UBC Theatre Prof. Tom Scholte, star of, The Dick Knost Show, talks about director Bruce Sweeney and the world of sports talk radio.
The Dick Knost Show comes to the Vancouver International Film Festival, September 26 to October 11. Directed by UBC Dept. of Theatre & Film alumnus Bruce Sweeney, the film was one of the most talked about comedies at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Associate Professor Tom Scholte, star and producer of the Dick Knost Show, discusses working with Sweeney on the project, which includes half a dozen UBC students and alumni.
How did Bruce Sweeney come to write this story about a crazed hockey reporter?
Bruce is obsessed with sports and is obsessed with media coverage of sports. He’s told me that he usually finds writing very torturous, but on this project he just rolled out of bed and started writing, because it’s a world that he has immersed himself in as a viewer.
He’s driven by a combination of being a huge fan of the sports and at the same time being an astute critic of the way sports are covered.
“If there was a message to the film it was: ‘on the ice and on the air, always keep your head up.’”
The film takes on the topic of concussions in sports and also takes a run at social media. What’s the message to take away from these themes?
Bruce is a filmmaker who is absolutely allergic to the idea of a film having a message. He doesn’t want to have a message — he wants to explore certain things.
This is a film about a man who is involved in celebrity culture, a man who craves the spotlight. . It’s really about understanding how a person is wired to crave the spotlight. How do they cope and how do they navigate that world? It can be a very treacherous world.
My favourite thing that a critic said about it was, “if there was a message to the film it was: ‘on the ice and on the air always keep your head up.’” And that’s about the size of it, right?
We had that catchphrase on the poster, “ Radio is a contact sport.” It’s a brutal game but there are people who love the game, who are hardwired for it and who no matter what the personal cost, they are just wired to want to play that game over and over again.
You’ve been part of a loose ensemble of players for Bruce since you were both students at UBC in 1992. What are the benefits of that style of filmmaking?
Well, a group starts to conglomerate whose sensibilities are similar. So there’s a kind of shorthand you can use. There’s a comfort with each other, there isn’t that much difference between when the camera’s rolling and when it’s not.
The better you know another actor the more you can engage with them.
You’re both a film and stage actor – which do you prefer?
I don’t think I have a preference, but what’s nice about film is you can really relax while you’re acting. Usually your only obligation is the truth as it is happening in the moment.
Unlike theatre you’re not having to worry about being heard in the back row or repeating your lines exactly the same, because they are only going to use one take. They may cut the scene together but each take is its own world where you can stumble and then pick it back up – or take advantage if something spontaneous happens..
Does Bruce have a new project that he is talking about?
We’re hoping to turn The Dick Knost Show into a TV series. The film was designed to stand alone as a feature film, but also to serve as a potential pilot for a series.
Bruce is already working on scripts. It’s fertile ground where he writes with great confidence and he loves these characters, so I think there is lots of mileage in it. He has other ideas cooking around as well but in the short term we’re really looking to generate some momentum with the film and turn it into a TV series.