Living in Los Angeles, a few million strangers have one thing in common: they want to make it in the entertainment business. From actors to indie film types, from rock & rollers to models -- they can all be found in L.A. pursuing their dreams, working their day jobs and rallying behind the cry of "I deserve to be famous, dammit!"
With equal parts humor and empathy, Neal A. Yeager tells the story of four of these souls:
Sarah is a fantastic actress who, after 37 Hollywood auditions, hasn't landed even a small role. While absolutely killing it in those auditions and in acting classes, Sarah can't help but wonder if -- here in the land of glitter and beautiful people -- the fact that she doesn't look like a model is what is really holding her back.
Icon is a shy but brilliant independent filmmaker with a vision. She does the film school thing during the day, works on her own independent film projects in her free time and habitually pops antacids while wrestling the doubts and insecurities of a highly creative intelligent person.
Terrance has, for all of his life, been told that he looks like a movie star. By all accounts he has what it takes to be the Next Big Thing. Through years of struggling with odd jobs and family members both supportive and skeptical, he looks to land that role that will make him the star that everyone says he should be.
And Sean? Well, Sean is a musician who knows that it's all in who you know...
A novel for the fans of the underdog, non-Hollywood takes the reader through the life of the folks who are struggling on the outside and on the fringes of show business.
Those who appreciate the humorous and bittersweet work of Nick Hornby should definitely enjoy what non-Hollywood has to offer.Amazon (paperback and Kindle!) | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords |
"How long do we need to wait?" asked Jasmine.
The petite girl standing next to her lifted a small handheld piece of equipment to the sky, but said nothing.
Jasmine asked timidly, "Icon?"
The girl, who went by the name Icon (even though this was not the moniker her mother had blessed her with eighteen years ago, and even though she was quiet, introverted, and basically not the type who you would think would choose such a bold pseudonym for herself) lowered the piece of equipment with a concentrated look on her face. The piece of equipment was a light meter and she closely examined the position of the needle to determine if conditions were yet right for them to start shooting the scene which they were about to film.
Icon looked up from the meter and stared intently at one of the corners of one of the buildings along Hollywood Blvd. The shadows were just starting to fall on the famous terra-cotta stars which lined the sidewalk of that famous street.
"I'd say just another few minutes. I want that shadow right there to move to the edge of the building. Then we'll go."
Icon popped an antacid into her mouth -- something that she did many times throughout any given day -- then knelt down to the large duffle bag at her feet. The bag contained her camera, a few extra magazines of film -- because yes, today she would use film not memory cards -- some filters and a collection of other things that a cinematographer might need in order to shoot on film.
The bag was heavy.
"Oh look," said Jasmine, "You're kneeling on Ernest Borgnine."
Icon looked down and, yes indeed, her knee was smack dab in the middle of the star of Ernest Borgnine.
"Hollywood Blvd.," said Icon, "You're always stepping on some celebrity or other."
Jasmine giggled and said, "Yeah, but Ernest Borgnine. That's funny."
"Why?" Icon asked.
Jasmine merely shrugged.
Icon started prepping her camera without taking it from the bag. She and Jasmine were about to "steal" a shot -- movie jargon for shooting without a permit or permission -- so she had to be sneaky about it. Especially since she was using an actual film camera. Actual film would actually be rolling through her actual film camera. Her digital video counterparts had it easier in the shot-stealing department because video cameras weren't out of place. Shooting with one of those you could just pass yourself off as a tourist and blend in. But film cameras were a bit more conspicuous and Icon was one of those holdouts who preferred, whenever she could afford it, the beauty of film to the convenience of digital. Today she had left the digital camera at home.
Even the film camera itself was aesthetically pleasing. She shot 16mm using a camera which had been manufactured two decades before she had even been born. The camera was softly rounded with a nicely designed curved motif -- so completely unlike the cold, square modules of the digital video cameras -- an outer shape which echoed an age wherein something functional was also allowed to be beautiful. It was a French-made camera, whose name most Americans could never seem to pronounce correctly, that had been a favorite of independent filmmakers before the digital age. She was certainly not the first independent filmmaker to steal shots on Hollywood Boulevard using one of these cameras. Though it was quite possible that she might be the last.
