In 2010 I was fired from a job after 2 months, when I had relocated for that job and signed a lease in Carbondale, Illinois. There were simply no other jobs in that city and I was feeling a certain disgust for the midwest, I figured if everything was bullshit, I might as well do it in a city where I could pursue my dreams. In a certain way I had also overcome my fear of death and earthquakes somewhat, perhaps being more afraid of wasting my life away in a place that felt to me like a cultural vacuum and desert of the soul. At least in Los Angeles I could take acting classes and I had four more months of unemployment money coming.
So I was 30 something and I drove my Toyota Solara down I-44 out of Missouri and towards LA. I sold my drumset and some other stuff for the gas money, I had like $1500, and this is when I had first decided not to pay back my student loans or credit card debts. (it was 2009 remember, the banks had ruined the economy and like heck if I was going to follow all their insane rules) I had a 2008 15″ macbook pro which I loved dearly and had just written two feature screenplays, I had also completed the ‘Abbot Management’ coverage intern program, which I had mostly enjoyed. When I lost the job, I had started writing and covering screenplays for 10 hours a day on my own initiative. I thought and still think I could be a great screenwriter. I was curious about acting and I wanted to take standup comedy seriously.
So I did all of those things. I lived in a halfway house, then various roommates many of whom were quite bad, but not all. Then after 3 years I realized I had not even found the first rung on the ladder, nor could I verify there was a ladder at all. That combined with the absolute social wasteland, no friends or ways to make friends, women who will not date someone who is not overtly wealthy, I couldn’t take it anymore. Working for free all of the time, and being told that wasn’t enough. Spending years trying to put together even the first step of an acting career, that other people just paid 20k up front for and this is who you are competing with.
I was, however, somehow, able to get a single IMDB listing in my name.
A ‘special thanks’ for the short film ‘Reign’ which I have never seen nor been invited to a screening. I was there at nearly every production and casting meeting for this project as an Assistant Producer to Will Wallace, an opportunity I had because he was my acting teacher. I was however unable to attend the actual shoot, which I knew ahead of time, because the former roommate/landlady of the dilapadated mansion I had stayed at in Glendale had, upon my moving out, rather than give me my $500 dollars deposit back, used the money instead for a $400 restraining order against me. She literally made things up about me out of spite, thinking I might come back when I actually couldn’t get away fast enough. ***
Not good times, but 500/month is hard to find on earth, especially the Los Angeles area. I now think something with them was definitely up. That is also where I met Andrew Wollman, whose imdb link is on my comedy page and he was also a real jerk for no clear reason. ****
So I had a court date where I could defend myself from the restraining order, or risk her being able to say whatever she wanted and then it would be on my permanent record. It was a real conundrum, either go to this movie shooting in the desert with a big name director of photography and actually finally get to be on a movie set for a Saturday, and have this spiteful, vindictive, nutty lady literally ruin my good name when I had done nothing wrong, or I could defend my name in court and the entire production would never work with me again and all of that uncompensated time would not even get me an imdb listing.
I went to court and the lady didn’t show up and the order was rightfully dismissed as spurious.
Then the production at some point decided to give me a special thanks for the 100 or so hours I had put in, permanently linking my career to this series of events and group of people.
The major deciding factor in my decision to defend my good name was that after 100 hours of working on the film and talking about it, casting people, and going through the script, I had decided I hated the project and that it shouldn’t be made. The writing was awful, just horrible. All of my notes had been rejected, and I had been told I should not ‘be negative.’ The moral of the story was abysmal, evil actually. Some soldiers in Iraq shoot some people by mistake and it turns out to be a hot chick’s family, and one of the soldiers has pity on her after they shake her down. One of the soldiers wants to rape her right there(!), but he is held back by his more noble buddy who has actually has true white knight romantic feelings for her. *
They leave her to die in the desert, but later he decides to return out of white knight mojo, true love or something but finds her dead, by her own hand, killed by the fruit knife they had once feared she would use to defend herself. *
Truly bad. I had thought it would be worth it just to get an assistant producer’s credit with someone like Will Wallace. I had thought I would make friends and connections, and we did go out once to Saddle Creek* and I felt for about 5 minutes like I was part of something and making friends, but I never saw anyone on the production ever again outside of acting class.
I look at the careers of everyone who was involved in the movie. Andrew Fognani who funded this project for himself to star in, has done hardly anything since. Kimberly Jentzen, writer/directer and has since done nothing, and she has an actual acting studio in her house.
