Let me spin for you a tale. Some may call it a cautionary tale. To do so, however, would place a moral judgment on individuals that I would not make. Instead, let's just call this story an example of the odd, bizarre, unpredictable and downright crazy world of the entertainment industry.
As many of you know, I made my first feature film when I was 22 years old. I graduated USC on May 6 and begin full prep on May 8th. The film was called BEACH HOUSE. It was a throwback to my second favorite genre of film: the John Hughes teen comedy. It was full of Star Wars references, hot girls, and heady comedy. Unfortunately, it was before its time. It was very glossy and high budget looking. Not good for the era of CLERKS and SWINGERS. The film went nowhere. It was an adventure in filmmaking, lawsuits, broken promises and dreams put on hold.
I've kept in touch with some of the cast. With the exception of Chris Hardwick and Brooke Langton, few of the actors found the success of which they all dreamed. It has taken me fifteen years to reach a level where I can live comfortably and call myself a filmmaker; not a bartender who has some great ideas, but an honest to god industry professional.
One of the actors who I would sporadically run into in Los Angeles was Kelli McCarty. She was Miss USA a few years before the shoot and was an exceptional actress. She is very attractive, smart, and had actual acting chops (which can tend to be a rarity in the low budget world). Although her part was small, working with her stuck with me. When I was casting for my second film ART HOUSE, I instantly offered her a part. She passed on the project.
A couple of years later she found her way into the bar I owned in Westwood. We had drinks, talked about the film and the industry in general. She stayed after closing to continue the chat and we parted with plans of meeting up again. We never did.
Kelli ended up with a recurring role on the soap opera Passions. A few years later I caught a late night Cinemax movie with her in it. They don't call it Skinimax for nothing if you know what I mean. I was a little bummed. In my mind, Kelli was a better actress than that. As I watch morons fumble through roles in big films, I am always amazed that my friends and occasional collaborators don't fare better.
Today, I was doing the rounds of movie and Hollywood gossip sites. The trailer for my film CHROME ANGELS was picked up and spread like a virus in Paris Hilton's panties. Low and behold, I found an article about Keli. She is now starring in Vivid Video's latest XXX feature film.
I said earlier that this isn't a post about morality. It's easy to assume that pornography is some final stop on the express train to nowhere. Is she into drugs? Has she gone crazy? Abusive boyfriend/husband? Is she broke? Those are the easy questions. I am not in a position to assume that any of them apply to this actress who crossed my path nearly fifteen years ago. Nor am I the type of person who sees pornography as evil or immoral. There are far more evil or immoral things done by people in our industry without ever taking their clothes off. Besides, there are far worse stories of sexuality in Hollywood that don't involve porn. My actor friend who slept with a casting director to get on a network show. An actress who gave a handjob to an AD to get her SAG card. Just because cameras aren't rolling doesn't mean it ain't dirty.
If this is what she wants to do, if this makes her happy, then so be it. As someone who enjoyed working with her and respected her work as an actress and comedienne, I wish her the best of luck. Sincerely.
The point is that this is a strange industry, a daunting career path. It is not for the squeamish. Choose your moves wisely. Who knows, both of the actresses that did accept roles in Art House (Rebecca McFarland and Amy Weber) have enjoyed rather successful careers. Was my little movie a turning point in their careers in some way? Would Kelli have ended up a WWE girl instead of Amy Weber? Would she have gotten a sitcom? Who knows?
I couldn't get to where I am without every success I've enjoyed and without every failure I've endured. That's life. That's show biz. The best we can all do is do what we think is right, follow our hearts, and have fun!