“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Henry David Thoreau
HOLLYWOOD UNDERGROUND is the TRUE STORY about how one young man lived inside two major Hollywood Studios: Paramount Studios and Sunset Gower Studios for close to THREE YEARS in pursuit of a show business dream.
After getting kicked out of California State University, Long Beach as a film and journalism student and losing financial aid, James A. Rice was still determined to keep a dream alive. With everything left to his name in a backpack James jumped a one way metro blue line train ticket from Long Beach to Hollywood. Inside his backpack was his life: a short film he had written and directed, extra clothes, a laptop and two full length screenplays he had written. After a few long days being on the streets of Hollywood, he found his way into two major movies studios. The first was Sunset Gower Studios, where he lived inside for the first few months. After being chased off the lot by armed guards, James would jump the fence of Paramount Studios where we would live for the next THREE YEARS in pursuit of a lifelong dream. This is gritty, intense, passionate, inspiring and humorous.
This journey of a lifetime would soon become a juggling act as he struggled to keep many perceived “roles” in the air, especially for the security staff he’d come to know. James would realize that he was acting for survival in a world of actors, but wasn’t paid a dime. He was just trying to find work and do what he loved, as well as trying to sell his work to Hollywood’s elite. This is a story about going for a dream at all cost, because there is nothing left to lose.
BRIEF EXCERPT – CHAPTER ONE
A ONE WAY TICKET TO LIPSTICK CITY
It is just before the dawn and a candle flickers hypnotically in the darkness, casting the shadow of my dancing head upon the nicotine soaked wall three feet high. No matter how alone I am or how dark it is, there is no escaping the dire notion that I should be graduating college soon. I should be getting a journalism and film degree yet here I am, in this shoebox apartment, the one I’ve rented while attending California State University, Long Beach. This closet-sized shoebox apartment is where friends and I howled wildly into many a night, hyper-electric talks about a better tomorrow, of making our dreams a reality over the hard-wired haze of high octane adrenaline and 80 Proof Philosophy. Oh those majestic nights that we wished would never end, the writing, the riffing and the dreaming until the gates of dawn, truly living until the real world puts us to sleep. But now those days are gone, turned to mist, the ghosts of unforgotten memories. Even here in the candle lit darkness, this small studio apartment feels completely barren. Everything worth anything has been pawned or sold to a friend or neighbor for means of mere survival, for just enough to get through another day. Yes, this is what happens when you neglect one Film Audio assignment in favor of working on your own film, one you wrote and directed and then of course, fail the class. This is what happens when financial cuts you loose and you are too proud to call home, back in Michigan to tell your parents what has become of their son. The real truth is that right now everything left to my name is stuffed inside a hunter green Jan Sport backpack. There is an Apple laptop computer, extra clothes, hair clippers, Sony Walkman headphones, a copy of the short film I’d made called IDTV, and two full length screenplays I’d written recently in a soulful attempt to avoid that 9 to 5 life never asked for. This is my life and in less than five minutes, I am leaving it all behind and never looking back. Yes, this is what happens when the dream drives and you’re just riding shotgun.
It is early Friday morning, at the tag end of summer, this year of Our Lord 1997 when I gather my remaining world. The birds are just starting to sing, when I blow the candle out and embark down this road less traveled, this beginning of a new chapter to wherever it will lead. Lord only knows. The crux here is that I need to know no regret and that I gave this dream everything possible before moving on. In every way, my life is the dream and this dream has now become my life. And despite the odds, somehow I know that I will either get there or die trying. Right now there seems no in between.