Bill Burr, Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa team up to film “Cheat,” debuting at 2011 Tribeca Film Festival

They're not exactly the Three Musketeers of comedy, but Bill Burr, Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa did figure out the value of teamwork. By joining forces, they sat down, wrote, produced and directed a short film all on their own, and Cheat will debut this weekend at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. There are five screenings, starting April 23 and continuing through May 1.

The film has opened up other opportunities for the trio.

Let's take a look at the trailer, and then talk to the fellas about it. Roll the clip.


So whose idea was it? Who had to convince the other two to get on board with making a short film?

BURR: "I think Bobby was the guy who said this was a movie."

KELLY: "I was the most desperate to do something. Bill has a very successful career and doesn't need us guys."

BURR: "No…Stop. He was the star of Tourgasm. I was on I Love the 80s Strikes Back. There's no strife between us. This was the three of us clinging to a raft and surviving together."

DEROSA: "Yeah, it was Bobby. The three of us had talked about it. Why are we waiting for something to happen. Why are we waiting for the next audition? Why don't we make it happen? That was the planted seed. And we called Bill and Bill liked it."

So what's the cheat in the movie?

DEROSA: "The logline is three friends to pull off the perfect crime. It looks like it might be a comedic heist, but then there's the big reveal!

BURR: "I always just bring up the movie Speed, Part 2, where they just showed the first two-and-a-half acts. They showed everything but Sandra Bullock walking on the beach. They burned 90 minutes of the movie and we knew the boat didn't blow up. We're kind of doing the opposite. We're in between Speed 2 and The Crying Game."

Were film festivals the initial goal for this?

KELLY: "No. Our goal iniitally was, to sell it to Comedy Central."

BURR: "Our goal was just to make something instead of sitting around on our asses and check our imdb pages. The goal was just to get something done. Write it. Sell it. We actually sold it to Atom Films, we were going to take their money. Then at the last second we took it back. We wanted to do something from the ground up and do it ourselves. Everybody else was basically, we're going to own this movie, and it'll be non-union and if we get penalized you pay it. It's just a short movie. It's not the Titanic. So why don't we make it ourselves? If it becomes something, then we'll be in the driver's seat."

DEROSA: "This Tribeca thing. It was really rewarding. It's an honor to be invited there. But then it was doubly rewarding to look back and see what we did with the movie. Instead of letting a corporate entity fund it and do it on our own."

BURR: "They wanted to turn it into a webseries."

KELLY: "It would have been buried on their website. A few hundred people would have seen it and then it would have been over." 

BURR, citing the directors of the 1970s: "These guys took major risks with feature films. This is just a short…This was the most fun I had on a set. Bobby and Joe are great friends of mine. And then the people we hired. Colin (Quinn). Bonnie (McFarlane). Everybody was having a great time. And I think everybody knocked it out of the park."

KELLY: "Joe's directorial debut. Joe asked to direct it from the beginning. He did a phenomenal job. That's one thing people say about the movie, 'Who shot it?'"

DEROSA: "I'm really indebted to these guys letting me do it. I remember the moment saying to Bill, 'I really want to be a director,' and Bill turning to me saying, 'Yeah, don't fuck it up dude.' And Bill and Bob were producers."

KELLY: "When we were shooting our scenes, it was amazing what professionals Joe and Billy are. We sat down. They said action. We nailed everything. I'll speak for myself. Joe and Billy are great actors. It's not like you're sitting there, thinking, 'They fucking stink.' Joe's really funny in the movie, Billy is hilarious. We're essentially being ourselves. If you love our comedy, you're going to love this film."

DEROSA: "The inspiration was kind of close to home. It was fun watching stuff we created together come to life."

BURR: "It's a slice of life, Sean. I think that's what he's trying to say. A 15-minute movie that took us three days to shoot, all because Bobby said this is a movie."

DEROSA: "It's opened a lot of other doors for us. We've got a book deal. The book will come out next year. The three of us working as a crew together. We always sort of kicked this idea around. I've talked to Bill many times about having that dream life at the end of your career living in a cul-de-sac with their children."

Wasn't that Grown Ups, the movie last year with Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock and Kevin James?

DEROSA: "I want to live Grown Ups all the time."

BURR: "They basically saw the movie and said, 'What else do you got?'"

KELLY: "We sent it to 12 publishers, and half of them were appalled by it."

BURR: "My favorite one was the one who was apologetic about it…'It's not where I'm at mentally."

KELLY: "The one thing this movie did, it opened doors up so the three of us can do more stuff together. Now we have more things we can do and work creatively. Instead of going out there auditioning and throwing shit against the wall. We actually have our own opportunity to create stuff."

BURR: "We took the first step. The best thing you can do is get on the other side of the casting desk. Because if you're not, every time you get up there, you're trying to hit the lottery."

KELLY: "There's nothig better than being a producer, creator… Not to mention the money, the money is way better. We got a lot of help from the comedy community, too. The Comedy Cellar let us use the Olive Tree Cafe. Stand-Up NY let us use one of their theaters upstairs."

Is there a lesson here for all comedians to take away from your experience?

BURR: "It's not any new information. It's just shit we all knew and finally applied. Get off your ass and do something if you want to do something with your career. It just took me and Bobby what, 16 years to figure that out?"

KELLY: "Billy and I lived together for three years and said so much funny stuff that we thought would make a great movie."

BURR: "And then the next night we'd be back at the Cellar making fun of each other's shirts."

KELLY: "And the technology is there. You can put down the Xbox and do something and make a movie…The last three months, I haven't written this much in my life. Since we got into Tribeca, we've been working our asses off. The more stuff you get, the harder you have to work. I don't play Xbox anymore. I'm reading Billy's stuff and Joe's stuff." 

BURR: "That's why I avoided doing video games. I had Grand Theft Auto 3, and all I could think about was doing my set and then driving home and trying to get to the next level." 

DEROSA: "Some of the best motivational advice I got from Russ Meneve. We were talking about writing. He said, 'Do you own Final Draft? Dude, buy that, spend the 200 bucks. You'd spend that on booze in a week. Buy Final Draft and do the work.' With the technology, there's really no excuse now. It's hard for any one pereson to do this on their own, you need people around you who are talented. But these pockets of comedy talent are all over. Not just in the industry cities." 

Cheat premieres April 23, 2011, in competition with other short films at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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One thought on “Bill Burr, Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa team up to film “Cheat,” debuting at 2011 Tribeca Film Festival

  1. Really exited to see this. I’ve been following these guys for the last few years and knew they had something like this in them. I’m just hoping Cheat gets picked up for a feature length. Making a bullshit film with your friends and taking it to tribeca, awesome. Good luck guys.

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