Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Joke walrus advert made into film

Actor-director Kevin Smith has made a horror film about a walrus based on a Gumtree advert
Actor-director Kevin Smith has made a horror film about a walrus based on a Gumtree advert
Actor-director Kevin Smith has made a horror film about a walrus based on a Gumtree advert

An online advert placed by a performance poet asking for a housemate who would be prepared to dress part-time as a walrus has inspired a Hollywood film.

American screenwriter and actor Kevin Smith was so taken with Chris Parkinson's Gumtree post for the fake housemate he decided to use the idea and make it into a film called Tusk.

Smith, who is best-known for his Jay and Silent Bob characters and films including Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma, then tracked 32-year-old Mr Parkinson down and flew him to the set in North Carolina, making him an associate director.

Mr Parkinson, from Brighton, posted the original advert in June this year which offered free rent in a flat for anyone willing to wear a walrus suit for two hours a day.

He claimed to have befriended a walrus called Gregory while living on a remote island off Alaska and upon leaving said he was "heartbroken".

Mr Parkinson said: "The advert went viral and the story was in some national newspapers and on Radio 4.

"Kevin read it somewhere and did a podcast about it where he said he was going to make a horror film about it.

"I was on honeymoon and came home to find all these links which had been emailed to me of Kevin Smith talking about my advert.

"They actually thought the advert was real at first but Kevin managed to track down my email address and said: "Congratulations, you have made one hell of a freaky movie. Do you want to come to America and help us make it?"

Mr Parkinson was flown out by Smith on November 11 and spent a week on set in North Carolina before being whisked off to New York for the last two days of his trip.

He said: "It was incredible actually seeing it. They are pretty much filming it all in three weeks."

"It was full on. I was watching what was going on, talking to everyone involved and I got to read the script which was incredible. I was laughing all the way through.

"It is based on my original idea but has a bit more of a sinister twist.

"It also has a few of the original lines from my advert, verbatim, in the script."

Mr Parkinson said he also has a cameo appearance in the film which he made within minutes of arriving on set.

He said: "I was looking slightly bedraggled after an 18-hour flight but it fit with the scene.

"Kevin Smith is a really lovely guy and it was great to meet him. He is very good at what he does."

He added that there is no release date for the film yet, but he believes it will be in the second half of next year.

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