The Making of: Russian Winter Is Coming
Written By Troy Alan
Last weekend, I pulled together a film crew and some extras to shoot a short video postcard for Donald Trump to commemorate his inauguration. I’d like to say the message is conciliatory, but I don’t feel conciliatory toward the recalcitrant ignorance that Trump embodies. The video is funny, to be sure. This is the humor that often arises from hostility, dismay, and just plain outrage at the absurdity of the human condition. To be frank, this is the most constructive thing I could think to do with the anger I’m feeling about what’s happening in my country.
As is often the case, I imposed upon friends to do free, or near free, creative work, allow me to use their home and backyard, and keep me from allowing the darkness that I feel about what’s happening from detracting from the ultimate goals, which were: 1) be funny, and 2) be factually correct. Why try to be funny with such a serious problem? Why not? Levity will help those who are struggling breathe easier. And maybe, just maybe, a tiny ray of this light will penetrate the minds of those who were duped into hating one candidate enough to elect Kim Jung Un’s older white cousin to fix a struggling democracy.
The first draft of the script was more angry than funny, more emotional than intelligent, more raw than refined. Everything was set on fire – MAGA hats, Constitution, the Flag, Trump in effigy. It was cathartic, but full of obvious problems. One, burning the flag, while absolutely legal, is just a heavy-handed, played-out metaphor. And, I’m smart enough to create something more thoughtful, and less abrasive. Not to mention, should someone watching think, “This is good, maybe we can use this guy for something…”, and then I set the Flag on fire and burn a sitting president in effigy, they’d likely be turned off.
After a few nights of restless sleep, I knew my conscience was trying to tell me something, so I started to make changes. After several conversations with friends who know my dark side, I came up with new ways to make my point about American freedoms. Finally, the night before the sketch, I decided simply to bring the viewer to the edge thinking I was going to burn the flag, then make a left turn, probably to the delight and relief of anyone watching. I think it ‘s the right choice, taking the burning imagery too far only serves to discredit the work.
Behind the written jokes, the imagery, and the faces on the video, are a few layers of jokes which I hope people notice. The background music is a piece called “From Russia With Love”, and the music that plays when Trump makes his entrance is the Russian national anthem – both with obvious implications. In addition, the beer on set was entirely Mexican, thanks to the devious brain of Jim Search, who I think still has the credit card I lent him to buy the beer.
Though I utilized a great deal of free labor (unless you consider the beer and pizza the cast consumed during the shoot), the camera work and editing was done by the professional production team of Nick Ruggia and Ryan Hoffman, otherwise known as The Temple Horses. Nick Ruggia, did a great job turning what would have been just me standing in front of a fire ranting like a crazy person into an engaging visual tour through political outrage. Ryan Hoffman did the editing. So, he’s responsible for the music and snappy special effects that really add a lighter touch to this wintery discourse of dissention. The snow was not part of my vision for the sketch, but it gave us the idea for the theme, title, music, etc., which all appear to be intentional, but really came from the unpredictability of nature and us doing what we could to make it seem intentional. Movie magic!
Other talent on set was Michael Hayne, who lent Trump’s voice and gravitas to the citrus omage to our new leader. And, Celeste Ruggia, who played the water-chugging, asparagus-eating women who gives Trump his due respect.
Not to toot my own horn more than this piece already does, I created the Trump Orange entirely from scratch. That, small, but crucial arts and crafts project required a trip to a craft store, some really odd questions for a store employee, and $12. The struggle is real. If you’d like to see a How To video about how to turn a piece of fruit into Trump, please send me a message on Twitter, FB, etc.
I truly hope you enjoy my work. It’s humor from my heart, albeit a heart heavy with concern for the future of America.