They Made That Up! is an experiment in comedic movie-making.
All experiments begin with a question.
In our case the question was two-fold: 1) “Can a funny movie be
made without a script?” and 2) “Is it possible for seven
professional improvisational comedy actors to spontaneously
create dozens of hilarious sketches that will keep viewing
audiences laughing for ninety minutes?”
The experiment took two years to complete, but we believe the answer to both questions is a resounding, “Yes!”
From Monty Python’s Flying Circus to Saturday Night Live, the funniest moments on sketch comedy shows are often when the actors go “off-script” and improvise. So we put together a cast of pros with extensive backgrounds in improv (Second City, Improv Olympic, National Improv Theater), writing (Comedy Central, Disney and MTV), performance (off-Broadway plays and musicals, and stand-up comedy) and television. All seven sing and play at least one musical instrument.
In a three-camera studio we captured the actors creating hilarious characters and situations, on the fly, from a simple scene suggestion just before, “Lights, camera, action!” No scripts. No rehearsals.
Eighty percent of the entire production’s time and costs was spent in the editing process. Not every sketch improvised passed our rigorous standards for pure funniness, so, of the 100 or so sketches that were originally taped, only the finest 24 made it to the final cut of They Made That Up! Finally, these best-of-the-best sketches were edited down to an average of less than four-minutes each, to keep the laughs moving.
Since we were clearly bending the rules of movie making, we had no problem bending the rules of traditional improv. First, scene suggestions came from the producer, just before a sketch was performed, and not from a live audience. (Suggestions were later reenacted from an “interviewer on the street” perspective.) Next, purists may consider our use of physical props--telephones, etc.--a violation of “true” improv. (During live improv shows such items are mimed.) Regardless, since our goal was maximum laughs-per-minute, “rules” had to take a back seat.
For those who aren’t aware, the skills required to make audiences (live and movie-watching) laugh by performing improv take years of training, dedication and practice. An improv performer must focus on closely watching and listening to the other performers in a scene. The full range of genuine human emotions may be displayed while reacting, responding and supporting others’ actions and dialogue. Guiding a scene’s flow must be done by quickly developing and expanding your chosen character.
We hope you’ll enjoy watching They Made That Up! as much as we enjoyed making it.
Lee Godden, producer/director
p.s. Don't forget to watch the movie trailer.
(Click thumbnails to enlarge.)
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