Jeffrey Kaminski, Jeffrey Grantz, Steven Teuchert, Ryan Pressley
Harvey Deneroff, Vickie Deneroff, Craig Rhee, Diego Villacorta
Team P.R.O.O.F. follows Murray Mayweather as he struggles to live out his dream career as a paranormal researcher. Overcoming the opposition of his family, and with the reluctant help of his friend, Phillip, Murray assembles Team P.R.O.O.F. from a collection of weirdos and misfits. Breaking into the paranormal investigation community proves challenging. With the addition of Sgt. Hudson, the team finally scores accidental success, and Murray’s dream might seem within reach.
Although Team P.R.O.O.F. nominally deals with a band of goofballs starting up a paranormal investigation company, the movie is really about filmmaking. Murray, the central character, sets out to follow his dream: Making a living by pursuing his passion. Really, the story arises from the shared desire of Jeff Grantz, Steven Teuchert and myself to make our own movies. In pursuing this goal, our motivation to create often was the only thing we had going for us. Like other indie filmmakers, we had a huge set of hurdles to overcome.
At the time we started the script, I was reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, which gave me permission to rely on my artistic instincts, rather than listening to negativity from others. In our short films, we had shown strong technical mastery, but we were now ready for the next step on our journey.
In order to work within our miniscule and at times nonexistent budget, we elected to tell the story in mocumentary style. We were charged simply by the desire to create and were determined to see the project through. The idea of perfecting the script over a long period of time and then embarking on the arduous task of finding backers did not seem feasible in our situation, since our previous experience did not include feature-length movies. Besides that, we loved our characters and wanted to bring them to life.
The characters are always the most important part of the story for me. In TP, they needed to both feel real and be comedic. Again, Murray’s journey is our journey. And our journey has had a strange cast of real life characters.
Filmmaking is a collaborative process involving creative people, and using an ensemble cast, as we do in Team P.R.O.O.F., reflects that. I felt it was important to show that the team became more of a family unit throughout the story.
The film’s antagonist, Douglas Dodgson, represents those that have looked down on us at times: Those that would rather build themselves up by knocking other people down.
Whereas Philip is the living embodiment of those who have supported us over the years. At times, Philip muses that he doesn’t know why he supports Murray. Ira and Megan, never state why the support Murray. But they do. This is how we were able to make Team P.R.O.O.F. People supporting an artistic vision for reasons they themselves do not understand.
THE MAKING OF TEAM P.R.O.O.F.
Growing up, Team P.R.O.O.F. writer-director Jeff Kaminski had an obsession with paranormal investigation shows. UFOs, Sasquatch and El Chupacabra were all favorites. While in film school, Jeff joked with his friends about doing their own investigation at a local haunted house (The Green House of McDonough, Georgia). Jeff thought it would be funny if their investigation was more humorous in nature. This planted the seed for TP, which remained dormant for many years.
Jump cut to 2007. On a crisp fall afternoon, sitting in his apartment, watching football and drinking beer with Steven Teuchert, Jeff was contemplating their next short film idea, when Steven mentioned doing a ghost hunting show. Recalling his old idea, Jeff began brainstorming with Steven. The two quickly began coming up with characters and episode ideas. A few days later, co-writer Jeff Grantz was brought in to help develop the idea.
The three then wrote and shot a pilot to be pitched as a web series. While the project got interest, the general response was that someone else (names were never mentioned) with a bigger budget was already developing a similar idea.
Thus, Team P.R.O.O.F. found itself on the creative backburner, but the idea itself never went away; from time to time it was resurrected and redeveloped. After successes in film races, the guys decided the time had come to take the next step and work on a feature film.
At the behest of Steven, TP was once again revisited. This time though, a feature script was written. With the financial help of Harvey and Victoria Deneroff, they were able to raise a small budget. Producer and director of photography Ryan Presley provided gear. Locations were found.
Over the years, the producers had developed an ensemble of highly talented improv actors. This would be a crucial element for their filmmaking style. Director Jeff Kaminski knew he could trust the actors to listen to one another and, when needed, take a scene in a new (and always more hilarious) direction. Given limited resources, there was a small window for filming. In December 2014, production formally began. The shooting schedule was intense, often filming 8-12 pages of script a day. The crew and actors were more than game though and showed great professionalism. The schedule was largely maintained and only found itself behind after one incident.
