By Emily Macrander
“I’m going to go pick up the moose. We have it for the whole day on Wednesday.”
“How big is it?” Crowder asks.
“The suit itself is kind of baggy, but the head is morphed, so whoever wears it has to have a kind of small head.”
Kara Young, PR coordinator for the independent film “Bend and Break,” discusses the details of picking up a moose costume to promote the film’s Friday premiere in the Union Theatre.
But a moose in the Union?
A day after the interview I sit in the Union preparing to write my article. In the distance I see Crowder leading a 6-foot moose down the hall.
Hairy and horned, brown and mesh-eyed, it was hard not to notice Crowder’s furry promo tool. The moose-man is wearing a sign announcing the premiere of Crowder’s first feature film, plastered in Canadian flags. The moose runs into the wall.
The odd pair saunters off into the West Mall, otherwise known as Harassment Central. I laugh.
Filmed and based in Montreal, Canada, the film follows a group of men in their early twenties embarking on relationships and beginning their lives as adults.
The movie’s tagline is “a comedy about nothing in particular,” though Crowder refuses the title “romantic comedy,” preferring fellow film student, Marshall Rimmer’s suggestion “slice of life romantic dramedy.”
The project began in early 2006. Crowder’s parents were moving away from his home in Montreal, and Crowder had just recently transferred to the radio-television-film program at UT.
“I was frustrated that the first full year at UT being a transfer student I still didn’t get to do that much production work,” Crowder said.
In the summer between his sophomore and junior year the filmmaker decided to take a shot at a full-length film, which he would write, produce, direct and act in.
“I thought, ‘OK, I could wait a while, establish residency,’ and then I thought, ‘Why?’ Why not shoot a feature in my hometown where all my friends are?’ I knew there were locations I could use for sure. I just figured I should take a shot at it.”
Crowder drew inspiration from Edward Burns’ 1995 film “The Brothers McMullen.”
“Burns used locations to his advantage. It was this really low budget thing, shot on location in New York,” he said. “He made it about people, characters and dialogue. I figured if he went ahead and did it, I had no excuse. I had to at least try to do something.”
The endeavor culminated in 13 hours of high definition footage, all of which sat waiting to be edited as Crowder continued working toward his radio-television-film degree.
During that time Crowder began writing, co-producing, and acting in the web sit-com “The Wingmen.” Wingmen is about a group of young men working off FCC fines by hosting a dating advice radio program. The show is now about to release it’s fourth episode, though recent production has been stalled by work on “Bend and Break.”
Similar to the British version of “The Office,” the sitcom is largely improvisation driven.
The show shares common thematic elements with “Bend and Break,” both largely focused on young men’s relationship issues.
“I’ve always been interested in how people talk to each other,” Crowder said.
The conversation driven dialogue is characteristic to Crowder’s work. When asked how he learned to un-script a script the writer claims to have molded his style of work through a trial and error process.
His first piece in this vein was a short film for his Canadian college, “Big Ideas.” Prior to the film improvisation, Crowder was passing time with his friends with a character-based game of prank calling.
“Our prank phone calls were extremely elaborate. We would create characters and the goal was to see how long you could keep someone on the phone without them hanging up on you thinking you were a real person,” Crowder said.
“John [John Goodman, “Bend and Break”] was a killer. He could beat all of us, you know, just keep them on the phone forever. He would have regular people he’d call back as a character and hold a full conversation with them. That was the way to keep you on your toes, to learn how to stay in character.”
Jordan Crowder has been behind of or in front of the camera for much of his life. His mother, Francine Crowder, was a costume designer for Canadian television and commercials and would often bring him and his brother, standup comedian and voice of “The Brian” from the “Arthur” series, Steven Crowder on set with her.
When the producer was five years old he enticed his brother into making his first short film with him, entitled “Cowboys In The West.”
“It was pretty much about cowboys in the west,” Crowder said. “It was a home video. It was my brother and I with cap guns and my grandmother’s sunhats pinned up to look like cowboy hats. It was this draw between my brother and I but my brother wouldn’t take direction so the film is cut after cut of my brother screwing up the take and me yelling at him.”
Crowder continued to perform throughout high school, getting involved in the sketch comedy and the drama department.
His most well known piece, “Horror Friends,” he made in his early years in Canadian film school was featured this past Halloween when Rob Zombie took over the video streaming website YouTube.
As of publishing date, the short has receive 2.7 million views and then some. Crowder finds it a surprising that such a random piece of his work has received so much attention.
Through his large body of work, many of his actors are friends from Montreal.
“The relationships in ‘Bend and Break’ were based upon my friends. The actors playing the roles in the film were in those relationships,” Crowder said. “They know what every scene was exactly about and who was trying to say what about each relationship.”
Crowder pauses for a moment.
“I look back and think, you know, girls are really bad in this movie, maybe that’s not a good thing. It’s almost like a time capsule of this period of our lives, our early twenties, and what we have been through. These stories are all very personal; the funny dialogue or even the written dialogue these are conversations that we have had.”
The film is a deeply personal look into the complicated life of a 20-something man.
“It’ll reflect, at least with people in college, their feelings, kind of represent their friends,” Crowder said. “I think everyone goes through the same things. When you write as specific to your friends as possible, everybody can relate to it. Everybody has that stupid friend, everybody has that emotional friend, everybody has that person in a screwed-up relationship.”
Friday, May 2
9:30 p.m. at the Union Theatre
Event cost: free