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"The Importance of Being Ernest" Documentary

Created by Paganomation

A film about Jim Varney and Ernest P. Worrell.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

IOBE Production Kickoff!
2 months ago – Sat, Jul 23, 2022 at 01:19:47 AM

After years of anticipation, preparation, and perspiration, the IOBE team kicked off our documentary interviews with a trip to Nashville, TN, USA! We are hugely grateful for the interest, time, enthusiasm, and generosity that every single one of these folks brought to our project. ❤️


Ernest Day 2022

Justin Lloyd and Daniel Scarpati holding cameras
Clad in their IOBE Crew t-shirts, Justin Lloyd and Daniel Scarpati prep their cameras for the Ernest Day shoot.
Crowd of people sitting on a field in front of an inflatable movie screen at Ernest Day 2022
Fans gather for the annual Ernest Day screening of "Ernest Goes to Camp".
Daniel Butler pantomimes wiping the nose of the rubber head of Trantor the troll from "Ernest Scared Stupid".
Daniel Butler catches up with one of his "Ernest Scared Stupid" co-stars.
Ernest fans and IOBE documentary crew members pose for a selfie
L-R: William Whitehurst as Auntie Nelda, Mo Edwards as Billy "Boogie" Worrell, EGTP's Erin Natal, Ernest Watch Party's Aaron Cohen.

IOBE TN Interviews

The IOBE team interviews Thomas Morrison
The IOBE team interviews Thomas Morrison (Prop Master / Sound Recordist on the Ernest commercials)
L-R: Justin Lloyd, Thomas Morrison (holding Vern's piggy bank from the Ernest commercials), David Pagano
L-R: Justin Lloyd, Thomas Morrison (holding Vern's piggy bank from the Ernest commercials), David Pagano
The IOBE team interviews Dawn Shepherd
The IOBE team interviews Dawn Shepherd (PR / Creative Department at Carden & Cherry)
Dawn Shepherd's collection of Ernest photos, tapes, prints, and other memorabilia.
Dawn Shepherd's collection of Ernest memorabilia.
The IOBE team interviews Jim May
The IOBE team interviews Jim May ("Ernest" Cinematographer and “Vern”)
Dianne Patrick ("Ernest" Head Scenic) discusses the paintings she created for the bank in "Ernest Goes to Jail".
Dianne Patrick ("Ernest" Head Scenic) discusses the paintings she created for the bank in "Ernest Goes to Jail".
The IOBE team interviews Terry Arthur
The IOBE team interviews Terry Arthur ("Ernest" Key Grip / Rigging Master and “Cannon Master” on Ernest Rides Again)
Daniel Butler, David Pagano, Ramiz Haddad, and Daniel Scarpati prepare to record a walk-through of the Cherry Syndication archives.
The IOBE team prepares to record a walk-through of the Cherry Syndication archives. (L-R: Daniel Butler, David Pagano, Ramiz Haddad, Daniel Scarpati)
The IOBE team interviews Clarke Gallivan ("Ernest" Assistant Director / Production Manager / Editor) and Coke Sams ("Ernest" Writer / Producer / Director)
The IOBE team interviews Clarke Gallivan ("Ernest" Assistant Director / Production Manager / Editor) and Coke Sams ("Ernest" Writer / Producer / Director)
The IOBE team at Jim Varney's former house
The IOBE team arrives at Jim Varney's former house (location for "Hey Vern, It's Ernest" and many of the Ernest commercials)
Daniel Scarpati lines up his camera to match the framing of a shot from "Hey Vern, It's Ernest"
Daniel Scarpati lines up his camera to match the framing of a shot from "Hey Vern, It's Ernest"
Nearly the entire IOBE team with Scott and Heather Smith, owners of Jim Varney's former house. (L-R, back: Daniel Scarpati, David Pagano, Scott Smith, Heather Smith, Erin Natal, Justin Lloyd. Front: Ramiz Haddad. Not pictured: Daniel Butler, Valerie Champagne, Mo Edwards)
Nearly the entire IOBE team with Scott and Heather Smith, owners of Jim Varney's former house. (L-R, back: Daniel Scarpati, David Pagano, Scott Smith, Heather Smith, Erin Natal, Justin Lloyd. Front: Ramiz Haddad. Not pictured: Daniel Butler, Valerie Champagne, Mo Edwards)

Surveys and Ernest Days
4 months ago – Wed, Jun 01, 2022 at 10:45:31 PM

In today's update:

  • Rest in peace, John Cherry
  • Ernest Day 2022 is June 11th!
  • Yahoo Entertainment celebrates the 35th anniversary of "Camp"
  • Backer surveys and the BackerKit Pre-order store


The Ernest P. World is busier than ever! The IOBE documentary team has been hard at work preparing for our upcoming production kickoff in Tennessee. Unfortunately, it will be a visit tinged with sorrow, as Ernest director John Cherry passed away earlier this month.

The news of John Cherry's passing was covered by a number of outlets, after being announced on the Official Ernest P. Worrell Facebook page (full post here):

I have some devastating news to share with you all. Our beloved John Cherry passed away this morning after a long and well-fought battle with Parkinson's disease...

Thank you so much for loving Ernest and bringing Buster so much joy over the years, especially in these last several years that have been so difficult for him. You truly brought him insurmountable joy in some of his darkest moments.

Ernest director John Cherry circa 1983.

