Country music legend Trish Cotton records her next hit single “Fancy Hat, Missing Son”

“Fancy Hat, Missing Son” is a sketch written by Upright Citizens Brigade alumni Kyle Kasabian and directed by Derek Mari (Crohnie). The sketch follows country music legend Trish Cotton (Alyssa Sabo) as she records her next hit single. Trish’s new lyrics slowly unveil some personal and rather pressing issues – which makes a rather tense and unusual situation for the technicians. We caught up with Derek who gave us a little more insight on his hilarious short.

Can you tell me a little bit about this Fancy Hat?, how did this film come about?

Fancy Hat, Missing Son was originally a live theater sketch written by Kyle Kasabian and put up at the Upright Citizens Brigade in 2019. He and Alyssa Sabo (who plays Trish) adapted the sketch for screen and approached me to direct it. We quickly got to work on our collaboration and found what we thought to be the most interesting way of executing this silly idea.

How was filming a lyrical story different from a typical narrative?

I really wanted the film to have the visual language of a behind-the-scenes documentary depicting a real-life country music artist. When Trish records her vocals, the camera floats around her in this ethereal way — as if we’re in the zone with her — until, eventually (spoiler), we’re in a full-blown imaginary anamorphic-lens-flared music video. Music and comedy work well together because they both depend on timing, structure, and rhythm to succeed. In Fancy Hat’s case, the edit followed a rhythm to balance Trish’s crazy inner world with some cautionary wisdom from the producers.

Were any songwriters involved with this film at all?

Just the genius Kyle Kasabian! Kyle wrote the lyrics and then, on set, Alyssa would occassionally riff and improvise upon what was written.

Besides laughing, what do you hope people will take away from Fancy Hat, Missing Son?

To anyone interested in making a film, I’ll say: make what *you* think is fun/funny/interesting — and with friends if possible! I can confidently say we did not anticipate the response this film would have after its release. It was something we all knew was funny as early as the script was written, but had no idea if other people would find it funny. I think, with the finished product, an audience can feel the love we put into it. A positive, fun, and collaborative environment on set will make a world of a difference.

What are your favorite films?

There are usually three things I look for in naming my favorite films: 1) it makes me laugh, 2) it makes me cry, and 3) the story comes from an unapologetically distinct voice. Some recent films that come to mind as good examples are The Farewell and The Big Sick.

And your favorite short films?

Similar qualifications as above, which is much harder to achieve in short-form! I’ve been watching Vimeo Staff Picks for over ten years now and have found some amazing shorts through them. One that sticks out is Zach Woods’ short “DAVID” (Watch on FS) with Will Ferrell, William Jackson Harper, and Fred Hechinger. They all gave incredibly funny and grounded performances.