The Story Behind The Scenes
Original Posting Date: December 23rd 2009
Christmas was coming and the NSHG crew wanted to release another Christmas special to capitalize on the holiday seasons as Steve and Dan had done the year before with Hunting for Santa. 2009 was a very eventful year for us as we recorded a whole bunch of educational shorts and two whole seasons of “A Day in the Life of a Super Hero”. It was time to cap the year off with something fun and festive. I can’t remember who I plotted the story with but I’m inclined to think it was Daniel, but we decided it would be fun to make a film revolving a real problem that some face; a difficult person to get presents for. This may have been inspired by my father who for many a year I would get presents for, thinking I hit the jackpot only to get a civil, but unenthusiastic reaction from. So it goes.
I wrote the script in one or two sittings and was pretty pleased with it all in all. It was originally titled “Gifts for Gringor”, but I wasn’t really sold on that. I believe it was Nathan who gave it the punny title of “Leave My Presents”, which I was fond of right away. The problem right away was that I was making this one on a deadline and didn’t really have time to think the project through as thoroughly as I had with “How to High Five and So Should You” which I had a lot of success with earlier that year.
Shooting the film was very fun, I have to say. We brought on our good friend Paul Partington to play the role of Uncle Phyllis, who we were thinking of bringing back on occasion as a side character like Gringor. This didn’t really pan out as there were only a couple of educational shorts that would be made after this one, but at this point it felt like we could keep making them forever. We shot it all at our mom’s apartment which was adequately decked out for Christmas and it took just one day.
I do remember a few jokes that I wrote not coming into fruition. There was a gag where we saw Gringor’s dream through the dream recorder and it was him dancing with a bunch of ladies. Again we were foiled by not being able to get any females to commit to fawning over us, or this time Nate specifically. I don’t know what is the problem with ladies in this town. I think that what we have is a decent substitute, but I think that the final joke with the tuna would have been a little funnier. The idea was that it was supposed to be implied that Harry was going to get Gringor some ladies for Christmas, but he got him a can of Tuna instead. Oh well.
Oh, anyone else notice that Harry is not nearly as dumb as most of the other kids Daniel plays in this series? I don’t remember if that was a conscious decision, but I think it works. He is still kind of whiney and pathetic anyway.
To be completely honest, I’m not as fond of this one. While there are some parts that make me laugh still, I don’t feel that it’s overall as strong a piece. I think that I may have gotten carried away with my dialogue in this one, as I sometimes do. I like writing funny banter, but I don’t feel that it works for the educational shorts. There was too much bla bla bla and it would sometimes distract from what the actual film is about. “How to High Five…” and “What Are You… Chicken?! were much more focused and still were very funny.
This could have been caught in editing as well and should have been. Daniel edited, but no disrespect to him. I think it’s a common mistake because the shoot was so fun and a lot of funny things happened during it. Unfortunately, it is difficult to disconnect yourself from the material when you were a part of it, especially if it’s very fresh. Again, if we had more time to think about it and weren’t on a Christmas deadline, it might have turned out tighter. I don’t think I would have done a much better job editing it myself under the circumstances. As it is, “Leave My Presents” is overly long and the really funny parts are a little too few and far between. Though I have to confess that Nathan as Gringor is the highlight of it for me. His anger as he can’t talk on the phone is hilarious to me.