Icon stood up while leaving the camera in the bag. "I think I'm pretty much set. Just a little more movement from the sun and I think we'll be ready to shoot. Is Seth good over there?"
"Seth's good everywhere," said Jasmine with a devilish smile.
Icon said, "What I meant was is he ready?"
"I know what you meant, and yes, I think he is," said Jasmine as they both looked down the street at a young man standing a block away. He waved.
Icon said, "So, you'll wait for him here. I'll be close up on you then I pan over to him walking toward you and he walks into the 2-shot, pauses, and you hug."
"Got it," Jasmine replied.
Icon looked back at the shadow on the building. The shadow had moved a hardly perceptible amount. But it had moved. "Just a few more minutes," she said.
"Okay," Jasmine replied.
Icon looked away, cleared her throat and said, "So, did you read my new script?"
Jasmine shifted a bit on her feet. After an awkward moment she replied, "Oh... I haven't, well, I haven't finished it yet."
"You started but you didn't finish? That's not a good sign, is it?"
"Oh, no, it's not that Icon. I just haven't had the chance."
Icon looked away again, ostensibly watching the shadow on the building. She said, "Scripts aren't that long, Jazz. They're like the length of a magazine article. If you didn't finish it in one sitting, that sounds like it didn't hold your interest."
Jasmine put her hand on Icon's arm and said, "No, it's not that.... I just... I kind of got stuck on the motel room scene."
Jasmine let out a long breath and continued, "Well, it's like 10 pages long and it's a guy and a girl in bed in a motel room and..." Jasmine trailed off, obviously unable or unwilling to articulate what she found wrong with the motel room scene.
Finally, Icon asked, "And?"
"And... all they do is sit there and talk about religion. And then the scene ends and that's it."
"Well, that's the theme of the film. It's an exploration of the different levels of belief."
"Okay," said Jasmine quietly as she looked at the ground.
Icon saw the look and suddenly felt guilty. She didn't think that she had sounded defensive, but maybe she had. She said, "Sorry Jazz. I asked for your opinion, so... sorry."
"Oh, it's okay Icon. I get it."
"I'm just trying to understand. Are you bothered by what they're talking about? Is there something... offensive in there? Something like that?"
"No, it's not that," Jasmine replied, "It's just that that's all they do. Talk. They sit in bed in a motel room and they just talk."
Icon puzzled through what Jasmine was trying to get across. She didn't want to sound upset or defensive, but she really didn't understand what in the world Jasmine was on about. They just talk?
They just talk.
Icon looked at Jasmine and asked, "Would it be better if they had sex afterward?"
Jasmine brightened, "Well, yeah."
"Okay, but that's not what the scene's about."
"But guy. Girl. Motel room. And they're gonna have Bible Study?"
"It's not Bible... Okay. Sorry."
"No Icon, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you mad. You're really good with that camera and I'm sure that you'll make it look really pretty. And when I see it all pretty like that I'm sure I'll be pulled in and stuff."
Icon looked back up at the shadow on the building. It had moved a little more. Without looking at Jasmine she said, "But it needs sex?"
"Oh it definitely needs sex."
Icon knelt again on Ernest Borgnine, pulled out the film camera, then stood and waved at the young man down the block. As he started walking toward them Icon began rolling the film. The scene played out just as expected: the closeup, the walk, the hug.
"Cut," she said as she lowered the camera. She took a look around to see if anyone was taking notice of them, since what they were doing was technically illegal. She pointed. Seth ran back to the corner and they did it again: the closeup, the walk, the hug.
Then she put the camera back in the large duffle bag. "Okay," she said, "I think we're good."
They all took one last look around for the police. Jasmine said, "I don't think anybody noticed." Then Jasmine and Seth began to walk back toward the parking lot. The two therefore did not notice that as Icon reached to pick up her duffle bag her hand was shaking uncontrollably.