English Title: Overnight
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Tony Montana, Mark Brian Smith
Producer(s): Tony Montana, Mark Brian Smith
Cinematographer: Mark Brian Smith
Editor: Tony Montana
Runtime: 82 minutes
Starring/Cast: Troy Duffy, Taylor Duffy
Volume: American - Independent
As its title would suggest, this follows the seemingly-overnight success of film-maker Troy Duffy and his much more protracted fall from grace. The film begins with Duffy just after he has received a deal from Miramax for his script The Boondock Saints (1999) which, apart from giving his band The Brood the chance to provide the soundtrack, will present him with the opportunity to direct his first feature film. He also gives colleagues Mark Brian Smith and Tony Montana (themselves managers of The Brood) unparalleled access to make a documentary that will show the world how a blue-collar guy could wind up being a Hollywood player. Instead, we see Duffy as he alienates almost everyone in the industry and beyond. From Harvey Weinstein to his own brother, Duffy manages to burn innumerable bridges, thanks to a spectacular show of arrogance that is considered too much even by the standards of the film industry.
In some ways, the message of Overnight would seem to be rather obvious – after all, the fact that the film industry is a magnet for overblown, obnoxious bastards is a revelation that rates alongside that of the Pope being a Catholic. But Troy Duffy’s impressive display of hubris remains a particularly-cautionary tale for those inspired by the American independent boom of the 1990s. Duffy has everything that he could possibly want and throws it all away for his refusal to compromise (a telling scene has him sneering at the work of Michael Bay) or believe in anything but his own brilliance. Duffy undoubtedly brings much of what happens upon himself, yet the film is also a critique of the snobbery and insecurity of the Hollywood system. Agents lie through their teeth, executives refuse to take phone calls and there is a suggestion that Weinstein – after ultimately passing on The Boondock Saints – helped doom Duffy simply because he was seen as a Miramax project gone sour.
Crucially, the film does not make any judgements about Duffy’s actual talent as a film-maker, trying to make the point that any talent is dwarfed by his behaviour and a system that has taken against him. There are also questions to be asked about the impartiality of Montana and Smith – after all, this was meant to be a documentary they were making about the success of a project that would earn them all kudos (and, of course, money). After an onscreen argument with Duffy about their status within the band, relationships become much more strained and some of the more major events (such as the fact that Duffy eventually manages to get The Boondock Saints made with Willem Dafoe taking a leading role) given seemingly short shrift. A scene at a cast-and-crew party, where Duffy and others are at the height of their obnoxiousness, seems particularly unfair, given that it juxtaposes the drunken behaviour with their more sober time: of course people are going to be more indiscreet and foolish when they are drunk. Despite such flaws, Overnight is a particularly enlightening snapshot of the modern studio system.