As we reported earlier this week, Kevin Smith’s offbeat new horror-comedy “Tusk” came about after the filmmaker read a bizarre Internet ad. Originally posted on England’s free classified site Gumtree, the notice purported to be from a retired gentleman offering free rent to a person willing to dress up in a walrus costume for approximately two hours a day.
While discussing the ad on his Smodcast podcast with co-host Scott Mosier, Smith found himself increasingly fascinated with the story, and essentially spinning it into a movie idea where an obsessed maniac surgically transforms another man into a walrus. He asked his audience to vote on whether they would be interested in seeing this movie, and to put their vote on Twitter with the hashtag “Walrus Yes” or “Walrus No.” Telling the story at the L.A premiere on Monday, Smith revealed, “The next day I woke up to a sea–pun intended–of ‘Walrus Yes’ on my feed!”
As it turns out, the ad was all part of hoax by Brighton man Chris Parkinson, but it didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the idea. In fact, as word began to get out about Smith’s interest, friends of Parkinson’s were reaching out to him. But it took awhile to reach him as the poet-writer, whose day job was working at the Brighton Fringe Festival, was on his honeymoon. Eventually, Smith got in touch with Parkinson and the merry prankster ended up with an associate producer credit on the film. He even visited the North Carolina set last year–only his second time ever on a plane.
In Los Angeles for the first time ever for the premiere with his wife Anna Sandhu, Parkinson saw the film in full for the first time and was an instant fan. Asked if he had ever written hoax ads before, he promptly replied, “Oh, all the time! They just haven’t produced such incredible results before.” Parkinson also revealed he received over 400 replies to his advertisement. “I don’t know what that says about people or about the renting situation in Brighton,” he quipped.
On his to-do list while in L.A. was to visit The Museum of Jurassic Technology. “I don’t know anything about it, but people keep saying I will love it,” he said of the offbeat attraction.
And now that he’s a producer on a big movie, does he have future Hollywood ambitions? “You know, I’ve always been a writer and there was a time I was working on movies and screenplays,” Parkinson admitted. “And I have to say, this experience has definitely reinvigorated my love for storytelling and encouraged me to examine it again.”
Original text of the advertisement:
Hello, I am looking for a lodger in my house. I have had a long and interesting life and have now chosen Brighton as a location for my retirement. Among the many things I have done in my life is to spend three years alone on St. Lawrence Island. These were perhaps the most intense and fascinating years of my life, and I was kept in companionship with a walrus whom I named Gregory. Never have I had such a fulfilling friendship with anyone, human or otherwise, and upon leaving the island I was heartbroken for months. I now find myself in a large house over looking Queens Park and am keen to get a lodger. This is a position I am prepared to offer for free (eg: no rent payable) on the fulfillment of some conditions. I have, over the last few months, been constructing a realistic walrus costume, which should fit most people of average proportions, and allow for full and easy movement in character. To take on the position as my lodger you must be prepared to wear the walrus suit for approximately two hours each day (in practice, this is not two hours every day – I merely state it here so you are able to have a clear idea of the workload). Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus – there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus – I believe there aer (SIC) recordings available on the web – to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus. With the exception of this, you will be free to do whatever you choose, and will have a spacious double room, complete run of the house (with the exception of my bedroom and my workshop), and use of all facilities within. I am a considerate person to share a house with, and other than playing the accordion my tastes are easy to accomodate (SIC).
Due to the nature of this position I will need to audition all applicants before agreeing to take the chosen candidate on as a lodger. Please contact me if you have any questions.