Depressed by life, a young man decides to end it all. However, a word of warning – never try to videotape your suicide in Los Angeles, because you don’t know who will crawl out of the woodwork to ‘help you’. The first live-action feature from Academy Award nominated short filmmaker Mark Osborne, written by and staring Kent Osborne, is a dark comedy wrapped in the Technicolor world of TV and pop culture.
“(At Sundance 2000, regarding distribution deals) the most heart wrenching spectacle of a deb leaving a ball still looking for love was DROPPING OUT, the most stylistically accomplished of the indie comedies that have been coming out these last few years.”
The Film Festival Reporter-12/00
” a sensationally unique dark comedy …(the Osbornes) bring to life the quintessential nineties apathetic Everyman in a hilarious, but somewhat foreboding, tale …memorable fantasy sequences make this parable about the devastating impact of mass media on the collective consciousness of society an extremely amusing slice of Everyman’s life.”
“…acidically lampooned…a funny and sobering send up…Special praise to screenwriter Kent Osborne for the observantly odd writing”
Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, co-directors of “Kung Fu Panda,” sounded excited. Osborne said he was thrilled for the animated feature nom, which he called “an amazing validation for the entire crew.”
Previously nominated in 1998 for his stop-motion work on the animated short “MORE,” Osborne hopes to go back to stop-motion with a dream project he is trying to get off the ground after writing a script with his friend. “I thought, it’s time to do something crazy- get back to stop-motion,” he said.
The Hollywood Reporter
” … an impressive showing with a smart, carefully modulated dissection of the manias bred by pop media imagery. “
“In their feature debut, helmer Mark Osborne and his brother, scripter-star Kent Osborne, make an impressive showing with a smart, carefully modulated dissection of the manias bred by pop-media imagery. Whether or not its offbeat, expertly acted mix of surrealism, satire and idiosyncratic comedy catapults it from fest to theatrical exposure, pic marks its sibling co-creators as talents to watch, together and individually.”
Variety.com, “Dropping Out Review,” click HERE.
” a brilliant, satiric look at the worlds of independent filmmaking and Hollywood …truly the creepiest comedy I have seen in years, I laughed my ass off. “
” a deadpan-laced, pop-culture driven, self-referential, black humor-drenched masterpiece …the humor is right on, the dialogue is witty and the visual nuances are amazing…a surreal view of suburban lassitude and cultural dependence on television …off-the wall brilliant …deserves to be seen by a wider audience . If a studio doesn’t pick this up, then the powers that fuel Hollywood really are collectively idiotic. “
“utterly original… a wonderfully creative film…should appeal to a mass audience too…the ultimate post-modern Catch-22…brilliant.”
“Dropping Out,” itself a product of a media-saturated generation, is about what life is like for people who are products of a media-saturated generation. In examining the banality of existence for members of Generation X, Mark Osborne’s film presents an utterly original, often hilarious story that, while unusual, should appeal to a mass audience, too.”
EricDSnider.com, “Dropping Out,” click HERE.
“a brilliant black comedy…jaw dropping… The script and lead performance are also dryly hilarious.”
Box Office Magazine
“has all the satirical verve of The Simpsons… inventive and layered with brilliance.”
“cleverly spoofs the media’s obsession with reality programming…Osborne delivers a standout performance.”
Austin American Statesman
“filled with absurdist touches, cruel-spirited parody and bravura fantasy
sequences…recalls in tone and texture works by Albert Brooks and John Waters…outstanding…brilliant…the tone is so withering and the performances so focused on deadpan that the humor imbues that bleak disturbing feel of Albert Brooks’ “Lost in America” or Martin Scorsese’s “King of Comedy”…the scenario is ripe for the sardonic skewering of all things Hollywood and the Osbornes wickedly oblige.”
David Pelfrey, Black and White
“a sharp satire of the media and how far they are willing to go to get the perfect moment.”
