Filmmakers go in front of the camera for charity

Internet sketch-comedy troupe rallies for children’s hospitals

Paul Saunders

Paul Saunders and Graham Stark are preparing once again to take turns driving a coach bus between Las Vegas, Nev. and Tucson, Ariz. next month.

On Nov. 18 the Victoria filmmakers will take their fifth annual virtual road trip, called the Desert Bus for Hope marathon charity, in front of a live Internet audience.

For as long as their fans donate, the team will continue to drive, or rather, play “the most boring” eight-hour video game, Saunders said.

“The real devious part is your bus lists to the right as you drive. You can’t just tape your controller down and leave it.”

Last year, they drove the bus for six days straight and raised $209,000, helping the U.S.-based Child’s Play charity generate more than $2 million in toys, games and cash for children’s hospitals around the world. About $35,000 of that went to the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, and more than $15,000 in cash and toys went to Victoria General Hospital, said Kristin Lindsay, U.S.-based Child’s Play foundation co-ordinator.

As the creators of Bionic Trousers Media, a successful Victoria-based Internet sketch-comedy troupe that produces four popular online shows, Stark and Saunders are used to being behind and in front of the cameras.

Since creating their flagship online show Loading Ready Run in 2003, their sketch-comedy work has been featured at film and comic conventions, as well as on NBC and CNN.

Saunders estimates Loading Ready Run enjoys 10,000 to 20,000 views a week, while their Unskippable series, which offers a tongue-and-cheek look at video games, receives up to 400,000 views a month.

“If you sort of imagine 300,000 or 400,000 people actually sitting in a theatre watching your show, that’s kind of cool,” said Saunders, 28. “The wonderful thing about the Internet is there’s no borders and no boundaries, and often, while we do have a pretty solid fan base here in Victoria, we hear from people all over the world (especially Sweden).”

Much of heir work has a “video-game bent,” though their comedy doesn’t stop there. Their latest creations are CheckPoint, a humorous video-game news show, and Feed Dump provides edgy commentaries on different topics. They film their weekly shows in their Victoria studio, as well as out in the community.

“As big geeks ourselves, we tended to do a lot video-game type content because that’s what we were thinking about a lot,” said Saunders. “It turns out a lot of the stuff I do now to make money, in some ways, video games classify as research.”

To watch their shows, please visit loadingreadyrun.com or visit desertbus.org during their charity drive, beginning Nov. 18 at 6 p.m.

emccracken@vicnews.com

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