Short Term Sentence – The Hilarious Mini-Series You Have to See
Kevin Clayton, Phil Moniz, and Evan Landry, a trio of lifelong friends, and current roommates in Toronto, have created an funny and charming 10 part web series about an uptight school teacher whose life is thrown into complete chaos when his friend from high school, who also happens to be a world-famous DJ, chooses his home to live in while on house arrest. The hilarious new web series “Short Term Sentence” finds Kevin and Phil starring as reluctant roommates (mostly on Phil’s part) and Evan behind the scenes as producer. The three all wrote the series together and took turns directing episodes. Watch the trailer below and read on for Swagger Magazine’s interview with the three stars and be sure to tune into the show which was released on iTunes Canada this summer.
Hi guys. As an introduction for our Swagger readers could you please tell me your names and how and when you all met?
Kevin: Hi, I’m Kevin Clayton. I went to I grew up in Toronto, I went to U of T. And yeah, and I’ve been an actor now for probably about eight or nine years. I grew up with [Evan and Phil] we went to high school in the West End of Toronto. And that’s me.
Phil: Yeah, I mean, that’s half my information. So I feel more at ease. My name is Phil Moniz. I grew up in Toronto as well with these guys. Same school, [Humberside]. Kevin and I also went to U of T together. And now we’ve been living together for six years now.
Evan: My name is Evan Landry. I’m a producer. We all created Short Term Sentence so we all wrote it together, and created together. These two directed it as well as acting in it. These two go back when they were two years old.
Phil: Yeah, so my grandma babysat me before and after school. I lived next door to his babysitter. So we met when we were little guys. And then we went to preschool together, and we all kind of made our way back together around High School. Yeah, everybody split up for a while and then entering High School, and then we have been friends since.
Evan: Then I went off to McGill and, we stayed in touch and then realized that we all want to pursue a career in film and started to, you know, talk a lot more seriously about that. As soon as we were all done University, we started collaborating more actively in creative projects together and stuff like that so then it made sense to just move in together to work more closely.
Makes Toronto sound small! Tell us more about your schooling and now careers.
Evan: I took history and political science okay. I was considering law school and then decided that I wanted to give this a shot.
Kevin: The cinema studies program which I majored in [At U of T], it’s essentially just like studying world cinema and like watching it and researching and writing papers. Like an applied film course in the history of film courses. But no, I didn’t start acting till the end of school. I didn’t even take drama in high school or in university. I didn’t really start acting till right at the end of my fourth year of university and then I started taking some acting classes. I’m very academic but the BA did not really apply. So all of this stuff we kind of had to learn by doing it and getting work experience and that all kind of came after university. Very cool.
You all are currently roommates, was it a blast living and working together during the making of Short Term Sentence?
Kevin: It was incredibly fun. It was. We’ve joked that it’s like any production in the future even if we weren’t filming at our own place. We want to maybe be living in the place.
Phil: It made the shoot really easy, obviously because we lived on location and we only had a few other locations other than the house. I wouldn’t say it was really difficult other than that obviously the house is a catastrophe. We were all moved up on to a few bedrooms on the third floor. So we’re all just kind of using that as like, our floor, and then the whole rest of the house is taken over. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It made the call times easier for sure. There were Thursdays when I would come down, you know, 15 minutes before call time, like in a robe and make a smoothie and the crews already setting up and stuff.
Kevin: Since we were living in the place where we’re going to be shooting the next day, it was just such a crazy schedule. We were so slammed and like you just woke up and you worked and you shot all day. And then you had just a little bit of time to decompress and go to bed, do it all over again. But in that time, Phil and I actually had the opportunity to rehearse scenes because most scenes are just me and him. So we can rehearse the scenes all the time because we live on location and where we’re shooting the next day. So we can work through the scenes like I’m going to come over here and grab this and do that as we go that works best and we sort of like rewrite on the fly and just change things. And that’s a benefit actually and everyone laughs right before we went to bed. And that’s a benefit of living in a place where you’re shooting.
Where did you find the inspiration for the series? I love the go-get-it attitude of deciding to do something and following through. How and why did you decide to do this together?
