Content lessons from the Corner Gas Movie

Screen grab of the Corner Gas: The Movie website

I’m a huge fan of Corner Gas who watches his DVDs over and over. I’m not usually a fan of tv shows being turned into movies but couldn’t pass up the chance to watch the Corner Gas movie. Maybe it will turn out right? Thankfully, it did!

I can sum up Corner Gas: The Movie as an unconventional movie experience. And it was refreshing. Because something unique was done. A few unique things, actually. And that’s what can make your content stand out, no matter the medium or format.

1. A very short theatre run

It was only in theatres for 5 days in select theatres. At first I thought this was a little strange. Why go to all that production trouble just for a week of showings? Then I pondered if it had anything to do with budget or perhaps Canadian movies having a hard time competing with American ones. Or maybe there was a positive reason? Read on…

2. Quick DVD release

The DVD is set to release the week after as will digital downloads.

3. 20 minute warm up before the movie started

Instead of sitting through 20 minutes or more of commercials for movies, cell phones, bank services, and cars I’m not in the market to buy, Brent Butt treated us to his comedy, really funny Corner Gas trivia games (many in the theatre including myself laughed out loud), bloopers and even a section where he asked the audience to snap photos and tag with #CornerGasMovie for a Selfies For Swag contest.

The latter was genius. It was cool to see photos of my fellow Corner Gas fans show up on Twitter. They were sitting in theatres waiting for the movie to begin. They all had huge smiles. I saw couples and families participating. The Corner Gas movie wasn’t just a movie. It was an event. An event shared with fans across Canada and hashtags played a natural part in it.

4. Sing-a-long

Since I’m not a huge fan of tv shows becoming movies, I didn’t pay too much attention to the production of the Corner Gas movie with the exception of Brent Butt’s twitter stream. So I missed out on the KickStarter campaign (in fact, I learned of it while doing some research for this article) tapings of the sing-a-longs across the country. From what it looks, there was a booth set up in locations where people can video record themselves singing along to the theme song. Fans were also invited to record from their webcams. These videos were shown as a collage during the warm-up and closing credits. Hello consumer-generated media!

And some of the fans got really creative including dressing up as the characters! My favourite was the video of two guys signing the theme song.

Remember those follow-the-bouncing-ball sing-a-longs? Yeah, that happened right after the collage. Followed by Brent acknowledging that no one was going to sing it anyway (unfortunately, he was right).

Brent mentioned a historical fun fact: the national anthem was played before movies. Who knew? So we got treated to an awesome rendition of O Canada by Del Barber (available for free on the Corner Gas movie site! Just like I’ve read on the #cornergasmovie Twitter feed, people in the theatre I was in stood up! Not so shy as during the sing-a-long.

Brent’s casual and informal sense of humour kept us chuckling. Brent even did the best job I’d ever seen regarding messaging about shutting off cell phones before the movie started. I won’t spoil it in case the warm-up is included in the home video market (will he ask home viewers to shut off their cell phones?).

5. Letting the characters that we love shine

I give the movie itself a full 5 stars. It was the Corner Gas we enjoyed for 6 seasons and then some. The characters that we were so relatable in the TV show were not watered down or deviated from their original form like most tv movies tend to do. The gags kept coming and holy cats that ending was hilarious. My apologies to my theatre mates  if I was howling a little too loudly. I’m thinking  my apprehension towards tv shows being made into movies is disappearing.

6. Fun closing credits

I’m a fan of waiting ’til the very end of a movie’s credit roll to see if anything is added. And there was! Scenes of the production of the movie in Rouleau, Saskatchewan – the “real” Dog River – where Brent let the townsfolk watch the shooting and participate in what has got to be the largest sing-a-long of them all. Giving back to the community a movie shoot may have inconvenienced a little bit.

7. A movie for the fans?

Overall, I had the impression that this movie was made for the fans and was also possibly a fun, creative project for Brent and his writers. After watching the Kickstarter video, looks like I was right. Brent mentions that the whole Corner Gas story is his love letter to Saskatchewan where he grew up. So there you have it: passion in the content. Let the creative people work on what they do best and see great storytelling unfold. It worked for Looney Tunes during the golden years when animators wrote the stories before the era of studio executives fouling things up across most cartoon and movie productions thereafter.

I honestly felt like the production of the movie was close to me. I wasn’t just watching the movie. I was engaging with it. Nerding out and hanging out with my favourite characters. Brent made the right balance between the story he wanted to tell and the story the fans wanted to see. I do hope there will be more Corner Gas movies.

Are there any movies you like that feel like they were made for the fans?

2 Comments

  1. Unfortunately I was unable to see the movie as I am in Florida for the winter. Will it be released on DVdD soon and will it be available in the USA? I am a huge fan.

  2. Hi Judy! The DVD is already available! You can find it on amazon.ca.

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