The true, previously untold story of how a teacher protected a church basement full of middle school students when a motorcycle gang crashed their dance, Fraser Munden’s The Chaperone is likely to be one of the most entertaining and original shorts you’ll witness all year.
“It’s my favorite type of story: one with a few good guys, lots of bad guys and adventures along the way”
Told from the first person unscripted perspective of the school teacher and DJ who were there that fateful night, Munden describes The Chaperone’s story as a “gift”.
“I heard it a lot from my Dad growing up”, the director admits. “Stefan, the DJ, is my Dad’s best friend and Ralph, the titular chaperone, was my father’s elementary school teacher. And it’s my favorite type of story: one with a few good guys, lots of bad guys and adventures along the way.”
Revealing that his main aim in making the film was to spread the story of Ralph’s heroics, the director seems so enamoured with this tale, he doesn’t even care if it’s the anecdote that gets all the attention and not his short. “It would be all worth it if a guy at a bar in Mississippi says to a friend “hey, you ever hear about that guy who single-handedly beat up all those bikers at a school dance”, and he doesn’t even mention the movie”, says Munden.
Putting to use hand-drawn animation, miniature sets, puppets, live action Kung Fu and explosions in telling its story, The Chaperone compliments its unique narrative with an equally distinct and memorable aesthetic.
“Since the story took place in the 70s, I was able to immerse myself in two of my favorite things: Blaxploitation posters and blaxploitation soundtracks” says Munden. “Beyond the style, the Do-It-Yourself independent spirit championed by that era of filmmakers was adopted by the crew”
Although the director has obviously poured his heart and soul into bringing the story of this fateful night to screen, he isn’t looking to create just awe and entertainment with his short. He also wants to create a little inspiration.
“Everyone knows someone with a funny story. Just do it”.
Hoping that fellow creatives “would grab hold of the formula and recognize all the amazing stories around them”, Munden is using The Chaperone as somewhat of a call-to-arms to fellow filmmaking.
“Just record someone telling a story”, he says, “edit it down to the interesting parts, storyboard it, then execute on making the movie. Everyone knows someone with a funny story. Just do it. And you don’t need to know anything about animation. I mean, we certainly didn’t!”.
With The Chaperone proving a hit on the festival circuit, Munden and his team have got to travel the world with his short, making connections in different nations, the director even got to meet his hero Arthur Agee (the star of Hoop Dreams).
With his film now live online though, Munden has turned his attention to new projects, revealing that a recently made self-profile entitled Attaboy, Fraser! is filled “with all kinds of clues of projects I have in the works”. And the director has revealed even further hints on what’s coming next in two videos (CLUE #1 & CLUE #2) released on Vimeo earlier today.