What About Bob?
When actor W. Scott Parker III decided to make his debut as writer and director, he didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Given the political heatwave this election year, it was right in front of him.
The result is the comedy short Bob & his Enlarged Amygdala, a satirical send-up that enjoyed its world premiere last week at Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema in Greensboro, with cast, crew and friends on hand for the exclusive screening.
“The impetus was obviously the current political environment,” Parker said in his introduction, wryly adding, “that had something to do with it.”
His (internet) research focused on “liberal and conservative brains, and how those with an enlarged amygdala tend to be more regressive and vice-versa.”
Don’t take Parker’s word for it; he encourages people to check it out themselves. The film was thus a way to satirize contemporary political attitudes and biases, and increase awareness of Enlarged Amygdala Syndrome (EAS).
After thanking wife Annette, Parker praised his cast and crew. “Everybody meant to a lot to me in this production,” he said. “I thank each and every one of you for your work. The actors, they delivered.”
Thus began the 34-minute film, which focuses on its title character (Patrick Smith), whose concerned wife (Tracy Gordon) takes to a clinic to have his condition diagnosed and treated. Through it all, the boorish Bob insists there’s nothing wrong with him, although his interactions with staff and fellow patients seem to indicate otherwise.
To play the close-minded, right-wing title character, did actor Patrick Smith have to channel his “inner Bob”?
“I’ve known plenty of Bobs,” he smiles, “and you can see plenty on TV now.”
When Smith first came across the casting announcement for the film, he submitted his information and landed an audition. Smith liked the script immediately, although he wasn’t reading for a specific role. But after quick discussion with Parker about the project, Bob he was.
“I look for material that’s fun to do, that piques my interest,” he said. “As soon as I saw the script, I thought ‘Yeah, I’ve got to do this.’ “We followed the basic script, but Scott encouraged me – and everybody – to improvise and ad-lib.”
“I believe in letting quality actors do their job,” says Parker. “Only when I feel I can enhance their performance do I step in. This worked well in the making of our film. I knew making my own film with minimal help would be a lot of work – and it was. What I did not expect was the level of joy I found in making it. I attribute much of that to my cast. I chose solid actors. I also chose those who were truly enthusiastic about the script and the message we wanted to deliver. Result: we had fun!” The film culminates with Bob, now cured and repentant, addressing a crowd at the Gen. Greene Statue in the Guilford Courthouse Military Park, before he gets down to boogie to a James Brown tune. Smith is the first admit he’s no hoofer, but he gave it his all. “That was ‘White Man Can’t Dance’!” he laughs. “Dancing to
James Brown is pretty intimidating!” The premiere screening at Geeksboro was well received. One woman stood up at the end and announced: “I don’t know about the rest of you, but that was just about the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a long time!” – and others agreed heartily.
As an actor, Parker has appeared in features (The 5 th Quarter, George Clooney’s Leatherheads), shorts (The Dream Factory, Dinosaur, The Penitent Sweater), TV (“Homeland,” “Short Bus TV,” “It’s Supernatural”) and live theater.
“I’ve been an actor for 10 years and wanted to direct for some time,” he explains. “It was just a matter of writing a compelling script. As an actor, I’ve carefully watched directors and crews make films. I asked questions. I’ve learned lessons from great and not-so-great directors. I’ve loved movies and watched techniques all my life. Bob & his Enlarged Amygdala is an homage to some of my favorites (and) I plan to do more.”
For more information about W. Scott Parker and Bob & His Enlarged Amygdala, visit http://www.facebook.com/ actorswsp. (You can even view the film in its entirety.) !