I love documentaries about manufacturing, farming, anything where people work hard to make stuff for the masses. And until now, I have to admit I never knew that there are farms where people grow pizza. Amazing! Um… Can we just stop and say that Science is totally awesome?! Agriculture for the win! I am honored to be the guy to visit and document the details and interview the characters behind this new kind of farm, the Pizza Farm.
truth and comedy
Mockumentaries are dry like the scorched earth of a pizza farm.
Of course I joke, I don't really think pizza growing is feasible, but the point is, as we make this documentary, we will treat this farmed-pizza reality as true. For instance, I will interview the actors with level-zero sarcasm in my voice. "When did you realize you could grow a four-cheese pizza? How often do you olive-oil the crops?" The result will be answers to my questions that sound completely straight. There will be no wink to the comedy, no self awareness, no goofing around or hamming it up for the camera. Unless they are literally holding ham up to the camera, in which case "hamming it up" is ok.
growing hand picked pizza
The viewer will be curious how this works. We should figure out and shoot the process of growing pizza. Or instance the farmer could sow pepperoni slices as the seeds for his pepperoni pizza crop. For fertilizer, he uses white flour. To water the plants, olive oil. After they’ve sprouted, he grinds fresh pepper on each plant. Maybe Warren is sitting on the back of the tractor for this step. The farmer drives the tractor and Warren grinds pepper as he goes. Grinding pepper on crops is funny. It could also be a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese for each plant. Maybe the pizza grows in triangular slice shaped "fruit" like leaves, rather than whole circular pies. " The pizza plant science does not have to make sense.
Harvested pizza might be moved with a pitchfork.
This should feel like a natural light, documentary. The interviews should be from a tripod with some manual zooming and panning. The B-roll and some "in the field" interviews will be handheld. The B Roll can either support the interviews or contradict the interviews. You can get a lot of mileage by showing the "truth" with B roll. For instance when the Farmer says "It’s not all sunshine and rain. You gotta talk to them. Make ‘em feel pretty." We could cut to the farmer talking at the plant. "Grow already, you ungrateful (bleep)!" Then we see him in the barn, kicking over a bucket of tomato sauce. Farming is hard!
mixing things up
my favorite mockumentaries
All documentaries want to see different people speaking their minds . Different points of view. So I reccommend we interview Warren. Because Warren is the hard working unsung hero of this farm, an interview will give him the chance to speak his mind, and freely. Another thing to note is that a fictional director would intentionally cause friction between the farmer and Warren. For instance when the farmer says "They say Im a Pizza Virtuoso" We can cut to Warren who says "Nobody calls him that." Or when the farmer says "Every once in a while, Warren gets it right," we can cut to warren who says, "EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE?" By pitting the characters against each other, we can create drama, stir things up. This is what directors and producers do in documentaries. It's a storytelling technique people recognize and it's funny.
The question with all documentaries is, "How deep do these interviews go? Who else do we talk to, get their side of the story?" I would might interview one of the teenage kids who tried to steal the pizza harvest. Maybe he got nabbed by Warren and now he has to wait for his parents come pick him up. This is the moment a good documentary director would set up a camera and get his statement. Or we could interview the scarecrow about the pizza stealing incident. Was he asleep on the job? Maybe he has very little to say, doesn't want to incriminate himself.
Seeing the sound guy or some equipment in the frame can reinforce the idea that this is real.
I always cast from the improv and sketch community. Using a funny improvisor gives you a fine actor and a creative partner in front of the camera. Ben Jones is a good candidate, (65 years old) he plays at The Annoyance Theatre in NY. Very good improvisor and he has a southern accent. Theres also a guy named Patrick McCartney (about 50) from the P.I.T. who is very funny. He recently played a mythical fly fisherman for me, for a shoot in Georgia, and killed it.
We should shoot in Los Angeles or Orlando. Two days on a farm.
Lets not forget the hero, the cheesy Virtuoso Pizza. We will light it carefully so it looks tabletop-pretty. Back lit, so we can see the cheese glistening, and some steam rising. We will make sure to nail the temperature of the pizza so the cheese pulls just right. And lastly, we should shoot it doc-style. By using a handheld camera and a mockumentary zoom-in, we can maintain the integrity of our documentary. Even our beautiful product shot is part of our fictional documentary.