Last night, Actress Gina, Screenwriter Tom and I went to the premiere ofTreasure Entertainment's Man Overboard, my motion picture acting debut.
Before you ask me to autograph your head or something, it was a tiny walk-on part that I did it as a favor to my manager, Mark,
who produced the movie. It was hardly a stretch character-wise, considering my only line involved asking my wife permission for something
. But I think I can safely say that I tore up my seven seconds of screen time.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to have a small part in a low-budget independent film, it goes like this. You show up at the crack of dawn. The wardrobe department spends twenty minutes finding the perfect outfit and then the director needs to approve it even though, like I said, you're only going to be onscreen for seven seconds. You put on the clothes and they remind you that you need to return the belt -- it's a cheap, Target belt, but for some reason, it really matters. Then you go to make up, they put powder on your face and gel in your hair and tell you not to mess it up before your scene.
Then you wait around for seven hours.
It can be a little tedious, but there are good parts. The craft services table provides all the Diet Coke, bottled water and Red Vines you can eat, as well as a limited supply of Duritos. Also, so far I've found that the actors in little indy movies tend to be pretty grounded -- or at least they're really good at acting grounded -- which makes for good conversations. I spent a long time chatting with Mel Fair
, who plays the antagonist in Man Overboard
. (He's the guy on the right in the poster.) We talked about his recent role in a Sci Fi Channel movie and about my vampire western script, High Midnight.
I suggested he'd make a good undead cowboy. In retrospect, that doesn't sound like a complement, but it was.
Finally, it came time for my big scene. It was fairly straight forward, but I did get to improvise slightly. You'll notice in the screengrab that I'm shaking hands with the other actor, Floyd. That was not in the script.When the scene began, I said to Floyd, I said, "I feel my character would shake your character's hand." He said, "Um, okay." He then asked the director, who also said, "Um, okay." So that's what we did:
After that, I grabbed one, last Red Vine, returned the belt and went home.
Last night, on the way to the premiere in Pasadena, I kept doing this thing to Tom and Gina where I steer the conversation back to me, as in, "Your dog died? That's sad. Let me tell you about a script I'm working on where a dog dies." I hate when I do this, but I can't help myself. I think it has to do with my career insecurities. I couldn't help but wish that it was my movie we were going to see. Despite my massive contribution to Man Overboard, it was not my night to shine and I'm the kind of person who likes -- who needs -- to shine as often as possible.
After the movie, the crowd networked over drinks in the lobby. Despite my growing feeling of insignificance, I wanted to congratulate Mel. As I said before, he seemed like a grounded guy, but I work in an industry in which I'm a minor player. The odds of him putting the brain power into remembering me were slim. I didn't want to deal with an actor looking at me blankly and saying, "Hey, um... guy. How's it going?"
I took the leap anyway. He smiled warmly and took my hand. "Hey, how's it going," he said. Notice the lack of "Denis" in there, suggesting that he had forgotten my name. But then he went on, "I got Mark to give me a copy of High Midnight and I loved it. Buddy, I want to be a part of it!" He then told me that he had performed recently on Dirty, Sexy Money with Billy Baldwin, who is attached to my script. He also rhapsodized at great length about specific vampire cowboy he wanted to play.
To Mel, I suspect it was typical Hollywood banter. To me, it meant the world. We chatted for a while, then he excused himself to take some photos with fans.
I didn't need to talk about myself as much on the drive home. I felt rather shiny.