News Channel 2000
“one of the funniest and most meaningful dark comedies since Happiness…the film takes every opportunity to take on America’s obsession with fake reality (better known as “reality based television shows”)… a must see…The performances were great. The direction was great. The script was great. The entire damn film was great. It is a must see. It is brilliant.”
“dark, foreboding and very funny… John Stamos (“Full House”) and Adam Arkin (“Northern Exposure” and “Chicago Hope”) play gut-busting supporting roles.”
“Emile (Kent Osborne) is a pretty humble guy. He just wants one simple thing out of his life: for it to be just as picture-perfect as the TV. The opiate of the masses known as television is Emile’s drug of choice as he wanders through the world of the nicotine-stained San Fernando Valley. Everything is, as in the television, just fine and dandy until one day a squirrel lands on Emile’s cable, disconnecting it. So, confronted with an absolute dearth of television reception, Emile decides to slit his wrists.”
ContactMusic.com, “Dropping Out Movie Review,” click HERE.
Sundance Film Festival: Official Selection (2000)
Savannah Film and Video Festival: Best Feature Film (2000)
Birmingham Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival: Best Feature Film (2000)
Florida Film Festival: Grand Jury Award – Best Narrative Feature (2000)
MicroCineFest: Audience Choice Award (2000)
Director: Mark Osborne
Writer: Kent Osborne
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Mark and Kent Osborne were raised in Vermont and spent their teenage years in Flemington, New Jersey. They have always known they wanted to tell stories, but wondered if they would fit into the moviemaking industry.
“I remember being blown away by films like ‘Raising Arizona’ and ‘After Hours,’” recalls Mark, “and I wondered how did these get made? We started making our own films and videos in high school, without taking it too seriously.
“Dropping Out” is the culmination of several years’ labor by the Osborne brothers. They have been working on the fringes of the entertainment industry for some time, lately with a lot of success.
A year ago Mark’s short film “MORE” had its festival world premiere at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where it was honored with the Grand Jury Prize (the film went on to win numerous awards at other festivals, and was ultimately honored with an Academy Award nomination). Kent, for the last year or so, has been the host of TBS SuperStations’s hit weekend show “The Movie Lounge.” Nevertheless, “Dropping Out” has been at least six years in the making. They learned this the hard way, by trying their hand at all kinds of jobs that taught them what they didn’t want.
Mark graduated in 1992 from the California Institute of the Arts, perhaps the most respected training ground for young filmmakers – particularly in the area of animation – in the country. His thesis film, “Greener,” a mixed-media animation short, earned numerous honors and screened worldwide at over 40 film festivals. But to earn a living, Mark worked a lot in television, creating on-air promos and ID’s. One such job will be immediately recognizable to anyone who watched E! Entertainment Television in the last decade: between 1991 and 1997 the network ran a splashy 15-second ID it called “Swirl.” Using a cutting-edge claymation technique called stratacut, Osborne created a swirling screen full of pulsating color, something that looked like the inside of an agitating washing machine full of dozens of different hues of paint. “E! Was a great opportunity since it allowed me to experiment as an animator, but in the end, I wanted to work on my own projects and venture more into storytelling.”
While Mark worked in production, Kent gravitated towards acting. He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, then was a student with David Mamet’s Atlantic Theatre Company, where he apprenticed under William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman and David Mamet.
“I was a little green,” Kent recalls. “I wasn’t that skilled at networking and became nervous at meetings.” In spite of his awkwardness at auditions, Kent landed a small role in “School Ties,” starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon and Chris O’Donnell.
“They were all very confident,” says Kent. “They knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing. It was quite impressive. Even then, I could imagine them on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. I felt lucky to be in the film, but my character, whose name was Emile, was a loser. I spent a lot of time on the set with the other actors creating an entire imaginary life for Emile. We would joke that while Brendan was out making a touchdown, Emile would be in his room weeping softly while hugging a loaf of French bread.
