The Story Behind The Scenes
Original Posting Date: December 27th 2008
After the fun we had with “Belts”, Dan and I were kicking some ideas around for a Christmas-themed NSHG film. It must have been a couple weeks to a month before Christmas of 2007, when Jess and I were leaving my mom’s place, and I casually mentioned an out-of-left-field title to Daniel…”How To Hunt A Santa Claus”.
It really didn’t get too much farther than that. Dan and I may have tossed out a couple ideas at that point, but it was broad stuff. I think there was talk of Dan’s character, who was then nameless, using a sniper rifle at one point. But Christmas IS Christmas, and the plans were abandoned, but not forgotten.
Fast forward to the next year. Dan and I were living together in the same house, and we had a lot of fun and un-success with “Fun With Fitness”. So we decide we are going to film this bad boy. Now, a LOT of ideas were being tossed around as to how to present this. At first, Jerry was going to be very much like past characters, but he feels that the Santas of the world are part of a conspiracy to get him…so he’ll get THEM first. Then the idea was proposed that they weren’t really Santa, they were the spearhead of an alien invasion, and Jerry’s the only one who can stop them. How to film these ideas though was a problem. We decided to keep it simple.
The first thing Dan and I did is sit down and make a list of ways to kill Santa. After a very lengthy list, we started crossing out ideas that simply wouldn’t work. Naturally the tank was out. At this point, I started worrying that this film was going to be 4 minutes long. So we came up with more creative ways to kill Santa, literally looking around the room for anything we could incorporate in.
After our list was done, we wanted to start filming that very minute. However, due to the camera charger missing, we had to put it off for a few days. The tone of this film was to be substantially darker than the previous outings, and Daniel wound up having no dialogue. We thought about his character quite a bit too. We didn’t want this to be a one note one character series; we needed someone new. To recap, we had the dumb-bigoted Billy, the dumb-stubborn Jimmy, and the just plain dumb-werewolf Timmy. So we stretched Jerry out to be an aggressive psychopath.
Filming outside was great. We had been hit with record snow, and this was such a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of that. To really hit home about Jerry being psychotic, we had him express his anger towards winter/Christmas by beating up the snow. Dan and I had way too much fun with this. Now, originally Nate was going to be Santa, and we were going to have fun torturing him. But we couldn’t find a Santa suit (that wasn’t like $30 million), so Nate instead reprises his role as Gringor, the jackass neanderthal bully.
Nate was a great sport, especially with the face-washing. Us four Fergusons have this thing about being on camera…once the camera’s on, we’ll ham it up. Nate contributed to almost all the sight gags with his own style. That first scene with Nate, when we whack him from behind and smash his skull in was unfortunately difficult to time with the narration and caption, but we pulled it off after a couple of takes. The icicle was one of our favourite ideas, and we had a couple contenders for massive icicles. I was intensely worried we couldn’t see it against the beard in greyscale, but it turned out. The throwing tree star on Nate’s side was filmed in reverse, and we were pretty happy with Nate’s back-acting. I’m pretty sure Dan contributed the idea of sprinkling snow onto Nate from a shovel on the spot, and you can see he was really enjoying it.
We then moved inside and filmed the interior scenes. Doug stopped by as “Grampa Ug-Ka”, as a tossback to “Belts”. And that cookie apparently did hurt upon hitting Doug’s head. You may be wondering why we did a recap of all the weapons, and it’s purely because we honestly believed we only had a few minutes worth of material. And so using that recap we snuck a few jokes in as well. We were on such a roll at that point, we didn’t want to stop. But I had to go to work, and the remaining scene was at night. So at 1 am, I came home from work and we finished right then and there.
As for the editing, this has got to be the only film we’ve done where we’ve cut the audio from every scene and just gone with the narration and music. I borrowed some music from Sufjan Steven’s Christmas album(s), and we finished editing literally midnight of Christmas Eve. And to my shock, the film I thought wouldn’t be more than 5 minutes was actually 8 1/2 minutes long! Our longest video yet!
We screened it for the family on Christmas morning, and the family seemed to genuinely like it with only one large criticism: the opening scene with Jerry kicking winter’s ass. The version you see on YouTube is not the same as the one we screened. The camera follows Jerry the whole time and there are no cuts. Doug and Jess suggested we trim it significantly, and we did…it wound up being almost 30 seconds, which is a lot of time to watch Daniel run around kicking snow. I’m actually glad they brought it up; when I did all the cuts and mixing, it wound up looking heaps better.