Monday, February 8, 2010

Peter Gilroy's Improvised Feature Film: Roughing It

20-year-old Chapman film major Peter Gilroy, and 12 of his college-age peers banded together to create a feature-length film. The project, an ambitious feat in itself, was made over the past two years with a budget of less than $300, and (get this) was filmed entirely on the spot with no scripted dialogue. The cast improvised.

The cast is comprised of students from Orange County to Los Angeles who are a part of an improvisation team through the National Comedy Theatre, home of ComedySportzLA. The film's stars include: Scott Brazee, Johnny Chang, Catherine Combs, Peter Gilroy, Tyler Holtman, Sean Kang, Josh Kupanoff, Kurt Maloney, Brock Mckenzie, Tyler Phillips, Kellie Whisler, and Jacob Wysocki.

Peter, the film's director, created a mere 5 page outline that helped create a rough representation of each scene, but everything was left to chance, and change."New characters were created, relationships changed, and all dialogue was made up on the spot," Peter says.


From Director, Peter Gilroy, in his own words...
"The film started about two years ago. I am on an improvisation team in Hollywood with college-age students from different colleges in Southern California. One of the shows at the theater is basically an improvised play in which a group of improv comedians make up a play off the top of their head, using suggestions from the audience, sort of like that old show Whose Line Is It Anyway? 

Being a film major and a member of the team, I wanted to try to combine the two, and make an improvised feature-length film. There have been improvised films before where they use a lot of improv on set, like Christopher Guest films, which are mockumentary type films with improvised interviews. No film has had this much improv. The story completely changed during each day of filming. New characters were added based on another character mentioning them in a line of dialogue, and characters back stories where reshaped.

I spent about six months writing the outline to the film on and off, between classes. The film is an ensemble film in which there is no main character, but instead four different stories that each have their own main character. The real main character in this film is the forest because each story line crosses the other; the only constant is the forest. Sort of like the city of Los Angeles to the film Crash in which there are a bunch of story lines that cross each other, but they all take place in L.A., but our film is much funnier, and on purpose.

The four story lines are:
1. A group of friends who are spreading the ashes of their friend, and coming closer together over the journey.
2. A film crew looking for Bigfoot.
3. A Scoutmaster and Boy Scout who have been lost in the woods for three days.
4. A camping trip between a couple going through hard times in their relationship.

[The teaser trailer for Roughing It.]

All of these talented actors worked for free on a set that included a two man crew (a one man crew in the scenes that I was acting in). I truly believe that these actors will be the next generation of Hollywood actors. Our leading lady, Catherine Combs, just had a starring role in the Sandra Bullock film The Blind Side. Our movie is hilariously funny, but it also has some very emotional moments. I am very pleased with what we have accomplished."


Attend the screening! Showing at 9:00pm on Wednesday, February 24th at the Art Theatre of Long Beach, the beautifully restored 1930s Art Deco cinema. Arrive early. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door, beginning at 8:30pm. A portion of the proceeds will go to Haiti relief. Give something back, laugh, and enjoy the show!


Also check out Peter's personal comedy blog for updates on additional screenings! If you have any questions or comments for him, he can be contacted at

- Sara
Listening to Death Cab for Cutie's "Transatlanticism" (envisioning fireworks, adorning the night sky at last summer's Hollywood Bowl show)


  1. Worst. Trailer.EVER! I was all stoked to watch this film......and then I watched the trailer. Rather than give me a peek at the actual film...all these idiots could do was say how much they liked improv. WHO CARES! I am going to avoid this film based on the characters I saw talking in the trailer. I have never seen a more dis-interesting bunch outside of a sci-fi convention. At least there the idiots are in COSTUME! Epic FAIL!

  2. Your a horrible person.


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