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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A short review of this great movie

Author: frodo1121 from United States
28 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film was ten years in the making and in fact, it was trashed by Tony Zierra (the producer) before he went back to the drawing board and sorted through some 200 hours of film to ultimately have this film. It's a one of a kind documentary that gives us a very raw and heartbreaking view into the workings of the film industry and what can happen when dreams do come true.

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.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Unvarnished Reality: Hollywood Straight Up

Author: bardicvoice from Virginia, United States
5 January 2009

This unflinchingly honest documentary about four young up-and-coming actors sharing a house with the young filmmaker captures the exuberant whirl of unexpected success, the soul-destroying weight of persistent defeat, the constant pressure of being only as good as your next role, and the difficulty of portraying the unvarnished truth about any career in Hollywood. It runs the gamut from funny to excruciatingly painful, and the truth on display is sometimes hard to watch precisely because it is so searing. This should be required viewing for anyone setting their sights on an acting career, and for anyone who wants to know the reality behind the tabloids, talk shows, and entertainment magazine reports on Hollywood successes and failures.

Viewers should be aware that the film includes nudity and some profanity - this is not a film for children - but none of it is there just for effect. It's there because it's part of the story; part of the truth.

If you watch this film, you'll come away both sadder and wiser. It's well worth both the time and the emotional cost.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A hard hitting look at the price of fame

Author: sashworth from Canada
5 January 2009

My Big Break is a documentary that unfolds like a punch to the gut. It took years for Tony Zierra to put it together, and like a fine wine it's now ready to be savored.

When I first saw it, I really wasn't that invested in being there at the start, but as the movie unfolded I was hooked. I couldn't look away.

Anyone who wants to get into movies should see this film as a warning about what to expect. The rest of us should see it because it's at once entertaining, engaging, funny, and tragic, and it features real people.

Hollywood doesn't want you to see this film, and that's a shame. In today's world of informed people, documentaries like those by Michael Moore, Al Gore and Morgan Spurlock are appreciated and enjoyed. Tony Zierra's film ranks with the best of them, and I hope that the fact Hollywood doesn't want it to be seen by the general public won't actually hinder its ability to find an audience.

Go see it; you'll be glad you did.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of.

Author: MGMboy from San Francisco
29 January 2009

"My Big Break" is an astonishing achievement in documentary film-making. In telling the true story of the struggles of four actors and one filmmaker trying to make it in Hollywood one might say this is the most raw, honest, and enduring tale of tinsel town since the mythic and fictional "Sunset Blvd." It not only chronicles the rise of three young actors to sudden breathtaking fame but also the flat line of the fourths attempts at a career. And of course what the film is ultimately presenting is the fascinating tale of the film itself being made and trying to make it within the insular and cannibalistic land of the lotus-eaters. Brilliantly shot, edited and narrated by director Tony Zierra this is a must see for anyone with the slightest interest in Hollywood behind the scenes. (Or in pursuing a career there.) It is harrowing, funny, and deeply moving. I never expected to get sucked in by this but I must admit by the last entry from Wes Bentley juxtaposed by what the ultimate outcome of the tale turned out to be, well I nearly wept at the loss that was presented. Whether it is Hollywood, Hong Kong or San Francisco and you are a movie star, or an average Joe on the street it all boils down to what life is and what it can do to a dream and ultimately the dreamer. The score for the film is by a young rising talent out of Liverpool, David Ben Shannon. His contribution to the film is impressive. The score ranges from hip Hollywood sound to a few well places musical homage to films of the past. See if you can spot them. The score soars and supports the film just where and when it needs to. Overall a fine debut by an artist we will be hearing more from in the future. And I am sure more great things will come from Director Tony Zierra. A strong, passionate filmmaker who deserves at last his "Big Break"! Five stars and Bravo!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

This Film is the real Hollywood story, Keep up the great Work!

Author: rcastle16 from California, United States
12 December 2008

Tony Zierra magnificently puts to screen the real story of four roommates trying to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. While one maybe "destined" for greatness, others struggle through their potential - that may never surface… This is a genuine movie, featuring a world within Hollywood we all wish to have an inside look at.

The film takes the viewer through so many emotional levels, you can't help but feel the pain that success brings to someone who is not quite ready for it.

Brilliantly directed and masterfully set up. This is one of the best true Hollywood films, and it will remain that way.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Watch IT

Author: SoccerBatch from United States
13 April 2009

I won't go into any specific details (because honestly, comments before me have done that wonderfully) but I do have to say this is the MUST SEE movie of the year, hell of many years.

