Sam H. Buchanan directs ‘Every Sport a Bowling Ball’.
Featuring real athletes and sports professionals.
Words from Sam below.
In what ways were you able to push and explore this idea beyond the initial concept?
The idea is really simple and easy to follow, the film just had to be funny. We experimented with storyboarding, which sports to feature and what the punchlines could be. If it wasn’t funny we threw it out.
Through that process, I realised early on that there was more comedy in not showing everything. You don’t see the golf club hitting the ball, or the impact on the table tennis table, or the darts player. The payoffs are funnier if you’re using a bit of imagination.
Sound played a huge role in finding comedy. Sometimes a sound would make things funny for reasons we didn’t understand. The sound of the ball hitting the ground in tennis for example. A heavy bowling ball thud was ok. But a single tennis ball bounce made the whole thing 10 times funnier. Who knows why.
The idea is really simple and easy to follow, the film just had to be funny.
Which sport as a bowling ball are you most happy with, and why?
Darts. It was a huge challenge to design and turned out better than hoped.
We had a number of big questions in pre-production. How do we throw a bowling ball at a wall? Where could we do this? How can we control the destruction of the board and create as much mayhem as possible?
Thankfully we had a talented SFX artist who helped us rig a flat to hold the dartboard that could collapse in stages. And rigged it securely and safely enough to allow us to throw a bowling ball at the wall for real.
Then the scene appears at a point when the rules have been well established. Everyone knows what is coming and I really like how quickly we go from tedium to carnage.
By making a piece like this, what did it offer you as a filmmaker?
Short films aren’t always enjoyable to make, but from the beginning we just wanted this to be a fun production. The question was would that fun translate onscreen? And it came at a good time. Lockdown was dull and it was really liberating for us to invest so much in an idea that is, let’s face it, silly.
Career wise? I can only hope to get my hands on more commercial briefs that allow for this kind of playful, inventive comedy.
Any key inspirations/references?
One of the inspirations was a short animation called ‘Things You Better Not Mix Up’. It takes different scenes and swapped key items that meant the scenes didn’t work. A lumberjack uses a violin bow to try and saw a tree, then a violinist onstage plays the violin with a bandsaw and cuts the violin in half. As the viewer you get it. You just want to see how creative the scenes can be with the rules they have established.
Importantly, the violinist and the lumberjack treat the mayhem as if it’s nothing out of the ordinary. That became a really clear rule for Every Sport a Bowling Ball. It made the action funnier. This is a universe where this is how these sports are played and it’s all perfectly fine.
What are you reading at the moment?
Dave Trott’s latest ‘The Power of Ignorance’ and I am slowly, slowly working my way through ‘The Peregrine’ by J A Baker.
- Camila Carlow
- Director of Photography