Winter madness and summer concerts: Using sketch comedy as promotion

We’ve been making weird movies and videos since high school when we “adapted” canonical stories like Oedipus Rex into movies instead of writing essays, or made a lab safety video for extra credit in chemistry. So in 2013 with our new co-owner (and writer/funny guy) Andrew Carleen on board, we opted for sketch comedy over straightforward advertising to promote our sister company Brewster Productions’ summer concerts. In two videos, we loftily debated who would win in a fight, Gimli or Aragorn, and Andrew rolled over from a nap in his equipment-trailer-home, rousing us to “get to work.”

In 2015, our cabin fever got the best of us during the relentlessly snowy February, and we decided to go all-in on the video making front. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at those videos:

“Cabin Fever”: We filmed this about 5 days after the third blizzard of that miserable four weeks we called February, so it was more than just camera tricks making Scott and Andrew look as though they’d gone mad. We all went a little mad that winter, and that’s why we gave a guitar to a puppet and stared at it for a while in front of puzzled onlookers at Mamma Mia’s. We left the Hedge House that afternoon, numb from head to toe, and asked local artist Eva Walsh to record us some mournful & spooky violin for the video. Needless to say, she did a great job. (Red Line Roots called Eva “the most tasteful [fiddle] player” around. Tasteful and spooky.) I had a fun time with the cinematography on this one – to get the horror movie visual effects, I took the lens off the camera and shifted it around, creating moments off-kilter lighting and focus.

“Buried In Snow”: Shot the same day as “Cabin Fever”, one wouldn’t call this a glowing endorsement of Behringer mixers – but just to clarify, that mixer was indeed broken beyond repair long before burying it in a snowbank.

“All In The Brewster”: Our love for great sitcoms is substantial, and we got to test out our horrible one-liner chops in this video. We took the cliché proposal often heard among friends, “there should be a sitcom about us,” and turned it into a Louie-style imaginary sitcom. Scott and I are brothers, and Andrew (in a wig) is our grumpy old dad. This one was really fun to edit, all the way down to the Four String Films bumper, made from our “Happy Birthday Almost Famous” video and Andrew’s “WHAT” from the 2013 Acoustic Nights video. Fun fact: He’s reading an issue of the Old Colony Memorial from around 2005, featuring an article about my high school band, Saucy Seth & the Clams of Death.

“Brewster’s Rules of Order”: This one’s a little more tame, reflecting our post-winter exhaustion more than our mid-winter mania. Scott leads the most formal meeting Brewster Productions has ever had while Andrew inexplicably opposes every agenda item. Presumably it’s so we can get back to eating pizza and watching Louie.

There will be more videos in 2016, and we’ll have another post soon about how we successfully mounted a sarcastic Kickstarter campaign for the Acoustic Nights Summer Concert Series.

– Jon Dorn

Jon Dorn