The road to TCFF started on a sand volleyball court for 'DriverX'
Q: What do Xena (yes, the Warrior Princess) and Kelly Kapowski have in common?
If you answered “both have shared an on-screen kiss with Patrick Fabian,” not only would you be correct, but you'd also likely be filled with obscure pop culture facts that would make you the secret weapon of many a bar trivia team
Or maybe, just maybe, you're actually Patrick Fabian.
Fabian, perhaps best known for the role of Howard Hamlin in “Better Call Saul,” has made a career of taking on memorable roles on memorable TV shows. He was Professor Jeremiah Lasky on “Saved by the Bell: The College Years;” Professor Hank Landry on “Veronica Mars;” Ted Price on “Big Love;” and had roles in “The Last Exorcism,” “Bad Ass,” “Gray's Anatomy,” and (quite literally) over 100 other TV shows and movies.
But it's his latest role – that of a record store owner turned Uber driver – that has Fabian in Minnesota this week for the 2017 Twin Cities Film Fest.
In the independent comedy “DriverX,” Fabian stars as Leonard Moore, a Los Angeles record store owner who sees his business go under and is forced to take a job driving an Uber to help support his family.
“I like to call it a coming of middle age story in a lot of ways,” Fabian said. “It's about the gig economy, it's about somebody whose life gets turned around half-way through.”
“Leonard is a guy that owned a record store at exactly the wrong time in history. So he ends up having to save his marriage and his finances by taking on a new job in the middle of life, unqualified for anything really.”
Beyond all of that, the film is in a lot of ways is a reflection of the world we live in today – the “American Dream” not panning out for many in the way it was promised; the questioning of one's self and self-worth in the face of adversity; the changing of familial/household dynamics; and the ways in which different generations view the world.
“DriverX” is written and directed by Henry Barrial, a long-time friend of Fabian's.
“Well, like everything in Hollywood, it began with me playing volleyball at the beach,” Fabian said of his involvement in the film, adding that the duo – along with a host of other friends – have been playing volleyball together for many years.
Over time, the game has morphed from single, industry types hanging out together, to a more family-centric atmosphere – complete with spouses and children: “It's literally like a Sunkist commercial on Saturday afternoon.”
The idea behind the story, Fabian said, actually spawned from Barrial's own experiences.
“Henry himself started driving Uber,” he said. “This is sort of a semi-autobiographical film on his part. Because he all of a sudden was like, he's a writer/director, he started having to drive Uber.”
“And then he started to come up with the screenplay because the cast of characters that fall into the backseat of an Uber … write themselves in some respects.”
From there, the two sat down and talked about life – spouses, children, jobs, etc. – to round the story out fuller. Barrial took all of that info and created the script, Mark Stolaroff signed on to produce, and the three created a budget and a plan to shoot.
Filming took place between season 2 and 3 of “Better Call Saul.”
“We shot in Los Angeles, at night, low budget, in and out. I basically drove a Prius eight hours a night through the streets of Los Angeles with cameras mounted to the hood.”
TCFF will be the third stop on the film's festival circuit tour – it debuted earlier this month in Tacoma, and last weekend it screened in Orlando. St. Louis and the Lone Star Film Festival (Ft. Worth) are next on the horizon.
Orlando actually marked the first time Fabian had seen the film with an audience, and he was happy with how they were responding to what they were seeing.
“The audience tells you kind of what your film is,” he said. “What's really great is we've got different age brackets that were seeing it … they all took something different from it.”
The challenge for “DriverX,” and most independent films for that matter, is finding that audience. With so many films and so much content out there for people to see, it's almost always an uphill battle. If the notoriety (or infamy) he's received from his other acting gigs can help direct some attention to this film, all the better.
“You do want to tap into that, and it does help,” he said. “If they're coming because they think they're going to see Professor Lasky with Shaun Cassidy hair, so be it that's fine with me.
Above all else, though, there are far better reasons to see the movie.
“I believe in the film, and I like the film, and I think the film has resonance and is the sort of thing that can find an audience without a doubt,” he said. “It speaks to what is happening right here and right now in 2017 with the economy, with our life, with our music.”