By Tom Ue.
Bob Farkas took the biggest gamble of his life when he became, at the age of 53, a first-time filmmaker. He founded Farkas Features, a low-budget, niche-oriented, feature film development and production company that focuses on creating movies with bold and timely subject matter. He wrote, produced, and independently financed Crazy Famous, which took over five years to complete.
The film follows Bob, who is obsessed with becoming famous. It lands him in a mental hospital, from which he escapes with a band of misfits. Together, they pursue a quest that would almost certainly make him famous. The film was released on VOD, Digital HD and DVD on 9 January 2018. Farkas’ next film is slated to begin production in fall 2018 and it will be filmed in Northern Virginia.
You co-produced and wrote this film, your first. What were some of the challenges?
You’d think it would be easy to make a feature film with a completed script in one hand and a fully funded checkbook in the other. Well, it’s not. The first challenge was to find a talented film professional who wasn’t a charlatan. I spent years in development, throwing money away on directors, producers, and casting agents who made big promises, but seldom delivered. It probably didn’t help that I was an outsider from Washington, DC with no prior experience in the film industry.
Another challenge was finding marketable actors to commit to the film under reasonable terms. After dancing around with several name actors, we eventually concluded that securing the best acting talent possible regardless of celebrity status was the way to go. Vince Maggio (my producer) and I concluded that making a quality film with exceptional acting would bring in the audiences. I sure hope we’re right.
What inspired this film?
I figured if I only had one chance to make a film, I wanted it to be about something everyone could relate to. From the people I know personally to my general observations of our modern-day culture, it seems like everyone wants to be famous, regardless of whether or not they have talent.
Did the film evolve during production? How so?
It did. There was a bit of rewriting during production as our cast and crew gave a lot of valuable input. On a couple of occasions, I was rewriting a scene only a few hours before we were scheduled to shoot the scene. As a result of the rewriting, I believe we improved the pacing of the film along with having more effective dialogue.
Fame is quite ephemeral: what do you think motivates Bob?
Deep down, we all want to be loved and accepted. And I don’t think Bob is any exception. Since he spent a lifetime consumed with being famous, Bob inadvertently neglected building any kind of relationships along the way. So in Bob’s mind, becoming famous was the only way he could find love and acceptance.
In some ways, Bob’s parents are even less healthy than he is in their seemingly endless attempts to parent a famous child—or to find one to parent. To what extent are they responsible for Bob’s state?
I believe many of us strive to be famous primarily because of our parents. Think about it… when your parents looked in your crib when you were a baby, they dreamt of you becoming a great athlete, actor, or Supreme Court justice. They probably didn’t dream of you becoming an administrative assistant or computer technician (no offense).
By having a fame or bust mentality, Bob’s parents inadvertently planted a seed in his mind where he thought the only way he would have value is if he became famous.
What do you think keeps them going despite the lack of success?
Bob spent a lifetime invested in becoming famous, so failure was not an option. When one attempt failed, he had to try again because he had no other goal. That’s why he threatened to kill himself when the psychiatrist told him he must accept a normal life in order to heal. The prospect of giving up on his pursuit of fame left Bob with nothing else.
What do you think motivates Bob’s team to follow him?
Besides having freedom, a sense of purpose, and embarking on an exciting adventure, I think the ultimate reason they follow Bob is for friendship and camaraderie. It’s a natural human emotion to want to belong to something or someone. In a mental hospital, I think the feelings of loneliness and isolation are intensified as each patient has to deal with their own demons in order to get better.
Bob comes to accept that mediocrity, or at least not being famous, is not such a bad thing. When do you think that happens?
I think Bob starts to re-think the importance of fame when Larry confesses about his family collapsing and the emotional devastation it caused. He also considers his team of misfits to be his friends. Having these new friendships acts as a substitute for the desire to be famous.
What is next for the film?
Currently we are focused on marketing and promotional initiatives for the film in anticipation of our North American VOD & DVD release date. About six months later, we will shift to SVOD and selecting a foreign distributor.
What is next for you?
I’m currently in development to produce another indie feature from a script I wrote. I would consider this film to be more of a controversial thriller/dark comedy aimed at a specific niche-market with strong potential to cross over to mainstream audiences.
Tom Ue was educated at Linacre College, University of Oxford, and at University College London, where he has worked from 2011 to 2016. His PhD examined Shakespeare’s influence on the writing of George Gissing. Ue has held visiting fellowships at Indiana University, Yale University, and the University of Toronto Scarborough, and he was the 2011 Cameron Hollyer Memorial Lecturer. He has published widely on Gissing, Conan Doyle, E. W. Hornung, and their contemporaries. Ue is Assistant Professor of English at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada and an Honorary Research Associate at University College London.