Directed by Daniel Foster

After years of doing stand up comedy, Erin Dohony has become a popular stand up comedian in the Philadelphia area. While shooting this documentary, I was able to capture her creative process, along with the inner workings of open mics.

Project Breakdown

For my Jtwo project I wanted to try something different and chose to do a documentary project on stand up comedy. The idea of using the format was enticing to me, because I had predominantly on worked on narrative short films. I knew immediately that I wanted to try something new and give the doc my own spin and trademarks in order to make it different and unique.

After pitching the idea to JTWOS Creative Director, Justin Jarrett with my idea, he was supportive but concerned that my project did not have enough meaning to it and would just be a by the numbers documentary with talking head. I took this criticism to heart and tried to find ways of using my shooting style and narrative approaches in order to make the film stand out.

I spent the next few weeks in pre-production, storyboarding, writing, and collaborating with my subject in order to ensure the project was both personal and insightful. I had my subject answer her questions prior to filming and used what she wrote to map out a storyline for the piece. I found music, tested out gear, found visual references, and worked hard to ensure that I was entering filming completely ready.

Luckily, I was able to find a few inspirations on Vimeo and youtube. Vimeo was highly influential in how I would approach the documentary format, while youtube had numerous clips and videos from films that had a similar surrealist approach.

With pre-production done, I rushed off to film Erins weekly standup at ortlieb’s. My goal was to explore the inner workings of stand up from the creative process of telling a joke, to the mindset comedians have on stage. I opened the doc with a surrealist approach. I created a soundscape prior and had Erin record her breakdown of telling a joke. I was very proud of the opening, because it set up the documentary well and had a throwback feel to early stand up. The art of stand up has always fascinated me, so the opportunity to explore it was incredibly exciting.

I recording Erin doing a few sets, then moved on to her talking head. This was one of the biggest stresses for me, because I didn’t want it to be a simple by the numbers talking head. While in pre production, i decided to use one of my favorite trademarks and have the subject talk directly to the camera. I feel talking directly to the camera creates a more personal experience and further developed a fly on the wall feel for the doc.

After filming completed, I moved on to editing. The edit started out fine, with much of my prior layout working well with what was recorded, but as I continued I soon realized it was taking on a much different feel. Erin had a lot of information that I struggled to fit into the three minute time limit. A Lot of the talking head dragged and felt unnecessary. I soon felt a little lost in my footage and struggled to find a way of getting the project into shape. After taking a long step back however, I remembered why I wanted to do this project in the first place. What goes through a comedians head on stage? How do you get a group of strangers to laugh? These questions were what I wanted to explore and soon retooled the doc to focus on those parts.

After editing for a few more days, I finished the project and couldn’t be more proud of it. It was fun trying out documentary, but also fun to see how easily a project can change from pre-production to filming. I wanted to try something new and couldn’t be more happy that I did. I now have my first documentary under my belt and am more motivated to try new storytelling techniques in the future with the medium.

Meet the Director

Daniel Foster is an independent Philadelphia Filmmaker., with a passion in narrative/sketch comedy. I enjoy explore social issues through humor and creating a dialogue on topics such as race and politics. I hope to use my sense of humor in order to bring awareness to various social issues that are apart of our everyday life.

This project was created as part of the JTWO [INC]ubator Project. A semester long internship program built from the ground up to give young filmmakers, content creators, and all around hungry for a challenge individuals a place to stretch their creative minds while preparing them for the road ahead.

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