Risky Business

The Story Behind The Scenes

By Steven

Original Posting Date: February 17 2009

Daniel calls me up a couple months after “Hunting…” saying he’s got a project due for his Planning class. For reference, Planning has to do with teaching life and job skills, and is generally considered to be a waste of time. Daniel’s assignment was to provide scenarios/points about running a business. Daniel had the presence of mind to ask if he could do a video project, and his teacher agreed, thinking this would probably be the best format for the assignment.

Daniel literally calls me on the bus, coming home from school. He talks about the project, and I was a little hesitant. After all, it was due in a week and a half. He got home and we sat down to plan it, much as we had done with “Hunting…”. I wanted a larger cast than the few of us, and Daniel said this wouldn’t be a problem, as it was a group project and he had several other group members to incorporate. So we drafted up an outline, paying very special attention that the video, although comedic, would answer the criteria of the assignment.

First day of filming, Daniel calls me up. The other group members BAILED. Now…I know this class sucks. I know you have “more important things to do” than this banal project. But still: not cool. So Daniel comes home solo. Hence, Nate, Doug and I all play multiple roles. But sometimes that’s what you got to do, right? Roll with it.

We filmed this in just one day, but that’s because we knew exactly what we were doing, and it’s a pretty simple format. We decided that having it broken up into “Risks” with right and wrong responses would kill two birds with one stone: it would be easier for the teacher to grade (as we needed at least five), and the jokes would flow better.

The format for this video is a little different than past ones, in that there is a prologue sequence. We have poor Charlie the Bum willing to dance for money, but coming to the conclusion he needs a job. There’s no title music, just a fade in of our standard background music.

My son Andrew really wanted to participate and was very happy to be running the “lemonae” stand and be sold off to some guy. My dad was available too, and so we got him to be the cop. Strangely enough, this was probably the hardest sequence to get right. We had written down all these licenses and permits, and it’s a relatively simple shot, but between flubbed lines, errant paper, and Dad sniggering, it took way longer than it should have. One of these flubs is in the blooper reel at the end. Dan drops some change and goes to scoop it up while we’re rolling, and then Dad rides in…staring at the camera smiling.

Risk 1 – I really wanted this to be the first, as it’s pretty crucial from a business point of view, simple to film, and probably the weakest joke, but a good lead in to the Risks. And yes, those are snowboarding goggles. And no, we don’t have an unlimited supply of lemons, we’re just really creative with that one.

Risk 2 – Dan was really specific about how to do this one. Apparently his teacher had laid out theft procedures very specifically, so Dan wanted to be sure that he asked for clarification from the robber. Nate shows up in his second role, throwing his usual style into things. Now…I was very keen to have Charlie attack the robber, because in every workplace I’ve heard of, you CAN NOT do this. But I’ve always wanted to see it happen.

Risk 3 – Sorry about the camera angle here. That’s what happens when Steve isn’t behind the camera. Funny story here. A couple blocks away, there was massive reconstruction of the street. Nate and Dan decided one day to steal a sidewalk closure sign, so imagine my surprise when one night I came home to find that in the backyard. Might as well put it to good use! Happy ending: we made them give it back.

Risk 4 – I hate abusive customers. So we gave Nate in his third role a lot of leeway to go ape on Daniel about absolutely nothing. Doug wasn’t a big fan of Dan’s antagonistical line, but I think it would be the complete wrong thing to say, so I’m pretty happy with it. I was a bit tongue-in-cheek with my line about snivelling up to the customer, but it IS what you’re supposed to do.

Risk 5 – Remember those old commercials where the boss in the office is hitting on the receptionist, and the narrator says “Sexual harrassment violate you…and it violates the law.”? I loved those commercials. We thought we’d put our twist on it by poking fun at Australian homosexuals, and Doug really hammed that up in HIS second role, and we were dying laughing at this one.

Risk 6 – As we had fulfilled the requirements of the assignment, we decided to have a little fun with this last one. I reach deep into my Sicilian roots for this one folks, and yes, I really slapped him.

The conclusion pretty much wrote itself. It was such a logical way to end it, we were pretty happy with it. Now…we did include an outtakes section at the end, and I thought it was going to only be with the assignment. But Dan included it at the end here, and I wasn’t too pleased with that.

Man, was I ever anxious over this. I REALLY wanted to hear what the teacher thought. Would it go over well or not?? What would she think of Daniel being a group of one? And thank God, she loved it. She gave Dan a perfect score on it, and we were thrilled. And Dan’s ex-group? They can eat it.

Little did I know that this would be the first part of the “Planning Project Trilogy”. And we finally got on that roll of getting these churned out! In the end…this is probably my favourite.

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