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Spotlight: Dennis & Ronnie Films

Posted: Tue, 15th Jun 2004, 3:47pm

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Simon K Jones

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Jordan Rousseau, aka Aculag, first appeared on the FXhome scene two years ago and has gradually built up a reputation as a purveyor of off-beat comedy sketches that have accumulated something of a cult following.

Under the banner of Dennis & Ronnie Films, Jordan's shorts show him honing his specific mix of dialogue, acting and storytelling, becoming more confident with each movie. From hold-ups to alien invasions and werewolves, it would seem that the Dennis & Ronnie team is willing to try anything, filling each story with their trademark deadpan delivery and heightened realism.

Of course, all humour is subjective and can never cater for all audiences. Working within a niche guarantees a loyal fanbase but also means that many people simple won't 'get it', due to differing tastes. Then again, not everyone likes Adam Sandler, some don't find Dr Strangelove funny and there are even a couple of people who enjoyed Scary Movie 2.

But enough of the analysis. Let's get down to the questions you've all been waiting for...

Dennis & Ronnie Films. Unless I'm missing something, your name is not Dennis, nor is it Ronnie.

When I was in high school, I took a trip to California, and went to a thrift store, not intending to buy anything. I found these orange workshirts, probably five of them. They were from some waste disposal company in Washington or something. They all had different names on them but me and my best friend at the time wore the ones that said Dennis and Ronnie. His was Dennis, mine was Ronnie. We wore them every Friday at school, and eventually started handing out "business cards" for Dennis & Ronnie's Plumbing Service. Eventually, everything was Dennis & Ronnie something, so it kinda stuck...

There seems to be a core team of Jordan, Josiah and Janson. How did you meet and start making movies together?

We met in high school. I'm two years older than them, but they've stuck with me more than the friends my age have. We started making movies together when I was a senior. Me and another friend believed that no-one took us seriously as actors in high school, so we wanted to make a film that would re-inforce their beliefs that we had no talent.

So, after the winter play one night, we were sitting in a Village Inn (some cheap, all night diner type thing) and came up with the most geniusly horrid movie idea ever. We would take The Ten Commandments, and completely mock it, with corny dialogue, bad acting, and bad camera work. Our original idea was epic (aren't they all?) but it turned out to not have half the stuff we had planned originally. It was called "The Chariot Race!" and was based around Moses losing a chariot race with the Pharoah's son, Rameses. After which, Moses is confronted by a burning bush, that tells him to set the Jews free. So he goes to the Pharoah's temple and, after being denied, puts a spell on the Pharaoh so that a constant stream of water will fall on him. This annoys the Pharaoh, so Moses runs from the Romans, parts the Red Sea and the Israelites escape unscathed. But moments later, a meteorite hits, killing them all.

I still say it's one of the funniest things we've made, due to it's sheer stupidity.

Is there a larger relevance to you all having names that begin with J?

No. It's a coincidence.

There's an evident noirish twang to your dialogue and filming style. What are your influences?

As for my dialogue, I think mostly it's from my dislike for movies with campy dialogue (although that can sometimes be funny) or dialogue that's far too smart for it's own good - ie. Kevin Smith.

Charlie Kaufman has made the biggest impact on me. The man's a true genius in his field, and his dialogue is so sharp, and so intelligent, and so witty. All without losing realism. I think I draw a lot of inspiration from him.

Filming-wise? Definitely inspired by Wes Anderson, Orson Welles, and P.T. Anderson. These men really know how to take something ordinary, and make it beautiful.

You tend to use a very specific kind of humour. It's almost as if the punchline is kept deliberately vague - where did that style come from?

The humour is definitely inspired by classic comedy like Flying Circus and Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em. I really like high brow, dry comedy. One of my favourite comedy films is Gosford Park, and no-one likes that movie it seems. And if they do, they don't think of it as being funny.

Definitely more British comedy than American. British stuff has such an air of elegance to it, while most american comedy is "fart", "omg lol".

