Sunday, March 30, 2014

On its 20th anniversary, surveying and surviving the trauma of JIMMY HOLLYWOOD.

On this date twenty years ago, the comedy/drama JIMMY HOLLYWOOD opened.  I was one of its three stand-ins; none of us received screen credit for our seven to eight weeks of labor--ce'st la vie.

JIMMY HOLLYWOOD opened against the cinematic competition of MAJOR LEAGUE 2 and FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL.  It stiffed.  The audience didn't like it/didn't think it was funny or involving/didn't care for its takes on would-be actors and Instant Fame in an era seven years before SURVIVOR unleashed a floodtide of TV stars cast for reasons other than talent or conventional training in acting.

A few months after its release, JIMMY HOLLYWOOD was recut for VHS/DVD release (in some ways, an improvement over the theatrical cut).  Though it has some supporters, it sank into the cinematic equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits, now so devoid of market value it can be seen for free by clicking the following link:

Perhaps the lasting impact of JIMMY HOLLYWOOD was that it served as a laboratory for its director.  The shoot-an-A-picture-fast approach was later applied to WAG THE DOG, more universally acclaimed critically and successful at the boxoffice.

I've written before about the unpleasant work atmosphere of JIMMY HOLLYWOOD as I perceived/experienced it.

Here's a quick precis: some crew members on the film were decent and generous to me (and I tried my best to reciprocate).  Others' behavior ranged from patronizing to contemptuous to hostile to downright vicious, seizing on any mistakes I may have made as a way of venting anger they couldn't display to people equal or higher on the filmmaking ladder.

I was scared of not measuring up and being fired--and two decades later, time and distance have enabled me to accept that other crewpeople were fearful for the same reasons and there were some things I could and should have taken less personally.  But, at the time, it was quite difficult for me to be detached enough to have a Big Picture view of what a key crew member of JIMMY referred to as "this madness."

Twenty years later, I write poetry and try to sell books and e-books of my work.  It's not always an easy vocation/avocation, but at least I've moved on with my life.

And, if I make a mistake, I can correct it without the paralyzing worry that I'm causing a hundred crew members to stop in their tracks and wait for me to get it right.

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