Filmmaker Interview: Scott Prendergast of Kabluey

Scott Prendergast wrote, directed, and starred in the movie Kabluey, which he referred to as a “melancomedy” about Salman, an awkward but well-intentioned man, and his sister-in-law, Leslie (played by Lisa Kudrow), who are thrown together amidst an array of personal difficulties.  While Leslie’s husband is away at war, Salman steps in to serve as a live-in nanny to his two young nephews, who are struggling with anger issues of their own.

I saw this film at its Midwest premiere during the Waterfront Film Festival.  Though filmmaker Scott Prendergast was sick during the festival, he still kindly managed to make time for an interview.  During our conversation, he appeared soft-spoken, honest, and refreshingly funny, despite feeling very under the weather.

Damian:  What is your impression of the Waterfront Film Festival, as far as film festivals go?

Prendergast:  Everyone has been very accommodating.  I like the yacht club feel.

Damian:  What was your inspiration for the film?

Prendergast:  My brother was sent to the war in Iraq, a first for National Guardsmen, while my sister-in-law stayed home raising their kids, ages one-and-a-half and three.  He was gone for nine months, then home for two weeks, and then gone for another six months.  He made it home in time for the birth of their third child.   When I went to visit my nephews while my brother was away at war, they were awful.  This movie is my way of getting even with them.  It’s silly and slapstick at times, but it’s about the American hardships of being on the home-front of war, which is much scarier and sadder than you could ever imagine.  I drew the Kabluey mascot figure on a United Airlines cocktail napkin while I was on flying.

Damian:  You say it’s slapstick, and some of that physical comedy looked like it actually hurt.

Prendergast:  Yeah, I got beat up and injured in the mascot suit.  I ran into a telephone pole once.  Then, during the scene where Lisa Kudrow slaps me, that was real.  She packs a mean right hook.

Damian:  I am curious about people who practice multiple forms of creativity.  Do you have other creative outlets?

Prendergast:  No.  At one point I thought I had some musical ability, but after working with a talented composer, I realized that I didn’t.  I do some sketching — cartoons and comic books, just for myself.

Damian:  Yet in this movie, you wrote the screenplay, directed it, and acted.  That’s a wide range of creative ability right there.

Prendergast:  I’m comfortable doing all three at once.  They’re like three pieces of a puzzle that go together.  I’ve produced and edited short films too.

Damian:  What other jobs have you held?

Prendergast:  I’ve been fired from every job I’ve ever had.  I’m a terrible employee.  I once played a super science hero mascot, which gave me some background for the Kabluey character.

Damian:  What surprised you during the making of the film?  What could you not have predicted?

Prendergast:  Lisa Kudrow’s interpretation and portrayal of the main character was brilliant, but what surprised me was how much she seemed to hate her brother-in-law (me).  I didn’t see it played that way when I was writing it.  That was all her.  Also, the dramatic scene towards the end where she cries and every emotion is supposed to play across her face… That was asking a lot, but she just nailed it, which I think maybe surprised her a little too.

Damian:  In addition to Kudrow, you had a lot of well known actors cast in the film.

Prendergast:  Yes, I feel like I got historically lottery-sized lucky.  It was like suddenly my life was turning on a dime.  I could feel it happening.

Damian:  What advice do you have for other aspiring filmmakers?

Prendergast:  Don’t spend more than $500 on your first short films.  The more you do yourself, the more you’ll learn.  Do it all yourself.  Teach yourself to trust your instincts.  Write five feature-length films.  The first four will suck, and the fifth one will work.

Damian:  What’s next on the horizon?

PrendergastKabluey was loosely based on my sister-in-law, and the next movie is about my mother.

Damian:  Thank you for taking the time out for this interview, especially while you were sick.  I very much enjoyed our conversation.

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