The documentary team sends their deepest sympathies to John Cherry's family and friends. While we are heartbroken to not have the opportunity for a one-on-one interview with him, I feel confident that we will be able to use older interviews and archival materials to properly represent Buster's role in the Ernest franchise. For fans attending Ernest Day 2022, a public memorial will be held as part of the June 11th event at Montgomery Bell State Park


Speaking of Ernest Day... the IOBE documentary team is excited to finally begin shooting our film! For the uninitiated, Ernest Day is an annual celebration of that beloved American icon, Ernest P. Worrell! The event is held at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tennessee—the exact park and campground where "Ernest Goes to Camp" was filmed 35 years ago—and we will be there! In addition to capturing the action at Ernest Day, we are currently scheduling interviews in the Nashville area for the week after; finally getting to sit down and talk with some of the most central folks to Ernest / Jim Varney history. 

And since 2022 is the 35th anniversary of "Camp", we also had the opportunity to talk to Yahoo Entertainment's Ethan Alter about the making of the film and the Ernest phenomenon in general! Both myself and our own Daniel Butler were interviewed for the article, which features some great behind-the-scenes nuggets from way back then:

"A lot of our stuff was prop humor, and the Eggs Erroneous dish was an example of us going to the prop department and saying, 'Let's make something really nasty,'" Butler recalls. Sadly, he says that no eggs — erroneous or otherwise — were ever fired out of the cannon that the prop team built. "It didn't project far enough or hard enough. When I got hit with Eggs Erroneous, that was just the entire crew throwing food at me. I remember that when Buster yelled 'Cut!' the food just kept coming! The crew had fun."

You can read the full article here. Thanks, Ethan!


And finally, we have sent out the oft-requested, long-awaited BackerKit surveys for this project. The surveys were slow to roll out at first (we had to make sure everything worked properly), but they were then emailed to all 957 backers earlier this month! As of this writing, 74% of you have successfully completed the survey. Thank you! If you should have received a survey but didn't, please send an email to backerkit@beingernestfilm.com and we'll get you set up.

In addition to the items from the 2021 Kickstarter campaign, the IOBE BackerKit Pre-order Store will enable another oft-requested item: extra physical copies of the documentary on DVD and Blu-ray! You can add those to your order during the survey process... or, if you (or someone you know) missed the original Kickstarter campaign, you can simply place a NEW pre-order and help support our film.

Thank you all so much for your continued patience and support of our documentary. This is a long-term project and there are lots of details to juggle, but our small-but-dedicated team continues to push forward!

See you at Ernest Day!

- David

2021 End-of-Year Update!
9 months ago – Tue, Dec 21, 2021 at 10:16:57 PM

Happy holidays, Ernest P. World! 


Before we kick back and watch “Ernest Saves Christmas” on Disney+ for the 25th time, I wanted to give you an update on the current status of “The Importance of Being Ernest” documentary project! We know the progress has been (unavoidably) slow, and that lots of you have questions that need answering. Here are answers to a few of the latest and greatest FAQs...



Where do I send my address and other information? I never received a campaign survey.

That’s because we haven’t sent out campaign surveys yet. We needed to decide on a pledge management service first, and after careful consideration, we’ve decided to go with BackerKit for our IOBE reward fulfillment. You can expect to receive a campaign survey in early 2022.


What about the physical rewards? When will they ship?

Similarly, the physical rewards shipments require the campaign surveys to be completed first. Once the surveys are sent out, we’ll have a more up-to-date estimate for shipping. We’re also planning to add a page to the BeingErnestFilm.com website with updated progress estimates for all of the rewards. (Here’s a rough draft.)


But the documentary is still coming out this month, right? The Kickstarter reward tier estimates said “December 2021”.

We were never planning to complete the documentary by December 2021. As mentioned in the reward tiers: “some rewards will ship sooner than others”. The delivery estimate we listed had to be the same across all tiers, so we went with the earliest date we thought we could ship any of the rewards. But certainly anything involving the documentary itself will be among the last of the rewards to ship.


Have you started filming interviews for the documentary?

We are currently planning to commence filming with our aforementioned trip to Ernest Day in June 2022. In addition to recording the event itself, we have been in talks with the event organizers to conduct on-site interviews with some of the Tennessee-based Ernest franchise veterans as well.


The Kickstarter FAQ page hasn’t been updated since June 2021. Are you planning to update it with new information?

Once a Kickstarter campaign has ended, you’re limited in terms of what you can and can’t edit about it, and this includes our campaign FAQ page. With that in mind, we’ve added an updated FAQ page to the BeingErnestFilm.com website! This is where we’re planning to put answers to these kinds of IOBE questions from here on out.



Other than that, we are (as always) replying to messages, digitizing media, sorting through donations, and generally keeping the IOBE documentary train running. A gigantic, continued thank-you to everyone who has made this project as successful as it has been so far! We will see you in 2022. ❤️

- David

An Anniversary and a Birthday
9 months ago – Tue, Dec 21, 2021 at 08:38:36 PM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.

The Podcast Precedent
11 months ago – Tue, Nov 09, 2021 at 02:48:17 AM

Is this a documentary update? Well, kind of. 

For those who may have missed it, "Ernest Goes to Podcast" is the antecedent to this documentary: a ridiculously in-depth, hours-long dissection of everything Ernest has ever said, done, or appeared in, hosted my myself and my friend Erin Natal

While this latest episode is not explicitly about the documentary, I spend a good chunk of the first 15 minutes talking candidly about how "The Importance of Being Ernest" film came to be. Erin and I record these episodes in person, and the pandemic has prevented us from releasing a new one (or seeing each other at all) since before the documentary was even announced. So, it's good to be back. 

We've also done seasonally appropriate episodes about Ernest Scared Stupid (main and extra), if you're interested. 🎃

- David