So while the kernel of inspiration for “Dropping Out” came from a character that barely existed (and barely made it into the final cut of “School Ties,”) Kent did not begin to create the full character of Emile until a couple of years later. Emboldened by his first acting gig, Kent moved out to LA, where he stayed with his brother. But the work didn’t come.
“It wasn’t a great time for either one of us,” says Mark. “I wasn’t making films. Kent couldn’t get work as an actor. A lot of what you see in ‘Dropping Out’ is reminiscent of those months.
“We were living in Reseda,” Mark continues. “We were watching three episodes of “Saved by the Bell” every day. We did what we called “Bell Squared” – we would get food from Taco Bell and eat it while we watched “Saved by the Bell.” We literally did this five times a week. It was the ultimate lame bachelor lifestyle.”
To make ends meet, Kent worked the graveyard shift at Summerfield Suites, a hotel in Northridge which became the inspiration for the Valley View Motel in his script (and later served as a primary location in the film.) Interestingly, “Dropping Out” started out as a stage play that Kent wrote while he worked those long nights at Summerfield Suites.
“I was really depressed,” Kent says now. “I tried to create a character that had a dramatic hopelessness about him, without making him silly. But there is also a matter-of-factness about Emile that comes from a serious desire to not be alive. The suicide angle came out of an extension of this incredibly banal lifestyle I was leading at the time.”
“Someone once said that people either die of boredom or kill themselves for the excitement,” says Mark. “We were certainly very bored.”
“Once Mark and I started talking about it,” says Kent, “we realized that if it were a movie it was something we could actually try to get made, and that we could work on it together.” Following this realization, Kent began work on the screenplay in earnest.
During the transition from stage play to screenplay, Emile’s motivation to kill himself evolved from, as Kent puts it, “that kind of ‘I’ll show them’ high-school attitude towards suicide to a connection between Emile’s constant TV viewing and his subconscious desire to actually be on TV (by videotaping his suicide).
“Once the screenplay was finished,” says Mark, “we hoped to make the film following the ‘Clerks’ model.”
When the script started circulating in Hollywood, however, Mark and Kent Osborne realized that it was a valuable commodity. Several producers tried to option it as a vehicle for name comedians, but Mark and Kent resisted. “We had always imagined that Mark would direct, and I would act in it,” says Kent. “The more other people wanted to take it from us, the more precious it became to us.”
Ironically, despite industry hype over the script, Kent’s lifestyle was far from glamorous. Like many struggling actors, Kent was forced to find work as a bartender and limousine driver.
“Limo drivers are a peculiar bunch,” says Kent. “It’s an incredibly stressful job and most of us were aspiring to be something else. You work 20-hour shifts and are constantly coming from or going to the airport. Half the job is keeping the car clean and during Prom week there is a lot of vomiting going on in the back.”
During this time, Kent’s life took a turn that is the stuff of Hollywood fables. One of the comedians whose attention the script for “Dropping Out” attracted was “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Rob Schneider, who wanted to star as Emile.
One day, Kent was at work, waiting with half a dozen other limo drivers in the parking lot of NBC studios in Burbank, while the Tonight Show was taping. Killing time, he was bragging to the other drivers about Schneider’s interest in the script. “They accused me of being full of shit,” says Kent, “and I don’t blame them.”
Suddenly a limo pulled up, and Rob Schneider emerged from the back seat. “I was totally mortified for Rob to see me at work,” Kent recalls, “but I had no choice but to say hello. So I went up to him and he couldn’t have been nicer or happier to see me. Not only that, he had the script for “Dropping Out” under his arm… I came very close to wetting myself.”
The next day Schneider called Kent and told him to quit his job, offering him full-time work as a writer. The two have collaborated for two and a half years on a number of the comedian’s pieces, including a memorable “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” sketch in which Schneider made an on-air plea to director Tim Burton, begging for the role of Superman. Wearing the Man of Steel’s uniform, Schnieder attempted to fly, only to have the cables malfunction, leaving him suspended above the set for the duration of the show.
