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A satirical comedy in the spirit of Airplane! and The Naked Gun, this short film furthers the adventures of Private Detective I.B. Pillock.

by Oliver Smith in Durham, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

We're still raising money to see us through post production, specifically for a colour grade and a film composer. Plus, donating is the best way to see the film before its festival run in 2021. Many thanks!



At the scene of a hit and run, Private Investigator I.B. Pillock brings his own twisted logic to solving the case. He’s a lateral thinker who specialises in connecting dots that have no business being connected. With no eye witnesses (only ear and nose witnesses) Pillock cuts through the noise to find that the first responder is primarily responsible.

A satirical comedy in the spirit of Airplane! and The Naked Gun, this film takes aim at the crime and mystery genres with an emphasis on absurdism and word play, two pillars of comedy hugely underserved by the current marketplace. I have always admired those filmmakers who match a ridiculous sense of humour with serious craftsmanship, like Sam Raimi or the Coen Brothers, and I'm convinced there is a gap in the market for this kind of cine-literate farce. It uses logic traps and intellectualism to create chaos and stupidity, I find that juxtaposition incredibly funny and I want to share that with an audience. I think the kind of comedy that was prevalent in the 70s and 80s is ripe for revival, and fans of Monty Python, Mel Brooks, and Leslie Nielsen in particular have been starved of modern equivalents. A comedy like this is a tonic for the sarcastic and cynical times we live in.

This character first appeared in a short film I made way back in 2012 for London Short Film Festival, which itself was inspired by a comedy sketch I developed for the stage several years earlier about an incompetent detective who incriminates himself at the scene of every crime. The film played at the BFI Southbank as part of LSFF and was a finalist in the Virgin Media Shorts online film competition.

You can find that original short film here https://youtu.be/-aSw9GJPl0A

This character has been with me for an very long time, and has grown more real and multidimensional as time has gone on. The way he looks at the world is very unique, and it's honestly a pleasure to insert him into any story. He uncovers the emotional or societal truths of a situation, even as he sidesteps and misinterprets the obvious facts of a case.

I've been working on this current iteration of the material for around two years, completing a feature length screenplay of 105 pages which scored a 9/10 from WeScreenplay and a 7/10 from The Black List. The feature idea was born out my time as a freelancer, trying to make ends meet and the injustice you sometimes feel when you can't pay the bills on time. Comedy is a key coping mechanism in times of struggle, and once I realised the potential of combining this particular character with a financial crime story, everything fell into place. The scripts explores themes of economic inequality and the unintended consequences of capitalism.

As an unrepresented writer, I will need to demonstrate the project's merit in order to drive tangible interest in that screenplay, which is why I'm creating this new short film and I've found myself asking for help.

This new short will be more than twice the duration of the original, and far outstrip it in terms of scope, production value and quality gags. I've taken some of the best material from the feature and condensed it into a single glorious crime scene investigation.

Making a film is always quite expensive as it requires a lot of tech and a lot of people. My company Ambitious Motion Pictures has always self financed its own short films, and even a feature with the help of The Turrets Youth Theatre and Teesdale Action Partnership, but this project in particular has some added production challenges as it involves staging a crime scene with the presence of emergency services, that pushes it beyond the realm of what we can finance ourselves.

Even at this Budget, the film will need to be shot in one single day of unit photography. That's a major creative and organisational challenge with little room for error. I've made a lot of low budget movies so I'm quite well practiced at this. My debut feature for example was created on a budget of £9000 - which works out at approximately £300 per scene! Thankfully this is a dialogue driven screenplay, which gives a lot of latitude in the execution. The film is funny on the page, and it'll be funny on screen even if the whole thing were played as a single wide shot. The biggest directorial concern will be managing the tone, and walking a delicate line between serious and ludicrous to land the jokes effectively.

Take a look at our perks if you feel you can donate, but sharing this campaign is the next best thing, and I'll be no less grateful for those of you who can only contribute in that way, so please do share the page as it could make an enormous difference. Otherwise anyone who has access to Police props or costuming for whatever reason would be very helpful to hear from. And that's all there is to it.

Let's make 'Spider & Fly' happen

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