Nov 25, 2020
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Filmmakers bring surreal, animated road trip across Canada to Calgary Underground Film Festival

Filmmakers Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman met him in Canmore in 2000. Santa Claus or Kriss Kringle or St. Nick or, more specifically, “one of two real St. Nicks” appeared to be in the midst of a nervous breakdown. He claimed to have committed some sort of crime and was on the run. Scriver and Ehman had been hitchhiking across the country. The man, who apparently had been a department-store Santa Claus at some point, picked them up on an on-ramp and gave them a lift into Calgary, eventually dropping them off at Peters’ Drive-In. He was obsessed with Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas for some reason and his car was littered with hamburger wrappers from the fast-food restaurant. He tried to get Scriver and Ehman to memorize license plate numbers from cars on the road, presumably so they would forget what his numbers were.

“Calgary was intense and freaky because he lost his mind basically,” says Scriver, on the phone from his home in Toronto. “He was at the peak of his freakout when we were driving with him. It happened in downtown Calgary. He took us on a crazy car chase. No one was chasing us but he was pretending someone was chasing us. He was like ‘I’ll give you a lesson on how to lose someone.’ And then he was doing this crazy car chase thing through all the side roads and little suburbs. It was really intense.”

It may be one of the few episodes that was actually more surreal in real life than how it is depicted in the pair’s decidedly surreal animated film, Asphalt Watches. The road movie chronicles the cross-country trek the two friends attempted in 2000, travelling East on the Trans-Canada. In the film, Calgary itself comes across as a boom-and-bust wasteland, where a tarred-and-feathered construction worker drives a steamroller past buildings that ooze crude oil from their chimneys.

“It’s kind of like a cheap shot almost,” says Scriver. “But it was about the oil money in Calgary as stuff like that. We were obviously thinking about that a lot. And it was a time when it was just starting to get big. Or maybe it was the time that it was just starting to get noticed by me, or by Shayne. It was just the beginning of our awareness of it – of the tarsands.”

Don’t take it personally, Calgary. In general, Canada is not depicted with the reverence and majesty that we have become accustomed to in road movies that take place in our country. Asphalt Watches, which screens as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival on Friday, is made up of surreal landscapes filled with fast-food refuse, ripped-up train tracks and mumbling, foul-mouthed creatures who all seem to be overcome with some strange obsession or another. It’s abstract, weird and often extremely funny in a deadpan sort of way. But the two artists who created it see it as a more or less accurate portrayal of their cross-country adventures 14 years ago.

“We both are visual artists, so it’s just a natural expression,” says Ehman, in a phone interview from his home in Thunder Bay, Ont. “Being creative people – making music and making drawings – that’s just the way it came out.”

The film follows the adventures of Bucktooth Cloud (Ehman) and Skeleton Hat (Scriver), whose hitchhiking trip involves a nasty, potty-mouthed mother, a polite stabbing victim, drunken, pot-addled hayseeds in a pickup truck, a horrific road accident, deranged babysitting gig and the aforementioned tangle with the possibly psychotic Santa Claus.

One of the funniest scenes takes place in a bar, apparently based on a real place in Medicine Hat, where a character named Melancholy Karaoke Singer moans what seems to be a nightmarish rendition of Blue Velvet (redubbed Blue Helmet) as regulars skulk about.

“That bar in Medicine Hat is very, very much like that scene and the night was very, very much like that,” Ehman says. “But that’s only in my memory. You can only recall so much and so you synthesize feelings and memories and general energies into characters. The guy at the VLT with the diaper on, for example, is the culmination of a whole vibe.”

Ehman and Scriver voice dozens of characters themselves. Many of the others were done by friends and family. Ehman, who hails from Boyle in northern Alberta, and Scriver, a Torontonian, met each other in Halifax and bonded over a mutual interest in graffiti art. The two spent seven years working on the film in the same studio “passing scenes back and forth.”

Much to their surprise, the film was picked up last year to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the prize for Best Canadian First Feature Film.

“Just finishing it was total reward, it felt so good,” said Scriver. “Then getting in TIFF was awesome. And then winning the award, it started to feel like it was a Just for Laughs gag. You start to get paranoid. It felt like a net was going to get thrown on us and some clowns were going to run out and kick us or something.”

Perhaps that will be in the next film, which the pair are currently working on. For now, Calgary Underground Film Festival goers can get a primer for the film on Thursday when Ehman and Scriver present an exhibition of their work at Calgary’s Avalanche! Institute of Modern Art, which will offer another glimpse into the two artists’ vision.

“We’re going to have a giant pair of underwear with a skid mark in it,” Scriver says. “We have a hitchhiker’s suitcase, an air-brushed muffler and some drawings from the movie.”

Asphalt Watches screens Friday at 9:45 p.m. at the Globe Cinema as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival. Directors Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman will be in attendance. An exhibition of their art will be held Thursday at 9 p.m. at Avalanche! Institute of Contemporary Art, 343 11 Ave. SW (in the basement).

