Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Sparkies: My awards for 2005

Personally, 2005 has been great fun and what's more, I made it to Finally. Like practically everyone else. I had about five minutes of screen time in six movies that came out this year. About three minutes and 50 seconds were in "Slow Down ... You're Dating Too Fast" by M. David Lee III, and under a minute was spent on the Hurra Torpedo documentary/misadventure. So that gives you some perspective on everything else.

I do want to thank everyone who helped make those four minutes as much fun as Poor Monkey's jook joint in the Delta on a Saturday night. I can't possibly thank everyone, but let me highlight some of the folks that made this year memorable:

David Lee's dedication and love of movies was manifested in the "Slow Down ..." saga. He gave a lot of local actors a lot of leeway and good material and we all have to thank him for that. It was so grueling, however, that he took a job in New York City so he could, uh, slow down. He let me write my part, that of the incomprehensibly overprepared Farnsworth Kuhl, so here's to you, David. Also thanks to Mandy Lane for being opposite me and for being incredibly gifted and gracious.

John Harvey is a talented young director at U of M and we're all eagerly awaiting his short graduate student project "Across the River." As for me, I got to point a Sig Sauer at my head. I'm pretty sure it wasn't loaded. Dennis Phillippi and Ric Chetter (Rock 103 guys in the cast) were supposed to check it for me, but they left.

Bevan Bell's "Divine Manipulation of the Threads" oughta be one terrific feature. His colorful blog details how to put together a movie on weekends with the added benefit that you can learn from his mistakes. Apparently he makes many of them. As for me, I got to wrestle Bevan to the ground.

Kris and Natalie Boyatt's "Rookie Bookie" told a grim story that should be a lesson to us all: stay away from high stakes gambling, especially if you're Ralph Hatley. As for me, I got to glare at J.W. Williams in the High Point Pinch.

Thanks to James Mangold for letting me wear Folsom prison blues for 14 hours, shuffling around with no belt and no shoelaces, while Joaquin Phoenix warbled "Cocaine Blues" all day long. You might be able to see me in one of those long shots, but I'm not sure.

Big thanks to Ira Sachs for his thoughtful "Forty Shades of Blue," a work that dares to dispense with chase scenes and glamor, relying instead on examining relationships as they slowly shatter. As for me, I got to gesticulate like an idiot while chatting with Rip Torn.

A special thanks to Craig Brewer, although I've never gotten a thing in any of his productions. I was supposed to read for him for "Black Snake Moan," but two days beforehand, I got a call saying the part had already been cast. Obviously a terrible mistake. But the fact is that Craig is riding one helluva roller coaster going from doing what he wanted to do when he was, shall we say, poor and hungry and then finding that fame brings not only major H'wood deals but also major H'wood interference. He's had heaps of criticism piled on him, a significant amount of which came from people who just can't bear for others to succeed. Ultimately, however, you only have to understand that he's doing what his creative self needs to do. His stories about Memphis are vivid and textured and powerful. May he never stop.

A big thanks to Robert Saba, who'll take out your heart and stomp on it to get his films made. He's young and driven and is compelled to make movies. He put together "Delusions," a dark and gritty tale, over just a few weekends. He inspired his actors and crew to give everything to the project and it paid off in a film that is the more remarkable since it cost a mere $500 to make. His goal is to use that film to interest investors in other projects. He's one to watch. As for me, I got to do a sex scene in "Delusions" and fortunately for viewers, I was practically invisible.

Keenon Nikita's film "Just the Two of Us" is one of the most anticipated indie films coming in 2006. It's autobiographical, telling a compelling story about him and his daughter. There is some exceptional talent in this production as well, and I'm not just talking about myself. But since we are talking about me, I have a scene as a doctor who ... well, Keenon doesn't want me to say. Plan to see this one.

Large performing thanks to Muck Sticky who, having heard me do "They're Coming to Take Me Away" in karaoke one night, had the foresight to invite me to perform it on the New Daisy stage during the Muck Sticky Revue, and the wisdom to not ask me to do it again.

Edward Valibus Phillips of Corduroy Wednesday Productions was kind enough to cast me in his production of "Grim Sweeper." It's a fascinating psychological study and has some fine young talent working on it. As for me, I get to be a priest offering some wise counsel. Yes, I know you're all saying I'm perfect for that role.

David S. Merrill was instrumental in getting me that nice gig with the Hurra Torpedo documentary. It was quick, it was improv, it paid a little and it was a blast. And it's all about putting film work on the Internet as the primary medium.

Purest thanks to my brother Forrest Pruett for being relentlessly in love with film. He's there in sickness and in health, devoted, inspirational, good humored, forward thinking. He wants everyone else to work too (he also helped get me that Hurra Torpedo action) -- that's why he started Actors First agency. And just wait till you get a load of his thriller, "Inherit the Earth." He is one dark pussycat.

A particularly special thanks to Amber O'Daniels who is, among many other things, a teacher of the Meisner method and refreshing burst of inspiration. She helped dissipate the creative fog and allowed me to observe. "Someone to Call My Clone" is a short film I wrote and helped put together with members of our Meisner class. It would not have been possible without Amber.

There is another special thanks to Tom Walter, who retired in 2005 as the reporter covering TV and radio for the CA. I got the idea of doing a mockumentary for Tom that would interview his co-workers and folks he'd covered over the years. I had no idea I was in way over my head. I figured it would be a modest 10-minute riff and roast -- instead it was a 40-minute production interviewing about 30-plus people, including Joe Birch, Dave Brown, Mike Fleming, the Wake Up Crew and many others. I weighed in as a TV reporter of the Mike Matthews school of doom. It was a helluva project and got the best review of all from Tom himself, who spent about 40 minutes rolling on the floor in stitches. It was an inside job, but one I am pleased with.

Finally, there is the primo figure of my small personal acting adventure. I especially want to thank the man who gets it: Red West. With a special salute to his family, Pat and John Boyd.

As for me, I'm looking forward to 2006.

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