When producer-actor-writer Jeff Grantz talked to the owner of a local eatery, who had agreed to let the production use it for filming, Grantz noted the movie was about the paranormal. Being a superstitious man, the owner, in the friendliest of ways, told the production they could no longer use his location. He was afraid the reference to ghosts would cause his restaurant itself to become haunted.
The next day, to make amends, the owner supplied crafty for the team. But for the next few weeks, the one scene kept getting pushed back until it was finally finished.
One of the locations later used for an exterior was, in fact, McDonough's own Green House. The idea had now come full circle for Kaminski, as he was able to use the original inspiration in the movie.
In spring 2015, shooting formally wrapped after a weekend of b-roll and talking heads were filmed.
Jeff K. and Ryan took over postproduction responsibilities and hid themselves away in darkened rooms to edit and color correct the film. By early summer 2015, they had a rough cut which totaled one hour and forty-five minutes. They knew at least ten minutes would have to be cut.
With the input of Steven and Grantz, cuts were made (sometimes painfully). By late summer, the film was down to a more manageable one hour and thirty-five minute mark, and picture lock was agreed upon by the team.
Tragedy struck in the fall though, as Ryan suddenly passed away. Both a friend and truly talented creator left a hole that could not be filled. He had worked with Kaminski, Steven and Grantz for almost a decade by that point. Work on the film stopped. Eventually the team refocused and found the drive to finish the film in his honor.
Being that Ryan had served as the postproduction supervisor, this left a massive hole to be filled—not that anyone could ever replace a friend like Ryan. Unfortunately, the original budget never anticipated such a disaster. A quick crowdfunding campaign was needed so a new post supervisor could be brought in to finish the film.
Many awesome friends, family and collaborators invested and motion graphics artist Matthew Burge came on board. Matt believed in TP and devoted many uncompensated hours to completing the film, contributing sound design as well as color correction and special effects. After a long process Team P.R.O.O.F. was at long last completed in 2017.
The road has been long and at times painful. As great as it is to have the film finished, without Ryan to see the fruits of his labor, we still have a sense of loss. But we are still pleased with our final product and hope others can see how hard we worked to tell our story.
Craig Zeiss (Murray Mayweather) Hailing from parts unknown, Craig is a comedic genius known for improv, sketch acting and stand-up.
Aaron Beelner (Phillip Lee Jones) is known for his work on Slaw (2016), The Little Tin Man (2013) and Crackerjack (2013) Stan Against Evil, and Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell.
Atkins Estimond (Sgt. Duke Hudson) was born in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is an Atlanta-based film and television actor, and has been featured in films such as Dumb and Dumber To and Get On Up. You can also see him in Powers, Daytime Divas and Preacher. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @IAM_THE_ATKINS
Steven Teuchert (Ira Mayweather) is an actor, comedian and writer. He is also one of the stars, co-writer and producer of Third Place Productions’ first feature, Team P.R.O.O.F. He can regularly be seen performing onstage at Atlanta’s Village Theater as part of the Sketchworks comedy troupe.
Jeff Grantz (Wolf) is a writer, filmmaker and podcaster based in Atlanta, where he writes, produces, and occasionally acts in comedic shorts, features, web series, and TV pilots.
Summer McCusker (Megan Mayweather) is an Atlanta-based actress who can usually be found on stage performing with Sketchworks.
Pablo Iglesias (Douglas Dodgson) is a sketch comedy actor with Atlanta’s Sketchworks comedy troupe. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pablo became a US Citizen in 2002 just prior to graduating with a degree in economics from the University of South Florida. In order to further his career as an economist, he sought to improve his public speaking and listening skills by enrolling in a course taught by Sketchworks comedy alums. In so doing, he discovered a passion for comedy and acting. You can now find him every few months on stage bringing laughs to audiences with his awkward physical comedy and broad facial expressions. He has appeared in films made by Third Place Productions and has been pursuing a career in film and television. Pablo and his wife Dina live in Atlanta with their son, Luca, and dog Arya.