Source: Calgary Herald

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Front Page, Industry News

Filmmakers bring surreal, animated road trip across Canada to Calgary Underground Film Festival

Filmmakers Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman met him in Canmore in 2000. Santa Claus or Kriss Kringle or St. Nick or, more specifically, “one of two real St. Nicks” appeared to be in the midst of a nervous breakdown. He claimed to have committed some sort of crime and was on the run. Scriver and Ehman had been hitchhiking across the country. The man, who apparently had been a department-store Santa Claus at some point, picked them up on an on-ramp and gave them a lift into Calgary, eventually dropping them off at Peters’ Drive-In. He was obsessed with Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas for some reason and his car was littered with hamburger wrappers from the fast-food restaurant. He tried to get Scriver and Ehman to memorize license plate numbers from cars on the road, presumably so they would forget what his numbers were.

“Calgary was intense and freaky because he lost his mind basically,” says Scriver, on the phone from his home in Toronto. “He was at the peak of his freakout when we were driving with him. It happened in downtown Calgary. He took us on a crazy car chase. No one was chasing us but he was pretending someone was chasing us. He was like ‘I’ll give you a lesson on how to lose someone.’ And then he was doing this crazy car chase thing through all the side roads and little suburbs. It was really intense.”

It may be one of the few episodes that was actually more surreal in real life than how it is depicted in the pair’s decidedly surreal animated film, Asphalt Watches. The road movie chronicles the cross-country trek the two friends attempted in 2000, travelling East on the Trans-Canada. In the film, Calgary itself comes across as a boom-and-bust wasteland, where a tarred-and-feathered construction worker drives a steamroller past buildings that ooze crude oil from their chimneys.

“It’s kind of like a cheap shot almost,” says Scriver. “But it was about the oil money in Calgary as stuff like that. We were obviously thinking about that a lot. And it was a time when it was just starting to get big. Or maybe it was the time that it was just starting to get noticed by me, or by Shayne. It was just the beginning of our awareness of it – of the tarsands.”

Don’t take it personally, Calgary. In general, Canada is not depicted with the reverence and majesty that we have become accustomed to in road movies that take place in our country. Asphalt Watches, which screens as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival on Friday, is made up of surreal landscapes filled with fast-food refuse, ripped-up train tracks and mumbling, foul-mouthed creatures who all seem to be overcome with some strange obsession or another. It’s abstract, weird and often extremely funny in a deadpan sort of way. But the two artists who created it see it as a more or less accurate portrayal of their cross-country adventures 14 years ago.

“We both are visual artists, so it’s just a natural expression,” says Ehman, in a phone interview from his home in Thunder Bay, Ont. “Being creative people – making music and making drawings – that’s just the way it came out.”

The film follows the adventures of Bucktooth Cloud (Ehman) and Skeleton Hat (Scriver), whose hitchhiking trip involves a nasty, potty-mouthed mother, a polite stabbing victim, drunken, pot-addled hayseeds in a pickup truck, a horrific road accident, deranged babysitting gig and the aforementioned tangle with the possibly psychotic Santa Claus.

One of the funniest scenes takes place in a bar, apparently based on a real place in Medicine Hat, where a character named Melancholy Karaoke Singer moans what seems to be a nightmarish rendition of Blue Velvet (redubbed Blue Helmet) as regulars skulk about.

“That bar in Medicine Hat is very, very much like that scene and the night was very, very much like that,” Ehman says. “But that’s only in my memory. You can only recall so much and so you synthesize feelings and memories and general energies into characters. The guy at the VLT with the diaper on, for example, is the culmination of a whole vibe.”

Ehman and Scriver voice dozens of characters themselves. Many of the others were done by friends and family. Ehman, who hails from Boyle in northern Alberta, and Scriver, a Torontonian, met each other in Halifax and bonded over a mutual interest in graffiti art. The two spent seven years working on the film in the same studio “passing scenes back and forth.”

Much to their surprise, the film was picked up last year to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the prize for Best Canadian First Feature Film.

“Just finishing it was total reward, it felt so good,” said Scriver. “Then getting in TIFF was awesome. And then winning the award, it started to feel like it was a Just for Laughs gag. You start to get paranoid. It felt like a net was going to get thrown on us and some clowns were going to run out and kick us or something.”

Perhaps that will be in the next film, which the pair are currently working on. For now, Calgary Underground Film Festival goers can get a primer for the film on Thursday when Ehman and Scriver present an exhibition of their work at Calgary’s Avalanche! Institute of Modern Art, which will offer another glimpse into the two artists’ vision.

“We’re going to have a giant pair of underwear with a skid mark in it,” Scriver says. “We have a hitchhiker’s suitcase, an air-brushed muffler and some drawings from the movie.”

Asphalt Watches screens Friday at 9:45 p.m. at the Globe Cinema as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival. Directors Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman will be in attendance. An exhibition of their art will be held Thursday at 9 p.m. at Avalanche! Institute of Contemporary Art, 343 11 Ave. SW (in the basement).

