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E3 2012: Jason Mewes and Blake Freeman discuss their video game flick, “noobz”

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LOS ANGELES, California — There was a lot of nervous energy before the big E3 premiere of “noobz.” The love letter to video games was originally planned as a movie that would be sent directly to DVD, but after doing well at Cannes it ended up being picked up for a theatrical release. Writer/director/star Blake Freeman was both excited about getting to show his passion project in front of the audience it was made for, as well as nervous that it would be poorly received.

“If the movie’s bad and the sound guy sucked or somebody else didn’t do their job or a producer missed something or an actor was terrible that we hired, they don’t go, ‘That person killed the film,’ they say, ‘Blake Freeman, you made a bad film,'” he said with a laugh. “There’s nobody else to like point the finger to, so it’s a little nerve-wracking.”

Jason Mewes, on the other hand, was all cool. Wearing a shirt that said “Spoilers!” and his character’s “Gears of War” hat from the movie, the movie’s star was clearly hyped for the project. He’s been through the ringer, regularly appearing in Kevin Smith movies as Jay from the Jay and Silent Bob duo, as well as reprising the character in several other films. While he may be playing Andy in “noobz,” it’s clear that his character is of the same ilk as Jay.

“Him being this character, an extension of himself, is much better than me trying to make him be somebody else,” Freeman explained. “And the cool thing was we were trying to get rid of that whole stipulation that nerds play video games because it’s not one billion nerds. I’m sorry to all the nerd nation, but you’re not that strong. Everybody loves games.”

E3 was the perfect venue for Freeman and Mewes to premiere their passion project. “noobz” follows a gaming clan of “three luckless, aging gamers and an asthmatic adolescent” who “frag up” and road trip to Los Angeles in order to enter a “Gears of War” championship.

In addition to the two stars we talked to, “noobz” also enlisted the help of fan-favorites Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin Williams, named after “The Legend of Zelda”), Carly Craig (the girl who sneezed and pooped at the same time in “Hall Pass”) and Adam Sessler (a former “X-Play” host on G4). They were all in attendance Wednesday night, and it was clear everyone was excited to be there.

“The great thing is everybody on the film make some sort of [allowances] to make the film,” Freeman said. “Everybody wanted to make this movie because it was about gaming. They read the script and they loved it. And the great thing is that everybody really is themselves, so we had a script, we stay on script, and then everybody would just get off script.”

The key was to have a cast full of “authentic video game players and the people that are fun,” which Freeman managed to assemble. From there, it was just a matter of having the movie be a “realistic look at real gamers as people in the competitive gaming world,” which had never really been done before. Though “noobz” is a comedy, it was also Freeman’s attempt to honestly portray the gaming community.

Mewes has shown his nerd cred in everything from “Clerks” to “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” but it’s interesting that he’s never done a movie about video games until now. He explained that that’s because there really haven’t been many out there.

“A lot of people aren’t making them. To me, there’s not many out there. What I really like about the script and the movie itself is I do love the whole element of how people all the time all over the world or U.S. talk to each other every night and are like, ‘Hey bro, sign on, we’re going to play the Red Dragons tonight,’ and you don’t know who you’re playing. It could be a 12-year-old girl, boy, or a 50-year-old man,” he said.

He added that he feels this movie appeals to all audiences, not just people who are fans of gaming. And that’s because there are now a lot of people who enjoy gaming, as things like the Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Kinect make it accessible to all ages.

“There’s comedy, entertainment, fun, gaming –I mean, I think right now everybody wants, with all the crappy shit that goes on, people like to zone out and play video games, and you got that in the movie,” Mewes said of “noobz.” “People want to know love and there’s a guy/girl relationship love story, and there’s funny funny funny in it, so you’ve got all the three good things that give you an erection or get you moist.”

With that being said, Freeman was very clear to say that he wanted this movie to start to chance the perception of video games in the public eye. We aren’t all Mountain Dew-swilling, Cheetos-chomping fat kids who are coated in acne and live in our parents’ basement. Video games have over one billion fans, and this movie is meant to defend them.

“We’re all our own athletes and heroes in our own right, in our living room, and some of us are excellent at what they do and should be recognized for it. That’s not wasting time playing, that’s actually getting better at something that you want to do,” Freeman said. “Some dudes want to do it for baseball and other people want to do it for video games. They should not be beat down or looked down upon it because of that, because they’re sitting stationary. Who knows, they may get up on an exercise bike. Fuck ’em! Baseball people are fat!”

“noobz” is due in theaters in the US in limited release in September.

Do you wish that there were more video game comedies made? Are you looking forward to “noobz”? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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