A wry sense of humor and pacing that avoids hype—that’s the trademark of movies made by Moviesauce.
A Shreveport-based, award-winning media company composed of Evan Falbaum, Kemerton Hargrove and Erica Callais Falbaum, Moviesauce makes commercial videos for clients like Foster Orthodontics and music videos for bands like the Wall Chargers. They also produce online gear reviews (ex. the EasyRig steadicam) and movie reviews (“Ride Home Reviews”). Those series have built an extensive audience for the Moviesauce YouTube channel.
With their diverse client work, they are long form storytellers, making both features (Getting Outer Space, 2011) and shorts (“Clowns and Robbers,” 2013). Moviesauce films feature devil-may-care personalities that are filmed with a high-res, signature look. The stories are quietly wacky explorations of growing up.
Several years spent building an online presence seems to be working for them. The 2015 Moviesauce feature, The Paranormals (88 mins), is moving steadily towards 300,000 views on YouTube. There are some 150 comments by viewers. So far, commenters have mostly found something positive to say about the slow-paced comedy. An example: “Really well made. This is what an indie film should be,” says Kenshin Tomoshima.
Falbaum is the pivotal fellow of Moviesauce. At age 29, he is the founder of Moviesauce and director and writer or co-writer of their work. His disarming smile and low-key manner may seem at odds with his role as the leader. His wife, Erica, at 31 years old, is a producer and actress for Moviesauce. She is also the founder of the Pet Education Project (ilovepep.com), dedicated to teaching the responsibilities of pet ownership, an education and outreach program that teaches the core responsibilities of pet ownership.
At the other end of the team is droll actor-producer Kemerton Hargrove, also 29 years old. Hargrove and Falbaum are not Laurel and Hardy, but there are amusing parallels with the 1930’s duo. You can see for yourself by watching the Ride Home Reviews on their YouTube channel. In truth, actors such as Danny Lachman, Chris DeGueurce and Mitch Landry have been the foils for the slow-burn roles played by Hargrove. Evan Falbaum is rarely on camera in Moviesauce movies, instead busying himself with directing and camera operation.
“Neither of us technically work in the “film business” or the local “film industry” (i.e. Hollywood Films),” says Falbaum. “We basically run our own video advertising business and make films on our own time.”
Hargrove attended LSU but split to grab experience in producing a reality TV show. In 2012 his Shreveport classmate Travis Bible was producing a series called Caged. He followed Bible to Los Angeles and worked in film production over the next several years. He was not seduced by the City of the Angels. Falbaum attended the University of Alabama Birmingham and got a degree in graphic design.
“My love for British humor, like the series Fawlty Towers, and for dry humor probably comes from their influence,” says Hargrove. His dad, Kem Hargrove, “encouraged me to watch Ricky Gervais’ The Office. His mom, Gayla Hargrove, recommended Wes Anderson. Both parents recommended the Bill Murray movie in Lost in Translation. Both filmmakers have been followers of director Wes Anderson. Falbaum liked The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Hargrove liked Bottle Rocket. Satire is a standard spice in the Moviesauce mix.
In truth, this is a partnership with a long backstory. The duo have been classmates since grade school at St Mark’s. Arriving at Caddo Magnet High School in 2001 they were amidst a gang of tech and
video-minded students. Suddenly, ambitious teens were able to spin video tales via software like iMovie and Garage band. By 2002, Evan and classmate Hunter Carter created a light saber duel in their movie, A Life in One Act. The saber blades glowed, with thrusts and parries punctuated by light flashes and sound effects. At the peak of action the teens magically hurled tree branches at each other and threw each other across the forest. They’d learned wicked teen sorcery.
CMTV (Caddo Magnet Television), the school’s video news class, became a locus for Saturday Night Live-inspired creativity. “CMTV was really a sketch show,” remembers Ryan Robinson. “Each person on the cast almost represented a different type of player. Kemerton and I were sort of a dynamic duo during my year—a paradigm we established early by a sketch we did about a littering problem the school was having during lunch. The sponsor assigned the littering story and the next day Kemer showed up with two Mexican wrestler masks. I think the concept was that we were two laughably obtuse super-heroes who combated the litter problem by scissor-kicking offenders all over campus. It’s the first thing we edited together and I realized with every hilarious stock sound-effect we added from Garageband that Kemer and I had the exact same ironic sense of humor.”
Adds Robinson, “A number of people who took that class ended up in media and film. Hunter, Evan, Me, Kemer, Travis Bible, Stephanie Wendelin, Jonathan Younger, Wylie Chris Whitesides. They all pursued new media in some form or fashion.”
In Shakespeare: Back in Action, Evan gathered Magnet classmates like Andrew Crawford and Dylan Nix to make a clever comedy that depended less on special effects and more on timing and storytelling.
Betraying an excess of energy, a CMTV-based gang led by Evan created the Moviesauce Film Festival in 2005. Using Fairfield Studios and LSUS as venues, it left behind its school origins, expanded and had a 3-year run. “That was the first use of the name ‘Moviesauce’, says Kemerton.” After that, it became something of an unofficial umbrella we used to make films under. It wasn’t until 2012 when Evan left Robinson Film Center that Moviesauce became a valid company, rather than a fun calling card, of sorts, and was ‘official’. He ran the company by himself for a year and a half or so, doing freelance work before work began on The Paranormals.
Gregory Kallenberg, creator of the Louisiana Film Prize and a filmmaker says of Kemerton and Evan: “Both Kemerton and Evan have impressed me from the very beginning. Evan’s abilities in his ‘Total Human Experience’ and ‘Clowns and Robbers,’ both Top Twenty LFP movies, really showed major potential. That said, Kemerton has also put his talents out there when he made ‘Con,’ another Film Prize short. I’m looking forward to what comes out of this effort, and I hope it shows the world that Shreveport/Bossier has the potential of being an indie film capital.”
