Local pilot profile: Exquisite Corpse

This is the latest entry in a series of profiles of TV pilots that were submitted to the New York Television Festival, an annual celebration of independently-produced TV, by Chicago-based writers and performers.

NYTVF is this October, but you can catch local screenings of many of these pilots before then. For example, next Saturday, August 10th at the Public House Theatre at 3pm, four pilots will be screened: Delivery DudesExquisite CorpseB&B, and Family Heirloom, all of which will be profiled here soon!

What is it? Exquisite Corpse is an absurdist sketch pilot borne from a series of improvised scenes that were refined into interconnected sketches over several months and iterations.

Who's involved?  Created by Claymore Productions, a quartet of writers and performers that includes Tyler Smith, Brian Hurwitz, Josh Segovia, and Peyton Brown, Exquisite Corpse was originally a live sketch and improv show started in 2010. "Working with our writers, we crafted our favorite improv scenes from those shows into one, organically flowing sketch show," Smith explains. That show was presented at the Chicago Sketchfest earlier this year, and was then developed into the pilot submitted to NYTVF.

The Claymore team shared responsibilities when it came time to shoot the pilot, Smith, Hurwitz, and Brown all shared directing duties, taking on individual scenes, with Smith and Hurwitz sharing the role of producer, though according to Smith, "through it all, we maintained a pretty open dialogue on the process so there was a unified voice."

How'd it go? Originally, "we had goals of submitting a TV pilot to NYTVF that would combine footage of our live sketches with our pre-taped videos, in the same vein as Monty Python or Kids in the Hall," said Smith, "however, this proved to be too burdensome, unfocused, and the end product wasn't watchable." So, plans changed and the new show presented at Sketchfest was a sort of dress rehearsal for the finished pilot.

The application process for NYTVF requires a lot of preparation beyond the production of a TV pilot: "you have to prepare 5 playable DVDs of the pilot, a trailer, an artistic commentary video, a data DVD with images, and an application form," as well as a substantial submission fee.

It was not until the morning before the NYTVF deadline that the entire preparation process was complete, with all the necessary submission materials compiled. Thanks to the wonders of FedEx's overnight package service ("I don't know if they invented it, but they definitely perfected it"- Tyler Smith), they were able to submit in time, and are eagerly awaiting a response. "NYTVF has always been in the back of our minds, pushing us to do better work, so it's very satisfying to have a piece that we feel good about submitting."

Can I watch it? The full pilot is not available online, but there is a trailer available online that shows very nice looking bits and pieces of sketches, some of which look very similar (wink nudge wink) in premise to the sketches Claymore is performing at their very fun and funny live Exquisite Corpse sketch show currently running on Sunday nights at 8pm at The Annoyance. Exquisite Corpse  the pilot is a part of that 4-way pilot screening I keep mentioning; you'd do well to be at the Public House Theatre next Saturday at 3pm.