Comedian-director Andre Hyland is on a roll. He directed the TruTV series returning Wednesday Jan. 9, appears in two films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, and wants to shoot a feature film here.
For the second time in five years, he'll have two films at Sundance – a short film called Old Haunt, which Hyland wrote, directed and stars in, and he's an actor in an independent feature called The Death of Dick Long.
"It's pretty awesome to have two films there at the same time," says Hyland in an interview we taped for broadcast on Around Cincinnati 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13.
"It will be my fourth trip to the festival, the fifth project that I'm there with, and the third that I've written, directed and starred in," says Hyland, a University of Cincinnati and Indian Hill High School graduate.
Exposure from two films at Sundance in 2014 – his Funnel short shot here, and a Fourth of July feature called The 4th – led to many Hollywood connections, including the opportunity to direct TruTV's Jon Glaser Loves Gear, which returns 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9. Hyland directed all 10 episodes of the second season for the mockumentary reality show starring Glaser, a writer-comedian from Inside Amy Schumer and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
Old Haunt, filmed in his sister's house in Los Angeles, stars Hyland as a procrastinating writer in a Twilight Zone-style episode in which "he finds himself in an increasingly unsettling set of situations that he can't explain." There are two Cincinnati connections: UC classmate Paul Oyen appears in the film; and Hyland's character is named "Mike Mayfield" after their UC classmate, now a Hollywood animator (King of the Hill, The Cleveland Show, Mr. Pickles).
On Around Cincinnati, we talk about how Sundance can change an artist's life, and about his comic influences growing up in Cincinnati. He did a series called Stupidface for Fuel TV and a couple Comedy Central pilots before Sundance in 2014 screened Funnel¸ filmed in Milford and Sycamore Township.
"After Funnel went there, a lot of production companies and film companies wanted to meet with me," he says. "I ended up doing a TV pilot for Fox with Andy Samberg's company."
Funnel also was a departure for Hyland: He played a "semi-normal dude," instead of an outlandish character. He describes his comic style as finding humor in "the dumb little things," in the style of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm.
What did he find funny growing up in Cincinnati?
"Lots of local commercials and public access TV. Stuff like 'Mel Farr, Superstar!' Or the Bagelman. Or 'Out the door with more!' All this dumb stuff, all those local, Cincinnati jingles… I think there's a weirdness to local commercials. Big Bob! Big Bob!"
He also watched a lot of TV and movies: The Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters, In Living Color, The Kids in the Hall and The Ben Stiller Show.
"I want to make my next feature, and I want to shoot it in Cincinnati, actually," he says. Hyland didn't mention the title, but says he's written a feature film, and he's a producer on the project along with some Eastbound & Down producers. "I'd like to shoot it here," he says.
Around Cincinnati airs 7 p .m. Sunday on WVXU-FM, WMUB-FM and streaming at wvxu.org.