The documentary chronicles the journey of five men who come to live together in a Los Angeles home. Tony Zierra is the aspiring director who embarked on this journey to film the lives of the four actors he lived with and document for the world the struggles both internal and external that fledgling actors encounter. I truly feel that what started out as a project turned into a labor of love for him. Tony is able to give us, from his most distinctive view point, a true look into the face of stardom and how it works. He offers up in poignant form a journey in stages and throughout the documentary, we watch the lives of all five men unfold just much like a Hollywood movie. He follows these four men from the pursuit of the Hollywood dream, to the euphoric stage of attaining it, watches as they try to shoulder the weight, and then gives us the final stage of the pain of losing it.
In rapid succession, three of the men begin their ascent to stardom. Brad Rowe's meteoric rise proceeds to take him on an almost reluctant journey to being labeled as the next 'big thing'. His uncanny resemblance to Brad Pitt captures the industry's attention and he easily becomes typecast as the 'pretty boy' and becomes the target of gossip. All this ultimately leads to his eventual decline.
Chad Lindberg's sensitivity, charm, and raw talent make him perfect for films like "The Velocity of Gary" and "October Sky". Eventually his rise is thwarted by being constantly perceived, at least outwardly, as a supporting character by the powers that be in Hollywood who are really only focused on image and not the inner qualities that transcend the marketable package. His fight gives voice to the struggle that we all deal with when our value is attached to looks.
Wes Bentley's Hollywood story truly captures the too much too soon cautionary tale as you watch what happens when he becomes an overnight sensation from his role in the Oscar winning film American Beauty. He was touted as the next Tom Cruise at one point and we watch as he drowns in his instant fame. He becomes paralyzed by it, unable to make a decision regarding his future roles and options. As Hollywood was banging on his door, he was trying to escape out the back and retreat from the weight of his own fame.
The fourth house-mate was the aspiring actor Greg Fawcett. He seemed destined to provide the counter-point to the various success stories unfolding in front of him. He may have been the exception to the rule in the house, but definitely represents the majority of the Hollywood stories. His is the side of story that no one wants to discuss, the despair of failure to ever achieve the goal. His is the documentary's strongest source of tragedy; he provides a face to so many emotions from seeing his friends succeed as he eagerly awaits his turn, his growing resentment and frustration when things continue to go well for the others yet nothing comes his way, and the dogged determination to keep going. We watch as he struggles with the questions "Am I good enough" "Am I just fooling myself" but he never quits. Listening to him speak to the camera you come to realize that he never recognized any of his shortcomings and therefore never would overcome them. He's so vulnerable, such an optimist, and his own worst enemy. Never could it be scripted how his life turned out.
Lastly, we have the man whose journey of self discovery became this odyssey. This documentary was originally slated for release in 2000 under the title "Carving Out Our Name" and has undergone a massive transformation from that film to the one we see today. It's become a story of not only the people residing in that house, but a story of his struggle to get the film made and ultimately released by an industry that doesn't want it out there. His narration sets the tone and gives prophetic voice to the heartbreak, ecstasy, and ultimate tragedy that is shown frame by frame.
We all know that there's a hidden underside to Hollywood, but we tend to ignore that and only focus on the glitz and glamour that's force fed to us at every opportunity. We see the beautiful people every day showing us exactly what they want us to see.
Sure Hollywood is great at allowing us to see the massive implosions of our superstars due to the shocking headline grabbing reasons of drugs and alcohol, but it's fighting tooth and nail the release of this movie which shows how Hollywood itself sets in motion the destruction of these ordinary people with dreams. It sets them on this path, only to watch them be done in by what does most of us in fear, isolation, desperation, and self-doubt and it stands back to watch it happen as it moves onto the next big thing. The bright side of Hollywood under all those beautiful lights has a much darker side This is a story that needs to be told and there is a world that needs to be shown it in all its heartbreaking glory.