misadventures is an epic science fiction space adventure that carries its story through multiple mediums. We started with a sixteen episode live action web-series. It has since evolved into a comic strip, ebook, and animation.