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Geoff & The Ninja make the cut

They were stealthy, they made precision cuts, and they took down the challenge of their lives. Jon Chuby and Jeremy Abbott have been pursuing their alter-egos of backsliding bozo Geoff and his roommate The Ninja since 2014.
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The Ninja (played by Jeremy Abbott) takes care of some paperwork in a scene from Geoff & The Ninja. Six episodes of the locally-produced series will debut on Telus Optik TV in October. A launch party will be held at the Prince George Playhouse on Saturday at 7 p.m.

They were stealthy, they made precision cuts, and they took down the challenge of their lives.

Jon Chuby and Jeremy Abbott have been pursuing their alter-egos of backsliding bozo Geoff and his roommate The Ninja since 2014. That's when they submitted a pitch to the CBC ComedyCoup Competition for a show they hoped to one day make about the unlikely duo.

Geoff & The Ninja went deep in the competition but did not ultimately win.

Nonetheless, they kicked and chopped at the plots and characters until they were ready for television anyway. The momentum they got from ComedyCoup carried into a pitch they next made to the StoryHive screen arts kickstarter organization.

That lead to a breakthrough for the Prince George filmmakers.

On Saturday night at the Prince George Playhouse, their hometown gets to be the first to see all six episodes of Geoff & The Ninja before it goes to air in October on Telus Optik TV and their YouTube channel.

"We thought Prince George should get a special first viewing, because it was the city of Prince George that made it happen," said Chuby.

"I couldn't be happier with how it turned out," said Abbott. "In a lot of ways it exceeded our expectations and we had some pretty high expectations. Watching the reactions so far, from the people who've seen it, and the feedback from Telus Optik's people, have been very validating and exciting. We always believed we had something special going on here, and thank goodness we've been getting good responses for something we've basically devoted our lives too, because I personally have no Plan B."

The reason Prince George deserves credit as a community for the success of the show is all the extraordinary help they received as they filmed each episode. If they needed extras, locations, tools, props, help of any kind, it was offered up with red carpet zeal.

It started with the supporting cast. Many of the local actors who stepped up to take on Geoff & The Ninja parts. Abbott and Chuby said that, as the two leads (Chuby plays Geoff, Abbott is The Ninja), their own performances were often secondary to the skills of the guest thespians from around Prince George.

"We were able to pull off some challenging things just because people offered the things we needed," Abbott said, like the time Denny's Woodworking donated their entire wood shop to the film crew for a week of filming so the show could achieve a particular fight scene.

"Filmmaking is always a combination of your skill-set and the technology at hand," said Chuby. "You always have to adapt. You're always troubleshooting. You walk on set every day not knowing what problem you'll be confronted with, but knowing you are definitely going to be confronted with a problem. You end up doing some pretty creative things to pull off whatever effect the script needs. You basically operate close to failure every day. If you're not on that uncomfortable edge, you're probably not succeeding like you should be."

Chuby and his partner sacrificed their home, making it the primary base of filming for about nine months. Chuby kept working his principal job, squeezing all Geoff & The Ninja duties into the off hours.

Abbott stopped working to focus on filming, moved from Kelowna (his current hometown) back to Prince George for the filming process, while his partner continued working in Kelowna to support the fruition of their creative dream.

They can now say Prince George was home to its first on-location TV series in city history, and the show will be broadcast to the wide public in a matter of weeks.

They are ready to get working on six more episodes should the Telus Optik TV response be strong enough. In fact, they have a five-season story arch all sketched out in the show's bible should production investment be attained for a sustained run of Geoff & The Ninja.

Anyone who wants to celebrate the launch of the dark comedy sitcom can see it on the big P.G. Playhouse screen Saturday at 7 p.m. The proceedings will be hosted by comedian Daniel Chai, featuring a Q&A with the directors and cast, plus other interactive surprises.

Tickets are $18.50, available online at centralinteriortickets.com or at the door while supplies last.