Stanley Sheepsh*ts all over the Alex P. Keaton

Director's short film explores an age-old joke setup

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Sheepsh*t Poster

Sheepsh*t, a featurette by London-based director Sean Stanley, premiered at The Alex P. Keaton Tuesday night.

Produced by Mark Potter of Rakehell Row Productions, Sheepsh*t is essentially a 30 minute exploration of the age-old joke set up, “Three guys walk into a bar...”

Except in Sheepsh*t, the setup would read, “Three guys walk into a bar and plan an April Fool’s joke that takes them all the way to a sheep farm.”

As a concept, it may sound odd. Executed as the plot of a short film, it works. Although the film’s beginning is a little confusing, Sheepsh*t quickly hits its stride.

Sheepsh*t is surprisingly full of genuinely funny moments. While the title indicates that it’s not exactly your grandma’s short film, posters and plot synopses for the film are intentionally vague.

Stanley expressed a desire to not ruin the plot for others, which makes it possible for viewers to see the film with few preconceptions. This works to the audience’s advantage; the funniest aspect of Sheepsh*t is its element of surprise. The jokes are truly funny, but they are even more humourous because they are extremely difficult to predict.

Stanley says Sheepsh*t‘s plot, which took years to realize, was crafted easily.

“It poured out of me,” Stanley says. “This idea [of Sheepshit’s plot] from probably 10 years ago popped back into my head one day ... I just kinda stuck my antenna out there, and in a couple of days it was done. I threw it to the [actors], they ate it up, and we were off and running.

“Really, I think I just always wanted to play this prank on someone I knew,” Stanley adds. “But it never happened because everyone I knew would’ve been like, ‘I disown you as a friend.’ So I just put it in a movie.”

Finding locations for the film, which was shot primarily at The Alex P. Keaton and other spots in the St. Thomas/London area, was easier than Stanley expected.

“I think we went above and beyond anything I thought of for the sheep,” Stanley says. “Once we got that location, we went down and checked it out, I was so impressed I reworked a couple of things and storyboarded things a bit more based on the location and how good it was.”

The positive experience taught Stanley a lesson about his possibilities as a writer/director.

“One of the things I learned was never write [based on] your restrictions,” Stanley says.

In addition to the support Stanley and Potter received from local residents who offered up their property as settings for the film, Stanley says the support from the local art fans and media has also been welcome. He believes in a city like London, which has a relatively small arts scene, it’s especially important for local media to get behind local talent.

What was Stanley’s favourite part of Sheepsh*t‘s production?

“The sheep was actually one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with,” Stanley jokes. “[It was] totally compliant.”

For further information regarding Sheepsh*t and Rakehell Row Productions, visit www.rakehellrow.com.

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