Austin Comedy Short Film Festival
Fall 2017 Official Selection
Planet Earth: Hollywood Directed by Dane Wagner
The Micro Short Comedy Film, Planet Earth: Hollywood, directed by Dane Wagner is an Austin Comedy Short Film Festival Fall 2017 Official Selection.
- Runtime: 4 Minutes and 32 Seconds
- Category: Micro Short Comedy Film
- Director: Dane Wagner
- Writers: Michael Cotter and Jeff Witzke
- Actors/Producers: Laura Niemi, Michael Cotter, Tammy Dahlstrom, and Jeff Witzke
- Editor Brock Lewandowski
- Award Nomination for Best Mockumentary Film
- Tagline: "A parody of the BBC docu-series Planet Earth tackles the jungle that is Hollywood following the fiercest of predators...the actor."
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- Review: "A creative take on the hit Planet Earth TV Series, ShowFriends pack a lot of comedy into 5 minutes. With some notable drone footage and over-the- top, laugh out loud, performances by the actors this film will be as fun for the audience as it was for our judges. This film has been publicly posted on YouTube, please check out the link below and enjoy Planet Earth: Hollywood for yourself."
Planet Earth: Hollywood Synopsis
The award winning BBC Series, “Planet Earth” has explored deserts, rainforests, mountains and with the latest installment, cities. Now, in this new parody of the nature docu-series, comes an in-depth look at the wildlife in a whole new jungle: HOLLYWOOD. They set their cameras on one of the most interesting and diverse species in this town of tinsel - the actor. See never before captured footage of how these strange and bizarre creatures interact, adapt and ultimately defend their territories.
Planet Earth: Hollywood | The Story Behind the Story
We had an opportunity to catch up with the "Planet Earth: Hollywood" crew for a behind-the-scenes look at the production of this comedy film.
- Why did you think that your film was a good fit for the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival? “We wanted to find a life for our latest short beyond social media and our online presence at platforms like Funny or Die… and a festival felt like a great option. Then, when we found the Austin Comedy Short FF, and thought: Austin – a hotbed of creativity in the south. CHECK. A film festival that focuses on comedy and shorts. CHECK. CHECK. Oh, and it has a micro category… well, it just seemed like a natural fit.”
- What inspired you and your team to make this film and how did you come up with the title? “As working actors in Los Angeles… it’s a dog eat dog world. Which made us look at how fierce the competition is and it parallels with nature, the survival of the fittest and the animal kingdom. So, during a creative lunch/brainstorming session the idea popped up and made us laugh and we just kept going with it and what resulted was a fun script. So we decided to shoot it. The title, “Planet Earth: Hollywood” obviously, came from parodying the original BBC show.”
- What made the actors interested in being a part of your film? “What is great about the concept of our group, “Show Friends,” is that the four of us are creating content that we get to write and star in. So, we were easy to convince! But, when it comes to casting the other roles - we are grateful to have a pool of amazing talented friends to draw from, we dip into it as much as possible (sometimes even writing specifically towards what we know they can do). We consider ourselves lucky to get the chance to work and play with our talented friends.”
- How were you able to get the locations for your film? “Our director, Dane Wagner, was instrumental in finding most of them. He was our DP on our other videos and we asked him to step up to direct this once since it was so tech heavy. Boy, did it pay off. Drones, special lighting shots, smoke and feathers! And, the icing on the cake was that some of the locations he knew about from previous shoots, turned out to be perfect for our “urban jungle”. Add a quick hike up to the infamous Hollywood Sign, and it provided the perfect backdrop for the opening. The “office” location we called in a favor with a local acting studio that we have ties to (John Rosenfeld Studios) and they generously allowed us to use the room for the afternoon.”
- Can you talk about your sources of funding and favors that you received to complete this film? “Our funding is self generated (i.e. from our own pockets), so we rely heavily on favors to get our work done. From people donating their time, or reducing their rate — again, we are really lucky to have talented friends in all aspects of production that help us create our stuff.”
- Has creating this short film helped the careers of the people involved in any way? “Sure. Now we can all put Animal Work as a Special Skill on our resume. HA! Seriously though, as actors in Los Angeles, it is always helpful to have something to share and talk about. One of the goals of creating our own content was to help promote our careers. Also, aside from the on-camera benefits, it has helped us develop a bunch of new behind the scenes skills… producing, writing, promoting, social media and craft service on a micro budget.”
- What were some of the challenges that you encountered while making this film? “Our biggest challenge was trying to get this all done in a day and a half shoot. To coordinate locations, busy actor schedules, sunset, parking restrictions, etc. --- it was a huge challenge. And honestly, we challenged ourselves to push our boundaries while also keeping the quality level to a bar we had set for ourselves on previous shoots.”
- In what city and state was this film shot on location? If outside the US, what city and country? If multiple places, please list them. “The entire short was shot in Los Angeles, CA (Hollywood, West Hollywood and Studio City).”
- Can you tell us about a time when something really funny happened on set, that didn't get caught on camera? “The climax of the short involves an animalistic attack, including an explosion of feathers. We had opened an old feather pillow and the director quickly grabbed a bunch, because we only had time for one take before we had to be out of the location. The shot went off perfectly…he yelled “cut” and then we noticed it -- a thousand small feathers all over the room. Seeing that we had to be done and gone immediately, the entire cast and crew were on it and cleaned that room faster than room service at the Hilton!”
- Can you list any awards, nominations or official selections for this film? “This is the first festival we’ve submitted “Planet Earth: Hollywood” to and we are so honored to have been selected! But, we were recently able to garner some great industry attention and press coverage. For more about this project and ShowFriends see our interview with Film and TV Now.