The Low, Down Of It is a different style to the rest. How did it come about?

I wanted to write a detective movie after watching Double Indemnity, but I wanted it to be much sillier. So I sat down one night and wrote about Sam Spade.

He gets a case and after he asks Mary if she'll go out drinking with him, things get uncomfortable. So (using an idea I thought of long before this), at the end, they're standing there, sipping their drinks, and a countdown timer appears at the bottom of the screen. When it gets to zero, Mary pulls a brick from nowhere and bashes Sam's face with it. Cut to credits.

I thought it was fantastic, but after some thinking I decided I wanted it to seem more serious. It really worked on paper much better than the final version does, because it was not rehearsed at all, and Janson (Sam) hadn't studied his part at all, so he kinda put on a Peter Falk persona and went with it.

It is not considered a comedy by most people who watch it. There's some hilarious stuff in there though! It is very different from our other stuff, because we tried to make it different. But we also failed in our original intent, which was to make a devilishly sly comedy. Perhaps it worked, but I tend to think not.

Is the carefully balanced acting style due to your directing, the dialogue or choices on the part of the actors?

I think it's a mix of those, really. I'm not going to take all the credit, obviously, and I think a lot of the credit belongs to our high school drama teacher, because we went to one of the best drama high schools in Colorado, and we learned well. I think it's important for a director to have a firm grasp on acting, so he knows how to get into his actors' heads and get them going.

What are you all up to now, and what plans do you have for the future?

Janson attends Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He is a Drama major, and wants to act for a living. He's got a good shot at it, I'd say.

Josiah rooms with me, here in Burbank, California. He works at a sandwich shop. He eventually wants to move to England and help with his dad's overseas business, but eventually, he'd also like to end up in movies somehow.

As for me, I'm a slacker in Burbank. But at the end of the month, I'm moving (with Josiah) back to Monument, Colorado, where I will end up going to school for a bit in Boulder.

What have we got to look forward to from Dennis & Ronnie?

Over this summer, I'm sure we'll be pumping out at least a couple of shorts, since we'll be re-united with some old friends, who are also creative folks. And, if all goes according to plan, in December we're going to shoot our first feature film, called 'Aculag!', which is a tenative title, but I've had the script for a while, and it's where my username comes from. It'll be quite an undertaking, but I already have the whole thing cast and have chosen locations and such. Wish us luck!

To wrap up, we thought we'd get Aculag to spill the beans on the obscure secrets of Dennis & Ronnie's back catalogue.

Click here to read his earth-shattering answers!

Rogues gallery

Jordan

Janson

Josiah

Building the set

Prepping a shot

Good ol' lightswords

Last edited Tue, 15th Jun 2004, 3:21pm; edited 14 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 15th Jun 2004, 3:47pm

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Simon K Jones

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Surprise Attack - why does he shoot his friend?

He has short term memory loss. Therefore, he takes the presence of someone walking behind him as a threat, that there may be a predator lurking. Ask questions later.

Demo reel - are we ever going to glimpse those other films? Particularly the one in the pool...

Everyone's favourite hot tub scene! Unfortunately, the majority of stuff on that was never finished. We would start filming something, and then everything would come up, and it would never get done. The hot tub thing is from Hot Tubbin! which was for a cigar contest that ended up being fictional.

What A Mess - Frank? Frank Darabont?

Er...call it an homage.

The Low, Down Of It - what exactly does the title mean?

I've always thought that since Sam is kinda low, and down, and Mary comes in and gives him "the low down", it was a fitting title. Comes off kinda pretentious, huh?

PSA - Do you think the world will ever just...get along?

No. I don't. I don't want to ramble about politics, but I think that even if some people are peaceful, others won't be. I just can't wait for that Moon base, or colonising on Mars. I'm totally there. Maybe we can use the Moon for some sort of awesome prison. Like Australia. Only less oxygen. No offence.

Animus - Where did his gun come from?

It's all in his mind, man! It's so deep!

Car Trouble - What's the story behind the scarf?