I am a movie lover, (to the tune of owning over a thousand DVD's of every variety and genre) and so many movies these days are afraid to be as honest as this one. I am more than happy to grant a glowing recommendation to a movie that I really enjoyed (and thought was a truly powerful movie).

In fact, I don't remember EVER seeing such a poignant movie about the truth of Hollywood. If you are a fan of movies, or actors or entertainment in general, go out and buy this movie NOW. This is a brutally honest look at the harsh reality (sometimes hilarious, sometimes tumultuous) of an actor's life. Anyone even considering being in this business in ANY capacity should watch this movie, and take notes.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

My Big Break should be a curse if

Author: knowitnot from East, NY
5 April 2010

Now I get why the slogan for this documentary is "Are You Ready?". I can tell you that I wasn't. I assumed that it would be a fun maybe juicy trip through what it's like to get exactly what so many of us would like to have: fame and fortune. think about how many people, myself included, have wished we could trade our ordinary "normal" lives for the glamour of Hollywood. Not that I ever thought I would really go for it but we can dream, can't we? This documentary was a real wake-up call for me. Funny but watching it made my holiday better because it made me appreciate my life and my family more than I usually do. I felt like this hype about how great celebrities lives are is just that...hype. There's nothing real about it. Obviously getting famous messes with people big time. I was always confused about that. For instance, why do so many big stars from Marilyn Monroe to Owen Wilson seem so self- destructive when they have everything? This documentary helped answer that question for me. Honestly though, it also made me feel guilty for pushing my daughter, who is 19 toward being an actress. She's really talented and I guess I felt a little bit like she might have a chance to live out the dream I always had but didn't go after. We watched this movie together and afterwards she told me that she'd rather go into nursing and I'm glad. On a kind of funny note: the guys in the movie are all really good looking in different ways so there's that to add to your viewing pleasure.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

You must see this movie!

Author: jmjenab-1 from United States
6 January 2009

Tony Zierra has pulled back the curtain and challenges anything you might think you know about Hollywood. This raw roller-coaster of a ride follows the fates of 4 actors from when they first set foot in Hollywood. The meteoric rise of three, the gut-wrenching pain of the fourth as he watches his friends succeed. It is a must-see for anyone who has ever thought about entering the world of television or movies. It will leave you conflicted, but glad that you had this unique view into the lives of these men. Kudos to Mr. Zierra for continuing to fight the fight and for finally getting this movie released, and grateful thanks to the rest of the group for allowing us this exquisitely personal look into their lives.

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Moving and real

Author: SillyGayBoy from United States
20 December 2015

A documentary about 4 people wanting to make it in Hollywood. This is a goal for a lot of people, and not everyone can make it happen. These 4 in an apartment end up with more success then what anyone would expect, but Hollywood can chew people up and spit them out.

Along with success comes not having more success to follow it, as well as other dilemmas. People assume a big break would be so amazing but when success hits too hard to fast it can be overwhelming. Lives can change too drastically and not always for the better.

A very well done documentary with such candid interviews told so well. Wes is by far my favorite but there was a lot of insight all around. I would recommend to anyone but particularly those interested in acting or interested in the psychology behind it, and rising to fame.

As I write this it seems the only way to watch is buying on their website in a digital download format.

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Worth your while

Author: Kimberly Bordage from Canada
12 September 2011

10 years ago I googled Wes Bentley, the character with the camera in American Beauty, and came across a website for a film called Carving Out Our Name, a documentary about four actors and an aspiring director living in a house they called "Masselin". In the late 90's, Tony Zierra decided to start filming his four roommates as they tried to make it in Hollywood. You can call it luck, you can call it foresight, whatever the case, three out of four of the guys living in the Masselin house eventually got their big breaks, and Tony was there to capture it all.

Carving Out Our Name, starring Chad Lindberg, Brad Rowe, Greg Fawcett and Wes Bentley, got it's big break when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2001, but the tragedy that took place the morning after changed everything, and Carving Out Our Name went into hiding for good. I always hoped the film would see the light of day and this year it has. My Big Break is Carving Out our Name's Father. It's older and wiser but mostly it is fearless.

It's surprisingly easy to relate to these guys as they struggle with success and fame and all that comes with it. It's even easier to relate to the one guy in the house who has to sit back and watch with envy as his three roommates make a name for themselves in Hollywood. At one point the director asks him to do something, anything, and what follows is at once equally hilarious and utterly heartbreaking. Tony Zierra's directorial debut is thoughtful, provoking and painfully real. It's non-fiction at it's best.

What I loved most about this film is the fact that the person telling the story is as much a part of it as the rest. The character with the camera in American Beauty come to life.

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