Are you an aspiring actor? Not simply for the wealth, power and adoring fans but because you can’t possibly imagine doing anything else? Maybe you gave up on your dreams, citing them unrealistic. If you’re still following them, what will it be like if you finally get your big break in Hollywood? What would it be like to be famous — what if it’s not what you thought? Think of your favorite celebrities — were their rises to fame due to luck or talent?
These issues and more are covered in “My Big Break,” a documentary filmed over 10 years by Tony Zierra. With no means to advance his career, Zierra filmed his four struggling actor roommates, Brad Rowe (Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, Shelter), Chad Lindberg (October Sky, The Fast and the Furious), Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games) and Greg Fawcett. What began as a last resort became a multi-layered film about twists of fate, determination, struggle, jealousy and the disillusionment of Hollywood.
I’d never heard of these actors aside from Wes Bentley, who played creepster Ricky Fitts in one of my all-time favorite movies “American Beauty” and, more recently, Seneca Crane in “The Hunger Games.” Chad Lindberg looked familiar, fitting into the list of celebrities I refer to as “That Guy/Girl,” those you know you’ve seen but can’t remember where or when.
I could write a play-by-play of “My Big Break,” detailing the sound advice and each dark twist and turn but I’ve decided against it because this is something you need to watch in order to understand. For the people out there struggling to achieve their dreams, whether it be acting, writing, music, motherhood, modeling or the corporate world, this film is a must-see for an inside look at giving up everything to follow your dreams then, as Chad described, “I got everything right now and I have nothing.”
Each type of dream chaser is featured — hit it big but the instant fame sparked a fall into the darker side of Hollywood; hit it big and fizzled; hit it somewhat big but didn’t have the “right look” to achieve more; and never hitting it big but never giving up on the dream. They rise, they fall, they rise again.
The least I can do is introduce the key players:
Greg Fawcett graduated from USC, studied acting and was first to move into the house. “Two years after this is out I’ll be fucking huge,” he said at the beginning of the film. “Guarantee it. I just know it, I feel it in my blood. I just feel it, hands down.” He comes from a wealthy family but can’t imagine doing anything else than being a movie star.
Chad Lindberg acted since childhood and moved to Hollywood after high school to pursue his dream. “(It’s a) one in the million type situation but I know I’m going to be great,” he said.
Brad Rowe worked in the mailroom of talent agency where someone told him he should try acting because of his good looks. He’s definitely a Brad Pitt lookalike, a similarity he tries to avoid.
Wes Bentley slept on the couch in living room. He was the last to move in after dropping out of Juilliard to pursue a career in film. “Two years from now I see myself being able to make choices in my work and establish myself. I see myself alone and I see myself working hard.”
Their stories are intertwined with commentary from others in the field, who give realistic advice about making it in Hollywood.
“I love actors, I think they’re the most interesting people in the world because anybody who would actually go into this profession with all the obstacles, you got to be a little nuts,” said casting director Michael Testa. “I know people who don’t get jobs because their arms are too fat, because their nose was not right. It really just varies. I can get literally up to 2- to 3,000 pictures for one role I am looking for. They just keep pouring in by the mail, by messengers, by phone. It’s tough. There are a lot of actors out there … there are just very few opportunities out there for as many numbers as there are.”
The film is further intertwined with Zierra’s struggle to get the film produced, especially when a few of the guys make a name for themselves and their agents are hesitant to release such a controversial, honest and eye-opening portrayal of their struggles and the Hollywood machine.
“My Big Break” weaves a dark yet honest story of what it’s like to be famous, struggling for success and the rise and fall of celebrities. The film is a DIY self-distributed by the producers so visit www.mybigbreakmovie.com for more information.