I am puzzled by the entire experience, none of it seems real. It seems absent of human emotion, like the production itself was bad acting. My court on a Saturday? Why Jack Green would be involved in anything like this? Why does the film itself not seem to exist as a finished product? Why would anyone with an extra 30k throw it into a project so redundant, so devoid of purpose, so obviously flawed?
Should I be thrilled that I have an imdb at all or request it be erased so that I am not forever associated with these people and this…..whatever?
Open question. I don’t know the answer.
Fact of the matter is, I am feeling a little bit of Windy City Heat from the whole thing. It might have been some kind of elaborate prank, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing that has happened in Los Angeles, I’m sure.
I have spent a few years wondering about this, trying to understand this time in my life, and this is the best I can come up with:
First they exclude you, then they impoverish you, then they ignore you, then they reject you, and when you still keep coming they move in with you and start a fake movie project, and use their proximity to you to try to drive you crazy, discredit you and waste your time.
I was given a true devil’s choice, get a permanent record restraining order or no-show on a shooting day and have that permanently affect my reputation.
From their perspective, it was win-win, from mine it was lose-lose.
I wonder what Will would say, probably not much though. I really like Will, meeting him and learning acting from him is the hands down highlight of my 3 years in Los Angeles. His acting class is just fun as hell and he teaches acting, you get what you pay for. One of the reasons I have been hesitant to think critically about ‘Reign’ is out of respect for him. I think he may not know what was really going on, but I can safely assume he made his fee of 10k and so he doesn’t have any reason to ask questions. He’s got to survive out there in that system, he’s one of the people I kind of understand.
You can verify all of this yourself, go find out who Andrew Fognani really is, go find out who Kimberly Jentzen really is. They are out there to find last I checked.
And somewhere there is allegedly a reel of this movie, are you as curious to see it as I am?
As for myself, I am now quite glad I didn’t go to the desert to shoot an awful script with an awful director, and defending your good name always takes priority over any bullshit. But now I think about it, being out in the actual Palm Springs desert with a bunch of potential mucky mucks who are pranking me, with military weapons, shooting shallow, indefensible propaganda, while being ordered around like something important in the art world is happening, would not have been much of a fun Saturday anyway.
“If they don’t like you, they will just steal all your stuff.” – Andrew Wollman
“If they are stealing all of your stuff, then start making stuff that breaks their stuff.” – Me
You tell me, do these profiles look real to you? They have houses in hollywood and actual money, allegedly, yet neither worked on a project for like 5 years? Riddle me that.
Note: Another ‘shoot’ that I think is very questionable is ‘Fat Ass Zombies’, look into that one and you will see some similar patterns. In general I met a ton of ‘ghosty’ people in Los Angeles, people you might see in acting class or on some one-off project but seem to have no other lives. It was really wierd and in a way mechanical, sterile, a paradigm study in soullessness. Also, Damien Chapa, roflmao, I’m actually in the trailer of his Brando biopic and I didn’t get a credit smh.
***She had stolen my wifi router, taken it in her room and would not give it back. She said I was using my wrt54 to ‘hack’ her computer because she had willfully refused to understand when I explained to her someone was using her open wifi to use all of the house network’s bandwidth. I called the police, she admitted to the police that she had indeed stolen it, I said take her to jail. The policeman convinced her to give it back and was reluctant to take a home owner to jail over something like this. I knew there was no way to escape this person’s spite and figured I just wouldn’t get my deposit back. She was a diminutive, argumentative cancer patient and had also previously lost her mind over a pie tin I had thrown away which she had assumed must have been hers, when I had just bought a pumpkin pie and thrown the tin out. In general the entire house situation had been bizarre and unnecessarily stupid, a little bit haunted due to the chumly/adams family decor and unkept lawn. There were old books scattered all over the place, I found one that had every possible detail about the Battle of Kursk, which I read cover to cover on the toilet, this was the highlight with no clear second place candidates.
****by which I mean, in a way, it seemed like he was paid to not like me, like he moved into the house 2 weeks after I did across the hall and just saw nothing good about me at all whatsoever, scowled and said things like ‘there is no way you’re going to be able to eat enough shit.’
*****I helped at casting, all these Iraqi-looking women came in and I had to yell at them like I was a soldier going to frisk them. The writing was so bad. In hindsight this really feels like a prank and I am kindof ashamed I had anything to do with it.
******At the end of the night when the lights went up, Andrew Fognani said, ‘Watch all the ugly chicks scatter.’
*******I swear, no one in the entire project had seen The Hurt Locker except the writer/director who best I can tell had been inspired to make an homage. I also swear, she claimed to be ‘going for’ an Oscar at the production meetings, and that is the most difficult thing for me to believe in any of this, that anyone could be that stupid without trying.