I spoke with Claymore Productions, the fellas behind the award-winning Exquisite Corpse sketch comedy pilot which finally (finally!) is available to the general public to watch at their leisure online. The pilot's so consistently funny and amazingly well-produced, it's no wonder Claymore took home a collective Best Actor award at the New York Television Festival last fall.
Check out the full pilot embedded below and then read the text of a nice chat I had with all four Claymore members about the production of the thing, as well as their NYTVF experiences and the exciting things to come!
The Steamroller: The pilot's incredibly professional looking, but I'm told it was made on a relatively small budget? Without giving away too many trade secrets, how were you guys able to put together such a great looking finished product?
Tyler Smith: We owe everything to our video production dream team.
You've got your Mike Fernandez - our co-DP, visual effects guy, and color corrector. Without Mike's ingenuity and expertise, I don't know if we'd have a pilot. When we finished the script, we weren't sure that some of the scenes would be technically possible, but Mike said yes to everything. We owe him big time.
We also owe a lot to Bryan "The Beast" Sentiere, our other DP, who brought his A-game. Beast is also a yes man and really goes out of his way to gather all the resources needed to make a scene look great.
Then you've got Matt Rice, our editor, who has an amazing artistic eye and sensibility. He made this thing sing.
Also, among the many artistic contributions he offered, Jared Jeffries was a huge help in getting the final sound together. As we all know, sound is crucial.
Speaking of sound, the original theme song and a lot of the music for the pilot were done by our good friends Aaron Bliden and Mark Halpern who make up our favorite band Little Justice. They are incredibly talented and their music really enhanced the tone of the world.
And generally speaking, I think Claymore approaches a lot of our projects with a cinematic eye. We enjoy spectacle and have great respect for strong visual composition. We really put the effort forward to transfer our style of comedy to video, and that includes not only the video component, but finding the right locations and costumes. We asked the simple question, "What would that look like on video?" And our video guys were like "It would look like this." And it looked real good.
TS: You cite Monty Python and Kids In The Hall as influences on the pilot, were there any inspirations from non-comedic media or other unexpected places during writing or production?
Peyton Brown: Our improv is actually the biggest inspiration, especially in the way we constructed transitions. We were very interested in creating the transitions between scenes in such a way that two sketches briefly overlap, and then it seamlessly flips from one into the next. Also: Surrealism, Ballet, David Lynch, Shakespeare.
TS: Was it a challenge translating your fluid, interconnected live performances to a TV format?
Josh Segovia: The challenge was in finding ways to do it that were interesting. We all cited Mr. Show as an example of how it was done before, but didn't want to use mini sketches as connective tissue, like they did. We wanted to keep it moving.
TS: Did you submit as a collective for the "best actor"s lot at NYTVF or were you totally caught off guard when you won?
Brian Hurwitz: We were totally caught off guard. We were not expecting to win anything, but completely honored by the award.
TS: What was rest of the NYTVF experience like? What sort of things did you take away from the experience?
Brian: First of all, the people running NYTVF are incredible. They were very accommodating, generous with their time, and completely open. They want you to succeed.
We had access to tons of exclusive panel discussions with executives and creatives from Comedy Central, IFC, NBC, etc. There was also a great interview with Mitch Hurwitz, which was really inspirational. And if you do it right, you can talk to these people directly and get their contact info. Everyone we talked to was very nice and willing to give out information.
We also had some one-on-one meetings with executives who were interested in the pilot, which is incredible. We still have those relationships and who knows how they'll grow in the future.
And lastly, we met a lot of talented, like-minded individuals at the festival who became our friends. Networking with the other artists and building those relationships was very rewarding.
Basically NYTVF is like going to camp. We made great friends and thanks to our counselors and experiences, I think we did a little growing up too.
TS: What can we look forward to from Claymore in the coming months?
Peyton: If you like improv, you can look forward to that. We'll have a run at the iO Theatre every Thursday, 10:30 PM, starting May 1, with an amazing group called WiseSnatch. Also, we're working on another pilot for this year's NYTVF, which is not sketch, but IS fucked up.