USC film school alumni and seasoned comedy editor Maury Shessel has chosen to work on a new comedy short film titled Congratulations Josh! Directed by Josh Eiserike, the film stars Hutch Dano, known for his work on the Disney XD sitcom Zeke and Luther as well as the Selena Gomez film Ramona and Beezus. The raucous sex comedy tells the story of a teenager’s quest to get to his girlfriend’s house when her parents are away, and the trouble he runs into.
"It puts you in a place of what it’s like to be 19 again," says Shessel. The short is likened to popular modern teen comedies like SuperBad.
Shessel is no stranger to the nuance of editing required for comedies. His track record includes a variety of laughers, such as the festival award-winning Unorthodox and Mike Garcia and the Cruz. He is also the editor for several TV movies produced by Larry Levinson Productions, including My George starring Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day) and On Paper starring Morgan Fairchild (Dallas). But the nature of Congratulations Josh! provides an extra challenge for Shessel, and one that he looks forward to playing in.
"I liked the untraditional narrative," he says. "It plays out like someone’s telling a joke, and everything builds up to a punchline. You get to be crafty like this with short films which is something that can't be done with features." The unique narrative structure, which has more in common with a joke set up than a three act arc, gives Shessel an opportunity to really stretch his highly lauded creative muscle.
"I couldn’t have asked for a better editor," director Josh Eiserike said. "The success of the film is due to many people- from a professional like Hutch working with student filmmakers to the PAs donating their time. But so much of the comedy is shaped in the editing room and all of the laughs- from our throwaway gags to the big punchline, were carefully crafted by Maury, our expert editor. He knew when to let the jokes play on screen and knew when to cut to a reaction shot. It was a dream collaboration!"
The short was filmed in late 2012, but after much preparation and delay, it’s set to debut on May 18 with a dozen or so other USC thesis films in a rare, open to the public screening. The event, "Thesis The End" will be held at the Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre, 850 W 34th St, Los Angeles, CA 90089. Afterward, the filmmakers plan to continue the life of the project with submissions to comedy festivals, aiming at eventual online distribution by submitting it to taste-making comedy web sites such as Funny or Die. The move is a calculated attempt at taking advantage of where the genre hits hardest.
"I love comedy," says Shessel. "But it doesn’t do as well on the festival circuit. Luckily half of all Internet traffic is people sending funny videos."
With the right creative talents, humor spreads like wildfire, and Congratulations Josh! has all the makings of a viral sensation.