Finding The Asshole is a series of 3 short films created and directed by Melissa Stephens, co-created and produced by Tom DeTrinis, executive produced by Leslye Headland, and co-produced and starring Christine Woods. The short features are a Lynchian romp through a playful yet scathing social critique that is at once absurd and haunting and incredibly funny. The first of the three chapters will be screened at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 25-29 2019, featured in the all-new Episodes category which focuses on the next generation of series storytellers who are distorting familiar story structures with unfiltered or unique setups and story arcs. Said Episodes program Co-Captain Craig Parish. “We continue to support and be excited by creators who are challenging perceptions and shaping their own art with fewer creative constraints than have traditionally been in place.”
In addition to the Episodes program screening at Slamdance, all three chapters will be released on Vimeo on January 25, 2019: the first day of the festival.
Finding the Asshole explores the mundane minutiae of the human condition to show how we're all assholes. Chapter 1 explores the assholes of boutique clothing, Chapter 2 explores all the ways in which you can be an asshole when simply walking on a sidewalk, and Chapter 3 delves into parties and horror and all of the crossover asshole cliches lurking about.
The series came about following Melissa Stephens’ first short film Peen (starring Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Christine Woods and Melissa Stephens) which premiered as a staff pick on Vimeo, tackling heavier gendered themes (Watch Peen Here). She came to Tom DeTrinis, explaining some other ruminations that had been haunting her about the absurd hilarity of humanity, with the objective of creating something beautiful and hilarious. DeTrinis agreed, so Stephens wrote and directed and DeTrinis produced. Drawing on influence and adoration for foreign films from Danish to UK and Korean works, Stephens has honed her specific cinematic voice throughout this series. She creates worlds and then allows the world and the camera to take part in the storytelling role. “It’s important as a female filmmaker and comedian to show how we can nail absurd comedy along with being in grounded reality. I love when someone gets the sadness and ridiculousness of this piece because it's like capturing a lightning bug in a bottle,” says Stephens. “I hope everyone laughs as hard as we did while making it, and I also hope they feel a little bit uncomfortable and confused because such is life.”
Executive Producer, Leslye Headland calls Stephens "a truly gonzo talent." Headland, a champion for diverse and female filmmakers and their unconventional content adds, "Finding The Asshole hits that artistic sweet spot between comedy and chaos. It transcends traditional sketch comedy to give audiences a wild experience with its feverish originality and social commentary. Melissa and her co-creator, Tom DeTrinis, have assembled a diverse and stellar team of collaborators who perform with manic enthusiasm."
MELISSA STEPHENS (Writer/Director/Actor/Producer)
Melissa Stephens is a comedian, actor, writer and director from the peach state. After graduating high school she headed for New York City to pursue her acting career. She studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and after graduation she relocated to LA. She is a founding member of IAMA Theatre Company performing in the world premiere of Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette, Reverb and Cult of Love. Once in LA she dove into the comedy scene where she became a member of Groundlings Sunday Company and regularly performs stand up all around town. She wouldn't be a comedian without a podcast and hers is called Fear Based Life. She's been creating her own work since she came to LA and it all lead to her directing. Her directorial debut PEEN was a Vimeo Staff Pick, and she writes and directs the short series Finding The Asshole which was chosen to show at Slamdance.
TV/Film: Californication, Outsourced, Key and Peele, Transparent, Bajillion Dollar Listings, Black Monday, New Girl, House of Lies, My Good Man's Gone, Rhett and Links Buddy System, Knife Fight, North Blvd,Thin But Poor, Get Up & We're Here Finding The Asshole Theatre: Bachlorette, Reverb, Cult Of Love, Species, Do Like The Kids Do, Peen.
TOM DETRINIS (Co‐Creator/Actor/Producer)
Originally from Long Island, Tom came to Los Angeles by way of Buffalo, and has been acting in and producing film and stage for the past decade. On stage, he most recently directed international critically acclaimed hit, TILDA SWINTON ANSWERS AND AD ON CRAIGSLIST by Byron Lane starring Tom Lenk, which is headed to the London Vault Festival in February of 2019, after a successful run in Edinburgh, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. As an actor, his favorite credits include, THEATRE: Die, Mommie, Die! (CTG/Celebration), The SantaLand Diaries (Virginia Stage Company), Bright Colors and Bold Patterns (Barrow Street Theatre, SoHo Playhouse, Celebration Theatre ‐ Associate Producer and Understudy); 30 Minute Musicals (All 15+ of them); TV: 90210, Switched at Birth, Greek, Community, Mighty Med, Californication; FILM: Squirrel (New Hampshire Film Festival Best Narrative Feature), Wedding Dance, Adjust‐a‐Dream; WEB: Finding the Asshole Series (co‐creator/producer/actor), Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Party, Fig and Ford. For more information, detrinis.com or @detrinis on instagram.
CHRISTINE WOODS (Producer/Actor)
A So-Cal native-Christine Woods is known for many award winning Television series, shorts, and features-Most notably “I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore” Written and Directed by Macon Blaire (Sundance Grand Jury Prize 2017), “Handsome-A Murder Mystery” written and Directed by Jeff Garlan, “Dean” written and Directed by Demetri Martin, “Before the Sun Explodes” written by Zeke Farrow and Debra Eisenstadt-Directed by Debra Eisenstadt, “Peen”-Written and Directed by Melissa Stephens. Notable TV roles include Jessica on HBO’s Hello Ladies, Room 104 (HBO), Brockmire (IFC), The Walking Dead (AMC), About A Boy (NBC), Man with A Plan (CBS), The Odd Couple (CBS), and many more. She is a proud member of Los Angeles based IAMA Theatre Co. through which she has been nominated for several Stage Raw awards and an Ovation Award for her most recent work in Leslye Headland’s brand new Play “Cult of Love.” She is repped by Gersh Agency and Management 360.
LESLYE HEADLAND (Executive Producer)
Leslye Headland began her career writing and directing the Seven Deadly Plays series (IAMA Theatre Company). The series includes Bachelorette and Assistance which both transferred to NY. Bachelorette was the basis for her directorial film debut starring Kirsten Dunst. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Her other film credits include writing the 2014 remake of About Last Night starring Kevin Hart and writing/directing Sleeping with Other People starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie which also premiered at Sundance in 2015. TV writing/directing credits include: pilots for HBO, ABC and NBC, as well as Terriers (FX), Blunt Talk (Starz), SMILF and Black Monday (Showtime), Heathers (Paramount) and Russian Doll (Netflix).