Tribeca Film acquires Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure

14 June, 2011 by Brendan Swift

Tribeca Film has acquired US distribution rights to Closer Productions’ darkly comic documentary Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure.

The film tells the story of Eddie and Mitch, who moved into a cheap San Francisco apartment in 1987, where they could overhear their middle-aged alcoholic neighbors. Over 18 months, they recorded the vodka-fueled altercations between raging homophobe Raymond Huffman and flamboyant gay man Peter Haskett – recordings which would inspire a cult following.


The documentary – the first to be developed and released through the South Australian Film Corporation's FILMLAB program – premiered in competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

US audiences will be able to see the film through video-on-demand from August 25 and in US theatres on September 9.

The film’s writer/director Matthew Bate told IF Magazine earlier this year at the Adelaide Film Festival that gaining Eddie and Mitch’s trust to make the film was not easy.

“It was a difficult process to get them to do that as Hollywood wanted to make a film about it and turn it into Bill and Ted’s [Excellent] Adventure sort of thing.

“They were wary about working with a filmmmaker, so it was a long prcoess of talking to them – the key came when I showed them a film I made called What the Future Sounded Like which was about electronic music and Eddie sort of knows about this obscure music … and he just loved the film. It sort of went from there – that was the turning point.”

Shut Up Little Man! features an array of storytelling techniques including music by Jonny Elk Walsh, animation by Raynor Pettge, and cinematography and editing by Bryan Mason.

“When I look back I see it as an evolution of many of the films I’ve made,” Bate said.

“I make films about pop culture and usually about artists and in some way or other about obsessive characters. I love working with anything I can find – beg, borrow and steal – find on the internet or imagery, sound, whatever, and it’s usually like a collage.

“I knew I could use archival footage and pair that with the audio and there’d be some interesting things that could come out of that and I thought I have to bring Pete and Ray to life somehow. I decided to use actors but I really didn’t want to use them coming out onto set and speaking the dialogue because the dialogue is the ‘sacred text’ if you like. So we decided to shoot it with little 5D cameras using prime lenses and shoot things out of focus basically. Foreground elements sharp and the actors kind of soft in the background but still lip-syncing to the dialogue and that worked really well.”

Shut Up Little Man! is also screening at this year's Sydney Film Festival.

The BigPond Adelaide Film Festival paid for Brendan Swift's return flights from Sydney to Adelaide and six nights accommodation at the Hilton Hotel.

SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE A montage of Little Men… from Closer Productions on Vimeo.