2004, R, 81 min. Directed by Tony Montana, Mark Brian Smith.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Dec. 10, 2004
Cautionary tales about the pitfalls of indie filmmaking don’t come more searingly truthful or sober-minded than Overnight, a fascinating documentary about the Hollywood experiences of aspiring filmmaker Troy Duffy. There are lessons to be gleaned from Overnight about other matters too, observations that have application beyond the purely cinematic realm: the dangers of ego run amok, the power of self-delusion, the need to get all contractual agreements in writing, the dangers of self-satisfaction, and the possibility that there is such a thing as an excess of self-esteem. In 1996, Duffy was just another L.A. bartender who hoped to hit it big by selling a script to the Hollywood bigwigs. In true fairy-tale fashion, Duffy’s dream came true when his script for The Boondock Saints (a violent tale of street justice) was purchased by Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Pictures for $300,000. In addition, it is said that Weinstein okayed a $15 million shooting budget with Duffy slated to direct, as well as hiring his band, the Brood, to score the movie. Noise was also made about acquiring the bar where Duffy worked and all his gang hung out. All this occurs before the documentary Overnight begins. As the movie opens, we witness Duffy in full rags-to-riches glory, standing in front of the bar with the USA Today and Hollywood Reporter that herald his coup on their covers. He hires filmmakers Montana and Smith to document the adventure, but four years and 350 hours of footage later, the filmmakers have captured a very different journey than the one that was intended. Very quickly, his sense of accomplishment goes to his head, and the very foul-mouthed Duffy begins spouting off about everything and abusing everyone, including his band mates (among whom is his brother). A deal with Madonna’s Maverick Records is made for the band – without a tape even so much as being listened to – on the basis of their deal to score The Boondock Saints. Then Miramax puts Duffy’s movie into turnaround and Weinstein stops taking his calls, and when no other studio is interested in picking up the project, Duffy becomes certain that Weinstein has blacklisted him in Hollywood. Then Maverick cancels, too. Eventually, the movie is made for about $6 million and has since become a sizable hit on video – but here again Duffy’s contract neglected to give him any portion of the video profits. The record also got made and sold fewer than 700 copies. Montana and Smith do a good job of telling Duffy’s story with a collection of scraps and rough pieces of footage. Unfortunately, there is no footage in the film of Weinstein from the days when he was high on Duffy’s script, so the conversations are all hearsay from an unreliable and probably paranoid subject. We also see glimpses of Duffy’s family dynamics, which lead us to think that his megalomania is nothing new, it’s now just grown to Hollywood-sized proportions. At its best, Overnight is reminiscent of HBO’s new hit Entourage, especially when Entourage producer Mark Wahlberg is seen as one of the hip patrons hanging out at Duffy’s bar. Without refutation, the allegations against Weinstein add to the mogul’s lurid reputation for conflict (when a simple look at Miramax’s business at the time might clarify the reasons why The Boondock Saints was put into turnaround hell). Things may be more complicated than they seem in Overnight – or less. Only one thing is clear: There’s no success like failure.