There are strange people in Santa Barbara. Just walking down state you’ll see a bevy of oddballs like that sixty-year-old woman in her hot pink yoga pants who carries her boombox around and dances wherever she goes, like she drank a gallon of red-bull the night before. And that weird guy who rides around playing guitar on his skateboard, making everyone cringe and pray that he doesn’t run into a beer can and go flying off, with the chances high that he will.
Then, there’s us. A group of kids who just two summers ago were running all around town wearing ridiculous outfits to keep in character for the film that we were so excited to be making. Driving down to Butterfly Beach one day you might have seen an “Oversized, strawberry blonde fro” bouncing around as this dude took his morning walk in pride with his shy, white-faced friend, and the red-hot flaming hair of a boy with an ego bigger then the big, blue California sky.
One year ago from then the three of us, (all improv actors, relying completely on letting go and having fun) were messing around filming some skit about a red-haired teenage boy named Sly who spends his time writing painfully bad rock-songs, singing terribly to them, and hanging out with his two best friends, the fro boy, Dirt, and the shy boy, Kevin. Little did we know just how far this would take us. Fom that day on, it was an explosion of ideas. Driving in the car, the three of us would be listening to a song, and end up singing along as the characters, (making up the words to suit them.) Going to the beach we’d see some surfies talking on the beach to each other about the difference between a hamburger and a veggie burger. One slow-talking surfie would turn to the other and say dully, “Like- what’s the difference between a- like- veggie burger and like a hamburger?” the other surfy would have to think about this for a moment before he would say, looking pained at the question, “I think it’s like- a burger, but with like………………veggies on it.”
Here we were amazed as character after character began developing, and certain things within the world of these people began to take form. Here, all of a sudden, was Slug. The typical slow-moving chilled out surfer who lives on a small shack on the beach. Here was Kevin, the shyest boy you’ve ever seen who passes out with one look in the direction of a girl. What would Sly, a teenage rock-star wannabe eat? What would he wear? What was his favorite movies, his likes and dislikes? As easily as if we were the characters themselves, the answers came. Suddenly whenever we were doing any improv of them we would get ideas from recording their conversations they had together. Then comics of them started, first Donovan did one about Dirt and Sly skateboarding down a forty-foot hill in Summerland. This was addictive, and lead into writing over 17 different comics!
Then along the way I began writing the first couple drafts of the script entitled, “The World According to Sly” as a few ideas for episodes of this story and how it would play out. But each time we rehearsed it, the story would keep changing and evolving, finally we decided one summer that we had to make a movie out of it.
That summer consisted of three things, FUN, FUN, and….uh…FUN. We were free (for the most part, a few household responsibilities here and there) to do whatever we wanted, and with a reasonably substantial camera in our hands, the foundation of a world we created on our own, we had probably the greatest filmmaking experience ever. Each day we woke up with the question of “What scene should we shoot today?” It was never really a question of what would happen in the scene, it was more of, what do we want to tell in this part? Do we want to introduce Dirt’s mom, or have a hilarious tea party with the little sister of Kevin, the atrociously annoying Polly.
As we were going places all around town filming, we’d get a lot of people commenting on the size and color of Dirt’s ‘Fro’, asking him “Is that real?” or, “I like the wig, dude!” In the mood for a little fun, Donovan (Dirt) always had a great comeback, saying loudly “Of course it’s real, it took me three years to grow it out this long” and, answering to those who asked him how he got it so big and fluffy, he would say, “I have a really big blowdryer.”
It seems insane, but the truth was, we weren’t afraid to go out in public as these characters, for as strange as it seemed they almost felt like real people. Now that our movie was finished, we decided to give the Santa Barbara International Film Festival a shot. It wasn’t really that we expected to get noticed or honored or anything, it was more of that we really wanted to share our ideas and all the fun we had making it. Though we were disappointed with rejection from the festival (not that surprised, because they never have any comedy films in their festival) the ideas keep coming, and it’s only recently that Shelby has began to write them all down into a book. This is going to be called ‘Sly and the Surfies’, and it’s all based off of the life and events of the characters in our movie:
The buck does not stop here either. Music began to flow into our heads that the kids in Sly’s world listen to. Fun pop music by a surfy band we call, ‘The Cruisers’ we made up just for Slug to have something to listen to while he is waxing his board. And Sly’s girlfriend, Cynthia’s favorite teen heartthrob band, ‘Driftwood’ with the overly-emotional Colin Ferrel-like lead singer had us writing song after song with titles like ‘A Coffin for my heart’ and ‘That’s not my fault’.
The list keeps growing as Shel writes more and more of the book and Don and I continue to scratch out page after page of ‘Sly and Dirt go Camping’ and ‘Kevin gets kissed by a girl’ comics. The more we write, the more we will share with you! Please let us know in the comments bar below any thoughts on your mind, we’re curious to know!