While director Christopher Nolan stands to add hundreds of millions of dollars more to his Batman franchise this weekend, filmmaker and UCSB graduate Oren Brimer is just content that his web series parodying the popular films has already amassed more than 10 million page views, with millions more expected to come with Friday’s premiere of Dark Knight Rises.
Produced by Collegehumor.com and shot through his independent production company, Front Page Films, Brimer’s webisodes poke fun at Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which stars Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader. The five sketches released so far center around a comically inept Dark Knight who mistakes a birthday-celebrating clown for The Joker, can’t figure out the simplest riddles from The Riddler, and forgets to change his costume when attempting to convince Commissioner Gordon that Bruce Wayne is not Batman.
“We try to keep the color temperature and shots and tone as close to the real thing as possible,” said Brimer, who graduated from UCSB in 2005. “But the one thing is that Batman’s an idiot.”
Currently based in New York, Brimer works as a freelance filmmaker while making comedic sketches with Front Page Films co-founders Pete Holmes (who plays Batman) and Matt McCarthy (who plays various other roles). Noted actors Alison Becker (from Parks and Recreation) and Kumail Nanjiani (Franklin and Bash) have also appeared in guest roles.
“In terms of visibility, absolutely, it has definitely been our most popular, but I’m really proud of all of them,” said Brimer, referring to Front Page Films’ previous efforts. “A lot of our videos are very simple, if you’ve ever seen ‘The Doctor’ and ‘The Cashier.’ So the Batman videos give you a lot more space stylistically.”
After growing up in Palo Alto, Brimer majored in psychology at UCSB, where he was inspired to go into comedic sketch writing by film and media studies professor John Shaw. (He currently teaches at SBCC.) The two still keep in touch. “I spent most of my office hours — or, rather, most of his office hours, stealing them from other students — talking about comedy and learning the format from him,” said Brimer, who also used the UCSB film lab to learn how to edit. “Learning about cameras and directing came out of necessity because I had a bunch of scripts out of college of sketches that I wanted to make, and I sort of had this mentality that no one could make these scripts for me.” That attitude extended to his entire UCSB experience. “My time at UCSB was formative in the fact that I met great friends, collaborators, and teachers that, in hindsight, taught me how to take initiative and make things happen on my own,” said Brimer.
His technical skills landed Brimer successive jobs making films for the sketch comedy group Olde English, editing for Collegehumor.com, and eventually working on The Daily Show as a field producer. Recently, Brimer decided to focus solely on Front Page Films, which is benefiting from his DIY work ethic. “The first films I made were from zero dollars and I just got a mini-TV camera,” Brimer explained. “I’d point the camera at something and a light bulb, and I hoped it turned out funny.”
While he hopes to get more work on feature films, Brimer is satisfied making the popular internet videos for now. “To me the final product of the video is sort of the goal,” he said. “And the beautiful part is that I gotta thank the Internet for giving me a platform for showing my videos.”
For more, visit frontpagefilms.com.