Everybody knows these nerds
VAIL – It takes a nerd to know a nerd. Not that Tim Skousen was entirely a nerd.”I was a skater,” claims Skousen of his teenage clique affiliation. “I was in some smarty kid classes. I guess I had my skateboard friends and my nerd-type friends.”Skousen, 30, who wrote and directed “The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang” and was the associate producer for Jared Hess’s “Napoleon Dynamite” has gathered a lot of ideas for characters from people he’s known in his life and from his own precise imagination.”Sasquatch Dumpling Gang” was written with the same humor as “Napoleon Dynamite,” which was a collaboration of Hess and several of his friends from Brigham Young University.”Sasquatch” tells the story of three geeky kids who are overzealous about fantasy and discover some Big Foot tracks in the woods. Their heavy-metal loving neighbors get involved in a scheme to make money off of it and a love story also comes into play.”I wrote the script very quickly, but I’d been working on the characters for a long time,” Skousen said. “I definitely modeled them after friends of mine and people I’ve known.”Skousen grew up in Florida, where he had a couple of “butt rock” friends (i.e.: they had big hair and listened to bands like White Lion). He said these were guys who were “way into the American military” during the first Gulf War.
He also lived next to a couple of kids who would regularly engage in medieval sword play.”They invited me to play one time,” Skousen said. “They even had all these rules, like if you got hit in the leg, you had to go down on one knee for a while and if you got hit in the chest, you were out.”Skousen said the kids he played with were teenagers. But he wasn’t.”No,” Skousen said. “This was like last year.”Don’t you know this guy?Thus the mold of the “Sasquatch” field was cast. As the dynamics of each character played out to palpable proportions in Skousen’s imagination, the script, he said, wrote itself.
As for the quirky humor in the film, Skousen was initially surprised at how widespread it became after making its mark in “Napoleon Dynamite,” which, according to imbd.com, was filmed in 22 days, and in which lead actor Jon Heder was paid $1,000 for his work before the film went on to gross $40,000,000 in the United States.”Having a story in the pedigree of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ brand of humor, we didn’t expect it would be so big,” Skousen said. “We thought people would like it. But we didn’t know that teenagers everywhere would quote it like crazy.”In the same vein as “Napoleon Dynamite,” which, despite centering around unpopular teenagers, has little to no bad language in the script, “Sasquatch Dumpling Game” is equally as clean. And Skousen has an explanation as to why so many people have tapped into it with such enthusiasm.”I think it’s because each one of the characters has a core in them that’s a truthful character they’ve known,” he said. “I have people coming up to me saying, ‘I know the guy you made Napoleon Dynamite out of.’ I think they’re cartoonish enough in terms of the events that happen, but in the core, there’s a tenderness and a reality.”There was a clear message in “Napoleon Dynamite” about the strength and importance of friendship, and Skousen said that the “Sasquatch” crew delivers a similar undercurrent of tenderness.Healing power
“The importance of friendship becomes evident among the kids in ‘Sasquatch’ – at the end of the day, your friends are what define you, not so much the glory of something like finding Big Foot tracks,” Skousen said. “When I was writing it, I was just trying to write something funny. Kind of inadvertently, I hit on a pretty wide group.”Skousen’s filming attributes also include the production and editing for “Awful Normal,” a true documentary about a woman who confronts a man who sexually abused her as a child. The film served as his first full-length piece. Now that he has the full-length formula down and a niche with humor and characters, he’s ready to run with it.More than delivering a particular message or tapping a certain audience with his work, Skousen just wants to lighten the spirits of his audiences.”I’m a strong believer that there’s enough difficult things in our lives. We really need positive upliftment at times,” he said. “No matter who you are or how things are going, you’re always feeling pressure and stress. That’s one of the real powers of film is to take you into another world and give you positivity for your own life. I wanted people to come away from (‘Sasquatch’) with a good, warm feeling. I wanted people to walk away and think about times that were a little bit better.”Big FootWhat: “The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang”
When: 8:30 p.m. today and 2:45 p.m. SaturdayWhere: Cascade Theater in West VailStaff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Colorado
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