Saturday, October 20, 2007

True independent film

Last night Maggie invited me to go see a movie at the Arclight. It was a friend of a friend thing, so we got free passes.

Somehow it was part of the Hollywood Film Festival. Did you know there was a Hollywood Film Festival? I did not but suddenly I found myself at it.

The film we went to see was a documentary called Do It For Johnny. I had never heard of this film and Maggie had never heard of this film and all we knew was that it had something to do with Johnny Depp. He was not there.

In the pre-film drinking at the bar time I met the film's director, Haylor Garcia. At some point someone said they couldn't wait to see his excellent film and he said, "Whoa. I don't think I can take that kind of pressure. Now you'll be let down."

So I said, "You want people to expect it to suck so then you can only go up from there."

He liked this idea, so I promised to expect only suckitude from his film.

Well, as it turns out, it didn't suck. It even went beyond barely tolerable. This film was downright good.

Don't you love it when movies surprise you?

Here's the story: Haylor wrote a screenplay called Narcophonic (which is a terrible title but appears to be an excellent script) about a musician and guitar maker named Scott Baxindale. He wanted to direct the film using the best actor for the part and after passing around many names came to rest on Johnny Depp because he's both an excellent actor with a record for supporting independent film and a talented guitarist. So how to get Depp the script?

They decided to make Depp a $4,000 custom guitar with the script inside a compartment in the back. It sounds crazy, but it's hard to say no to a free hand-made guitar when you're as dedicated a musician as Depp. That's what they thought, anyway.

So the film chronicles their journey to find a way to get this guitar into Johnny's hands. They were willing to hand it over to one of four people who could get it to its destination - Depp himself, Robert Rodriguez, Johnny's agent at UTA, or Johnny's sister at the Infinitum production company.

It becomes clear over the course of the film that even though Johnny himself is a very nice guy, the people who surround him are arrogant pricks, although nobody is quite as big a douche-nozzle as the woman who represents Robert Rodriguez. I hope he sees this film and fires her ass because something tells me he wouldn't approve of her patronizing behavior toward this independent film crew.

But that goes with the theme of the picture. Johnny supports independent film, Rodriguez supports independent film, but the people who shield them from the little people do everything within their power to crush the independent spirit. Some do it politely, but nevertheless they stand between the lowly filmmaker and the million dollar star.

I won't tell you if they succeed because the journey is what makes this film so charming. With every little victory you cheer and cross your fingers. With every let down you cry a little with Haylor and his team. This film is funny and sad and entertaining and so poignant to those of us on the outside looking in.

Am I gushing? Okay maybe I'm gushing. I'm just so excited to find a gem of a documentary at a random film festival I didn't even know existed and sort of lucked into thanks to Maggie.

If you have a chance please go see this film. You'll thank me later.


  1. I'm sold. I definitely want to see this film.

  2. Do you know when this was filmed? Because I actually worked with his old assistant and would love to know if this is her.

  3. Somewhere in 2005 or 2006.

    I'm not sure if it was his assistant or just someone in his employ, but she definitely went to NYU because she made sure Haylor knew it.

  4. Hmmm...definitely the right time period, but unless she was lying in the movie it's not her. Oh well.

  5. I'd pay Johnny Depp 1 million dollars to just sit in front of me for 2 hours.

  6. Thanks for the tip - this sounds like a keeper. Reminds me of the documentary films about people trying to get to see Carrie Fisher (can't remember the title) and Drew Barrymore ("My Date With Drew").


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.