MATURE CONTENT: When four couples meet for dinner – and have their usual conversation about everyday pleasantries – they have no idea how different an unexpected guest will be to their version of normal.
Writer/director/producer: Kellie Ann Benz
Producer: Christopher Shyer
Kellie Ann Benz says:
“I can’t believe how perverted so many of you are. I mean, I like it, I’m glad for it, it’s given this little film more legs than I ever expected. It’s kind of remarkable that this film has screened at as many film festivals as it has by now.
Seems the Latin American countries super love this film, so do the French – delightful pervs that they are - Korea loved it, so did Austria and the Yukon.
So, here’s the story on how it got thunk of in the first place.
I was maybe a little bit sort of online dating. During one of my lame attempts to connect to another human via the computer, this one dude went off on this whole elaborate plan of the things he was going to do to me when we met.
I was trying to get to know him asking normal questions like ‘Are you insane?’ and ‘Are you on parole for anything?’ But he had moved us past those introductions and right up to the first meeting.
Thing is, the first meeting for him was more like a Penthouse Forum letter. Which got me thinking: what would it be like if this is how we all talked to each other in real life?
So I sat down and wrote Awkward in about 20 minutes. Then, worried for my own sanity, I sent it to my star and co-producer Christopher Shyer and said, ‘Is this messed up?’ He said, ‘Yes it is. When should we shoot it?’
And that’s honestly how it came to life.
I had some savings from a script fee – and when a filmmaker has money in their bank account the first thing they think of is – what can I shoot with this?
We shot on 35mm film, which in the end probably cost me an additional $10,000, as I discovered later that film festivals screen on beta tape now, not on film print. Lesson learned.
We rehearsed one weekend, shot the next and kept the crew as small as possible. I didn’t hold auditions, just chose people I loved working with like Christopher and Jennifer and trusted my gut on the rest of the cast who were all new to me. I cast Sarah Edmondson based on her picture alone and Sasa Brown after seeing her brilliance in a play.
After our shoot, the charming Benjamin Arthur went on to become Gemini-award-winning Benjamin Arthur, star of Less Than Kind, developed through NSI’s Totally Television.
Some $20,000 of my own money later, I had Awkward. The first two festivals turned us down but then the BFI London Film Festival invited us before they even stopped viewing films and then the other invitations poured in.
I thought the best we’d do was London so I actually flew there and took in the screening. I also visited Paris for the first time in years since I thought, when’s the next time I’m going to be in France?
To my complete surprise, we got invited to Clermont-Ferrand, the prestigious short film festival in the middle of France. And hell yes, I had to go!
Managing Awkward‘s invitations by then became a full-time job. The delightful and hilarious Sarah Edmondson was nominated for a Leo Award in BC and I won the Writers Guild of Canada Award for short film, both in 2009.
It was a very exciting time.
It’s been an unexpected journey and I’ve learned so much about short film distribution, festival strategy and marketing that I started The Shorts Report which led to writing columns for NSI – and getting to meet a million of you amazing Canadian filmmakers. We are a mighty army!
Thanks for watching Awkward, put on your headset, make sure no kids are watching and don’t get caught watching this film at work!
Okay, you wonderful pervs, enjoy the film.”
About Kellie Ann Benz
Kellie Ann Benz has been creating filthy funny short films since 1998. She started with a blasphemous comedy about a party girl who has a one night stand with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, entitled The Second Coming. That film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival, then went on to the Montreal World Film Festival and about 15 more after that.
Then she dared to confront (hilariously) the iconic Prince Charming in Cinderella; Single Again. This film premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2001. For a couple of years, Kellie Ann took her punches in low budget Canadian TV until, in 2005, she co-wrote the kids comedy adventure feature film Finn On The Fly.
Then in 2008 she wrote, directed and co-produced the little ditty you see before you now. By end of 2009, Awkward had competed at over 25 film festivals (40 now) including Clermont-Ferrand, London Film Fest and Just For Laughs – and won the Writers Guild of Canada award for Best Short Film.
In the same year, the kids comedy she co-wrote was made and released and went on to collect the audience award at Sprockets Toronto Film Festival for kids.
Since then, she’s been selected for NSI Totally Television, CFC/TFC’s Comedy Lab and Vancouver’s Crazy 8′s where she directed the suburban husband comedy short Stupid Chainsaw Tricks (written by Kris Elgstrand).
Untethered by reality or common sense, Kellie Ann is working on her first feature film that she’ll direct. She’d tell you the title but then she’d have to kill you, and she’s too busy prepping for that sort of time-consuming nonsense.
Kellie Ann also runs a production company called Shocking Buckwheat Pictures.