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Siblings create film about their pop-culture obsession

Samantha and Jesse Herman

Who wouldn’t want their own talk show? Samantha and Jesse Herman may not see television superstardom in their future, but the pop-culture-obsessed sibling duo is bringing their quick wit to the big screen – and living rooms – in their new movie Let’s Rap.

“We always thought, ‘we’re funny, right?’ And we decided to finally put it down on paper,” says Samantha.

Let’s Rap is somewhat autobiographical and follows Bo (played by Brendan Gall) and Melanie Shnurr (Rachel Wilson), two down-on-their-luck 30-somethings.

They’re, as Samantha says, “A brother and a sister who have no marketable talents other than their gift for pop cultural banter, so they decide the best thing for them to do is to try and get their own talk show.”

Back in 2013, Samantha and Jesse released a Let’s Rap short; they put out a feature-length version late in 2015.

The two, however, started writing their script in 2008 and got it up and running through production company Landed Entertainment. Samantha, who is four years older than Jesse, works as producer and as the firm’s general counsel.

And while Jesse and Samantha’s on-screen personas may come across as slackers, both siblings work as lawyers, in Los Angeles and Hamilton, Ont. respectively.

They, however, grew up in Toronto and set their movie squarely in this city. The cast, directed by Neil Huber, is filled with local talent, including Gall and Wilson along with Randal Edwards, Peter MacNeill and Kristian Bruun of Orphan Black fame.

Canadian Jason Priestly also makes a cameo. Samantha describes his appearance as a dream come true. “I can die now and I’d be good,” she jokes.

Though Priestly wasn’t the Hermans’ only coup. So far, Let’s Rap screened at the Toronto Independent Film Festival and it’ll be making its way to FilmFest DC, the Washington DC International Film Festival, this spring.

Thanks to an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, Samantha and Jesse raised more than $30,000 for their project. They also secured private investors and Ottawa-based brewery Beau’s jumped on board as a beer sponsor. “Beau’s beer for Bo,” says Samantha with a laugh. “It’s in a lot of scenes, it’s almost a drinking game.”

And indeed the on-screen siblings do drink a lot of Beau’s Lug Tread beer, especially when they challenge each other to a round of mental Battleship. It’s one of the many complicated, no-board board games Samantha and Jesse actually play in real life.

With fast-paced dialogue, plenty of references to television shows and movies – like Game of Thrones and the 1994 Keanu Reeves movie Speed – and two romantic storylines, Let’s Rap is a feel-good comedy. But Jesse notes that much of it is based in reality.

That means, of course, the main characters are Jewish. “Our humour is Jewish humour,” says Jesse. “That’s what we grew up on, so that was important for us to keep.”

The cinematic siblings are also incredibly close. And in reality, Jesse and Samantha are completely in-sync when script-writing together.

“We never fought during the actual production,” says Samantha. “We only fight about non-movie stuff.”

Let’s Rap is distributed by the Toronto company 108 Media. It’s currently available on iTunes, Amazon, Google, Vudu, Xbox and Vimeo.