Everyone has a favorite movie scene or monologue. Something about an actor’s delivery hooks us. And that cinematic moment then gets repeated in everyday life. (Over, and over.) Brit Withey, the Artistic Director for Starz Denver Film Festival, has a favorite. His is the epic speech in Glengary Glen Ross delivered by Alec Baldwin. You know the one, it's used in nearly every sales training seminar known to man: “A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.”
Note: A language advisory if you press play on this clip from Glengary Glen Ross.
What if you took an iconic scene like that and plopped it in a completely different context? That’s what the Denver Actor Project has done.
Forged by Director/Producer Brad Stabio as a unique way to showcase the talent of Denver based actors, the idea is a set of monologue-centric short films set in an entirely new place. How out of place? For example, think of Alec Baldwin exhorting to kindergartners instead of salesman the value of "A-I-D-A, Attention, Interest, Decision, Action."
Stabio had Withey’s attention.
“It sounded really interesting to me at the time,” said Withey. “It was just a matter of seeing if what he sort of presented on paper, in talking to me, ended up working when he got them all on film. And luckily they did. They turned out really well.”
Actor Jeff Kosloski liked the fish-out-of-water concept right away.
One of the six actors Stabio offered a lead to, Kosloski selected a speech that was delivered in a movie by an actor most regard as a silent film star.
“What I don’t think a lot of people know, unless you are a film buff, is that one of the most powerful moments in [Charlie Chaplin’s] career is that monologue at the end of The Great Dictator,” said Kosloski.
The Great Dictator satirizes Hitler’s Nazi Germany. In the film, Chaplin’s character outwits a crowd, impersonates the dictator and delivers a rousing plea for democracy. Kosloski’s version, which has its world premiere Thursday, is also an impassioned speech - except it is delivered at a wedding by an intoxicated best man.
Each of the shorts created by Denver Actor Project stand alone, but as Stabio worked with Kosloski and the other actors he added one more twist. All six of the unconventional scenes each weave together into a single story.
Like the fire in the belly Alec Baldwin’s Blake had for closing real estate deals, Withey and director Brad Stabio hope audiences will pay attention to these films and all the Denver Film Festival has to offer.
Glengary Glen Ross didn’t make it into the Denver Actor Project’s films. Did any of your favorites make it? Only one way to find out: Go to the movies.
By Carrie Saldo
Arts District is a collaboration of KUNC, Rocky Mountain PBS, and KUVO.