“The Whistler Film Festival was the first opportunity I got to sit in a room with strangers and have them watch the movie and I was very nervous going into it,” says comedian Brent Butt about his new film No Clue.
In the film he stars as Leo, a mild mannered Vancouver tchotchke salesman lured into a murder mystery by a femme fatale played by Amy Smart. “It’s a very dark, classic kind of detective mystery but the main characters say funny things,” says Butt.
“We really felt, totally objectively, that we made the movie we wanted to make but that part of my brain that is the stand up comic said, ‘What you think doesn’t really matter. The audience will let you know,’ and the audience is everything to me.
“Long before Corner Gas came around I was just a greasy nightclub comic, out there getting it done. When you are doing that you always have the ability to shift gears. You think, ‘They’re not buying the sports stuff so I’ll talk about politics,’ but with this movie if they’re not liking it five minutes in you can’t say, ‘Everybody go get a drink. I’m going to reedit this.’ You are locked in.”
Audience reaction was “better than we ever could have imagined” for a movie he calls a “tricky balancing act.”
“I wanted to make a movie that if it wasn’t funny would still be entertaining. It would still be thrilling and a mystery and have all those good, juicy elements and then the funny kind of folds in like gravy. It’s on top of everything else.
“From the writing stand point there were a lot of funny jokes I neglected to put in the movie because I felt this is funny but it is ultimately going to damage the reality. For this movie to work it has to feel real. One of the things we did early on was tell everybody to forget that this is a comedy. Pretend you are making a dark murder mystery. That’s what this is. The comedy will come in elsewhere.”
Butt cites a famous example of the kind of film he wanted to make.
“Beverly Hills Cop was written not to be a funny movie. It was written to be a thriller and then they cast Eddie Murphy and said, ‘Let’s make it funny.’ But if you take all the funny things that Eddie says out, it still holds water as an action movie.”