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A Kurt Hale / Dave Hunter / John E. Moyer film
The Home Teachers
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Filmmakers aim for clean family fun in 'Teachers'

By: Nicole Warburton
Date: 9 January 2004
Source: Deseret News

SPRINGVILLE -- Jeff Birk sits on a red-leather couch in an elegant room. He's sporting a bow tie and has a perfectly parted, slicked-back hairstyle.

The room is hot and stifling. A woman dabs Birk's forehead, removing beads of sweat. Two men stand by a couch that's been turned on its side and pushed against the wall. Another monitors two fans working valiantly to blow cool air.

As Birk sweats, a handful of people wander through the room. Some go into a dining room with a well-set table, while others walk through to a kitchen cluttered with props. One person travels around a corner, past a room stacked high with boxes, to a staircase where she sits and reviews papers on a clipboard.

A collective hush goes throughout the house. The fans are turned off, people gasp at the hot air, and a man with a deep voice says "Rolling. . . . "

Birk comes alive; flashing a wide-eyed, dramatic grin toward the man seated before him.

On this hot day in July, Birk is in Springville shooting a scene for his first feature-length movie, "The Home Teachers."

Directed by Kurt Hale and produced by Dave Hunter, "The Home Teachers" is the third in a series of independent comedies distributed by HaleStorm Entertainment -- Hale and Hunter's Orem-based production company. The first two, "The Single's Ward" and "The RM" were slapstick comedies geared toward members of the LDS Church that scored big at the box office. Hale hopes "The Home Teachers" will be no different.

"Believe me, we analyze this and overanalyze this," Hale said during a break in the action. "We've got a greater audience base now that kind of know who we are. That helps a lot, so I think, potentially, we have an opportunity to have more people see this just because of our track record."

Billed as a story about "polar opposites," "The Home Teachers" chronicles the adventures of two men on a quest to complete their home teaching before the end of the month. Birk plays Nelson Parker, an intense, straight-arrow member of the LDS Church, while Michael Birkeland, who appeared in both "The Singles Ward" and "The RM," plays Greg Blazer, a relaxed, "let me do my duty and be done" member.

"Even just conceptually, everyone waits until the last day of the month to get their home teaching done, and no one wants to do it," said Hale. "So, we've had an immediate conflict which works quite well."

According to Hale, that conflict is met in a physically funny and often disastrous way. "This is 'Tommy Boy' meets home teaching," he said.

In the scene Birk is shooting, his companion, Greg Blazer (Birkeland) falls through the ceiling onto the dining-room table. "This is the first house that our home teachers go to and end up destroying," said Hale. "They get here and one of our home teachers is just not at all interested . . . he's trying to listen to the game. He goes upstairs -- got to put the earpieces in his ear for the game -- and ends up knocking something in the toilet. It overflows . . . it soaks up the ceiling and he ends up falling through onto a fully-set dining room table. It's immediately adjacent to the room that his companion is teaching in, and then all chaos ensues."

In another scene, Blazer and Parker drive their car off a cliff. They are attending a funeral in Vernal and take a bad shortcut home.

"We blew up a car in 'Single's Ward,' which was kind of fun," said director of photography Ryan Little, "and so, it seems to be a consistent thing now that we have to either blow something off a cliff or blow something up."

"We take a lot of the situations to the nth degree," said Birk.

According to Hale, his goal with "The Home Teachers" -- and his first two films -- was to create a clean comedy for families to laugh at. "Right now, so many of our people . . . our audiences are tired of innuendo and the baseness of so much of the comedy," he said. "And, if we can keep it clean, I really think people will come back for it, just 'cause there's not much else out there right now."

Hale added, "We know we're not writing stuff that will change the world. Our whole kind of model is to just let people laugh at something they can feel good at laughing about."

Hale and Hunter are all ready planning their fourth comedy for next year -- "Church Ball."

Director Kurt Hale, right, and director of photography Ryan Little eye the light on a scene from the film.

Actor Jeff Birk gets his bow tie adjusted.

A car is sent off the edge of a cliff while filming a scene from the movie.

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