My Big Break

****

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (4 People gave this 5.00 out of 5)
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“What happens to people who come to Hollywood?  Probably the same thing that happens to people everywhere . . . some make it, and some don’t.”


Check out the official site for more information: My Big Break

The H-Bomb:  During the late 1990’s, five young men shared a house in L.A., four of them were aspiring actors, one was an aspiring filmmaker.  Since the would be filmmaker, Tony Zierra, had no money, or even a specific project to make, he decided to simply film his four roommates.  He would interview them about why they were in Hollywood and what their goals were, and record them goofing off, with no real plan on how to use this footage.

Then one of the young actors, Brad Rowe, is cast in a TV show and becomes the talk of the town, with E! News labeling him “The next Brad Pitt.”  Not long after that, another one them, Chad Lindberg, finds success of his own when he is cast in the film, October Sky.  And as if it’s not incredible enough that two guys living in the same house find success in an industry where success is hard to come by, there’s a third guy by the name of Wes Bentley, who scores a choice role in a little picture you may have heard of called American Beauty.

The fourth aspiring actor of the house, Greg Fawcett, is the oldest and most eccentric of the bunch, and unlike his roommates, he isn’t having much luck.  He goes out on auditions and takes meetings, but he just can’t quite seem to catch that break.  Whether it’s landing any kind of acting work, or generating interest in the script he wrote about a man born without a dick, it’s just not happening for him.  He remains optimistic that things will someday turn around, but in the meantime, all he can do is watch as his friends’ careers take off.

Unfortunately, as we come to see, “making it” can be a little overrated, as neither Brad nor Chad are entirely happy with how their careers are turning out.  Brad is getting a lot of publicity, but work-wise, he doesn’t have much to show for it, and he really wishes that people would stop fucking calling him the next Brad Pitt.  Chad, meanwhile, isn’t satisfied with the roles he’s being offered.  He wants to be a leading man, but because his looks are unconventional, casting directors just don’t see that happening.  This is when he starts to seriously consider having plastic surgery to make himself “better looking.”

Finally there’s Wes, who, after American Beauty became a big hit and won the Best Picture Oscar, seems to be on the fast track to stardom.  He’s receiving praise from people like Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, he’s all over the covers of magazines, and everyone seems to agree that he is the next big thing…  if he plays his cards right.  But we find that Wes is completely overwhelmed by all this attention.  He doesn’t know how to deal with it, and he starts to withdraw from everyone.

That, ultimately, is what My Big Break, the documentary by Zierra about his old roommates, that spent a decade in the making, is about; not four actors trying to achieve their ultimate goal, but what could happen if they obtain it.  If there is one film that should be required viewing for anyone with dreams of making it big in Hollywood, it is most definitely this one.  I am absolutely dead fucking serious, if you want to work in this industry, be it as an actor, director, whatever, you need to see this fucking film!  I can’t stress that enough, it is an eye-opener.

In a way, it reminded me of Overnight, the documentary about Boondock Saints director Troy Duffy, which showed quite vividly how someone can fuck up after they’ve gotten their “break.” (Though nobody in this film comes off as being the utter douche bag that Duffy was in that film)  At one point, there’s an interview with a producer who says that getting your big break is not the hard part, it’s what you do with it that can be tricky.  In order for your big break to be worth a damn, you have to be ready for it, and judging from the evidence, nobody in My Big Break was ready for it.

It gradually dawns on the subjects that fame just ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.  They may want the attention and the ability to make a living as actors, but what they didn’t count on was that they would have very little say or control over which direction their careers would take.  Both their images, and the kinds of roles they should play, are left in the hands of publicists, producers, and agents.  This is conveyed through such telling moments as Wes Bentley being told not to wear glasses to the American Beauty premiere, and Brad Rowe wearing a hidden camera on him, to show how crazy it can be to attend a red carpet event, with hundreds photographers shouting his name so he’ll look in their direction.

What struck me the most was the candidness of these guys.  We see how they act on the red carpet, in a press junket, or a formal interview, and then we see how they are when they’re being filmed by Zierra, when they’re truly being themselves.  They talk about their insecurities and how discontent they are.  Brad Rowe is pissed because people won’t take him seriously as an actor.  Chad Lindberg believes so strongly that he can be a leading man, that he turns down many supporting roles and TV guest spots.  Wes Bentley gets so flooded that he just splits from the whole fucking program all together.

All of this leads back to Tony Zierra himself, and his own bittersweet history with the industry.  When he first embarked on the project of filming his roommates, he had no idea that he would end up with something this fascinating: an actual chronicle of the rise and fall of three actors, as well as a fourth actor who failed to launch (Greg Fawcett seems like an interesting guy, I’d put him in a movie).  It ultimately becomes Zierra’s story in that he actually had a documentary from this footage called Carving Out Our Name.

The fate of that documentary is something I won’t give away here, I’ll simply state that My Big Break can be seen as both a remake and a follow-up to that film.  It took Zierra more than ten years of his life to get this film out to people, but from where I stand it seems worth the time and effort, as this does provide an incredibly insightful and sobering look at three young men whose dreams seemed to come true, and the unexpected, and unwanted, effects it had on their lives.  I can only reiterate, for anyone looking for a career in the entertainment industry, this is an absolute, undeniable must see!


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