Comic Fodder

Fartman: The Movie!

Tammy Caplan is the Director and Co-writer of Fartman: Caught in a Tight Ass, a short film that Tammy and her writing partner Joe Gold created and submitted into the Howard Stern Film Festival early last year. Although they did not win the competition (the film was disqualified because they used Union crew members) the film caught the attention of Stern and his crew and has been aired on Stern's On-Demand channel. You can see the movie and learn more by visiting the films website: http://www.fartmanmovie.com/


Tell me a bit about yourself and your start in film.

I started acting in Community Theater when I was eleven. I graduated
with a degree in theater from UCLA. While I was there, I tried to take
as many screenwriting classes as I could. For a while, I've wanted to
make my own films. Developing a film is a lot more fun than sitting by
the phone waiting for an agent to call. I'm glad technology has
advanced to a point where it's a lot easier to make a film. My
producing/writing partner is Joe Gold who also plays Fartman. Joe got
his theatre degree from the University of Michigan after starting out
as a magician. As you can see from the Fartman film, he has a very
hairy ass.

Just like the REAL Fartman. Speaking of, "the King", how long have you been a Stern fan?

Joe has been a Stern fan for over twenty years, since Howard was on NBC
in New York. When Howard was on terrestrial radio, I always seemed to be
driving to work whenever they were playing this big fifteen-minute
block of commercials. So I didn't get to hear him too much, but now
that he's on Sirius, I'm constantly listening to him.


Sirius is a revolution. I've been a fan for years and I don't think the show has ever been as good as it is now. So you entered the first film festival. The only parameters for content were that it had to be Stern related. As fans of Stern, you know the rich tapestry of people, topics, moments and characters you had to work with. That said, why Fartman?


At the time that Howard Stern announced the film festival, I was doing
the outline for a superhero script that I wanted to do. We also wanted
to do something that people who were not listeners of Howard could
enjoy. And who doesn't enjoy farts? When Howard first announced the
festival, Joe and I wrote a fifteen-page script dealing with the origin
of Fartman and his early years. I was going to play Fartman's mom. But
then Howard announced that the films could only be five minutes. So we
combined some scenes, cut the script down to six pages, and killed off
Fartman's mom.

Did you put any other research into the Fartman Universe, as far as looking for villains or other characters to use or was everything, other than Fartman, a product of your own creation?

We looked for audio of Howard talking as Fartman on the radio but we
couldn't find it. We found the monologue he said when he appeared as
Fartman on the MTV video music awards but that was all we found. We
didn't really use that because the monologue was long and in superhero
movies, you always see the villains doing the long monologues.
Everything else in our film was our own creation. In the longer version
of our script, we had created all kinds of characters that unfortunately
didn't get used - a whole Fartman universe. I would love someday to be
able to make more Fartman films and use those characters.

Do you have any comic book influences?


I didn't have any comic book stores near where I grew up but I was
always watching Superfriends on Saturday mornings. My favorite
character was Wonder Woman's arch nemesis, Cheetah. I guess I was more
interested in being the bad girl. A couple of years ago I was really
into watching the Batman Beyond series on Saturday mornings.

That was a great series. What about film influences? What are some of your favorite films?

My favorite superhero film is The Incredibles. I'm always quoting
Samuel L. Jackson saying, "Where's my supersuit?" I also like the first
two Superman films, the first two Batman films and the X-Men films.
I'm a sucker for stories with traditional hero myth structures like
Star Wars. As far as comedy goes, I discovered Monty Python's Meaning
of Life on TV late one night when I was babysitting. I happened to
click onto the scene where John Cleese is teaching sex education by
actually having sex with his wife in the classroom. The funniest part
of that scene is when they cut to the reactions of the kids and they're
absolutely bored. I thought it was one of the cleverest things I had
ever seen and I started watching all the Monty Python material.

What kind of stories do you like to tell the most?

Joe and I tend to write mostly comedies. Even if I'm writing something
dramatic, I end up throwing some comedy in. We look for stories where
we can relate to the plight of the main character. Generally, when
people are in a tough, uncomfortable situation, and are trying to
struggle through it, it's entertaining.

What was the budget for the "Fartman" movie?


It was just over $5,000. That included about $400 for costumes. Most of
the costume budget went for Tight Ass and Fartman's costumes. I suck at
sewing so we had them built by a stripper store on Hollywood Blvd. We
paid $800 for food. This probably seems excessive for a two day shoot
but I'm a firm believer in feeding your cast and crew well. Our actors
were working for free although once it aired on Howard TV, the SAG
actors had to be paid $100 a day according to the SAG short film
agreement. The rest of the money went for crew during the production
and post-production. I edited the movie myself but we did pay a
composer, a sound editor (because every superhero movie has to have
great sound effects) and a visual effects guy.

Financing is probably the biggest hurdle most first time filmmakers have to get over. How did you approach getting your budget? Was it all money you already had or did you need to find some investors?

The money for Fartman came out of our own pockets. I think financing is
definitely one of the hardest things to deal with when making a film.
When writing a movie that you plan to make yourself, you want to let
your imagination go free, but sometimes it's necessary to think about
the budget. It's a bit of a tightrope. Choosing locations that were
accessible to us helped keep the budget down. The actors provided their
own costumes except for the Fartman and Tight Ass costumes. Even after
making Fartman, which has done quite well, and after making a feature
film, we feel we are no closer to having the foggiest idea of how to
attract investors.

What, if anything, has this done for your career?

Every project is a learning experience, we've met great people, and
we hope that the success of this movie will help us make future films.


Is there anything else you'd like to plug?


We recently finished a feature film called Never Say Macbeth which Joe
wrote. It's a spooky comedy, sort of like Waiting for Guffman meets
Beetlejuice. You can see a trailer at www.neversaymacbeth.com



Thanks again for your time. I really liked the film and I will certainly take a peak at the new movie. You had me sold at Waiting for Guffman meets Beetlejuice. Good luck to you!

Thanks again for the interview!