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Jay Cowle

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My First Film: Rebuild Me

Posted: 04/04/2013 12:56

It's odd to think now I haven't always been a comedian. There was a time when I didn't spend several hours a day considering the best way to phrase a joke, or which leg is funnier (peg leg). Stand up is my catharsis, a way to express my view of the world, and remind myself that nothing is what it seems. Even that statement. A lofty idea, but that's what happens when you spend a lot of time in small pubs steeped in the rich musk of wood polish. Sweet mind bending wood polish.

I remember how it all started (cue flashback).

It was after a five year relationship ended that I found myself, slumped on a sofa, watching Monty Python's Flying Circus. Sitting there with the Pythons attempting to jump over a match box I resolved to do something with my life, but jumping match boxes is harder then it looks.

It was time for a rethink, so after calling my mum to warn her, and putting on my shower cap I started to think. Once the wheel started turning I was struck me that coming out of such a long relationship I had no idea what I wanted to do, or be. A daunting thought, but at least that meant I could try to be anything. I had a chance to rebuild me.

I have always written stories, usually odd ones. I got in trouble at school once for taking the brief 'write a love story' and setting it between two sheep. There was no dialogue, a lot of bleating, and a terrible grade. Never the less my deep seeded belief that Sheep based literature was not to be dismissed kept me writing, but I noted in the cold light of being newly single, I needed a direction. Preferably forwards. Several bleat heavy stories later and It dawned on me that maybe my writing was too wooly for most. I needed to get out there, sharpen up, and maybe, just maybe, not write about farm yard animals.

I decided to try stand-up. The idea terrified me, but at least it would be a way to read a whole sheep story aloud. That's how I met Stuart Laws, a comedian who peaked in 2011 with a BattleStar Galactica joke in a small pub, but despite such early success has persisted to write a brilliant debut hour of stand-up independent of any BSG material (primarily a coming of age show about being deprived of Nesquick). Stu also co-owns a film production company called Turtle Canyon Media. After the disappointment of discovering there was no turtle, or canyon I decided that maybe I could learn a few things from this guy (like hiding turtles).

I've always wanted to write a film, and inspired by Stu I sat down to type. I'd written a couple of scripts before, one casting Tony Law as God, the other mainly about Poseidon, but both where more radio focused. Understanding that filming things meant they should probably move around I decided to concentrate on a visual story. A...(what are they called) film?

As Stu didn't share my foresight in and appreciation of the sheep based narrative I started to work on a script about my breakup, and how it had totally changed my life. It was after all thanks to that moment with Python that I found a hobby, a passion, and a way to waste a huge amount of time and money.

Before sending the script to Stu I was sneaky and had a friend (and professional writer) have a look at it. After he spontaneously combusted I knew that the script was ready, and untied him. From the start I wrote the parts for Chris Boyd and Nathaniel Metcalfe because both had a comedic cadence I can summon almost on demand. Even if they don't like being called in the night. Thankfully they both agreed to be in the short. I managed to coax book reviewer and part time actress Cara Fielder to play Pizza Girl with the promise that this time the film would definitely be better then the book. My handwriting is terrible. Jennifer Laws kindly agreed to play my x-girlfriend and dump me, as long as there was no chance of reconciliation, and so with the help of some good friends, one dog, and Gosh Comics we got the film done. I hope you enjoy it.

For me the experience of making a film has taught me a comedian is simply someone who tries to amuse, and if there's one thing the wood polish has taught me is there's a whole universe of ways to do that. Now, back to the stand-up. There's musk to inhale.

Rebuild Me (9min, UK, Turtle Canyon Films) from Turtle Canyon Media on Vimeo.

 

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