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Dream Teams: Making Cannes Lion-Winning Sushi with Adam & Dave


Arts & Sciences’ directorial duo weave a web of hilarious half-truths and discuss founding their new production company ‘The Salmon’, writes LBB’s Ben Conway

Dream Teams: Making Cannes Lion-Winning Sushi with Adam & Dave

Together since film school, directorial duo Adam Brodie and Dave Derewlany (known professionally as ‘Adam & Dave’) are notorious for their comedic work and are represented in the US and UK by Arts & Sciences. Working across film, television, and commercials, they have directed for brands such as Chase, ESPN, Geico, Pizza Hut and more -  as well as on series with HBO Canada, CBC and SyFy. Their work has been recognised at awards shows like Cannes Lions, D&ADs, The One Show, and the AICP Awards, and last year they launched their own production company, The Salmon, in Canada.

Looking back to when they first met, Dave remembers a particularly unusual first impression at a screening of the cult film ‘Momento’ that has stuck with him ever since. “Adam was accompanied by a cherub-faced ‘security guard’ wearing a suit and an obviously fake moustache (I would later learn this was his roommate Blair) who swept through the theatre pretending to speak into an earpiece while guiding Adam to his seat. This was a very strong look. I was intrigued.”

Despite this peculiar start, the pair admired each other’s work in production class and began to collaborate at film school - as well as teaming up in extracurricular activities, like “dominating karaoke night at the local bar”. Their first joint film project, however, was a ‘Serpico’ spoof about an undercover priest exposing corruption in the Vatican: “The Father, The Son, and The Holy Bullet. I still stand by that title,” says Dave. “Our deeply Catholic film professor was not a fan,” adds Adam.

After years of developing their chemistry, Dave shares that they act as one on set, joking that if one of them were to be assassinated by rival directors then the show would go on without a hitch. “We not only complement each other creatively, but we also complement each other stylistically,” confirms Adam. “For instance, on set, I might say to Dave, ‘Nice watch!’ or ‘When did you get that watch?’ or ‘How much do you want for that thing?’ or ‘No, I haven’t seen your watch. Did you check your wrist?’ or ‘Actually this is my watch. It just looks exactly like your watch that you carelessly lost’... Stuff like that.”

You can see why the pair have excelled so well in the field of comedy. Finding increasingly absurd ways to avoid revealing their top-secret on-set techniques, Adam continues: “We used to settle our disagreements by getting an old USB cord and taking turns whipping each other on the back of the legs. Whoever could take the most lashings with the USB cord, would be crowned ‘King For The Day’, and all of the King’s ideas would move forward. Now we have had time to reflect on how inappropriate that was, we have changed our approach.” Time perhaps for a more serious response? He adds, “Whoever takes the most lashings with the USB cord now is called ‘Supreme Leader’, which is more gender-inclusive language.” Perhaps not.


Still on the topic of creative disagreements, any hopes that Dave might be the more transparent one are squashed in an equally quick, tongue-in-cheek manner. “We used to accidentally dress the same on set, and that caused some friction,” he says. “So now we do it on purpose. This has led to two things 1) Fewer disagreements. 2) The opportunity for a merch table now on set featuring ‘Adam’ or ‘Dave’ branded gear so we can definitively know who is the more popular one.” 

He continues, “Any actual disagreements are handled away from the crew, off-set, in our own private ‘rage room’, stocked with the worst-selling merch items (the Hummel-style figures of Dave fishing while wearing a diaper came out pretty disturbing and were not a big seller).”

Last year, the duo launched their own Canadian production company called ‘The Salmon’, a process that Dave says was made possible - in part - by the mentorship that Arts & Sciences’ director and partner Matt Aselton (who he affectionately dubs ‘Sir Matt Aselton’) provided them. “The Salmon was the perfect opportunity to craft our own playbook and pass on our learnings to a new generation of Canadian directors,” he says. “Like how to find the best in any creative, the importance of having a strong take that inspires you and to always, no matter what, suggest shooting anamorphic.”

Adam adds, “Well, we tell the public that our goal is to elevate Canadian production and introduce new creative voices to the market but really, our plan is to create a Salmon-branded small-batch Rye Whisky that we eventually sell to a conglomerate for billions of dollars.”