In the meantime, Mark began to freelance at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta. There, Mark met Jack Pendarvis and Ward McCarthy, to whom he showed some of his early films. One of these – a home movie called “The Halloweenie” which the brothers watch every year on Halloween with friends – inspired Pendarvis and McCarthy to write scripts and pitch original TBS programming with Kent in mind. Soon, Kent made several appearances on the interstitial TBS Show “Dinner and a Movie” as host Annabelle Geurwitch’s obsessed fan.
That appearance led to a spin-off, TBS “The Movie Lounge,” which debuted last year and has become a ratings winner for the network. The second season of “The Movie Lounge” began airing this past September.
A pivotal moment in bringing “Dropping Out” to realization came when Mark created a short film called “MORE,” a triumph of cutting edge clay and stop-motion animation techniques which had its festival premiere at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where it was honored with the Grand Jury Prize. An old family friend, Steve Kalafer, financed the production of “MORE”.
The successful owner of several car dealerships and a minor-league baseball team, the Somerset Patriots, Kalafer says, “I have known Mark and Kent since they were little boys running around in their pajamas, and I had been following Mark’s success at Cal Arts and his career at E!. For years I was offering to help Mark get a short made, but he continued to ask me to wait for something really special.”
When the script for “Dropping Out” was circulating in Hollywood, Mark and Kent also sent the script to Steve. Says Kalafer, “When I read the script, I said these characters represent a lot of twenty-something’s. They’ve really connected with a generation. I see my own children being bored and Mark and Kent watching too much TV, and I thought that Kent was really onto something.”
It was on the heels of MORE’s Academy Award loss that Kalafer gave the go ahead for “Dropping Out.”
“We were in the lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion right after we didn’t win, when we decided we should make “Dropping Out.” We went from the depths of disappointment at missing the Oscar to here we go!”
ABOUT THE CAST
KENT OSBORNE – EMILE
A student of the Atlantic Theater in New York, Kent has appeared in the films
“School Ties” and “Knock Off.” Osborne can also be seen each week as host of
the popular TBS program, “The Movie Lounge.” The show, which gives celebrity
guests the opportunity to comment on the movie they’re watching while it
airs, is the most watched show on basic cable in its Saturday nighttime slot.
DAVID KOECHNER – HENRY
Known for his work on Saturday Night Live, Koechner plays Emile’s friend and
co-worker, Henry. David can be seen in the films “Dirty Work,” “Dill
Scallion,” “Wag the Dog,” and “Austin Powers International Man of Mystery,”
as well as “Man on the Moon,” “Third Wheel,” and “I’ll Be You.”
VINCE VIELUF – ANDREW
Familiar to viewers of “E.R.”, Vieluf plays Andrew, a young arrogant wanna-be
producer. Vieluf, who received critical praise for his role as Deputy Barney in
the film “Clay Pigeons,” can also be seen in “An American Werewolf in
Paris,” and “Chick Flick.”
ADAM ARKIN – SCOTT KAYLE
Scott “Scotty” Kayle, played by Adam Arkin, is Emile’s friendly yet
dim-witted boss. Arkin can be seen each week as Dr. Aaron Shutt on the
popular CBS program “Chicago Hope.” Among his numerous film credits are
“Halloween H2O”, and the upcoming “Hanging Up” with Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow and Diane Keaton.
JOHN STAMOS – RONNIE
John Stamos plays Ronnie, Emile’s loser neighbor who enjoys revealing his
secret profession: porno editor. Stamos is known to millions as Uncle Jesse
from the television show “Full House,” and Blackie from “General Hospital.”
