Toby Truslove (left) and Ed Kavalee as constables Red and Tommy in <i>Scumbus</i>, a pet project of Kavalee's for the past five years.

Toby Truslove (left) and Ed Kavalee as constables Red and Tommy in Scumbus, a pet project of Kavalee's for the past five years.

Show of the week
Scumbus, Saturday, Channel Ten, 9:30pm

WHEN it comes to making movies, there are certain things you just don't do - and Ed Kavalee did all of them.

He funded it himself. He filmed it in a week and a half. And he made it before selling it to a network.

It could have been a disaster. Instead, Scumbus is a comedic gem: a tightly scripted, good-cop/bad-cop story about two officers dispatched to a mobile police station in a crime-ridden suburb.

The cast is a who's who of Australian comedy, including Dave Hughes playing a suburban swinger, Glenn Robbins as a police chief and Ryan Shelton as his closeted deputy. There's also Tony Martin as a crooked cop, Peter Helliar as a music promoter and Ash Williams as a rent boy obsessed with fellating men for money. Lachy Hulme is utterly convincing as a knife-wielding thug - and almost as terrifying as the Kerry Packer he portrayed in Howzat!; and there are cameos from Kate Langbroek and others.

But the real stars are the upright and uptight Tommy (Kavalee) and fellow constable Red (Laid's Toby Truslove), who is perpetually on the cusp of being fired. Fed up with Red's incompetence, station boss Brett (Robbins) moves him and his luckless partner Tommy to the much-detested ''scumbus'': a seething hive of drugs, violence and shady dealings. The story hums along nicely, but it's the dialogue that stands out: a mix of rapid-fire banter and one-liners. ''We used the script but a lot of the jokes came from the comedians themselves,'' Kavalee says. ''When you have that much comic talent, why wouldn't you use it?'' Best known for his former roles on Triple M's Get This and Nova's Hughesy & Kate, Kavalee developed the concept of Scumbus a few years ago with actor Josh Lawson. (Lawson, like much of the Scumbus cast, was a frequent guest on Get This - fans of that show will know which R-rated movie inspired this film's title.)

With Lawson now living in Los Angeles, where he stars in Showtime's House of Lies, Kavalee took it on as a solo project, co-writing the script with Luke Tierney. All up, it's been five years in the making.

''There was no guarantee that any network would buy it,'' says Kavalee, who first told Fairfax of the film almost three years ago.

It has since been selected by the LA Comedy Film Festival.

Former Get This co-host Tony Martin and Working Dog's Santo Cilauro and Michael Hirsh gave him the encouragement he needed. ''And I'm so grateful they did,'' Kavalee says. ''It got to the point where I had to do something.

''I couldn't just ring up a funding body and ask them for money, nor could I wait around for someone to buy the script. Also, I didn't want to be that guy who, in 10 years' time, keeps going, 'I could have made this movie.'''

Kavalee is also drawing on the cult following of his comedic guest stars. ''They have 450,000 Twitter followers between them,'' he says, ''and people sometimes underestimate how loyal comedy fans are.

''These are performers who sell out big venues; other people come and pay to see them by themselves on stage because they're that good.

''I just love that we were able to bring them together in the film.''

Naturally, he hopes it will lead to more film and TV comedy gigs. And he is already working on his next project, a parody of Australia's law-and-order reality shows, called Border Protection Squad.

Of course, Scumbus' Saturday-night screening means it can get away with some risque jokes. In fact, it could well be the first time the phrase ''tea bagging'' is uttered on Australian network television.

Besides, Kavalee has long desired a Saturday timeslot.

''For years, it's been my dream to get beaten by Midsomer Murders,'' he says, ''and now I have the chance. I'm pretty sure 7Two is running a 20-year-old episode of Heartbeat at the same time, so there's some tough competition.''

Regardless, Kavalee's movie is a win for Australian comedy. He's already proven himself as a radio and TV host; this film shows he's skilled in the narrative arena, too.