Imagine, if you will, being allowed
to make a documentary where you are capturing the
next Quentin Tarantino making his first feature film.
Now imagine that everything goes to shit. That's what
you get with "Overnight," a documentary about Troy
Duffy, a fat, obnoxious, overbearing asshole who somehow
managed to write a script that got the attention of
Harvey Weinstein and Mirimax Films. The script was
for a action flick called "Boondock Saints."
Duffy got a sweet deal from Mirimax.
They paid six figures for the script, were going to
allow Duffy to direct the film and have a 15 million
dollar budget, were going to allow Duffy's band The
Brood to do the soundtrack, and, in the clincher for
the scripter, buy Duffy his favorite local bar. There
was much celebrating and much drinking. Soon Hollywood
types like Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Jake Busey,
Jerry O'Connell, Vincent D'onofrio, Matthew Modine,
Jeff Goldblum, Emilio Estevez, and Billy Zane were
hanging about. More drinking ensued. One of the best
scenes in the film has Paul Reubens (AKA Peewee Herman)
reading a scene from the script with Duffy. And many
names are dropped by Duffy, including some disparaging
remarks, including Ewan McGregor, Deniro, Ethan Hawke,
Kenneth Branagh, Jerry Bruckheimer and Keanu.
Duffy's friends Mark Smith and Tony
Montana were allowed to film everything and they capture
a lot here. At the center of the film is Duffy, a
fat, pompous, drunken blowhard who makes for great
footage. This guy is obviously an idiot and he sets
up a production company and promises all his friends
and his brothers (one of whom is in The Brood) that
they will all get to work on their film and music
products. Smith and Montana have a special deal with
Duffy, however, and the film they are making belongs
to them. While Duffy allows them nearly unlimited
access to himself and his story, the film they are
making is otherwise totally out of his control.
What unfolds in the film is nothing
short of eye-opening. There are numerous meetings
about the film and the record and Duffy continues
to bellow about how big this whole deal is going to
be. Duffy and The Brood meet with producer Jeff "Skunk"
Baxter and it seems they are going to set up a deal
with Madonna's Maverick records. Then Mirimax, suddenly,
put the film in turnaround and everything turns to
Eventually Franchise films make
the movie at a much lower budget with Willem Dafoe,
Billy Connelly and Ron Jeremy, and it plays for one
week at five theaters. Duffy has a deal that gives
him no rights to video or merchandising. Meanwhile,
the band gets signed to Atlantic, record an album
that sells on 690 units in six months and quietly
get dropped. By the end of the film, the band has
broke up, the members working menial jobs, the film
has become a cult hit on video but Duffy receives
no money from it and had become a paranoid schizophrenic
who thinks Harvey Weinstein has put a hit out on him
and the bar that Weinstein never really bought for
him is remodeled to become a yuppie drinkery.
This is a fascinating film. Duffy
is like a horrific car accident that you just can't
keep your eyes off of. Smith and Montana filmed the
piece over several years, getting better and better
video cameras as the project evolved as well as using
8 and 16mm film to give the piece a nice texture.
While the story here has some holes (we never really
understand how Duffy got Mirimax interested at first
and we never really understand why they put it in
turnaround. Still there is no denying the overwhelming
attention that this film demands. For those of us
who love cinema, this is a jarring reminder of how
detrimental ego without the talent to back it up can
This documentary had been picked
up by ThinkFilms.
Viewed in October 2004 as a part
of the Austin Film Festival at the Paramount Theater.
Smith was in attendance and did a Q&A. He told us
that one of the reasons Mirimax put the film in turnaround
was that Duffy got two DUI's during preproduction
but they felt that the drinking in the film makes
it obvious what the problem is. (It doesn't). He also
told us that he is not sure if Duffy has seen the
film but has called it "An 87 minute smear campaign.")
The film debuted at Seattle in June
2003 and then played Sundance and Cannes this year.
No official U.S. date has been set yet to the best
of my knowledge.