I first met Tommy Wiseau in 2007, my first month in Los Angeles. I submitted to a casting notice in Backstage West and was called on a series of auditions at his studio, an unassuming building on Pico Blvd. I ended up landing the role of Marianna in his new sitcom “The Neighbors”. Back then I had never heard of Tommy or “The Room”.
Tommy’s approach is very different from anyone I’ve ever worked with before. He is more concerned with process, rehearsals and trying to create something organic rather than banging out the scenes quickly to “make the day” or complete what was scheduled; Tommy doesn’t really concern himself with time, this is rare on scheduled shoot days due to financial restraints.
For the initial pilot of “The Neighbors” we rehearsed for a couple months 2-3 times per week (for no pay). Many actors who were initially cast dropped out over the rehearsal process, feeling that it was a waste of time. I was hungry and new to LA so I was happy to stick with the process while other actors who had been in town longer or had more experience gave up on the production.
After seven years of rumors, test shoots, and several more rounds of casting (even after shooting the pilot 7 years ago I still had to audition several times to make it into the new cast). Tommy has started production again on “The Neighbors” sitcom, we began shooting Episode #1 of a 22 Episode Season last week.
Tommy Wiseau, to me, is a shy, sensitive, misunderstood, eccentric artist with a child-like optimism. He is the ultimate example of someone who has against all odds “Made His Own Break” in the film industry on a global scale. Despite what the industry and the critics had to say about him or his work – he and his movie “The Room” are a wild success. Both Tommy and “The Room” have reached cult hit status with a global fan base and monthly screens all over the world. He has self-distributed the film through his website and the monthly screenings; he also sells “The Room” merchandise, bobble heads, t-shirts and his most recent endeavor Tommy Wiseau Briefs. He single handedly built “The Room”, a bad indie film, into an empire and he himself has become a pop culture icon.
Many times as artists we bang our head against the wall trying to dictate to the industry how we want to be seen, what our project is supposed to be, etc. Tommy set out to make a serious Film Noir love story – the critics and industry tore him apart…but did that stop him? Many people would have shut down after that experience, moved out of town, quit the business and been sick about the financial loss (he funded the project out of pocket). Not Tommy, he acknowledged how other people saw the film (as a disaster) and by embracing the negative feedback turned the film into a cult sensation and a huge financial win. The level of success and notoriety he has achieved with his “worst film ever made” is truly where his brilliance lies.
I have been working with Tommy on and off for 7 years now; he is my friend and colleague, but he is also an inspiration to every independent filmmaker out there. He has been able to market & distribute his film – on his own – and has continued to do so on a global scale for over a decade now. If you haven’t heard of him or his film “The Room”…what are you waiting for? There is lots to learn from this Mad Genius.
For more information about how to STOP WAITING + START CREATING please visit www.MakeYourOwnBreak.com
Reblogged this on Guerrilla Theatre.
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What a great ‘peek under the hood’ not only at Tommy W’s method but the man himself – a true original.
Not only that, you made a pretty huge sacrifice to really get to know him and be able to share this story. Thank you – i really enjoyed reading it. Cheers Scott.