Source: Calgary Herald

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Filmmakers bring surreal, animated road trip across Canada to Calgary Underground Film Festival

Filmmakers Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman met him in Canmore in 2000. Santa Claus or Kriss Kringle or St. Nick or, more specifically, “one of two real St. Nicks” appeared to be in the midst of a nervous breakdown. He claimed to have committed some sort of crime and was on the run. Scriver and Ehman had been hitchhiking across the country. The man, who apparently had been a department-store Santa Claus at some point, picked them up on an on-ramp and gave them a lift into Calgary, eventually dropping them off at Peters’ Drive-In. He was obsessed with Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas for some reason and his car was littered with hamburger wrappers from the fast-food restaurant. He tried to get Scriver and Ehman to memorize license plate numbers from cars on the road, presumably so they would forget what his numbers were.

“Calgary was intense and freaky because he lost his mind basically,” says Scriver, on the phone from his home in Toronto. “He was at the peak of his freakout when we were driving with him. It happened in downtown Calgary. He took us on a crazy car chase. No one was chasing us but he was pretending someone was chasing us. He was like ‘I’ll give you a lesson on how to lose someone.’ And then he was doing this crazy car chase thing through all the side roads and little suburbs. It was really intense.”

It may be one of the few episodes that was actually more surreal in real life than how it is depicted in the pair’s decidedly surreal animated film, Asphalt Watches. The road movie chronicles the cross-country trek the two friends attempted in 2000, travelling East on the Trans-Canada. In the film, Calgary itself comes across as a boom-and-bust wasteland, where a tarred-and-feathered construction worker drives a steamroller past buildings that ooze crude oil from their chimneys.

“It’s kind of like a cheap shot almost,” says Scriver. “But it was about the oil money in Calgary as stuff like that. We were obviously thinking about that a lot. And it was a time when it was just starting to get big. Or maybe it was the time that it was just starting to get noticed by me, or by Shayne. It was just the beginning of our awareness of it – of the tarsands.”

Don’t take it personally, Calgary. In general, Canada is not depicted with the reverence and majesty that we have become accustomed to in road movies that take place in our country. Asphalt Watches, which screens as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival on Friday, is made up of surreal landscapes filled with fast-food refuse, ripped-up train tracks and mumbling, foul-mouthed creatures who all seem to be overcome with some strange obsession or another. It’s abstract, weird and often extremely funny in a deadpan sort of way. But the two artists who created it see it as a more or less accurate portrayal of their cross-country adventures 14 years ago.

“We both are visual artists, so it’s just a natural expression,” says Ehman, in a phone interview from his home in Thunder Bay, Ont. “Being creative people – making music and making drawings – that’s just the way it came out.”

The film follows the adventures of Bucktooth Cloud (Ehman) and Skeleton Hat (Scriver), whose hitchhiking trip involves a nasty, potty-mouthed mother, a polite stabbing victim, drunken, pot-addled hayseeds in a pickup truck, a horrific road accident, deranged babysitting gig and the aforementioned tangle with the possibly psychotic Santa Claus.

One of the funniest scenes takes place in a bar, apparently based on a real place in Medicine Hat, where a character named Melancholy Karaoke Singer moans what seems to be a nightmarish rendition of Blue Velvet (redubbed Blue Helmet) as regulars skulk about.

“That bar in Medicine Hat is very, very much like that scene and the night was very, very much like that,” Ehman says. “But that’s only in my memory. You can only recall so much and so you synthesize feelings and memories and general energies into characters. The guy at the VLT with the diaper on, for example, is the culmination of a whole vibe.”

Ehman and Scriver voice dozens of characters themselves. Many of the others were done by friends and family. Ehman, who hails from Boyle in northern Alberta, and Scriver, a Torontonian, met each other in Halifax and bonded over a mutual interest in graffiti art. The two spent seven years working on the film in the same studio “passing scenes back and forth.”

Much to their surprise, the film was picked up last year to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the prize for Best Canadian First Feature Film.

“Just finishing it was total reward, it felt so good,” said Scriver. “Then getting in TIFF was awesome. And then winning the award, it started to feel like it was a Just for Laughs gag. You start to get paranoid. It felt like a net was going to get thrown on us and some clowns were going to run out and kick us or something.”

Perhaps that will be in the next film, which the pair are currently working on. For now, Calgary Underground Film Festival goers can get a primer for the film on Thursday when Ehman and Scriver present an exhibition of their work at Calgary’s Avalanche! Institute of Modern Art, which will offer another glimpse into the two artists’ vision.

“We’re going to have a giant pair of underwear with a skid mark in it,” Scriver says. “We have a hitchhiker’s suitcase, an air-brushed muffler and some drawings from the movie.”

Asphalt Watches screens Friday at 9:45 p.m. at the Globe Cinema as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival. Directors Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman will be in attendance. An exhibition of their art will be held Thursday at 9 p.m. at Avalanche! Institute of Contemporary Art, 343 11 Ave. SW (in the basement).

Source: Calgary Herald

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