I'm a Movie Star!

I'm a movie star

I’m a movie star!

That might be hyperbole, but I am in a movie. Not a YouTube Short or an Instagram Reel that I filmed on my phone, but a real movie with a script, a director, and a film crew! It seems that I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should slow down and explain how this all came about.

It all started when I was a kid.

Childhood Dreams

I wanted to be Dave Starsky. He was the cooler of the two cops. Ken Hutchinson was the straight man, the one in touch with his feelings—ugh. You probably know that I’m talking about Starsky & Hutch, one of the greatest TV shows of the 1970s. Starsky drove a 1976 Ford Gran Torino, perhaps the most fabulous car ever for fictional detectives. I even have a replica of it in my office.

From early on, I knew Starsky wasn’t real. Paul Michael Glaser played him—his name flashed on the screen at the beginning of the show. Once I realized that, I thought maybe I could be an actor. Of course, I was a kid, so I also wanted to be bionic like The Six Million Dollar Man, a karate-man like Chuck Norris, or a firefighter like my Uncle Mike—all super cool dudes in my book.

As I grew up, I started abandoning those dreams and focusing on others. Maybe I could be a writer like my teacher Terry Davis (of Vision Quest fame). Or perhaps I could make a lot of money like everyone seemed so focused on in the roaring ’80s.

Achieving anything would require hard work, and I was anxious to get started. I put away my childish dreams and joined the Army.

However, that didn’t stop my dreaming.

Back on the Road

Tales from the Road

Some of you know Bill Bancroft from Tales from the Road: Stories of Sex, Drums and Rock & Roll, the book we wrote about his exploits on the ’70s and ’80s music circuit. Bill’s a creative guy who found his way into acting about ten years ago. Since then, he has appeared in various things—commercials, industrial training videos, student films, stage plays, TV shows, and movies.

After our co-author experience, Bill also found the writing bug. He wrote a short film titled The Deep End of the Pool that he produced. That gave him some experience and furthered his desire to create.

He then wrote Vacant Lot, a script inspired by a moment he shared with his brother in 1976. (This was about the same time I was daydreaming about being Dave Starsky, by the way.) As with any writing endeavor, Bill sought feedback and continued to tighten the script. When it was finally ready for the outside world, Bill pitched the story to the folks at Mystery Ridge Movie Ranch, a regional production company. They liked the concept and agreed to make the film.

I’m making it sound more straightforward than it was. Trust me; it took a lot of effort to get his story to that point.

Hanging out on Vacant Lot

Bill let me know that the movie’s production was set to start in October 2021. I was extremely happy for him—not only because he was getting his script made into a film, but because he would act in it. Two younger actors were cast as the leads—Beau Charles and Oskar Owens. Bill couldn’t rave enough about how fantastic the guys were for the film.

Shortly before production began, Bill texted me. He asked if I’d be interested in playing a “small role.” They needed a 40-50ish male for an FBI agent. Bill said I had “the look” and to let him know if I had interest.

It turned out that two actors were lined up for FBI agent roles, but they backed out at the last moment. I don’t know their reasons for not showing and never really cared. I took Bill’s text as my opportunity to be on a movie set.

I responded to his query in less than two minutes. Yes, I am that nerdy.

You've Got the Look

Spencer Sowl (our mutual friend) was brought in to play the other FBI agent. Like

Playing FBI agents

me, