People always told Haley Simpson she had a hilarious laugh.
When the time came to name her film company, Simpson decided to embrace that, landing on Funny Laugh Productions. With the support of her friends and peers Jackie Jorgenson and Mary McDonald, Simpson formed Funny Laugh in Logan, Utah in 2014.
The three of them write and shoot short films, fashion films and anything else they can get their hands on at the micro-budget company. For Simpson, Jorgenson and McDonald, their work is about supporting diverse storytelling, such as stories of the LGBT community and people of color.
Though the company is small and independent, it’s international, with Jorgenson in Grand Rapids, Simpson still in Utah, and McDonald in Toronto, Ontario. The three members work predominantly online with one other.
The company is currently in pre-production on a web series that will be going live on Instagram Stories. Beyond this, the three members all have written projects ranging from stage plays to TV pilots and feature films.
This year, Funny Laugh also is participating in ArtPrize. The project was spearheaded by Jorgenson, who waited until this year to submit any films so she could understand how it all worked.
“I wanted to get a sense of what other filmmakers were doing at ArtPrize and how accessible it is for people to view films at ArtPrize,” Jorgenson said. “I wanted to understand the culture of how people walk around and engage with the pieces.”
When the submission process came up this year, Jorgenson wanted to figure out a way to incorporate the work the company already has, figuring out how to make them accessible for the ArtPrize audience. Because of the wide range of subject matter and characters that Funny Laugh’s films feature, Jorgenson thought it would be best to submit an entry based on the “blind date with a book” concept, in which books are wrapped up and sold just with a few key descriptors (i.e. romance, countryside, touching). That way, the reader/shopper doesn’t judge the book on its cover.
The films Funny Laugh submitted are accessible via QR code or hyperlink and range from one to 15 minutes in length. The one common thread is that they were all produced and directed by women and feature women in the leading roles.
Jorgenson thought this would be the perfect way for people who don’t follow the company to get a taste of its work, and it would keep viewers from pre-judging a movie based on anything superficial.
“It was a way for people to let their guard down about their judgments on a film and introduce people to short films,” Jorgenson said.
In the future, the three members hope to continue working on small micro-budget projects. Simpson and Jorgeson said they would be happy to work with other artists and are always looking for anyone who has something they want to say, whether as an actor, writer or producer.
“What I would really love would be to support artists who have a similar thought process to ours, who would want to work with people of color, LGBT people, women and bring those stories to the forefront,” Simpson said.
Creatively, Simpson would like to see more short films from the company. They have been working on a couple of fashion films. She would also love to see the company supporting the members in their individual endeavours as well as in Funny Laugh Productions.
“If it was a picture perfect world, I would love to be able to do this full-time for a living and keep other artists being able to do this for a living,” Simpson said. “That would just be amazing, being able to let people do their art without having to worry about what their bill would be.”
In the meantime, Simpson said she wants to focus on putting in the time and energy to get emotion out of her audience, whether via comedy or drama. But above all, she wants the funny laughs.
“I just love the thought of everybody having a different laugh and having a funny laugh and everybody getting to connect,” Simpson said. “Laughing is universal. Somebody slips on a banana peel and everyone is going to laugh at it. That’s what we’re going for: this universal truth of emotion.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/funnylaughproductions.