The name Matt Evans needs to be recognized by a whole lot more people. This October, after a career full of Christopher Guest-ian digital contributions that seem like the weekend work of a much more established comedian, Evans has a serious shot at making a splash with his NYTVF-selected pilot Jealous Dad (shot, directed, and edited by the prolific Bill Scurry). Starring his real son, Finn and co-written by his wife, Christine Walters, Evans’s ode to parents outdone by their wunderkind offspring is a true testament to the talent and perseverance of a talented comedic performer flying way too far under our radars. It’s time that changes and, this October, I bet it does.
Tell me how you made this from short from videos into a full pilot.
Matt: Yeah, it started as making short form videos that were kind of like monologues of one person. I did one live on stage too. I knew going into doing the videos that I wanted to blow this out a little bit more. Once we did those videos, it was my wife pushing me to change it into a half hour, to expand the world and make it into a pilot to submit to the NYTVF again. “You went there in 2012 with Breaking News and it was such a great festival and you loved being there, why don’t you try to push yourself to do that again?” That was about six months ago. I co-wrote with my wife the half hour version. Did a full 22-minute script, from there it was like, “Let’s shoot a 10- minute version of the pilot” so we could get it on tape and get it together first. We cast it with people that we liked and friends of ours, people from UCB and Magnet that we both know and love. We also got our director from there. It was a total team effort. It takes an army to get it done. I knew how much work Breaking News was and that was what was talking me out of it, I wasn’t sure I could do it again. I’m so happy that we pushed for it and made it into a pilot.
That’s how we came together to put the actual pilot together. [In a broader sense] Jealous Dad comes from auditioning. I do commercial auditions and I take my son to these commercials. He’s not an actor, but I’m just taking him along. While we’re there, there’s been moments where–in the room when I’m auditioning–he’ll just say something that lights up the room and just kills it. I’m the guy in there supposed to be doing my job and my son is showing me up. Like I was doing an audition and I did an okay job and then as soon as I finished my son, Finn, says, “Put it on Instagram!” and the whole room lights up. I’m thinking and I’m sure the people in the room are thinking, “Let’s just hire this kid, he’s way better than his dad.” I’ve definitely had auditions where other parents have brought their kids and I didn’t specifically see jealous dads but I did see some not great parenting, shuffling their kids around. Actors will always feel jealous of other actors. Maybe somebody’s career is going a lot better than someone else’s, and it’s hard not to go through that. But what if you went through that with your own kid? That’s where the idea for Jealous Dad came from.
Admitting to yourself that you could be jealous of your own child is really honest and human and hilarious.
Matt: It’s something you can’t get away from. There’s nothing worse. You’re living with and putting to bed a person that you’re jealous of.
They’re your spawn. So, on one hand you should feel a sense of pride but, on the other hand, they’re beating you at your own game.
Matt: And I thought “It would be even funnier if the son wasn’t even auditioning or trying to beat the dad, he was just being natural.” He ends up getting an agent and booking this role just from being a great little boy. That really drives the frustration even more because it’s like “I’m the actor, I’m supposed to be doing my job in here and then my son just comes in and gets it.” It’s like, “This is bullshit.”
You’ve trained to do this for your whole life.
Matt: That’s how the Jealous Dads part of the idea came about. Then as I was stretching it out into a pilot more I realized there’s no way for me to cast a kid in this. You know what goes into that, I’d have to ask parents and they’d say “No” because of the content, or they’d allow it but only during 3:00-3:15 or something like that. So Finn really helped out with that. He had some dancing and acting experience in him but when I’d give him these lines he’d know them right away and when we did the shoot he was totally present. All the other actors were great with Finn. There definitely was a time limit for Finn because we could only shoot for so long with him but he was great. I think he comes across super well in it. When I looked back on the rough cut I saw he really did a great job.
It’s funny that he was so good. Life imitating art and such.
Matt: I really wouldn’t be surprised if that happened. Like what if Finn got a lot of calls after this? I could totally see that happening and I’m down for it.
Here are your three reasons to watch.
When people say “just make stuff”, this is what they mean. All a good idea takes is a camera, a boom, very limited lighting, and the desire to get off your ass. Sure, talent too. Talent is a plus.
Evans’ daring to tap into the idea that parents are not infallible is what makes this series so strong. Jealousy is an ugly look, and we laugh at this jealous dad because he’s so pathetic. We continue laughing because of the self-awareness this premise forces. Kids doing a better job at something adults have trained their whole lives to “master” is shitty and most of us would be petty and weird about it…especially if we had to look that kid in the face every day.
(First look) NYTVF Pilot
Matt’s tireless work ethic is exactly what success in digital is all about. He makes stuff he’s passionate about whether he’s got a distribution outlet for it or not. That kind of grind creates opportunity. In fact, it already has. The only question now is: Where will it lead?
Luke is a writer/director for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.