Release date: July 25th, 2011
Running time: 102 minutes
Director: Tony Zierra
Cast: Wes Bentley, Brad Rowe, Chad Lindberg, Greg Fawcett, Tony Zierra
What makes a former local child star leave his hometown and go in search for that screen moment that will make him a global icon? What makes a mailroom guy ditch his clerical prospects in hopes of becoming the next Brad Pitt? What makes a Juilliard drop-out determined to succeed in a place where so many fail?
Is it the promise of fame and fortune? Or is it just that chance to be up there on the big screen where they first saw their idols and heroes? What they all have in common is that each and every one of them is waiting for their big break. Whether it arrives by luck or talent is left to be seen.
Filmed over the course of 10 years by Tony Zierra who shared a house with a handful of struggling actors; Wes Bentley, Brad Rowe, Chad Lindberg and Greg Fawcett, My Big Break gives us a glimpse into what happens when their moment arrives. Or doesn’t, as was the case for one of them.
While Chad graduates from roles in television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files to a role in the 1999 film October Sky, Brad hit the big-time with the 1998 film Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. With casting agencies lining up to work with him, the press dubbed him the next Brad Pitt and designer stores were falling over themselves to hand him free clothes to wear for them.
Meanwhile Wes got the part of Ricky Fitts in a little film called American Beauty and his ascension to stardom would take everyone, including him, by surprise. Yet Greg, as he watched his housemates achieve their dreams, couldn’t help but begin to feel frustrated at his own lack of success.
Zierra captures each of their joys and sorrows as he shoots candidly with them. We see their playful jostling, their closeness and that camaraderie that exists among men who’ve gotten to know what makes each other tick over time gradually dissolve as fame, fortune and success starts to enter the picture. One by one, Chad, Brad and Wes begin to experience the negative side of what happens when Hollywood opens its well-oiled doors to the bright-eyed hopefuls clamouring outside.
Chad can’t seem to get the leading roles he really wants and is advised to get plastic surgery to make his face more appealing to casting directors. Brad has the opposite problem and ends up being typecast because of his good looks. Wes is surrounded by people who only want to be with him because he’s a star and ends up seeking refuge in alcohol and drugs. Still, the media follows their every move and Brad and Wes’ faces are plastered everywhere from billboards to magazines. It begins to take a serious toll on all of their lives.
My Big Break offers a unique vantage point to view these young actors’ lives from. Zierra records extremely private moments where they openly sheds tears and address what’s making them feel so awful inside, to walking the red carpet at premieres for October Sky, Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss and American Beauty.
With its candidness, My Big Break is a film that made the actors’ agents very nervous and several attempts were made to block it over fears it could reveal things that might damage their careers. Over the years it’s evolved from a film called Carving Out My Name to this version, which is also a tribute to Zierra’s late friend Heath Ledger.
It’s perhaps the best cautionary tale on what Hollywood can do to a person as the story is told as it happens as opposed to looking back on it. We see what’s happening as it’s happening and the impact is heightened with combined archive footage and news reports. As Zierra concludes though, such stories are not limited to Hollywood, at its core it’s about some making it and some not, and that old adage “Be careful what you wish for” never really gets old.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .