Success doesn’t happen overnight. Success, it seems, always includes hard work and perseverance. For Vince Palmo and his wife Holly Gent-Palmo, the writers’ seemingly sudden rise to fame, with their smash indie film “Me and Orson Welles,” has been a long journey.
To date, their film has garnered critical acclaim and its star, newcomer Christian McCay (Welles), a 2010 nomination for “Best Supporting Male” from the prestigious Independent Spirit Awards as well as nominations from, The Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards.
So just how did Vince Palmo, a former 13-year Santa Monica resident make his Hollywood dream a reality?
First, he moved to Austin, where he met his future wife. The couple, who both work in film production — Palmo as a first assistant director and Gent-Palmo as a production coordinator — met while working on “Dazed and Confused,” where they also met director Richard Linklater or as they affectionately call him, “Rick.”
“We were always writing,” Gent-Palmo said. “That was a bond we shared when we first met.”
Thus began a nine-year process of writing scripts together.
“We tried some original stuff but mostly we were adapting books we liked,” Palmo said.
Over the years, the three formed a friendship forged from a professional relationship, with Palmo acting as a first assistant director on many of Linklater’s projects including “A Scanner Darkly” with Keanu Reeves and “Fast Food Nation.”
“When you work in film production, you’re working very intensely for three months,” explained Gent-Palmo, “and then you have eight weeks where you’re not working … so we had pockets of time to work on our writing.”
Those writing sessions appear to have paid off.
“Every once in a while we would give a script [of ours] to Rick and he really liked them,” said Palmo, but beyond the occasional draft given to a friend, the couple never actively pursued shopping their scripts.
“It just seemed so daunting. Everybody has a script under their arm … I think it’s awkward to be handing your script out,” admitted Gent-Palmo.
With “Me and Orson Welles,” Gent-Palmo admitted, “We weren’t very sophisticated in our approach.”
At Book People, a local bookstore in Austin, Texas, they found the book, read it and enjoyed it. Then later, without the slightest intention of making a movie, Palmo bought Linklater a copy as, “just a cool book to read.”
“I think we just had very low expectations, and then it wound up happening,” said Gent-Palmo.
The paperback version they worked on was over 200 pages, with multiple story lines.
“In the book, [the main character] has a lot of stuff that happens at school, he has a family life and a sister, and a part time job,” Gent-Palmo said. “As ‘film crew people’ they were drawn to the cinematic “aspect of putting on a show.”
Linklater loved the script but Palmo said, “His first comment was ‘Who’s Orson?’” Finding Christian McKay was key to getting the film made, and because the couple had film production experience, they were involved in all elements of production, from location to casting.
“It was a thrill for us … we had a screening of the movie as part of the American Cinematique at the Aero Theatre and it was really special to be back in that theatre, to be back in Santa Monica.”
“Me and Orson Welles” garnered the couple an agent at Gersh. They are currently working on an adaptation of Gordon Korman’s “Schooled,” about a 14 year old who has been home-schooled by his hippie grandmother, and a television pilot about 1970s Hollywood.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that success happens in a heartbeat.
“It’s just like anything else,” Palmo reiterated, “you have to stick to it and enjoy it for what it is.”
“Me and Orson Welles” is playing at Laemmle’s Monica Fourplex on Second Street in Santa Monica.