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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