Cape Town – South African prankster Leon Schuster is back with his latest comedy, Schuks! Pay Back the Money!
In the new movie Schuks loses rugby’s Holy Grail – the Currie Cup – and what follows is a hilarious journey to pay for what he has done.
Leon sat down for a quick Q&A regarding the movie.
If you were one of the Three Stooges which one would you be?
I think Moe. He is the ‘clever’ one and plays out the slapstick violence on his partners. In Dumb and Dumber I saw a lot of Moe in Jim Carey with the silly little fringe. Jim also played the ‘clever’ one between him and Jeff Daniels. Jim certainly took a leaf from Moe’s book.
In this movie you also team up again with Ivan D Lucas and Gerrit Schoonhoven as the characters Bossie and Savage (whom we last saw in 1991's Short 'n Sweet. Whose idea was it to bring them back and what was it like reuniting with them?
We were searching for a couple of silly crooks, and Gray’s son, Ziggy, came up with the idea of bringing the twosome from Sweet 'n Short back. They just form such a funny duo. Once again Ivan was the ‘clever’ one and Gerrit the dumb oke. You need a ‘dumb and dumber’ when you combine comedy couples like these. It comes from the days of Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, etc.
Did you have a hand in coming up with the concept for the film and writing the screenplay?
Yes indeed. Our story revolves around two crooks stealing the Currie Cup, which Schuks had stolen at a rugby venue one night. This lands him in big trouble, and the little story is getting the Cup back. I didn’t want gag upon candid gag, and hence the side story. I believe they link the story together perfectly. Also Alfred Ntombela, Shorty, is not in the movie, so I think the kids will really enjoy Bossie and Savage.
What is it that you enjoy about shooting candid camera films?
The challenge. Candid camera is like fishing. You can sit there the whole day, and then suddenly at three in the afternoon you hook a big one. It is that challenge that inspires me – it is not scripted stuff, so you have to improvise on your feet.
Some see it as a ‘cheap’ type of comedy, but believe me it is one of the most intricate genres of comedy.I think my time is running out on candid stuff, so I don’t really know if I will make any more of these. Also I am a bit sick and tired of getting ‘klapped’, but I keep on looking for it because I know it's what the people want.
What’s the most challenging aspect of shooting candid camera films?
There are so many – my disguises, the fact that the people can recognise me, the fact that we have to hide the cameras which limits camera movement, the fact that the people may spot the cameras and spoil the gags. I once was caught on camera for speeding outside Colesberg. The guys recognised me and we had lots of fun. They begged me for some CDs which I gave to them. Then two young lighties in a Porsche came speeding by and were stopped. They saw me, saw the camera and said: "Ag this is bullshit; there’s ou Leon and his camera; he’s trying to catch us out!" Finally I got them off the hook and they were ecstatic ‘cause I think their fine would have been somewhere in the thousands!
How do you plan for different scenarios where you have little control over reactions?
I just let it roll and roll and hope for the best. Sometimes I have to move spectators away from the camera view and that in itself is very difficult and can give the gag away. Many times we use temp toilets as hides. Then I tell the people to move away from the toilets ‘cause they are blocking them for members of the public. But it certainly can be a hell of a difficult situation.
Do you think there’s anything specific that sets Schucks! Pay Back the Money apart from other Schuster/candid camera films?
It’s completely topical. It covers Eskom and load shedding, the re-location of where people live, etc. The movie has this Hollander who has come to South Africa to make a documentary. There’s a court case, a cocky Deputy Minister and many things that South Africans can identify with.
Why do South African audiences love Schuster films so much?
I’ve made them used to a certain style of comedy that they seem to like. They like trouble, and they know when Schuster is there, there is trouble. They also like me to rip off the topical stuff be risky and take chances.....and get ‘moered!’
What do you say to people who feel gags may be cruel or demeaning to the people who get caught out?
I say you should have made sure before you went to see it. If you know this is THAT type of film then don’t go and watch it. An auntie in Pretoria once told me: ‘Your latest film is disgusting, tasteless and crude. The third time my husband and I went to see it, we decided to walk out!’
Watch the trailer here:
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Schuks! Pay Back the Money! opens up in cinemas nationwide on Friday, 28 August.
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