Chapter 29 – Bottom of the Barrel. Rollo Returns
by Leesa Dean
So, as promised, the Rollo story.
We hadn’t spoken in months. I, occasionally, thought about him but frankly not too often. Being insanely busy with a web series will do that to you. You tend to prioritize what you focus on. I thought he was just gonna be another one of these cottage industry guys who entered my life with a bullshit story and then evaporated. Well, maybe?
A few weeks back he calls. Wants to meet for drinks. Admittedly my first thought: Is this dude selling Amway? But he caught me on a day when I was feeling crappy–a little blocked with writing; a little frustrated with calls not returned; a little worried about the usual: am I making the right decisions with the relaunch, etc. In short, a perfect needy storm whose grande finale was: yeah, I met him for drinks.
We meet in a tiny, dimly lit joint in Chinatown. One of those places that doesn’t have a name or number on the door. That reeks of old dim sum and spilled vodka. Mostly hipsters and NYU students swigging craft beer on beat-up sofas. Rollo looks….different. He’s gained a bit of weight; now looks like he’s pushing 300 pounds. He’s unraveling around the edges. Flecks of grey dot his dreads.
The past four months he’s been in LA. Trying to put a new film deal together. Surprisingly, it’s not dead in the water. It’s one of those action/thrillers that you see in ads in Variety magazine: straight to dvd or streaming and mainly released in places like Romania (“As Seen in Bucharest!!!”) With bad subtitles. Featuring one step above doing porn/type D actors. Money is tight and he’s gotta make it somehow.
My first thoughts: At least *he’s* not doing porn. Hey, it could happen. Someone I went to school with did the online dating thing a few years ago and ended up dating a guy who was 300 pounds and did fetish porn on the side. That’s right. He was a professional fat guy in porn. His main gig was as an IT freelancer/games blogger and times were tough. Real tough. A little tidbit he failed to mention till their fifth date. Yes, she ultimately dumped him (the “ultimately”, believe me, is a story best told when I’ve had a few drinks cause it’s pretty hair-raising.)
So why did Rollo wanna meet? He needed to blow off steam. It’s been a rough year, he can’t really talk to his girlfriend about a lot of business stuff (she, apparently, is perpetually pissed at him) and, for whatever reason, he feels he can talk to me (translation: he probably doesn’t have any friends.) He’s needs to raise money for the movie, by any means necessary (no, I didn’t suggest the porn thing!) Apparently, they did a kickstarter campaign that failed. These days, with major names like Spike Lee doing kickstarter, it’s pretty hard to stand out. Especially if your project doesn’t have much star power.
We finished our beers. I didn’t update him much. Didn’t want to. He had to move on to a business meeting with a financier. I had to go home to write.
I guess desperate times call for desperate measures cause later that night, I looked on FB and he had posted producer credits for the movie for sale. As a status update! Stuff like, $100,000 will buy you an above the line producer credit. $25,000 an associate producer one. I thought, “On FB, dude?!?” This is real bottom of the barrel type stuff. And just….sad. But the story wasn’t over yet.
Next week: Prepping for the Chilltown screening/Q&A at A3C (apparently there are feral pigs on the loose in ATL just as I’m planning to fly down there!) And in a few weeks, more on Rollo.