Did The Avengers leave you thinking about your goals and dreams and how you might achieve them? Did Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter have you questioning your relationship to your parents and what's getting in the way of those relationships? Did Prometheus stimulate any thoughts whatsoever other than how a young woman could possibly perform a C-section on herself and then run around a space ship?
I'd venture to say the answer to all of the above is 'no.' Why? Because, in my view, none of the people involved in the making of these films took risks. They relied upon the safety of known comic books and a popular novel. They rebooted a dormant but once-lucrative sci-fi franchise. They didn't challenge themselves or their audiences. And for their efforts, they're floating on inner tubes across vast oceans of money, a margarita in each hand.
Meanwhile, there's Hollywood to Dollywood.
The independent documentary recently had two showings at Frameline, San Francisco's annual LGBT film festival, following more than 50 festival showings around the world. (The Huffington Post has a detailed story about the film worth reading.)
Hollywood to Dollywood is about two twin brothers, Gary and Larry Lane, both gay, from my home state of North Carolina. The Lane twins, who currently live in Los Angeles, wrote a screenplay entitled Full Circle, which includes a part they wrote with Dolly Parton in mind. They love Dolly (who doesn't?), and they really want her to be in their film.
So how would these two young up-and-coming actors/models/screenwriters get someone of Dolly's stature to even consider their screenplay? How would they fast-forward past all the non-responses and rejections that inevitably await the vast majority of scripts by unknown screenwriters?
They made a movie about it.
Venturing Into Tornado Winds and Flood Waters
More specifically, the Lane twins made a charming, funny, suspenseful, and unexpectedly touching documentary about their cross-country trip from Hollywood to Dolly's theme park in Tennessee. Their goal: To hand-deliver their script to Parton during the 25th anniversary of Dollywood, a time when they knew exactly where she would be and when.
|The Lane twins on the road to Dollywood|
Sure, they had some reasonable hopes, as we all know Dolly is a genuine and benevolent person. (By comparison, can you imagine making a trek cross-country in hopes of getting Patti LuPone to read your script?) But the Lane twins took a big risk--something that so many in Hollywood and on Broadway today wouldn't dream of doing. They invested time and money and emotion into filming a story the ending of which they couldn't possibly know.
That alone earns my heartfelt admiration. But the movie also spoke to me on many other levels. As someone who has also toiled on a script (a play) for four years, the Lane twins' guerilla script-submission-tactic is inspiring. I'm already scheming about the unsuspecting hands I'm going to thrust my manuscript into, though I hope I can do it with as much Southern charm and style as the Lane twins.
And their tactic, from a marketing perspective, is absolutely genius. You want to make sure Dolly is aware of how badly you want her to be in your movie? Make a movie about the trip you took to hand your script to her--a documentary, by the way, which has won lots of festival awards.
All This, and Leslie Jordan, Too
That's the quiet sadness that runs throughout the film, though there are many comic high points--including cameos by the likes of Will & Grace's Leslie Jordan, the diminutive Southern comic actor.
The Lane twins come across as sweet, adorable, handsome, funny, intelligent, genuine Southern men of whom anyone would be proud. I'm happy to report that Nick and I had a chance to talk to them after a Frameline screening, and in 'real life' they're exactly as they are in the film. One minute of talking to them and you feel as if you've known them for years--or wish you had.
I could go on and on, but I'll close where I started: with The Avengers, Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the woman who gave herself a C-section in Prometheus. They're Hollywood's safe, risk-free action heroes. But for me, the real super heroes of the summer movie season, of the entire year in fact, are the Lane twins. And if you're at all interested in seeing their story, please buy the Hollywood to Dollywood DVD. It's only $20. You'll be supporting some terrific young Southerners. Ten percent of the sales go to Dolly's Imagination Library, which provides books to children. And most of all, it's a memorable movie. Besides, $20 is less than you paid for two tickets (plus popcorn) to see The Avengers--a movie you've probably already forgotten by now.
Postscript: Here's a recent Virgin America commercial featuring the Lane twins you may enjoy.