After more than a year since our 24-hour short film “Sloppy Cops: The Slippery Crook” premiered, we decided a second instalment was finally due. Although we had a lot of ideas for jokes, new characters, and silly situations to put them in we needed to somehow string it together into a cohesive storyline. We were adamant about not losing the improvisational nature of the first Sloppy Cops film but also wanted to add more structure to the plot. We found a compromise by not writing a rigid word-for-word script, but rather a loose chain of events that lead up to a pre-defined outcome.
The characters in our previous episode were flat and had little variation between them. In this episode, we introduced a hierarchical system by creating the captain, sarge and inspector as roles. The actors were given creative control to give their character quirks and mannerisms. I noticed that the more scenes we filmed, the more naturally we channelled the specific personalities of our roles. The Captain fully committed to the role and shaved his beard to achieve the famous moustachioed trope. The rest of the force had to resort to stick-on-stache’s.
After blowing the budget on pizza, fake moustaches and police hats we had no choice but to improvise props. A keen observer may have spotted that our police radios were, in fact, fire alarms and our radar guns blow dryers.
After scouting and considering multiple locations in Kassel, we found a great spot to stage the crime scene. The location was not highly trafficked and had plenty of different shot opportunities to keep the scenes more dynamic. The disadvantage of this location was the sound interference from the nearby dam and road. As we only used the camera’s built-in microphone, we had to accept the sound pollution and add subtitles afterwards.
The story arc surrounding the washed-up bike was coincidental, as we found the bike at the shooting location. I can’t recall what our original plan was, but “bicycle crime” fit incredibly well to these responsibilities of heavily demoted cops. The improvisational talent of many of our cast bloomed in the dialogue that emerged from the situation. The mostly improvised “no coffee, no crime scene” sequence is easily my favourite bits that came out of this project. In retrospect, we should have shot the movement in one constant direction and maybe reduced the run time. Personally I think the dragged out length of this sequence fits well because it juxtaposes the extremely short witness investigation afterwards. The actual coffee-making scene was filmed at a later date with another actor(notice the captain wearing another jacket).
Finding a conclusion to our video was not easy, especially since a few weeks had passed between the beginning and end of the shoot. The next shooting block where most of the cast was together was in Potsdam. We figured that a satisfying ending was in order and decided that the incompetent cops should have a success(even if it results in their termination). We decided to let them catch the bad guy with a trap. Seeing as Andi(The Captain) had since shaved his moustache, we decided to introduce the Captain’s brother(also played by Andi) as the guilty party. Admittedly this solution was not the most clever, but we had to wrap up the video somehow. One of the problems with heavy improvisation is the difficulty in finding a good ending that gives the viewer closure. For good measure and a bit of fun, we assigned another role to our dynamic actor Andi by making him “Ronnie”, the scottish barman in the last scene. We establish that the entire force was terminated due to “sloppy cop work” and layed the ground work for Sloppy Cops 3, where the boys go private.
The post-production phase was started and completely scrapped twice before I put this edit together on a weekend. Frustrating plot holes and jarring edits did not help the motivation to edit and ship the video. After presenting my weekend edit to the rest of the cast, we decided to release the imperfect product and aim to improve future projects. We once again learned a lot from this project; the importance of planning and not to lose the momentum while working through the phases of production. Deadlines and more planning helped greatly in future projects.
The groundwork we laid for Sloppy Cops 3 was very exciting and helped move production along quickly. The idea of privatizing the detective work of these incompetent officers presented us with seemingly endless situations to put them in. What made this project possible was a fantastic team that was open to listen and build on each other’s ideas. Sloppy Cops became something special for everyone during this project and we are proud to share our series with the world and listen to your feedback.
Video Editing Software: Vegas Pro 14
Camera: Sony HDR-CX405
Written and Directed by Alex and Andreas Decker
Audio Editing and Capture: Audacity & Vegas Pro 14
Shoot Location: Kassel and Potsdam, Germany