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Part of our coverage of the 27th Denver International Film Festival

Overnight is the no-so-heartwarming tale of Troy Duffy, a blowhard who landed a movie deal and a record contract concurrently, quickly got to be way too big for his britches, took on Harvey Weinstein, and flamed out, losing all of his friends in the process.

It’s a documentary.

Megalomania

Mark Brian Smith takes Q&A after Overnight
Mark Brian Smith takes Q&A after Overnight

Yes, Troy is a real guy whose life turns into an adventure of Spinal Tap proportions.

Dreaming of bigger and better, Troy does what so many others have done: he moves from the east coast to Hollywood with visions of conquering the world. After all, he wasn’t meant to do the kind of work other people do.

Even Woody Allen asked if Duffy would be interested in making a cameo appearance in Celebrity.

Biding his time as a bartender to the stars at J. Sloan’s, hobnobbing with Hollywood B-list talent like Patrick Swayze, Matthew Modine, Paul Reubens, and Emilio Estevez, Troy is a first-rate schmoozer. He’s also tenacious and knows how to make things happen.

His freshman screenplay, The Boondock Saints (think of it as “Pulp Fiction with soul”), miraculously becomes the talk of Hollywood and catches the eye of Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein. Lickety-split, Troy’s got himself a movie deal.

The contract includes a $300,000 salary, a $15 million budget, final casting approval, and the purchase of J. Sloan’s. Topping it off, his band, The Brood, described as “The Beatles meet Alice in Chains” is on the verge of signing a big record deal.

Sweet.

It’s just a shame all this good stuff had to happen to Troy.

Nosedive

Self-described as “Hollywood’s new hard on,” Troy’s ego could easily fill the largest of Hollywood mansions.

This real-life young American Yoda, strung out on booze and boobs, lobs off one-liners that betray his ignorance; his statements are the stuff of legend. For example, in the midst of a hot conference call with some agents and Hollywood bigwigs, this Quentin Tarantino wannabe proudly declares, “we have a deep cesspool of creativity here.”

It’s pretty much all downhill from there as Overnight provides an intimate look at the rapid construction and even more rapid deconstruction of a Hollywood player. The old saying “truth is stranger than fiction” is very appropriate here.

Troy is an extremely unlikable, unsympathetic individual, but this documentary is extremely watchable. It’s a fascinating character study of one man’s bloated self-confidence and faith in his ability to treat people like crap while expecting them to worship his aggressive will power. At the same time, it is a vicarious thrill to watch the bastard go down.

Surprisingly, Troy does get his movie made, with Franchise Films and with half the budget proposed by Miramax. Instead of shooting in Boston, he had to shoot in Toronto, with fewer pyrotechnics. Instead of a dream cast of Ed Norton, Ewan McGregor, Jim Carrey, and Leonard Nimoy, Troy settled with Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery, Willem Dafoe, and Billy Connolly.

An unmitigated flop at the box office, The Boondock Saints found its audience on home video. Sadly (well, not really), Troy’s contract did not include any proceeds from TV and video sales.

Aftermath

Co-director Mark Brian Smith made an appearance after Overnight ’s screening at the 27th Starz Denver International Film Festival. He provided an enlightening half-hour discussion about the making of the documentary and his stressful relationship with Troy Duffy.

The tricky part of making Overnight was steering clear of what could be perceived as strictly a “revenge piece.” After all, they needed to make a movie people would be willing to watch and even as it stands, Duffy’s ugliness flares up within the first 10 minutes of Overnight .

Excised from the final cut are numerous racial remarks, sexist comments, and unflattering language about agents that would have turned Overnight into a truly incendiary piece of work.

In all fairness, Smith acknowledged that Duffy wrote an “A” script, but it turned into a “B” movie. He had a certain amount of innate talent and the Boondock film crew loved him; Duffy can be seen in the documentary carrying on and joking around with his cast, but that belies his character.

“When one thing gets a buzz in Hollywood,” Smith said of the whirlwind of press surrounding The Boondock Saints screenplay, “when one person hears that somebody else might like it, everyone pays more attention to it.”

“It caught a wave,” Smith said. Even Woody Allen phoned J. Sloan’s and asked if Duffy would be interested in making a cameo appearance in Celebrity.

Naturally, the press went crazy with the bar story. Harvey Weinstein knew how to play Duffy’s strings and talking about how J. Sloan’s was the only place you could still buy a pitcher of beer in Hollywood went right to Duffy’s dark heart.

Player

“All Troy had to do was play ball,” Smith explained. But he didn’t and he unwisely shunned Weinstein’s recommendation to chat with Brad Pitt about possibly playing a role in the movie. That’s just one of many limiting moves made by the egomaniacal Duffy.

Overnight started as a positive film about a guy who went out and made things happen, working on getting a film deal and a record contract simultaneously. Smith was attracted to the project because it was a story about friendship, music, and film. It just so happens that at the center was a delusional guy who wanted to be the catalyst for bringing The Beatles back together.

As things fell apart for Duffy, things also went south for the documentary crew. “There were so many times that I wanted to walk away,” Smith recalled. Enduring Duffy’s mental abuse and playing people against each other was trying, to say the least.

Perseverance paid off for Smith and co-director Tony Montana, however. They would go home and watch their documentary’s dailies and say, “This is so mint.”

Friends thought they were crazy, though. Along the way, Smith lost his apartment and Montana lost his car all in the name of getting the documentary made.

As for Duffy’s take on Overnight , Smith is aware of only one statement he made to Variety in which he referred to the documentary as “an 82-minute smear campaign.”

A footnote: Boondock II: All Saints Day is currently in production with Duffy back at the helm.