Monday, March 15, 2010

Sex, Drugs, & Film: The Rise and Fall of Danman Productions - Part I

Danman Productions was dead. Long live Danman Productions!

[Note: first 7 minutes has a bad echo--fight through it!]

It was three years later when I found myself in a college class called Video Art. If the title doesn't tip you off, it was the kind of class that would enrage any tuition-paying parental unit. Situated in a basement within a decrepit building about three miles off campus, the class was about as underground as education gets in a major state university.

Not many film students knew about Video Art (and the A grades they handed out like candy), so it was mostly populated with performance artists who made blurry videos involving copious nudity and/or menstrual blood and/or feces. Bored to tears one day while watching an "art film" about fisting, I had a revelation: Danman Productions! Mockumentary! Interviews with my old buddies! No fisting! Just fun!

Taking the approach that Danman Productions was "the most controversial, cutting-edge production company in the industry's history," this Behind the Music-style doc traces the studio's rise from avant-garde outsider to household name to tabloid fodder. An uncredited (and English-accented) Matt K serves as the narrator, while nearly every Danman player shows up to take sides on the enigma that was Dan: brilliant visionary or drug-addled despot? (Yes, I make an appearance, too, offering up fatuous proclamations like: "Fear was about Vietnam.")

The ongoing thread detailing the feud between Shad and Joe is pretty funny. Also funny is Mike, supposedly driven to an obsession with monkeys by the lunacy of The Bastard Chicken Clock from Hell. We even dig into obscure Danman lore, including the infamous "wooden dildo" scene, which I happily managed to avoid discussing when I posted Father Sin. Well, there's no avoiding it now.

So where's Part II? Here's the story: Part I was essentially "the rise" of Danman Productions, leaving off right before the filming of The Godfathers: Part Two. The second chapter, which I shot simultaneously, covered "the fall"--how that disastrous epic sent me into a delirious tailspin that brought down everything around me.

Tragically, Part II was never edited. I blame the fact that a few months after editing Part I, I began shooting my first bona fide feature film. Yet I still have hope. After all, I doubted that I would find Part I, and was pessimistic that the obsolete 3/4-inch tape would still play. So isn't it within the realm of possibility that the raw footage to Part II still exists, packed away in that Iowa basement? I intend to find out. [EDIT: The footage was found and the sequel is done.]

[Embeddable playlist of entire 5-part movie here.]

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At March 16, 2010 at 8:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as funny as I remember and well worth the wait. Keller, I could listen to you say the word "underpinnings" in a British accent all day. MN

At March 16, 2010 at 8:39 AM , Blogger DK said...

My favorite is Keller's strangely ominous: "Because I was in Tahiti at the time... on *business*."

At March 19, 2010 at 5:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had any idea that I looked that good with my shirt off, I would have worn it open more often. Consider this link a recipe for Beef Cake.

I love the edit to my feet being cut off with a butter knife while Chris speaks of having warts removed from his feet. Genius. -shad

At March 19, 2010 at 9:39 AM , Blogger DK said...

Considering Dustin had exactly zero lines in any Danman Production, he does get a surprising amount of screen time in this. He's pretty good, though.

At March 19, 2010 at 9:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have simply lost my passion for breakfast cereal.

Matt N's impression of Joe's acting and the editing was brilliant.

A "where are they now" feature would be fun to see.


At March 20, 2010 at 10:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don’t remember doing this, or carrying at TV for you! I just finished watching this (for the first time I think!), and it’s now one of my favorites. Pretty good trip down memory lane. -jen

At March 22, 2010 at 11:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I Didn't Want to Tell This Story" -- name of the documentary you are going to make about this whole thing.

dude - i have larfed more genuine larfs in pt 1 than i have at like 99% of comedies.

by the end i wanted to hug each and every one of you bozos, including julie and her burger king hat.

you're a genius.


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