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May 26, 2006

Overnight

overnight.jpg

Tony Montana & Mark Brian Smith - 2003
ThinkFilm Region 1 DVD

I saw The Boondock Saints a couple of years ago, based on the recommendation of a co-worker. My own feeling was that it was not a bad film, nor particularly original with the exception of the casting of Billy Connolly's unexpected turn as a gangster known as "Il Duce". This was the kind of film that seemed to appear frequently following the success of Quentin Taratino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I was prompted to see this documentary on the quick rise and fall of writer-director Troy Duffy based on the heavily promoted re-release of Boondock Saints on DVD.

The documentary about Duffy exists because of some strange serendipity. In 1997, Duffy, his brother Taylor, and two other friends had a band called "The Brood". Smith and Montana were initially hired to shoot videos of the band and act as management. During this same time, a screenplay Duffy wrote found its way to Harvey Weinstein, probably hoping to nab the next Taratino, through a contact Duffy had made while he was a bartender. Duffy received $300,000 for the screenplay and was to direct a $15 million dollar film. Miramax was also to buy the bar Duffy worked at as an additional bonus, with ownership going to the two brothers.

Smith and Montana filmed both the initial hoopla when Duffy seemed to be living a rags-to-riches fantasy, making his directorial debut and having "The Brood" signed to a record deal without anyone hearing the band. While there is no official declaration as to why Harvey Weinstein had buyer's remorse, once the screenplay is placed in "turnaround" and the production cancelled, everything else in Troy Duffy's career as a filmmaker and musician leaves him scrambling to regain traction.

The footage of Duffy's prodigious and nightly habit of getting drunk with his new Hollywood pals indicates what made Miramax concerned about how reliable Duffy would be on a film set. Even though Duffy boast of showing up at meetings following a nightly drinking binge, appearing in overalls would most likely be seen as being too casual, even by Hollywood standards. At the very least, Overnight is worthwhile for budding filmmakers in terms of understanding a bit more about the business of filmmaking, how contracts work, and the various pitfalls of independent productions. Even when things seem to go right for Duffy, success is extremely limited. Boondock Saints was produced for less than half of Miramax's announced budget, and went straight to video where it became a cult film, with Duffy shut out of profit participation. "The Brood" changes their name to "Boondock Saints", cuts an album for an Atlantic Records subsidiary, but only sells 690 CDs in six months, promptly getting dropped by Atlantic. It's a lesson that in show business there is a lot of show and a lot of business, but there are absolutely no guarantees.

Posted by peter at May 26, 2006 03:52 PM