Our film Goodbye Promise will have a week run at The Downtown Independent in Los Angeles beginning June 1st through June 7th. It’s now online here for $1.00 for the first 100 backers and $2.00 for the next viewers. It’s a film three years in the making. Goodbye Promise is a story which questions the time frame in which we dedicate to a dream. If you’ve come to Los Angeles from another place, you may have asked yourself the same question:
“How much time do I put into something before it takes off?”
LA isn’t a town where every one knows your family and their fascinating history. Some residents here look the other way when neigbors back out of driveways, forgetting to wave. And for many people, this anonymity is o.k. They like the non-familiar. These transplants didn’t come here to make friends and this is just fine with the city. It’s not that Los Angeles intends to be a cold, uncaring place (although parts of it can be). It’s residents change so frequently, either geographically or in desires, that it’s part of the landscape. Many things are temporary in Los Angeles, including peoples’ dreams.
In the film Goodbye Promise, a line between Matt (played by Gregor Collins) and Milton (played by Brian Ronalds) is a familiar conversation amongst Los Angeles actors. Milton comes to a grinding halt in his car as he sees Matt walking down the street in Hollywood. Milton parks, runs up to Matt and proudly states “Well… tell your mom she is going to see me on TV next season… Some guy saw me in Hail Mary and cast me.” As Milton displays his peacock feathers to another struggling actor, Matt sucks up his broken pride and wishes Milton well. Matt’s happy for his friend, but deep down he too wishes for this success.
What is it to make it big? What does it look like? How is life different? Are we closer to God? Does achieving success mean we are happy every day and that we have overcome frustration which comes from struggle? Maybe making it will allow us to become someone’s higher power or be superhuman. How can something this strong eventually die? If we “make it,” we’re invincible, right?
Is it money that brands us successful or how many people we’ve made to think, feel or hope?
Should money determine what makes us worthy of press? If so, what if the money comes and our personal life is food for sharks? What if success calls our character into question, leading anonymous web surfers to transfer their own life failures onto your story at the end of each article?
(Check out these two amazing posts “Playing The Fame Game on Planet Stardom” by My Big Break’s Producer Elizabeth Yoffe and “Final Film Courage” by My Big Break’s Director Tony Zierra – both posts talk of little known experiences from those who make it to the other side of the business.)
People say Los Angeles draws big fish from little ponds. The best and brightest from places around the world come here to achieve. Being Number One back home gives people hope that this town will greet them with open arms.
LA also attracts misfits, the ones who didn’t fit in. Kids who were weird or different. In LA, rest assured that you’ll blend into the landscape. Not too many people will point at you; only a few will slightly laugh at you. These are the kids who dreaded the politics of high school lunch hours. This was the group I fell into.
Who hasn’t heard the story of Lana Turner being discovered at a soda cafe. Marilyn Monroe working for an airline parts company in the “Valley” and being photographed as a favor until she shed the name Norma Jean and changed the world. Or Vin Diesel working as a bouncer, saving his money and making a film which would get him seen by Hollywood decision makers. These stories make fame and success seem attainable to everyone, as long as we put ourselves in the right places to be seen.
In the film Goodbye Promise, Matt is surrounded by people in all life situations who love him. Despite their love, he’s lonely and deflated. He’s given himself a deadline: if I don’t make it by this point…I’m heading back home.
‘The Goodbye Promise’ scenario is all too common. As we shot the film on weekends during the worst financial downturn all of us can ever hope to endure in our lifetimes, it became the norm. “Did you hear so and so left?”
Director and Film Courage co-founder David Branin at the Goodbye Promise photoshoot at The Downtown Independent in Los Angeles
You can feel the electric optimism of someone who has just arrived in LA. They are bright-eyed. Cynicism has yet to rear its ugly head.
And then the City takes hold on you….Traffic, the high cost of living, other peoples’ unclear agendas, and the word “no” begins to beat your enthusiasm.
The once hopeful “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow” spring in our step fades to lethargy and pessimism. You see a reflection of your face in a store window and catch a sneer looking back at someone you hardly recognize.
This is where we find Matt seven days from his seven year pact with himself. His career is no where near his dream level of acting roles sustaining a glamorous lifestyle. For those of us who’ve set up similar deadlines, we can lightly chuckle at his dilemma, only to live it personally as we attempt to sleep at night. People around him have excelled in the entertainment business or have given up and settled into a life of comfort.
You see those who have settled into a life of comfort, racing off to work in the morning and wonder “Should this be me?” Should I pack it up and get a day job, settling for a life of microwavable lunches and water cooler gossip? Then we read of layoffs from people whose cubicles were decorated with birthday balloons one month and given an exit interview the following month. You realize there is no one safe path in this new economy. The 9-5 world is no more promised than the life of an underemployed actor, balancing odd jobs from Craigslist. This thought keeps you going on days that get rough. At least you love what you do when you are working at your intended profession.