KATEY SAGAL – WENDY
Katey Sagal, known worldwide as Peg Bundy from the hugely popular
television program “Married With Children,” plays Wendy, a lonely San
Fernando barfly. Sagal is also the voice of Leela on the animated Fox show,
JENNIFER ELISE COX – MELISSA
Jennifer Elise Cox plays Melissa, Emile’s co-worker who helps him in his
journey for validation. Cox, best known for her hilarious portrayal of Jan
Brady in “The Brady Bunch Movie” and “A Very Brady Sequel,” can also be seen
in “Ed TV” directed by Ron Howard.
DYLAN HAGGERTY – BOB
Dylan Haggerty plays Bob, a burned out handyman who tries to help, but
ultimately frustrates everyone around him. Dylan, who has appeared in
numerous television guest spots can be seen in the films, “Con Air” and “The Postman.”
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
MARK OSBORNE – DIRECTOR
Academy Award nominated director and animator Mark Osborne graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in June 1992 and has already produced an impressive resume of projects, winning numerous artistic and professional
His student thesis film, “Greener,” a mixed-media animation short, earned numerous honors and screened worldwide at over 40 film festivals. Osborne has designed and produced graphics and animation for TV clients like E! and TBS. His strata-cut, clay-animated E! Swirl I.D. won a gold Broadcast Design Association award in 1994. His co-direction of a fully animated music video for “Weird Al” Yankovic spoofing Jurassic Park earned him a Grammy nomination in 1995 for best music video. Osborne also won a Los Angeles area Emmy in 1997 for an opening segment to ABC’s late night movie program, Insomniac Theater.
Osborne’s short “MORE” is the first fully animated, stop-motion film to be presented for exhibition in the Giant Screen format of 15perf70mm or IMAX format. The six-minute short premiered in November 1998 at the California Science Center IMAX Theater to a standing-room-only audience. 35mm reduction prints of this film are being utilized for more traditional venues where it has won such awards as the SXSW Best Animated Short, Best Short at Sundance ’99, Grand Jury Prize at the USA Film Fest, the Critics Week selection for CANNES ’99 and fifteen others.
Mark Osborne was born on September 17, 1970 in Trenton, New Jersey and now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Kimb, and their two-year-old daughter, Madison. He teaches stop-motion animation at Cal Arts.
KENT OSBORNE – WRITER
Kent Osborne wrote his first script, “Dropping Out” in the hopes of creating
a project that he could star in and that his brother Mark could direct. For two years Kent served as a writing partner for comedian Rob Schneider. During that time he wrote material that appeared on such talk-shows as “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The View,” Comedy Central’s “Canned Ham,” and “Live with Regis and Kathie-Lee.” Kent has also written material for TBS, TNT, and Nickelodeon. Before “Dropping Out”, Kent worked as a limo driver, a bartender, a book page, a janitor, a front desk clerk, a waiter, a flyer person, a production assistant, a carpenter, a night auditor and a telemarketer. He lives in North Hollywood with his German Shepherd, Ben.
STEVE KALAFER – PRODUCER
An Oscar nominated producer for the animated short, “MORE,” Steve Kalafer has also produced “Night Train to Khatmandu” starring Mila Jovavich and is the
owner of the Somerset Patriots, a minor league baseball team. This combined
interest of sports and entertainment has earned Steve the nickname, “Ted
Turner of Central Jersey.”
NEIL MACHLIS – PRODUCER
Working as an Executive Producer on numerous films including “Flawless,” “The Birdcage,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” “Primary Colors,” and “Wolf.” Neil also produced the upcoming “What Planet Are You From,” starring Gary Shandling.
MICHELLE IMPERATO-STABILE – PRODUCER
Imperato-Stabile began her film career in 1988 when she moved from Los Angeles to NY. Becoming a member of the DGA in 1991, she has co-produced numerous films including “What Planet Are You From,” “Primary Colors,” and “The Birdcage.”
