Before “No Real Than You Are,” my only acting experience was being totally full of shit in real life. Word on the street is that I gave a pretty good audition, but that’s probably only because the character (Calvin Mather) is incredibly similar to a slightly younger Sam North. Calvin is an intravenous drug addict with serious abandonment issues, who built his life on dumb punk songs and doesn’t believe in anything.
Seeing as I have a pretty good understanding of such a character, Vincent [who wrote and directed the film] gave me almost free reign to do whatever I wanted so far as Calvin’s clothes and apartment were concerned. Shitty studio apartments have mini-fridges and microwaves, so I got those [thanks, Joe!] but found out shortly thereafter that the fridge didn’t work. That’s fine since… you know… Calvin’s not real, but it meant that nobody would be using it when we were done filming so… I painted it. The front (“Food is For People”) is about how I mainly consume Adderall, cigarettes, and candy. The side (“Works Less Than I Do”) is about how I pay my bills by painting pictures of funny faces and (at that point) playing pretend. Watch the trailer to the movie and you can probably spot it in one of the shots.
I didn’t paint the microwave but I did bring it back to Jacksonville with me. Sometimes I pop popcorn in it. It also totally heats up leftover pizza and old coffee. Other stuff too! Pretty cool, right?
I played Calvin Mather in the short film “No Real Than You Are.” During the four weeks I was in town to work on the movie, I tried to pitch in with whatever I could to be helpful. This is some of my “prop work”: a perfect replica of a Walgreens prescription label. Every detail is exactly as it would be if Calvin were… you know… not a character in a movie. That’s the address and phone number for the Walgreens closest to the address I chose for him (my last address before going to rehab in December 2011). It was a shitty little box of a studio apartment that had mushrooms growing out of the carpet. I pulled ’em out, sprayed fungicide and other assorted chemicals, but they’d always grow back. Eventually I relented and just accepted them as part of my home. I kinda liked ’em.
So while this isn’t anything like my usual “art,” I think it counts. I didn’t have a scanner so I had to create it from scratch – and everything is 100% dead on. (Go ahead! Pull out a prescription bottle from Walgreens and see how it measures up!)
Another project I did for the movie… The night before the filming of the first scene in which a character would be sniffing oxycodone, I found out that the powder the crew had been planning to use (instead of real drugs) wasn’t going to work. So Chris Spillane and I went to Walmart at 2am and bought vitamins, food dye, hose clamps, bowls, a lamp, and a lightbulb and cooked up a pile of “oxycodone” that looked extraordinarily like the real thing. Walmart probably gets its share of sketchy characters during the third shift, but I think Chris and I won the contest that night. We both had a pretty good time with the whole thing. I remember laughing a lot that night, especially while we were still in the store. Back at the apartment, I was reminded of being a seventeen year old drug dealer, cutting cocaine with vitamins and acetone.
A couple days later, when we ran out of the stuff and needed more, I had Chris – plus Tola and Alex (the production designer and leadman) – sitting on the floor in my apartment, grinding away at vitamins as I mixed, colored, and cooked them. It felt like I was actually running a fake drug manufacture scam!
In case you’re wondering… while this is what went up the noses of the actors that sniffed “drugs,” it is not what my character was injecting whenever he did a shot. For that, I used blue Gatorade. While there were some concerns that injecting Gatorade might be dangerous… Back when I was shooting heroin everyday, I was pretty shiftless; if there was no water within reach but a bottle of Gatorade sitting next to me, I’d just put that in my spoon instead. Electrolytes are good for you, you guys.
“No Real Than You Are” is currently raising money to help with the costs of post-production. If you’d like to contribute (or just watch the trailer), check out their Kickstarter page.
Bent Outta Shape fans will probably enjoy that the RX# on Calvin’s prescription is telephone spelling for “IYDKMRNIGE.”
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).