Kevin: Evan actually came up with the concept of it. He pitched it to me one night when we were grabbing dinner and then we pitched it to Phil. We wrote up a quick little pilot because coming up with ideas like on the spot there’s a lot of inspiration when you get a good idea like that. And then we gave it to Phil and then he got on board. But Phil wasn’t acting at the time.
Evan: It took some convincing to actually get him to do it. So many people had always said to us as a group of friends like you guys should make a show about your friendship. And I think maybe that was just a thing that people say and they didn’t think that we’d actually go and do it. Obviously the characters are incredibly heightened and exaggerated versions but the way that they interact, I think we drew from reality and the banter was really drawn from their actual relationship. So there’s a lot of honesty there as well. We took characters and exaggerated them considerably and heightened it to add to common mistakes and stuff like that. But yeah, it was really just inspired by our kind of shenanigans. We also wanted to figure out something that we could maybe realistically make without support. We were lucky that we did get financial support from the IPF in Toronto. But if we hadn’t, we wanted to make something that we could maybe figure out how to film ourselves on our own.
Kevin: Easily the best job I’ve ever had.
What is Kevin and Phil’s actual height difference?
Evan: Just a bit under two feet, not insubstantial.
Phil: That was something that we talked about with our Director of Photography, like, what’s the best way to frame some of these shots because it’s going to look kind of insane for someone like the side by sides and just getting both of us in the frame if we wanted like a two-shot or something like that, and to find some creative ways around that as well.
Kevin: Actors are shorter. Usually, they’re just on-camera people. You know, they say it adds 10 pounds in terms of weight, but it also is for scale. It’s the same thing. So like, I am six one, I’m considered tall as an actor, right? So like it on other projects, like I still look like I’m six foot four, you just don’t get a lot of actors that are over six feet that often so I made this even funnier
Evan: We did some promo videos for when we released the show, and we thought it would be fun to play with that a little bit. So we found some very small chairs that we use in the show. And so we’ve put Kevin and Phil both in the small chairs and put them up against a background where you couldn’t really tell any size reference. So Kevin actually just looked like a giant so people watching it were like people were commenting being like, is that guy smaller? Is this guy giant? And like, a lot of people I think were very convinced that Kevin was just like seven foot five because Phil looked very much proportionate to the chair and Kevin looked like a giant.
I loved that Phil eventually came around to Kevin’s constant nudity in the outtake of Episode 8. Is Kevin actually a nudist at home or was filming your friend naked constantly a shocking new reality?
Kevin: Sure yeah, I like being naked I’ll walk around naked but…
Phil: Not not to the extent of the character. Yeah, it’s not Kevin as a walk around naked all the time. However, with Kevin for 10 years, almost. So I have certainly seen him naked more than I would prefer.
The short is very thoughtful in how it raises Phil’s voice on what it’s like from his perspective to be different from the usual narrative. What changes would you like to see in the world to be more inclusive for people that can relate to Phil’s difficulties?
Phil: I think one of the things we really wanted to do is get some of my perspectives in there and then have people realize that generally what people that are a bit different care about are pretty much the same things as what other people care about. Basically everyone at their core cares about the same things and wants the same things, the same dreams, that sort of thing. So, you know, as much as I would like the call chords on the streetcar to be a little bit lower, that’s a little bit of window dressing. It’s really just about being considerate of each other and I think we’re getting there more and more as a society. But, you know, just considering that when you see someone who does have an obvious difference, knowing generally, they’re probably a pretty normal person underneath and all, they have sort of concerns and the same kind of insecurities. They just also have a couple of particular sets of other obstacles. So that’s what we were going for. I think we wanted Phil to be someone who could give his perspective. But then we also sort of positioned him as like, the most normal person really in the show, so that, people can kind of see that like, ‘Oh, I actually relate to Phil more than I relate to some maniac like Kevin’.
I bet you guys laughed a lot – writing, filming, and producing Short Term Sentence, tell me one hilarious hijinx that went down during the process.
