The sights and sounds of vaudeville return to Proctors on Sunday with "The Adventures of Boof Margarine," a silent film created by Niskayuna native Dave Keen. The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra will accompany the film with an original composition.
Keen, a professionally trained violinist and SSO alum, worked as a freelance musician for many years with his progressive rock group Baba Yaga. He started working on silent films in between gigs and began to develop Boof Margarine's character through short clips.
Shortly after partnering with actor Rob Buchwald, the two created a full-length film with Boof's character, which eventually became "The Adventures of Boof Margarine." Buchwald plays Mabel, a woman who lives with Boof.
Here, the musician and filmmaker discusses how Boof Margarine came to be and what it’s like coming back to Schenectady to exhibit it with SSO.
Question: How and when did you come up with the character of Boof Margarine? Can you describe him?
Answer: There was a bowler hat on the shelf and I imagined the guy who would wear that. When I looked in the mirror I saw a guy who got smacked around and did silly things and looked at the camera too much in consternation at his endless plight. He's all of us in a way. Trying to get through the day, dodging the obstacles. I think Boof is embarrassed by the scenes and when he looks at you it's as if to say "See what I gotta put up with?"
Q: What drew you to vaudeville acts?
A: I grew up loving the three stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, cartoons, and of course Carl Stalling and all the music with the cartoons that came a little later. Especially the idea of adults doing childish and childlike things.
Q: How did you team up with Rob Buchwald? What is his role in "Adventures"?
A: Rob Buchwald is a NYC [based] actor, singer and filmmaker and a great friend. He saw the first super short Boof Margarine shorts I made and he immediately wanted to work together on such a theme, as well as another tongue-in-cheek short more along the lines of film noir. That project is next and I've already written some of the music. he plays Boof's live-in Mabel LeQuak, as well as his pestering landlord. He is hilarious in both roles.
Q: How did you take the episodes of Boof Margarine that you first created and turn them into a full story?
A: Rob and I worked out a storyline that was as tongue-in-cheek as we could make it. I originally wanted the episodes to be super short, almost non-stories. Boof slips on a banana peel. Boof gets pied. The joke was partially in the fact that videos these days are so brief. Rob insisted we make a story that really evokes and feels like old New York, and he was right.
Q: How has working with SSO again been? Is it surreal to be working with them on music you composed?
A: It's been lovely seeing and working with the SSO, the group that gave me my first professional job back when I was 16 years old! Maestro Schneider is a warm and compassionate man with a long and wonderful career, even including having met the man who taught me musical composition in college, Alvin Brehm, to whom this score is dedicated.
Q: Would you say that Proctors is the perfect place to show "The Adventures of Boof Margarine"?
A: Proctors has a vaudeville history so it was especially fitting for this piece to be exhibited there.
Q: I know you're working on a short film, "Cold Wakeup." Can you tell me a bit about that and when people might be able to see it?
A: My psychological thriller short “Cold Wakeup” is in post-production. it's about orbits of illusion and how strong the gravity can be, keeping us locked in. It's about a political prisoner incarcerated by some unnamed entity that is seeking to take over, during an armed conflict. I wrote the screenplay and had a cast of 27 NYC actors. Principal photography went 4 months from May to September. Boof Margarine took priority especially after September, and I am planning on releasing it April 2018 in NYC, with a premiering at a Brooklyn Collage Collective art show.
'The Adventures of Boof Margarine,' with the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14
TICKETS: $12-$20, free for 18 and under
MORE INFO: schenectadysymphonyorchestra.org