DANIEL M. STILLMAN – EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Stillman has produced other film such as “Out of the Cold” filming in Russia and Estonia. Previous Assistant Directing tasks include “Woo” and “Primary Colors.” Stillman is currently working on Harold Armies’ newest film “Bedazzled.”
BRIAN CAPENER – DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
“Dropping Out” marks Brian’s second trip to the Sundance Film Festival where
two years ago “Smoke Signals,” which he also photographed, won both the
Audience Prize and the Filmmaker’s Trophy. Brian was also the cinematographer on “The Ice Runner.”
KRIS COLE – EDITOR
When it comes to cutting film, Kris Cole is a New York institution. He has
worked with such luminaries as Woody, Mike Nichols, Robert Benton and Alan Pakula. “Dropping Out” marks Cole’s first foray into the world of indie filmmaking, an opportunity afforded him when the editor of “Small Wonder” backed out.
JACK PENDARVIS – COMPOSER
A musician and writer from Atlanta, GA, Pendarvis makes his film composition debut with “Dropping Out.” Pendarvis was also instrumental over the years as a music supervisor for the film helping find existing songs to fit into the fantasy/flashback scenes of “Dropping Out.”
Director: Mark Osborne
Writer: Kent Osborne
Emile Brockton – Kent Osborne
Henry Johnson – David Koechner
Andrew Heller – Vince Vieluf
Scott Kayle – Adam Arkin
Ronnie – John Stamos
Melissa – Jennifer Elise Cox
Bob – Dylan Haggerty
Wendy – Katey Sagal
Paul Blanchard – Fred Willard
Doctor – Doug Savant
Heather – Sasha Barrese
Alicia – Aimee Graham
Alex – Jeffy Branion
Sam – Mara Holguin
Dr. Kitteredge – Jeannie Roshar
Mr. Flemington – Don McManus
Suit #1 – David Kriegel
Suit #2 – Jason Pizzo
Waitress – Maggie Baird
Security Guy – Robert Peters
Delivery Boy – Anthony Hatch
Ben the Checker – Mike Haley
Chris the Bagger – Ed Casares
Newscaster – Jerry Dunphy
Drunk Bar Patron – Jeff Osborne
Drunk Hooker – Abbey Osborne
Baby Emile – Madison Osborne
Nurse – Jill Jensen
Betty Brockton – Mary Scheer
Old Lady – Paulette Osborne
Falling Guy – Paul Tibbet
Used Car Salesman – Danny Stillman
Homeless Man – Mike Bell
Sound Guy – Kiki Barrera
Shocked Crew Member – Paul Lutz
Documentary Narrator – Celia Hemken
‘Thank You’ Guy – Mark Osborne
Producer: Michele Imperato
Producer: Steve Kalafer
Producer: Neil A. Machlis
Executive Producer: Daniel M. Stillman
Film Editing: Kris Cole
Production Design: Diane Yates
Costume Design: Greg LaVoi
Casting: Anne McCarthy
Original Music: Jack Pendarvis
Unit Production Manager: Jonny Vasic
First Assistant Director: John O’Rourke
Gaffer: Kelly Jones
Set Decorator: Kelley Eddleman
Property Master: Charli Jayson
Production Accountant: Marcia Matthew
Research & Clearances: Liz Barnett
Pre-Production Supervisor: Nanda Rao
Key Make-up/Hair: Suzan Kaminga
Script Supervisor: Eva Zelder
Sound Mixer: Itamar Ben-Jacob
Boom Operator: Daniel Hastings
First Assistant Editor: David M. Katz
Still Photographer: Tony Rivetti Jr.
Production Coordinator: James Clark
Digital Visual Effects: Encore Visual Effects
Digital Intermediate By: Cinesite
Post Production Sound & Re-Recording: C5 Inc.
Supervising Sound Editor: Benjamin Cheah
Sound Effects & Design: Paul Urmson
Additional Music By: Ben Decter
Color Timer: Chuck Winston
Titles Designed By: sulrich.Incinerator