Evan: So one of the funny ones was the flesh butt, just the process of finding that thing was pretty phenomenal. And we had our production designer Carrie Noon that had to do all the research. And so he would just be sending us all these different options back and forth. And so you’re starting to get weird ads showing up while you’re surfing on the internet and other sites like those are starting to pop up which is hilarious. The other thing was that when you’re doing a production, you have to go through script clearances. So you’re not getting sued for misrepresenting a product or a name or something like that. So, when our lawyer was going through the script, they called out the flesh, butt particularly, as a potential conflict, because there are other products that exist and so we had to actually go back and forth with our lawyer about the flesh butt, how it was something that we created ourselves and didn’t actually exist and convince them that it was okay to use this in the show. And it’s like just so strange to have a serious dialogue with a lawyer about this. Yeah, like this is so absurd. This is what my job is right now. Like I’m just trying to convince them the flesh butt is something that we created.
Phil: We had to have serious dialogue about some really ridiculous things like DJ Keverlast and his songs. We had some really ridiculous brainstorming sessions about that, different names that we considered or what Kevin was going to say in the sound booth
Kevin: Yeah, so these very opposed professionals, I’m in a recording booth in Toronto just spewing out as much Keverlast, stuff as I can, right and the songs are just as ridiculous as they sound like ‘this is Keverlast’, or ‘join the Keverlution’. And we just did that for like an hour and it’s just so ridiculous, the most ridiculous thing we’ve ever done Phil and Evan were just in laughing so hard in the booth while I’m hooked up to the autotune.
Evan – you’re behind the camera in this series. Where is this series staged? Are you using your own apartment or different locations around Toronto(?)?
Evan: I produced it along with our line producer alone and that was really great. The line producer is really experienced. So he really drew on a lot of the talented cast and crew that we had in Toronto. So it was a small show, but there was a fair amount of people involved.
So Phil and Kev’s place was our actual place. Our friend’s apartment was just a location that we rented. And then we did the date, that was at a restaurant called Dailo, which is on College Street
We had such fantastic people working with us and it just made it so seamless. When I was starting out and producing short films and stuff like that you’re often wearing so many hats that it’s hard to focus. You’re focusing so much on the logistical issues and stuff like that rather than focusing on the creative. But for this, it was very important to be able to focus on the creative so we had a really fantastic line producer Alona who I didn’t have to worry about a thing. Her and our entire production team and our assistant director Aiden, just did such a fantastic job that we could really focus on our jobs which was telling a story and making sure we’re capturing the best footage.
What are your aspirations for a Short Term Sentence?
Evan: The plan has always been to develop it into a half-hour series. That’s the goal. I mean, I think that we’d love to make another season of the web series. But I think that the ultimate goal is to really is to turn this into a half-hour show, which we’re working on right now. We’re pretty deep into the development of that idea. And, you know, after this has been out for a little while, we’re planning to kind of get out there and see if we can make happen.
Phil: Yeah. The web series is a good proof of concept. I think we have a lot of stories to tell around this idea. And, you know, the format can sort of dictate how deep you can go into it or not, what you can explore. I think there are versions of this that could and hopefully will exist, depending on what our opportunities become. But yeah, the goal, I think for us in the stories we want to tell in a half-hour format, we want to really get to know the guys and get into the nuances of like their backstories and their characters.
If I had become a huge fan and wanted to run into you guys around the city [of Toronto], where do you like to hang out?
Phil: Dialo, haha that restaurant and our shooting location is right next to our house
Kevin: I am at Bar Raval far too often
Phil: Trinity Bellwoods
Anything else you want our readers to know?
Phil: Right now the show can be found on the Facebook page and on which is Thunder dungeon, which is a comedy hub. We have a mobile app and all that kind of stuff. But right now it can be found on Thunder dungeon on Facebook watch, or you can just go to short term sentence, calm and all the episodes are up there
Evan: So yeah, Thunder Dungeon is important – Phil and another friend of ours have built this online platform and they have over 2 million followers on Facebook and you know a ton on Instagram as well. And they’ve got an app and everything. And so we had this vehicle to be able to launch the series to, you know, a massive audience to begin with, which is such a benefit that so many people and so many creators don’t have. And so and then we’ve also been, you know, fortunate enough to partner up with level film, which is a Canadian distributor who’s going to be working with us to take it to other platforms, both in Canada and internationally. So I think that the plan is to get it out on iTunes Canada at some point in the summer. Yeah, so they’re gonna be releasing the uncensored version of this on iTunes Canada, I think this summer or in fall (Update! It has been released on ITunes!)
Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us. We loved watching your show and will continue to be big fans in the future!