In the recent months leading up to the release of Goodbye Promise, we asked numerous celebrities the following question: do you put a time limit on your dreams? If you’ve not “made it” by a certain point, should you give up? Our encounters consisted of red carpet events for screenings and press roundtables, including the likes of Chazz Palminteri, Stan Lee, Richard Greico, Tommy Davidson, and more. All of them responded “no” – they did not have a Plan B. This business was the only route for them.
Stan Lee talks about how he almost quit…
Theater in New York.’
The cast and crew of Goodbye Promise all understood this premise. Many of us knew the same people leaving Los Angeles at a time when everyone’s livelihood was threatened during the 2009 – 2010 portion of The Great Recession. Not only is it difficult to work at a job that is not your vocation, it’s hell to take ‘whatever is in the moment’ just to fill in the gaps to make rent.
As our team gets ready to release this little indie film which took three years to make with a hand-held camera, Kickstarter funded budget, improv dialogue, and borrowed locations, we look back and remember that we also knew there was no Plan B.
Actor Bill Oberst, Jr. – “There is No Plan B.”
Throughout the making of Goodbye Promise numerous reasons to quit presented themselves at every turn – The Los Angeles Station Fire raged blocks from our house during the film’s biggest two-day shoot with a 20-person cast/crew planned for each day. We simply took the liberty to incorporate the fire into the story and use the cast/crew as a back-up evacuation squad in the event we had to leave. Job losses, illness, identity theft, people and animals passing away, the drama-filled next-door party house who questioned if we had permits for our shoot, all tested our resolve. Bit-by-bit the film painfully came together. Despite frustrations or let downs, David Branin and Gregor Collins finished each item which roadblocked a finished film’s chaos. Still there were parts of the film we wish could be changed or taken in a new direction. It takes a strong determination to finish something we feel needs slight altering, even if it’s in our own minds.
At the end of the day, we know Goodbye Promise is a small film. There are thousands of filmmakers in LA who make similar films, only to take another route once the realities of life and filmmaking catch up with them. It’s our hope that Goodbye Promise shows heart and people relate to its themes of wanting something so badly that we must make ourselves delusional to keep at it. It’s a story that we’ve personally lived and watch unfold over the years with people who’ve come and gone in this big city. A city that doesn’t intend to be harsh, it’s just part of the mental landscape.
Actor Doug Jones – “Do We Set a Time Limit for Dreams?”
LA is a strange and beautiful place. People on all ends of the spectrum are happy, miserable or complacent. Remembering that we’ve chosen our path, however unlucky or prosperous it is, makes us realize why we’ve arrived at our present self.
We invite you to join us June 1st through June 7th for a week run at The Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 (more info here). June 1st is our World Premiere, featuring a red carpet from 7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and cast/crew Q & A following the screening.
Karen Worden is an actor and co-founder/co-host of FilmCourage.com. With co-host/co-founder David Branin, they’ve interviewed over 300 industry guests including, Peter Shankman, Joe Dante, Ti West, Ted Hope, Mark and Jay Duplass, Eva Mendes, Kevin Kline, Meg and Lawrence Kasdan, John Sayles, Andie MacDowell, Rainey Qualley, Chazz Palminteri, Morgan Spurlock, Richard Grieco, Stan Lee, Tommy Davidson, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Lea Thompson, Ryan Gosling and many more. Collectively, David Branin, Gregor Collins and Karen Worden crowdfunded over 16k for GOODBYE PROMISE, soon to be released in mid-2012. You can follow her @KarenWorden.
First, a synopsis:
Matt moves to Los Angeles and makes a pact with himself: In seven years he’ll be a working actor. He promises that if he isn’t working by then, he’ll pack up and go home. The film opens seven days before his self-prescribed seven-year-deadline… and he is just as anonymous as the day he started. This is his goodbye story.
When we made the decision to launch production, we had just about everything stacked against us: no script, no money, and no camera crew. But we knew we were sitting on a deeply personal story—one all three of us were living everyday, and one we knew millions of other artists around the world would find just as personal.
We shot on weekends spanning an entire summer. Since 100% of the dialogue was improvised, we often had no idea where a scene was headed, let alone how the film would end. But amassing a cast of talented actors we knew would deliver natural performances, and keeping our goal in mind—to tell an authentic story about what it’s really like to come to terms with failure—we forged ahead into the unknown. And we believe we came up with something that will resonate with anyone who has ever pursued a dream. Watch the film here…