Casper Kelly and the Adult Swim Yule Log Subvert Mundane Holiday Traditions

Subverting The Mundane With Casper Kelly and the Adult Swim Yule Log

We all know the Yule Log videos that streaming services offer up around the holidays. The little video you throw on of a log on the fire with comforting sounds of wood burning as you open gifts of drink hot cocoa. Now imagine if that little innocent video gets interrupted by a horrifying scene and follows that horrific concept for the length of a movie. This is the concept behind the Adult Swim Yule Log.

Created by Casper Kelly, the mind behind Too Many Cooks, the Adult Swim Yule Log is a journey of festive madness done in a way that only Adult Swim can manage. With the exciting news revealed, CGMagazine got to jump on a call with Kelly to discuss this new movie. From the blending of horror and absurdist humour to how the project got started, Casper Kelly gave a glimpse behind the scenes of this potentially new holiday classic.

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How did the Adult Swim Yule Log get started, and how did you get involved with the project?

Casper Kelly: It wasn’t that long ago. I think it was late last year that I was seeing yule log videos. I then got the idea of what if you saw someone suddenly walking in front of that video talking about something, and then that just became a movie.

I pitched it, and they went for it. It took a while for them to make an offer, and they then wanted to air it this year, so by the time we got rolling, we had about six or seven months to do the whole thing, which is very fast for a movie. They thought the whole movie would be just a tight shot of the fire. But I felt like you can’t do that for 90 minutes. So I did it as long as I thought I could and then started adding some cameras. 

YouTube video

How did you ensure to keep that yule log feel while still going into a more cinematic feature film, and how did you find that balance?

Casper Kelly: I don’t have a great answer to that. It was an experiment with a lot of trial and error. 

You’ve done a lot of really unique things for adults; how does the Adult Swim Yule Log stack up on your pantheon of work?

Casper Kelly: I feel like I should leave that to the audience. It’s definitely the longest and, I guess, most ambitious, and I feel like it’s just as weird as the rest of them. So knock on wood, I hope people like it.

How do you think the Adult Swim Yule Log and Rick and Morty will complement each other? 

Casper Kelly: Another great question, and it’s the type of question I don’t feel like I’m great at answering. I don’t know. If it’ll be like, we were just entertained by this and wait, what’s this weird thing? Or is it going to be like, did you see that documentary? The Dana Carvey sketch show that aired after Home Improvement. I shouldn’t be doing this stuff, but how it was not the right lead-in is what I am trying to say.

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You’ve done a lot of kind of blending of genres, how do you get the idea to blend such divergent themes and concepts in your work?

That’s a great question, Brendan. It’s surprising when you start making things that you’re drawn toward, and you surprise yourself. For example, I’m a huge fan of the sort of naturalistic Mike Lee movies. And I thought I wanted to do that. But when I started making things, I started veering in this direction, and I guess I just like trying flavour combinations that maybe shouldn’t go together to see if they work. I just was drawn to it.

Once Adult Swim approved the project, how did you pick the team to bring it to life?

Casper Kelly: That is another great question. I think that we had to move really fast. Luckily, Georgia has a great bench of actors and film crews. We found a production team called Media Team that makes indie movies and commercials, which was perfect for us because this was sort of on an indie movie budget in spirit. So he worked with them, and they were wonderful.

We use local casting that I used a lot on a show I did called Your Pretty Faces Going To Hell. Even when we’d have money to fly in LA actors, we often would say no, we like this Atlanta actor for that role. So I feel like there’s a good bench here. Then I know a lot of editors, and so on. So it was off to the races.

How much of a leash did Adults Swim give you for the project, and was there anything that got stopped for whatever reason?

Casper Kelly: They were wonderful. I don’t even know if there was a leash. Maybe there was an electric fence that I didn’t know about. But no, there was no leash. I would say I went for it, and they let me do it.

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A lot of Adult Swim’s original programming pushes the bar in the best possible way. Do you feel the Adult Swim Yule Log follows this tradition?

Casper Kelly: I hope so. I hope so. I’m just trying to.

You seem to be drawn to a lot of horror elements. Do you feel that allows you to push the bar in ways you normally couldn’t, or are there other reasons why you’re drawn to the genre for the works you do?

Casper Kelly: There are a lot of things I love about horror. It can be an entertaining genre, but you can also hang a sort of metaphor and associate some social commentary. It’s a genre that you can add so many things to. It’s like one of those ingredients where you can add anything. That’s not a good analogy, but you know what I mean. 

Anything you want to add or anything you want to plug beyond the Adult Swim Yule Log?

Casper Kelly: Please watch it, and I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and I do have some talking points. If you liked the in-credits song, it’s on Spotify. Also, Adult Swim is selling some merch, if you are interested.

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