Directing is a lonely profession, so it’s fitting for someone such as Jeff Grace, who is used to being part of an ensemble to turn to the crowd for his directorial debut “Folk Hero & Funny Guy,” which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter before a December 4th deadline.
One of the founding members of the comedy troupe The Vacationeers, whose series of wonderfully oddball viral videos paved the way for this year’s pre-apocalyptic David Cross-Julia Stiles satire “It’s a Disaster,” Grace has been rapidly picking up “that guy” ubiquity through his guest turns on such shows as “Mad Men” and “How I Met Your Mother” while hatching other Vacationeers projects. Yet before finding kindred spirits in fellow Vacationeers Todd Berger and Kevin Brennan, Grace spent many years on his own finding his voice and getting others to listen.
“Much of ‘Folk Hero & Funny Guy’ is autobiographical and from stories my good friend Adam Ezra and I have shared over the years about the struggles of trying to make it as a singer/songwriter or standup comedian [respectively],” says Grace.
It was actually Ezra’s song “Desperate Please,” which was the initial inspiration for Grace to write “Folk Hero & Funny Guy,” which will see “Girls” star Alex Karpovsky step into Grace’s shoes as a standup who hasn’t quite made it yet before reuniting with a childhood friend whose singing career is on the rise, but could use his old wingman’s wit to win back an ex-girlfriend. Naturally, Ezra will provide the film’s soundtrack while Ryland Aldrich, who produced the dubstep thriller “Snap,” which premiered earlier this year at SXSW, has come aboard to produce with Grace, who believes the time is finally right for him to get behind the camera for a feature.
“Having directed a bunch of short films and produced two features, ‘It’s A Disaster’ and ‘The Scenesters,’ I feel very comfortable now directing my first feature film,” says Grace. “I also think the script I wrote is a good representation of the types of stories I want to tell as a director.”
The film will also be able to utilize Grace’s well-honed skills for improvisation and thinking on his feet should its Kickstarter campaign be successful. Though the writer/director spent the summer polishing the script to the point where it grabbed the busy Karpovsky’s attention, the plan is to shoot “Folk Hero & Funny Guy” on the East Coast in February, with the crew well aware of the inclement weather that could come their way. As Aldrich says of the film, “It’s the kind of production where if there’s a blizzard, then suddenly in the story, there’s a blizzard.”
Right now, the only blizzard surrounding “Folk Hero & Funny Guy” is one of activity since the filmmakers unveiled their campaign this week and have promised plenty of fun updates ahead for their backers, something that longtime fans of Grace and the Vacationeers know he’ll make good on. As for those who aren’t already, now is as good a time as ever to get in on the ground level to support one of the most exciting comic filmmakers working in indie film today.