On the Moviesauce platter, Evan has gathered a troupe of actors and producers. Among them is writer and filmmaker Keith Shively, who wrote the first script for The Paranomals. Shively says, “Evan’s biggest strengths are his cinematography style and his intense drive to finish a project. He’s very committed to filmmaking and continuing to take on new personal projects, and I think in the case of filmmaking you pretty much have to have an amazing amount of drive and passion.” Of the man with the eloquent eyebrows, Shively says, “Kemerton is a naturally funny guy and he puts others around him naturally at ease. Since Paranormals is a comedy, we wanted someone who could be a bit dead-pan and not come across as though they’re trying too hard to be funny. Also, Danny and Kemerton have been friends a long time, so they have natural chemistry together.”
Danny Lachman, a co-creator of Moviesauce, was the star of Paranormals and was the face of Moviesauce for quite some time. He is currently flying jets as a United States Air Force pilot. “Evan’s strength and weakness is his stubborn nature —he is relentless in achieving his goals,” says Lachman. “He is incredibly intelligent, compassionate, and fair. I’ve learned so much with him in terms of discovering my own shortcomings and potential—he is one of my biggest cheerleaders. I miss working with him. As most lifetime filmmaker friends are—we have our ups and downs—our relationship is complicated, passionate, and always evolving.”
Landon Miller, sound and music man for many Moviesauce projects, believes, “Evan knows what he wants. But he is flexible with the reality of a scenario. He knows his tools inside and out. But he takes advantage of natural elements and changing conditions to get results. He reminds me of a surfer always looking for the next big wave to rush out to.”
Hunter Carter, Magnet classmate and once a filmmaking partner to Falbaum, is now in the movie industry in LA. He offers, “I don’t think Kemerton realizes how funny he is. Or maybe he does and he just puts on a facade of self-deprecation. Perhaps that’s part of his comedic genius—you can never be sure if you’re in on his joke, or if you are the joke and he’s playing you. He lures you into a false set of expectations and then subverts those expectations in a very Andy Kaufman sort of way.”
“Kemer has an integrity of thought that allows him to remain unpersuaded by the tempting desire to deliver what he thinks the audience wants,” believes Lachman. “As a result, he is a source of inspiration and guidance to new ideas. I believe without Kemer, we wouldn’t be as creative.”
Feature filming has resumed for the Moviesauce team of Falbaum, Falbaum and Hargrove. The long version of Clowns and Robbers was shot over the summer. “A small-town clown and a small-time robber cross paths with a girl on the run and embark on a road-trip to Mexico,” is Falbaum’s elevator pitch. Part of it was shot on a road trip to Corpus Christi. “We’re pushing ourselves to take it beyond our comfort zone of just filming in Shreveport. Making it a little bit of a bigger adventure.”
The first version of “Clowns and Robbers” was a short that won a place at the 2014 Kansas City Film Fest, the 2014 New Orleans Wizard World Film Festival, and 2013 New Orleans Film Festival. It also was a Louisiana Film Prize Top 20 in 2013. The synopsis for the “dark comedy” was “Marvin hates his job as a birthday clown until a group of incompetent robbers recruit him for their next heist.”
Clowns and Robbers will arrive with widespread anticipation. Filmmaker Chris Lyon says of Evan, he “has been building an online audience with shorts and really funny movie reviews released through the Moviesauce channel on YouTube for some time now, so it makes total sense to release his most recent feature, The Paranormals, through that network. As a filmmaker, you’re always looking for a place where you can connect with an audience that’s in tune with your sensibilities and that’s going to carry that message for you—and that’s exactly what he’s been able to achieve with the effort he’s made on that platform. It takes a lot of work to build an audience, and that kind of backbreaking work yields these kind of results. With all of that said, I’m anxiously waiting to see the film he’s working on next—which is based on his La Film Prize short, “Clowns and Robbers.”
You can see more of the group’s work at the colorful, easy to use site, moviesauce.com. There, one might see the touching and witty 2007 feature, Making Of. Also on view at the Moviesauce channel are music videos for country music performer Gillis Silo, rock bands Highway Lions, Shayliff and Seratones and several videos for post-rock group The Wall Chargers (recommended: “Albatross”). Videos made for the Shreveport Convention and Tourism Bureau on the Krewe of Harambee and Krewe of Barkus & Meow are at the ready. Videos on internationally-known performance artist Nick Cave shot for the Shreveport Regional Arts Council can also be found there.
Falbaum says The Paranormals began as a straight-up comedy but it felt empty. “We had already been modeling aspects of the characters after ourselves, and it clicked with me—ghost hunting isn’t necessarily any more ridiculous of a career path than us trying to become self-made filmmakers. So we dialed in a lot more of ourselves,” he told Robinson Film Center director Alex Kent in an interview for the Shreveport Times last June. “We played up our own fears and struggles in trying to make our business and passion work together. If you pretend the characters are trying to make a movie instead of hunting for ghosts, it basically becomes an exaggerated autobiography. Plus, just the simple concept of the characters looking for something intangible is a perfect mechanism for a story about someone growing up and trying to find themselves. That’s all subtext though. It’s still mostly meant to just make you laugh.”
Kallenberg adds, “I’m always impressed when someone is willing to pick up a figurative shovel and do the work to build something. Evan has always been that guy. Whether it’s a SRAC event that needs to be covered in a unique way or Arthur Mintz’s Swaybox needs a creative cinematographic viewpoint, Evan always seems to be the guy with his hand in the air and willing to volunteer for the job. We are tremendously lucky to have his indie film vim and vigor.”