Besides this new venture as company founders, when asked about their proudest collaboration together, Adam highlights ‘Humour Resources’, a TV series the pair wrote, directed and produced remotely during the pandemic with comedian Jon Dore. With a crew of writers and talent spread between Toronto, Montreal, LA, London, New York, Vancouver, and Alaska, they had to ship equipment, and PPE all around North America and spend an unenviable amount of time on Zoom and Frame IO to bring it life. “In the end,” says Adam, “we produced and delivered an original six-episode series co-starring Eric Andre, Nikki Glaser, Ronnie Cheung, Sarah Silverman, and Tom Green without ever being in the same room.”

Famous for their comedy work, not just in the US but also in the UK for brands like TK MAXX and Chase Bank, these two Canadians believe they have successfully acted as “UN Peacekeepers between the war of the US and British comedy”. Adam explains, “We grew up watching both, and can increase our level of self-deprecation and dark humour for the UK. We also need to remember to add back in the extra ‘u’ into words like ‘humour’ and ‘colour’ that we pay a copywriter to remove for our US treatments. The good thing is that creatives in both countries make fun of our accents, so that makes us feel comfortable wherever we’re working.”

“I agree with Adam,” says Dave. “As Canadians, we hold the Rosetta Stone of comedy, acting as humour translators that can change from metric to imperial comedy-wise. I grew up watching ‘SNL’, ‘In Living Color’, and the finest that the ABC’s ‘TGIF’ line-up had to offer while also maintaining a diet of British classics like ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Alan Partridge’ and ‘The Brass Eye’. All the while, I was also learning from the Canadian greats who were able to mix US and British styles like ‘SCTV’ and ‘Kids In The Hall’.” 

He continues, “To define the difference between US and UK processes, it basically comes down to history. Canada asked nicely to have its own country instead of fighting with the British, so our humour trends more self-deprecating in the UK. Conversely, early Canadians burnt down the White House during the war of 1812, so our humour in the US is more situational. Simple stuff.”

Working in commercial filmmaking provides Adam & Dave with a new creative challenge with every job - and while overcoming these challenges can be an interesting and fun proposition, there are some hurdles that prove more frustrating than others. And for this pair, who love to work with proficient comic actors and realise their plans to the fullest creative extent, a professional nemesis has emerged - the cost consultant. “As they continue to squeeze their serpentine bodies around budgets, pushing production further into cheaper filming locations and away from talented comedic performers, it has a big impact on us as comedic dialogue directors,” says Adam. “It’s like handing a cook an old potato and a bag of oats and asking them to make you sushi. And the sushi should also win Cannes Lions.”

Backing his partner’s position on the increasing slashing power of the cost consultant, Dave says, “It will always be a challenge when you show up on set to shoot a crowd scene, or a busy-looking store only to see your 100 extras got cut to a tight 10. Until MidJourney or Dall-E can generate fully autonomous 3D humanoid extras (which will probably be next year) it will always look empty. This is a great creative challenge that, by shamelessly complaining about here, I feel we overcame together.”

Despite being long-time professional partners, it’s clear to see that the shine hasn’t worn off of Adam & Dave’s friendship - and even during a whirlwind interview of intertwining facts and fairy tales, it’s impossible to ignore the seamless connection and combined creative force that the pair has harnessed in their work. Through their fantasies and riddle-like jokes, it’s fairly safe to assume (though not entirely) that Adam and Dave do indeed enjoy cross-country snowboarding together or the schadenfreude of people hurting themselves on YouTube, as Adam claims - but not so much the shamanic rebirth ritual at an ancient Mexican pyramid. One thing is for certain, however, that their symbiotic relationship and passion for comedy has resulted in some hilarious work, a new adventure with their own production company and a lasting partnership with laughter at its core - as Dave can attest.

“[We’ve learned] that if you randomly meet another guy with a strong biblical name at film school who also fled from the suburbs and consumes comedy at a staggering pace, you can have a friendship that far outlasts that curse you both received from a witch in the forest.”

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Arts & Sciences, Thu, 13 Apr 2023 15:53:00 GMT