Polly Carver, Campbell Kane and Troy Tacker have the lead roles, but are supported by a cast that includes the director – Bill Millerl – stage veterans Peter Donoghue and Mildred Rogers, and comedian Stephanie Bale.
Verity Fakes also features appearances by musicians Andy Quinn, Rowan Keanes, Tyler Jones and Matt Jordan of Alias/Insane.
Laurel (POLLY CARVER), a recent college graduate, works waiting table at a restaurant in downtown Austin to pay the rent while writing a spec script about the life of the Brontë Sisters.
She can’t stand her flirt boss and the greasy smell of french fries they serve, but she’s intrigued by a regular customer, Vinn (CAMPBELL KANE), a would-be actor who shares her cinematographic dreams, and Les Freeman (TROY TACKER), a musician who performs every Friday night at the venue and doesn’t want to sell out just to nail a record deal.
Meanwhile, Laurel’s parents keep asking her about her future, trying to force her to accept a corporate job, and her best friend Lisa has to face an unexpected pregnancy.
And then there’s Steve Merriweather (BILL MILLERL), a thirty-something producer who receives Laurel’s spect script and calls her to Hollywood to discuss a rewrite.
What do you have to do to find your place in the world, when everyone you know – including yourself – are … verity fakes?
★ ★ ★ ★
'VERITY FAKES': HOW TO BE TRUE TO YOURSELF (IN THE '90s).
Laurel Horowitz has just graduated Summa Cum Laude at the University of Texas, published half a dozen short stories in literary magazines, but here she is, stuck in Austin, waiting tables at a bar downtown.
“Everybody has to pay the rent,” she explains to Les Freeman, the musician who performs at the venue every Friday night, when asked about her big dream – going to Hollywood and becoming a screenwriter. “At least this job doesn’t leach my creativity”. She can still write her spec script (about the Brontë Sisters) when she gets home, in fact, even if most of the time she’s too tired to be consistent.
Les doesn’t look too convinced. “Beware, Laurel. Stupidity always damages you in the long run. Even if it tips you well.” One of the best lines in the entire movie.
That’s how Verity Fakes begins.
The third protagonist of the story is young aspiring actor Vinn Helm. Blond, tall, with a denim jacket, he has the physique du role to make it in Hollywood. Or so Laurel thinks. She has a crush on him and makes sure to chat with him whenever he stops by to get his breakfast. He’s involved in an indie production at the moment but makes it sound as though his ten-minute monologue will take him straight to the Oscars.
Meanwhile, Laurel finishes her script and mails it to such Steve Merriweather, a producer whom she admires. And surprise surprise: the producer gets back. He liked the script and even wants to meet Laurel to discuss a rewrite in person.
So Laurel calls in sick at work and gets on a plane, landing in the land of hopes and dreams – well, that’s not what technically happens right after Steve’s phone call; but let’s cut all the scenes revolving around Laurel’s best friend, Lisa, and her sudden pregnancy. After all, it’s not really Laurel’s problem, as she herself states in frustration, before heading to the airport.
Steve Merriweather – whom we imagined as an old guy going bald – turns out to be a charming thirty-something (played by Bill Millerl himself, the director), who politely shows Laurel (with us tagging along) around his royal office.
The funny thing is that while Steve talks and talks about how great movies are made, best writers from the past, the Fine Arts, appearing to Laurel as someone who definitely shares her tastes and opinions, we are absolutely certain that they’re actually poles apart. In fact, the rewrite he has in mind turns out to be a lot more complicated than expected: to begin with, he doesn’t want the movie to be about the Brontë Sisters.
“But, it’s not just about the sisters,” Laurel replies, trying to plead her case. “There’s also Branwell, the brother…” Then she gets quiet, probably feeling too embarrassed to continue.
At this point we’d expect her to turn her back on Steve and leave LA on the spot just like she left Lisa at the family planning clinic in Austin, but, no, Laurel stays. She’s determined to believe that Steve is right; after all, you should never turn down an opportunity like the one he’s offering her for the sake of – what? – integrity? Integrity is just pride in disguise, as her parents would say. “You get what you’re given, Laurel”. You even grab it, when time comes. Hollywood, the sad equivalent of a corporate job.
