Name: ***** ************
School/Class: SCT/L.A. Plays Itself
Assignment: Walter Neff and The Los Angeles Narrative.
Date: 20 March 2012
The film Double Indemnity paints the picture of what should have been the perfect crime committed by the perfect criminal, but as cinema always reminds us, nothing ever goes according to plan.
Walter Neff had a stable career as an insurance salesman. He lead a fairly average and maintainable lifestyle, something one could refer to as traditional. And maybe that was his downfall. Walter Neff found himself unhappy, found himself longing for something a bit more exciting, something darker, taboo.
That’s when he met femme fatale, Phyllis Dietrichson, and that’s when he allowed himself to be seduced by desire. Phyllis convinces Walter to kill her husband in an attempt to acquire insurance money due to a loophole known as “double indemnity.” And thus the stage was set for Walter Neff’s demise.
Prior to entering Los Angeles I was nearly finished writing two feature screenplays – one detailing a group of survivors during the ZPocalypse, and another chronicling a duo of psychotic deviants (Hello, Man Bites Dog meets Following.) Of course I keep trying to coax my mind into forgetting the fact that I have been writing these screenplays since early 2009.
Feature screenplays aside, I have actually produced some work; work I am proud to say I created. I wrote, directed, and produced a short film entitled, One Step. One Step observes a young man as he inexplicably decides to rid his body of its biological need for food and the fatal effect it has on his life. One Step is to this day, my only “real” body of work. Real in the sense that I had an idea, ran with it, and assembled like-minded budding artists to help bring the story to life. Together we scripted, storyboarded, cast, scouted, and financed; you know, all the basic facets that go into producing a short film, hence the term, real.
After its completion, One Step was accepted into a few local film festivals. It didn’t win any awards or anything, but just being accepted was validation enough. I thought I was well on my way to becoming a blossoming young filmmaker.
Coming off of One Step, I undertook another project, a big project, a big project that shouldn’t have been assembled in the first place, a project I started with such high hopes and charisma, a project that took over a year to shoot, with every day longer and colder and slower and less artistic than the last. “Grey Matter,” as the film was called, soon suffocated and fell dead in its tracks. Even today the fucking movie still sits on my hard-drive – cut up to the best of my ability, but still missing final sound effects, score, transitions, color correction, titles, and what would probably be some of worst ADR since Tommy Wiseau's, The Room.
Months later, I saw the short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth on Youtube. I was enthralled by it. In the wake, I longed to shoot a video game adaptation of my own. Max Payne-- a brutal noir about a fugitive cop who dual wields through the night streets of New York City mercilessly searching for the killer of his wife and baby girl-- was my all-time favorite video game series, and thus my adaptation, “Max Payne: Defrayal” was born. I went full throttle into this production with prop guns, stunt dives, bullet time, and CGI. My team and I shot my 12-page script over the course of 3 days. I was beyond ecstatic; I thought my story was original, faithful, and a pretty damn good attempt at an independent reimagining. But just like that, just as headstrong as I was in the beginning, the second we wrapped principal photography the entire team disbanded. Editing was painstaking, and soon I realized I did not have the capacity to complete it. Much Like “Grey Matter”, “Max Payne: Defrayal” was abandoned and later died a slow, painful death.
I wanted these projects completed, I wanted them circulated through festivals, I wanted those scripts shopped around, and like everyone else who dreams of Hollywood, I wanted to be somebody. So then, why has Double Indemnity--a story about desire and fantasy, crime and punishment--why has it been the most relatable film to my life, and how does it so perfectly parallel my Los Angeles experience?
You see, I have been seduced by fantasy, entranced by the promise of women and wealth, coaxed into the underbelly of the city; the sub-market, the world everyone sees but no one discusses. Like Walter Neff, I’ve longed for a radical change, for something raw; unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and soon after arriving to the west coast, I found solace in the adult film industry. I have since been working fulltime as a stiff, a swordsman, a male performer; that’s right, I am a Porn Star.
I suppose YOU—Reader--are the ‘Barton Keys’ in my story. You are the one who must hear my tales, my confessions, and you are the one who must make the final conclusion, the final judgment. Rest assured, this is not a cry for help; rather, this experience has been cathartic, awakening.
I realize people will criticize me for my choices. I’m sure my reputation as an “artist” will certainly be tarnished, and even perhaps later in life I will retrospectively look upon my decision with regret, but right now I don’t care. I am experimenting. I am having fun. I am living out a fantasy. Under no circumstances do I believe I have degraded myself or am a victim of any kind. I am not afraid to admit that I enjoy what I am doing; it offers me liberation in a way I never thought possible, an escape from the parameters of the reality we are conditioned to expect and abide by. I am ready for the consequences, and I understand this career--if that’s what you want to call it-- will be more taxing, both mentally and physically, than I may be prepared for, but at this moment I am ready for battle. My scenes, my work, my body, and my soul are now forever stamped on the lower back of Internet, so I will embrace it.
Now I ask you, is that a crime?