Hey, he's a carjacker. What do you wear when you steal cars?

Full Moon - What exactly is an 'opposite' werewolf? As opposed to a normal one?

That's the joke. An opposite werewolf is exactly the same as a normal werewolf. It's like he's in denial or something. It's a coping method. Yeah.. that's it.

A Class One Encounter - Is it about the Jungian thing? The duality of man?

I am a huge fan of the idea of psychosis or delusions, these things scare me. In this, he comes home, thinks his roomie is an alien, and kills him, only afterwards realises that he's not an alien, and then questions what his life means. It could really be incredibly deep, but it's a comedy, so try not to think about it too much.
Posted: Tue, 15th Jun 2004, 3:47pm

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Mellifluous

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Excellent - interesting read as always. Congratulations to JJJ & look forward to future productions smile
Posted: Tue, 15th Jun 2004, 3:57pm

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Redhawksrymmer

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Yeah, good article as aleays Tarn and good luck to triple J. smile
Posted: Tue, 15th Jun 2004, 4:03pm

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Serpent

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Good luck to you Aculag.
Posted: Wed, 16th Jun 2004, 5:31am

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Waser

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*Waser raises his cup of tea*

Here's to Aculag. I know we've had our in and outs, and it took me a while to really appreciate your films, but I now do, and always enjoy talking to you in the chat room. Prolix Victus Aculag!

*Takes a sip from his cup but misses, and pours tea all over his pants*

Awww damn it.......
Posted: Wed, 16th Jun 2004, 5:52am

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averagejoe

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There I was, knee deep in partial keyed query errors. I decided to take a break.

Low and behold my favorite silly sketch-a-teers are featured in the spotlight.

As always great article Tarn. biggrin

It was comforting to know that Dennis and Ronnie were not your first homocide victims. For some reason I always thought that is where the names came from tard

Good luck back in Colorado, I cant wait to see your next porject(s). biggrin
Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 12:48am

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rdelavega

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Rating: -3

Nice topic. Getting bakc to business - when's alamdv3 coming out anyway?
Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 1:19am

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LtMcMurphy

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I think they're all a bunch of weidos. If you ever see me in some dark alleyway, watch your back! And your front!
Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 2:36am

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Gibs

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Well, then you'd better not walk down any dark alleyways! biggrin
Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 1:48pm

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Marek

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There's not really much left to say, so I'll comment on the pitures smile

Aculag (Jordan), Looking smashing in that first picture, as always.

Janson looks like a young Sean Connery in that picture.

And Josiah, looks pretty smashing as well in his vest, which looks like it about doesn't fit. smile

Great job guys, can't wait to see feature the critics are raving about... and by critics, I mean Tarn... and by raving, I mean mentioning. razz
Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 8:31pm

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aenigma

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oh man you gotta post "The Chariot Race!" someplace so i can see it. lol that sound hysterical.

keep up the good work.
Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 10:17pm

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Evman

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rdelavega wrote:

Nice topic. Getting bakc to business - when's alamdv3 coming out anyway?
shut up! this is not a topic that has anything to do with AlamDV3! This is to celebrate the accomplishments of Dennis and Ronnie Studios!

Last edited Thu, 5th Aug 2004, 4:10am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 10:27pm

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Ryan

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evman101 wrote:

besides, CSB has announced many many times before that they will not be telling us when it is coming!
Alam DV3 will come like a thief in the night.

You never know when it's going to happen.
Posted: Thu, 17th Jun 2004, 10:32pm

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Evman

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Ryan wrote:

evman101 wrote:

besides, CSB has announced many many times before that they will not be telling us when it is coming!
Alam DV3 will come like a thief in the night.

