Courtesy photo / MOVIE: Santa Monica resident Chris McDonnell (left) stars in his film with movie star Danny Trejo.

In the pantheon of great film detectives, there exists a Mount Rushmore of recognizable names, Elliot Gould’s Phillip Marlowe, Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes and Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling, to name a few. Now, a Santa Monica-based filmmaker hopes his lovable but bumbling private eye character will join their ranks with his now-streaming movie.

Chris McDonnell’s film ‘McDick’, features a goofy detective who gets fired from his job as a terrible cop just to become a terrible private detective who tries to thwart crime and solve mysteries. McDonnell stars in the film as the titular McDick with MadTV alum Mo Collins and ‘Machete’ star Danny Trejo appearing in supporting roles. 

McDonnell created the irreverent film as an ode to one of his favorites, Peter Sellers’ ‘The Pink Panther.

“I liked the idea of a private detective,” McDonnell said. “It’s a good device.  On paper, if there’s a question to be answered, you’d expect he’d be the most capable. Comedically, I thought it’d be an effective device to—in spite of himself—come through shining through no actual substance of ability or intelligence.”

While ‘McDick’ was a passion project for McDonnell—who wrote, acted in, directed and produced the film over a handful of years—McDonnell made the film as a calling card born out of career frustration.

The comedy actor moved to Santa Monica from New Jersey in 2002 looking for a break in acting. After a little over a decade of close-calls and near-misses, McDonnell took it on himself to make his own film, a calling card for himself and his abilities.

“I always strictly wanted to be an actor, but even getting an agent was tough,” McDonnell said. “Every great actor is competing for the same roles you want, so I made shorts. Self-generating work felt like the best thing I could do. I had to create my own break.”

McDonnell culled favors from his LA film-making ecosystem to create the movie, getting a small, scrappy crew and $150,000 of funding largely through his own will.

“Everything happened without a proper production team,” he said. “A lot of lessons were learned that way. I  maxed out credit cards and now owe a lot of money to a lot of people. (laughs) But that’s the passion part of it. I wanted to get this thing done no matter what.”

The movie played the festival circuit, winning awards such as Best Comedy and Audience Award at East Coast film festivals. McDonnell still yearned for a big name, something he gained after a festival attendee got McDonnell in touch with actor ‘Machete’ star Danny Trejo.

“I showed the trailer to Danny and he loved it,” McDonnell said. “He got us extra scenes and a location to do some more stuff for the movie Malibu. The cherry on top was he was so amazing, so cool, so up for anything. He couldn’t have been nicer to people who were making something on this scale.”

The movie was completely finished in 2017, in the can for a while and not made widely available until it hit Amazon Prime Video about a month ago.

So far, the film has about one thousand views, a number McDonnell is fine with but would like to see go up.

“My greatest hope is that you’re happy that you came across this movie,” McDonnell said. “It’s an indie film and everything is smothered if it’s not a comic book movie. This one’s for comedy fans.”

McDonnell is currently at work on a new film about a boxer and his trainer getting into the crosshairs of the mob. It’s an indie comedy yet again, this time with a $1.3 million dollar budget.

He says he’ll continue scratching and clawing to the big time, even if he has to bumble his way to the top, like his character McDick.

“Maybe the right person sees it,” McDonnell said. “Maybe they’ll say, Man, I like this guy’s performance, we could put him in this thing. Movies, TV, whatever comedic roles I can do. That’s the dream.”

For more on ‘McDick’ and McDonnell, visit

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