Troy Henceley (Beardsley) is a comedian, actor, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He made the journey to the filmmaker’s Mecca last year after attending Georgia College & State University for a BA in theater. He has performed internationally in fringe festivals from the Czech Republic to London to all around America. Troy created Meadow Wolf Films, where he made commercials and shorts that were shown at the Cannes Film Festival. He’s found recent success in the industry with endeavors like playing Miles from My Crazy Sex on LMN, Twig in Get Well, directing The Forgotten, a horror adventure, and teaching Stella Adler’s Techniques of Acting. He is currently in preproduction for his feature-length directing debut with James and the Journey to Freedom. Playing Beardsley in Team P.R.O.O.F. was an immense joy for him, because the character allowed him to mix vaudeville with the occult and macabre humor.
Leanna Adams (Eva) has been a producer at Sketchworks Comedy, Atlanta’s premiere sketch comedy company, since 1998. She’s performed in theaters all over the East Coast. Her online sketch comedy channel, Decent Humans, has created material aired by Fox and TBS. She has been featured by FunnyorDie and The Huffington Post. In 2017, Leanna’s short film, Florida Woman Saves the Day was an official selection of the Beverly Hills International Film Festival. In 2014, Leanna co-wrote and co-starred in Backtrack, the winner of Atlanta’s 48 Hour Film Project, which Creative Loafing called, "A riotous comedy about time-travel." If you want to know more about her life before getting in the industry, check out her travelogue, Pretty Woman Spitting: An American's Travels in China, or her website, www.leannaadams.com.
Jeff Kaminski (Director/Writer/Producer/Editor) has always been interested in the visual arts and has been a storyteller since he could first talk. At the Savannah College of Art and Design, he earned a BFA in Film and created the stop-motion short, Polka Penguin versus the Space Threat, which can be found on his YouTube channel. After graduation, Jeff returned to Atlanta and began working at various start-up production companies.
It was at IETV, a public access channel, where he met kindred spirits Jeff Grantz, Steven Teuchert and Ryan Presley. There they took risks and pushed the zaniness of their writing and filmmaking. Over the years, they served as the creative team on several short films. This included The Amazing Nerdiverse, a faux reality news sketch show, 12 episodes of which aired on local TV. A few of the episodes Jeff directed are preserved on YouTube.
They then decided to strike out on their own and formed KREJ Productions. (KREJ is JERK spelled backwards). Over the next few years, Jeff wrote and directed several short films, including Tim and Katie: A Nice Little Love Story with Zombies.
After winning third place in a 24-hour film race with the short Better Late than Never, Third Place Productions was formed. With the advent of the 2008 recession, financing films became more difficult, but Jeff never gave up, and managed to make Dick Jokes and Jawffice. Work on Team P.R.O.O.F began in 2007, beginning with a 10-minute pilot. Filming of the full-length feature began at the end of 2014, and continued through March of 2015.
Jeff has since moved to Los Angeles with his wife, Allegra Deneroff, who contributed to wardrobe and art direction on Team P.R.O.O.F. as well as a cameo as a police officer. Through it all, Jeff perseveres in his artistic vision.
Matthew Burge (Visual Effects & Post Production Supervisor) is a film maker, media artist, musician and educator. Matthew has an extensive background as a motion designer and 3d animator. As a designer/animator for advertising and post production houses, he has worked on national and international projects. He has completed commercial projects for clients including ESPN, Hublot, McClaren, Roche Bobois, and Ericsson. Currently, Burge has taken the reigns of his own media studio aptly named Burgeoning Media Group. Focused on content driven communications and storytelling, this multifaceted studio serves a diverse clientele including Home Depot, Envy-Create, the Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum, University of Pennsylvania and other. Burgeoning Studios offers 3d animation, VFX, Motion Design, Editing/Production and Web Services. His current projects range from commercials and interactive children’s books to architectural visualization and 3d projection mapping.
Previously, Burge served as the VP of Animation, CGI, Titles & Opticals at Cinipix Studios, LLC where he oversaw the creation of visual effects and animation for various aspects of the film production pipeline at the studio. Burge also spent many years as a professor of Motion Media at the Savannah College of Art in Savannah, GA before moving to Atlanta in 2008 to serve as Chair of SCAD’s Atlanta campus during its initial restructuring period.
Matthew received his MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and his BA in Painting from the University of South Florida in 1993.
You can see more of his work at www.mlburge.com