The movie Steve wants Laurel to write revolves around the life of the vibrant twenty-somethings she knows best: her peers, the exponents of the so-called Generation X. And so Laurel returns to Austin on a mission, and decides to draw inspiration from Vinn and Les, examining their habits and lifestyle as if through a lens. While doing it she also ends up in Vinn’s bed – he’s heard about her “deal” with the producer and wants to make sure she’ll write a role for him in the movie.
But we know that it’s hard to give up your integrity – if you have one –, even in a world that demands you do so. And eventually, Laurel has to admit to herself – and to Les, good old Les who throughout the movie has kept preaching the ‘don’t sell out’ sermon – that she doesn’t want to write a movie about Vinn, him, Lisa or herself – “although people should really know how crumbled our reality is”. She’d rather wipe the dust off the names of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë.
Laurel Horowitz: At this point I don’t even know if this is insignificantly crucial or fundamentally irrelevant.
Lisa Bauman: And you don’t want to find out?
Les Freeman: Beware, Laurel. Stupidity always damages you in the long run. Even if it tips you well.
Vinn Helm: Sometimes I feel like my future is just one of my possible pasts. A nice postcard from a place that I’ll never get to visit for real.
Laurel: I really thought this was going to be my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, an offer that I couldn’t turn down because if I did, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
Les: And now?
Laurel: I regret that I even considered it.
Lisa: It’s called “the observer effect”, it’s scientific. By observing a phenomenon, you alter it. That’s what’s happening to me right now, Laurie, I’m being altered by everyone I run into. I'm serious. I keep letting the others mess with my plans. And then, to compensate, I convince myself that I never had plans in the first place. But I did. I do. I still have plans for the matter.
Laurel: I don't want to write a movie about Lisa.
Laurel: I’m not sure I got it.
Vinn: Don't worry. It’s just a sensational line.
Laurel: I don't know. I don't know that many people, in truth.
Les: Oh, but that's exactly what I'm talking about. You don't have to know people, to know them. You can just ... predict them.
Rowan Keanes (left) and Andy Quinn of Alias/Insane as two patrons at the restaurant where Laurel waits tables
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bill Millerl|
|Produced by||Hunter Olyphant|
|Written by||Lenore Kipling|
|Starring||Polly Carver |
|Music by||Don Clayton|
|Edited by||Ken Norton|
|Production Company||Adamant Pictures|
|Distributed by||All-round Pictures|
|Release date||June 14, 1992|
|Running time||100 minutes|
|Box office||$31 million|
Director Bill Millerl and actor Troy Tacker attend the 'Verity Fakes' West Hollywood Premiere on June 14, 1992 at the DGA Theatre in West Hollywood, California.
‣ Director Bill Millerl declared that Alias/Insane debut album ('Cheap Hotel Sign') was the soundtrack to the writing of the script for Verity Fakes. Millerl made Kane’s character a fan of Alias/Insane, featuring many songs from the band in the soundtrack, and while shooting, even asked the band to play a cameo in the movie.
‣ Bill Millerl and co-screenwriter Lenore Kipling met when he was 15 and she was 8. Kipling was a classmate of Millerl's younger sister, Elaine.
In 1990, when Kipling moved from their native NYC to Los Angeles to try her luck in Hollywood, she became Millerl's flat mate.
‣ The video rental store where Les works part-time and Laurel finds him in the final scene of the movie is Rosa Video, in Hollywood, where Andy Quinn and Rowan Keanes of Alias/Insane used to work before landing their record deal with Geller Records.
‣ Campbell Kane was originally considered for the role of Les.
‣ Bill Millerl's real name is Bill Miller. He changed it to Millerl after seeing it misspelled like that in his senior yearbook in college.
'I was so disappointed, at first. But then I realized that it was my chance to become memorable. Who would remember a Bill Miller? That 'l' at the end changed everything.”
Campbell Kane and Polly Carver during a break on set, Los Angeles, California, September 1991