Tonight, Monday, Nov. 5, there will be a free screening of Stalking Santa, the new holiday mockumentary made by all the best local improv comedy actors, in celebration of its anticipated nationwide DVD release on Tuesday.
Screenings are being held in Los Angeles and New York City, as well.
Stalking Santa begins by introducing you to Lloyd Darrow (played by UVSC professor Christopher Clark), a "scientist" obsessed with performing a holiday experiment to prove or disprove the existence of Santa Claus.
Darrow’s outrageous experiment will the try his faith in Kriss Kringle, shake up his family life and explain, once and for all, the certain truth about the mythical figure.
Though it sounds simple, Stalking Santa has been a long project in the making.
"We began filming four years ago, in 2003," said Clark. "We would shoot a little, then Christmastime would be over, so we’d brainstorm for the next year. And then when it was here again, we’d squeeze filming in around our day jobs."
Originally written as a short movie, once first-time director Greg Kiefer encouraged the cast to add improvised comedy to each take (which is the majority of the cast’s forte), they realized that they could make a hilarious full-length feature film.
"We began with a 40-page script," Clark said, "but were then given permission to add improv. For us, that was like being handed the key to a candy store. We ended up with some really great footage. About 80 percent of Stalking Santa is improvised, and there are hours and hours of extra funny footage that didn’t make the cut because it didn’t progress the plot. That was the joy of making it."
Once a rough cut was finished, Stalking Santa was entered into the film festival circuit. Shortly thereafter, it was shown to William Shatner, who, after watching it, got excited and wanted to be part of it.
Due to the Screen Actor’s Guild’s rules, Shatner was told by S.A.G. that he could have nothing to do with the film. Being a fan of the concept and the footage, Shatner put up a fight and eventually gained their permission to be part of, what he calls, "The Little Movie That Could." He became an executive producer and, in the final cut, narrates the entire movie.
The humor in Stalking Santa is not far off from the dry, politically incorrect humor that is sweeping the world through programs like the NBC or BBC versions of The Office.
It’s no wonder why Shatner wanted to be part of this project. It’s the type of random movie you might stumble across on Comedy Central one day, sit through, and completely enjoy yourself.
"Stalking Santa is worth (the) audience’s attention," said Shatner. "It was a great, fun project for me to do. … That’s really all it is for me — fun. And I think the audience … will have fun looking at it. It’s not going to change the world, but (it will make) … people feel better when looking at it."