Fun With A Wheelchair
|The opening titles of the film.|
|Directed By|| Seth Dickerson|
|Starring|| David Hilbun|
|Studio||Happy Hour Films, LLC|
|Succeeded By||Drama at St. Nicholas Memorial|
|Release Date||November 1, 2006|
|Running Time||3 min, 37 sec|
Fun With A Wheelchair is a 2006 short film by Happy Hour Films, the very first production by the group. While the camera work, editing, and humor is very rudimentary, it would lead to the official formation of Happy Hour as a film troupe, dozens of short films throughout their high school career, and an entire fictional universe based around it.
While the film did not have a plot at the time of its production, Hilbun and Dickerson have retroactively established that Hilbun's character was named "Carlton Levy," and was trying to break out of the Shady Arms Mental Hospital. As the character would go on to appear in Drama at St. Nicholas Memorial, it is apparent that his attempt was successful.
The film itself is split into two distinct parts. In the first part, Dickerson and LaCombe chase Hilbun through the halls of Carencro High School in fast-motion while "Yaketty Sax," the theme from the Benny Hill Show plays. Several camera tricks are employed for comedic effect, with the effect of making it seem as though the characters are passing through walls and magically transporting up flights of stairs.
The second half of the film consists of Hilbun, Dickerson, and LaCombe walking in slow-motion towards the camera while the theme from "Hawaii Five-Oh" plays. While this scene has nothing to do with the retconned story, it has become one of the most iconic images in Happy Hour's history.
- David Hilbun as Guy in Wheelchair/Carlton Levy
- Seth Dickerson as Chaser #1
- Jacob LaCombe as Chaser #2
Concept and CreationEdit
Originally, the team had not intended to film "Wheelchair;" they had actually met that day to film a spoof of "The A-Team." At Dickerson's suggestion, Hilbun had written a script featuring himself as H.M. Murdock, Dickerson as Hannibal Smith, and LaCombe as Templeton Peck. The reasons why the team thought this was a good idea have been lost to history, but nevertheless it entered production. The team met after school in September of 2006 and began filming shots for what would have been the theme song. They then moved on to one of the first scenes, in which Face (LaCombe) was going to break Murdock (Hilbun) out of the V.A. by putting him in a wheelchair and wheeling him out, pretending that he was a doctor from another hospital come to transfer him. This scene also was to feature Mark Logan as an unnamed secretary who would be punched out by Peck.
Needless to say, the filming did not go well. The team axed the project after less than an hour of filming, but while they had the cameras out, Dickerson suggested they make a film similar to the high-speed chase scenes in the Benny Hill Show. The team decided to run with this idea, and Hilbun suggested that the wheelchair be incorporated into the idea somehow, since it was already on-set.
Behind the ScenesEdit
- The scene outside when the characters run around a tree was originally meant to include the characters running behind the tree and disappearing, only to re-emerge later with Hilbun's character chasing the other two. This effect was determined to difficult to achieve at the time, and did not make it to the final cut. However, in 2009 Hilbun created a special director's cut of the film which included a restoration of this effect (although the characters simply continue chasing each other in the same direction after vanishing behind the tree), along with a few other shots that were deemed to shaky for the original.
- The wheelchair actually belonged to Hilbun's grandmother.
- In one of the scenes outside, a student can be seen pacing in the background. This person is referred to in the credits as "Guest Star in Outside Scene," played by "Unknown."
- In the credits, Hilbun is referred to as "Physically Impaired Guy in Wheelchair," and Dickerson's character is listed as "Mentally Impaired Guy Who Chases Him." This was an admittedly immature jab at Seth by David, who edited the film. Seth would roundaboutly return the insult by creating a commercial for the film in which it referred to Carlton Levy as trying to break out of the "Shady Arms Mental Hospital," in essence calling Hilbun mentally impaired. Ironically, this is the story that stuck.
- The team did not have access to tripods at the time, and instead had to make due with chairs, boxes, and at one point, a trash can with a piece of cardboard laid across the top. In a scene in with they needed the camera to pan, it was placed on a rolling chair operated by Dickerson while LaCombe and Hilbun continued the scene.
The film was an immediate smash-hit among the team's classmates. It was the first conceptualized film produced by any member of the Academy of Information Technology, and its slapstick humour propelled the group to moderate high-school stardom. In 2007, the Academy held its first Video and Animation Festival, in which Fun With a Wheelchair was entered. While it did not receive any awards, it was by and far the most popular entry. Hilbun, Dickerson, and LaCombe were able to get the majority of the theater to join them in chanting the film's name, but this did nothing to sway the judges.
While the film itself was little more than a passing fad, it marked the beginning of Happy Hour Films, a troupe that continues on to this day. The main character of Carlton Levy would go on to appear in two more movies (although the second never completed principal photography), and the iconic walk scene, along with the song "Yaketty Sax," have become synonymous with Happy Hour.
The film also indirectly changed the entire AOIT curriculum. Prior to Wheelchair, films were almost never done, and if they were it was only by advanced students for a major project. After the release of Fun With a Wheelchair and Happy Hour's subsequent projects, film became a major interest among the student body, with many of the students attempting to one-up the team. Happy Hour became more than just a team of filmmakers, as their services were sought out by other students eager for help and advice on their own movies, many of whom would later become part of the Happy Hour team, most notably Victoria Breckinridge. Today, the majority of projects done by AOIT students are video-based, despite the fact that the original team graduated in 2010, and their successors, headed by Hilbun's brother Michael graduated in 2013. The film is also the one major catalyst that started the elder Hilbun along the path of film, which he would later go into as a career.