Beardophrenia: The Beard Comedy Short


Comedy Short: Trevor Cleanshave has a question to ask his bearded roommates, and the answer may drag him down the rabbit hole of what it means to have a beard.

The Story Behind Beardophrenia

There are a couple of spoilers below, so if you haven’t watched the film already, check it out and come back.

I grow a beard every fall, and shave it off every summer. At shaving time, I write a little story to distract people from the fact that they’re staring at my ugly mug picture after picture. I do this every year without a valid reason. Some people like it, others just add me to their “Do not hire” list.

In March of 2009, I wanted to do something a little different for the sixth annual beard shaving compilation, so I sat down with a camera phone and Notepad to work out some ideas for a short film. Within a couple of hours, I had a script, a minute of incredibly poor quality video, and a growing sense that I was in way over my head. I sent the video over to my friend Mike to see if he had the time to help me out.

Luckily, he did.

A month later, we started filming what would later be known as Beardophrenia. The whole film had to be shot out of order, with me doing each character’s lines, triple checking that we had all the required shots, and then shaving to bring out the next character. If we missed a line, it had to be cut. You can’t read a bearded guy’s lines when you only have a mustache. I guess audiences notice things like that.

And because the whole thing was an exercise in me talking to myself, when you see the beard guy talking to the clean shaven guy, or the goatee man talking to the mustache man, that’s me talking to an empty chair or staring into an empty doorway. Maybe actors find that sort of thing easy, but I’m not an actor…which was pretty obvious because I did just about everything that an actor is not supposed to do. I laughed for no reason. I stared into the camera. I flubbed lines read directly from a script that I wrote. And Mike managed to stay level through the whole thing, setting up shots, making suggestions, and keeping everything moving. In about four hours, half the film was shot. All I had to do was grow a month’s worth of stubble and the filming would resume.

Then beard growing schedules, babies, and life got the project shelved for six months.

Once the new baby stopped screaming all night long, and I accepted the fact that short films with no budget don’t get big-budget sets, the second round of filming and shaving took place in late October, 2010. Thanks to Mike’s quick turnaround, we had a working print of the film a few days later.

Another month went by, and I came to the realization that I couldn’t use the music that Mike picked for the film without paying royalty fees that ended with multiple zeros before the decimal point. We tried to replace it with royalty free music and then even tried to have some friends score the film, but neither worked out.

I had to go on a hunt for free film music. For those of you who have never had to do this, it’s miserable. Searching for a needle in a haystack doesn’t quite describe the process. It’s like trying to find a sandwich in the sewer. I spent all of my free time for a month combing through the Creative Commons and Public Domain, and by the end of 2010, I had music that might actually hide the fact that most of my “acting” was merely a product of Mike’s clever editing.

Once the music was in, I drove Mike crazy with edit requests for a couple of months. He would fix one thing, and I would come back with two others. He would fix those, and I’d ask for three more. Finally, almost two years after the original idea (and six months after getting sick of it of looking at it), we had six minutes and seventeen seconds of beard film.

If you see anything that looks like I know what I’m doing in that time frame, it’s probably just a result of the talent of Mike over at Burning Snowman.

And that’s the story. Two years to make six minutes of film. And every time I watch it, the one thing I can count on to make me laugh is the last few seconds of the credit roll. It gets me every time.

If you laugh, let me know. Thanks for checking it out.

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