Jordan Vogt-Roberts Gets to Sundance

During his few years as a Chicagoan, Jordan Vogt-Roberts revolutionized the interaction between standup comedy and short films.  As the filmmaker behind the now defunct, Jordan's videos worked out jokes for a collection of Chicago's top comics - many of whom, like TJ Miller and Kyle Kinane, have gone on to greater national success.  Jordan has since relocated to LA, and his short film Successful Alcoholics is an official selection of this year's Sundance Film Festival.  I caught up with JVR to ask a few questions about moving from Chicago's alternative standup scene to Sundance. 

Q: What are you up to these days besides this big deal Sundance acceptance?

A: Living in LA is always a bit of a struggle not to totally lose track of your time and thus your life. The only way I know how to answer that anymore is by saying "surviving". But on the creative and comedic side of things - Successful Alcoholics took up a lot of my life for the past year. I shot a video with TJ Miller and a real bear and that got him a lead role in the Yogi bear movie. I just wrapped the 2nd season of a web series for FOX with a duo that goes by Pete and Brian. I'm always developing new stuff with other writers and comedians. TJ and I have an hour special of stand up and shorts for Comedy Central we're going to shoot in March. I'm working towards getting a movie set up somewhere... but mainly just trying to keep working on projects I care about. I've lost all perspective and can't tell if any of what I just said is interesting... haha. (Cameron's Note: It's fracking fascinating, Jordan.  Tell us more.)

Q: What are you most excited about regarding the festival?

A: Sundance is obviously amazing because it's sort of the Death Star of festivals. I'm excited to see our short with an audience and be probably talk about the short so much I'll never want to discuss it again, but honestly I'm most excited about being in Park City for 10 days and to meeting a whole ton of bizarre people. Especially the locals. Locals in ski towns are always pretty awesome and nutty. Recently I went to a Sundance directors gala in LA and everyone I met was super nice. Usually in the industry everyone is always sizing each other up and connecting with someone takes a while, but with this I think everyone just kind of has this mentality of, "Holy shit! We're in Sundance," that they just want to hang out and get along. Also, I will be very drunk. Remember that story about the guy who survived the freezing cold of the water after the titanic sank because he was boozed out of his mind? I'll be that guy of Sundance.


Sunshine on his shoulders. Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

Q: What advice would you give to other filmmakers interested in making great comedic short films?

A: You just have to self-generate and always stay hungry. That sounds cheesy, but you need to constantly be cutting your teeth and making your own path. Figure out what's unique that you have access to that separates you from anyone else with a decent camera. It could be anything from the type of actors you know, to the crazy converted van your uncle owns that could be used in an awesome set piece, it could be anything. Also, as far as great comedic shorts go - I think there's a really important but sometimes subtle distinction between a web sketch and short film. With a short you can throw out the idea that there should be a joke in the first 30 seconds. You can play with pacing and characters much more than you can with most youtube videos. The internet is bringing back short film distribution and I think that truly great shorts will still make an impact on the web regardless of whether they're 2 minutes or 15 minutes. Just make it... and then make more.

All the best to Jordan as he knocks out next month's festival in a huge and wildly impressive way!



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