Fuzz Track City and the Actor, Dispatch Two

Funny how when a big lifetime event gets close, one gets nervous. And there’s really nothing to be nervous about…I mean, we made a movie, it’s done, and either the audience will dig it or they won’t. Especially for me, I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. (If you are responsible for a 200 million dollar train wreck at the multiplex, you might never work again, so that’s a very different scenario.) If they love it, that’s some validation right there. It may even lead to more work for me. But if they don’t? Well, I won’t be any worse off than I am right now. But still, it’s hard not to get caught up in the anxious anticipation of a world premiere.

Last night, I attended the opening night ceremony of Dances with Films, the Los Angeles based film festival that celebrates small, indie movies. All types of genres are represented there, from dramas to horror movies to musicals to in the case of my movie, Fuzz Track City, comic neo-noir mysteries. After sixteen years as a working actor, I had never before set foot on the “red carpet.” At Dances with Films the carpet was actually green. But that’s a minor quibble. Now, this green carpet event was much smaller than the ones you see on the E! Channel with all the movie stars, but it ultimately worked the same way. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel rather awkward. But I put on my best game face. When I got there, I met up with the writer/director Steve Hicks and several of the cast members. It’s been years since we shot the movie (small, independent movies take a long time to get together due to the do-it-yourself nature of the whole process, several of the other festival entries took almost ten years to make) so it’s been a long time since I saw most of the cast. Steve generously bought me a Lagavulin (a deliciously smokey single malt scotch, if you don’t know) before we stepped in front of the cameras. Abby Miller, one of the actresses from the movie, has had a recurring role on my fave show Justified for the last couple years, and I was so excited to see her I spilled half of my drink on my suit a mere ten minutes before hitting the green red carpet. It’s good to have a whiskey soaked jacket and trousers before parading in front of the cameras. (Not really.)

After making sure I smelled like extremely peaty whiskey from head-to-toe, we got in line to walk before the photographers. Abby went first, and she did it up right, looking like an old school Hollywood starlet (her success in recent years has garnered her own public relations guy who was escorting her to more than one red carpet event last night, so apparently she has had a lot of practice.) The rest of us, a bunch of dudes, surrounded our director for photos, and then he did a few solo shots of his own. I’ve never been that comfortable with still photography, but I stepped up with a party-boy demeanor, having fun with the photographers and they seemed to enjoy shooting us. (The half glass of whiskey I consumed before spilling the rest all over myself was helpful in regard to squelching my social anxiety.) It was over in a flash (pun intended) and then we were ushered a few yards down the carpet to be interviewed by a young woman on camera. She had one of those mics with the square box on its stem with logos all over it. So official! I had no coaching as far as what to say, which most famous people get a lot of before they go to these things, but I gushed about how great it was to work with the supporting cast as the lead actor and here’s hoping I sounded like I knew what I was doing. And then we were off to one more interview at the end of the carpet, this time with a stubble-faced funnyman who at first said he was intimidated by us. Steve explained the plot of the movie. Abby said that she and I had a lot of wonderful scenes together, and I said she was the “heart of the picture.” The other two actors, Josh Wingate and Josh Adell, made jokes about both having the same name. Then Steve assured the interviewer that the movie was funny and exciting and I added, “And it’s got drugs and sex…and drugs! And actors named Josh!” Maybe that was a bit too goofy, because the interviewer finished by saying he was no longer intimidated by us. This was a bit undercutting, but he was clearly a comic-styled interviewer, so that’s…okay. I’m sure if I had a PR coach of my own, I would have been scolded for having too much fun.

And then it was over. Steve and I had dinner at The Rolling Stone Cafe with another actress (who arrived late and got her own solo red carpet treatment) and then we decided to take in one of the opening night festival pictures. The best part about going to the theater was seeing how big the screen was…and how loud the sound system was. Normally reserved for multiplex action fodder with high production values, it was exciting to realize our little movie was days away from being on the same spectacular screen.

After the movie, Steve and I found ourselves out on Hollywood Boulevard with all the freaks and hookers and strippers handing out free passes to their clubs. (We were given some passes to Deja Vu, and I wondered if it was called that because there was really only one stripper at the club and every time she started a dance you would go, “Hey…I feel like we just saw this.”) Steve marveled that he would never have expected to be on the Boulevard at midnight on a Thursday, and I agreed. It was a long way and a lot of years since we walked the streets of New York City in the middle of night as college students, and LA is a decidedly different beast. Still, the whole night was…nice. Exciting, yes, but with a sublime quality to it. We’re middle-aged guys, after all, not young filmmakers just starting out.

It’s been a long time coming. We’ll see on Monday if it was worth the wait. I tend to think it will be. And if you are in Los Angeles, stop by the Mann Chinese 6 on Monday at 7:15 and share in a dream come true for a couple of forty-year-old guys. And check back here next week if you can’t make it…I’ll let you know how it went.

To Be Continued…


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