You never know when it's going to happen.
eggggzactly!
Posted: Fri, 18th Jun 2004, 2:19pm

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Serpent

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rdelavega wrote:

Nice topic. Getting bakc to business - when's alamdv3 coming out anyway?
That was a pretty obnoxious thing of you to say. Imagine if you got gratified for your great work, but then tried to be ignored and shunted out of the way.
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 4:06am

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rdelavega

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evman101 wrote:

rdelavega wrote:

Nice topic. Getting bakc to business - when's alamdv3 coming out anyway?
shut up! this is not a topic that has anything to do with AlamDV3! This is to celebrate the accomplishments of Dennis and Ronnie Studios!

besides, CSB has announced many many times before that they will not be telling us when it is coming!
Lol!
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 4:13am

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Aculag

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rdelavega wrote:

Lol!
You're laughing at the fact that he says not to talk about alamdv3, then proceeds to talk about alamdv3, right?
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 4:18am

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rdelavega

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Aculag wrote:

rdelavega wrote:

Lol!
You're laughing at the fact that he says not to talk about alamdv3, then proceeds to talk about alamdv3, right?
Actually I find quite amusing to find out that mentioning AlamDv3 is taboo around this forums. It's like you guys don't want to upset God or something. Lol!
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 12:34pm

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Simon K Jones

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I don't think anybody was saying that. There's plenty of AlamDV3 discussion on the forums and there will be more news coming about it soon.

What people thought was a little odd was asking about AlamDV3 in a topic that was entirely unrelated to it. Trying to drag a topic wildly off-topic just seems slightly strange, when there are plenty of appropriate places to discuss the program if you want to.
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 2:29pm

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Evman

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Tarn wrote:

I don't think anybody was saying that. There's plenty of AlamDV3 discussion on the forums and there will be more news coming about it soon.

What people thought was a little odd was asking about AlamDV3 in a topic that was entirely unrelated to it. Trying to drag a topic wildly off-topic just seems slightly strange, when there are plenty of appropriate places to discuss the program if you want to.
We've already dragged this off topic by yelling at him. So lets get back to the topic...

I love all of your films guys and i can't wait to see more stuff from you. You seem to have a lot of potential...
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 5:33pm

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rdelavega

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evman101 wrote:

Tarn wrote:

I don't think anybody was saying that. There's plenty of AlamDV3 discussion on the forums and there will be more news coming about it soon.

What people thought was a little odd was asking about AlamDV3 in a topic that was entirely unrelated to it. Trying to drag a topic wildly off-topic just seems slightly strange, when there are plenty of appropriate places to discuss the program if you want to.
We've already dragged this off topic by yelling at him. So lets get back to the topic...

I love all of your films guys and i can't wait to see more stuff from you. You seem to have a lot of potential...
You are right, the films are great. I'm sure that when ALAMDV3 is available those films will greatly improve as well biggrin Lol!
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 5:45pm

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Aculag

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Speaking of which... When IS alamdv3 coming out? wink

Tarn, thanks for the great spotlight (great, as usual, I mean). You really have a way with words, you know that?
Posted: Sat, 19th Jun 2004, 5:55pm

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Simon K Jones

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Thanks. smile Glad people enjoy reading them!
Posted: Mon, 21st Jun 2004, 7:39am

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hahoozhafax

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Heh Tarn does have a way with words.

Anyway good spotlight, and Aculag your films are great. I love the sense of humor that you tend to use. Keep up the good work!

And as Waser said its always fun talking to you in the chat, you always have interestin stuff to say. smile

Aculag wrote:

Speaking of which... When IS alamdv3 coming out?
*Turns and stares Tarn straight in the face*
Nah jk jk, take your time....
Besides this topic is for Aculag anyway smile .
Posted: Mon, 21st Jun 2004, 1:19pm

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Deepcoiler

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Woah, Tarn, sweet avatar.

why did you delete it? sad Did you take it off, and how do you get enough force to get a decent sized avatar, like, 400 force, without buying another product?

Last edited Wed, 23rd Jun 2004, 6:41pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 21st Jun 2004, 2:29pm

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Pooky

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Yeah he really looks dashing in it *wink* *wink*
Posted: Mon, 21st Jun 2004, 2:33pm

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Serpent

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That was me btw.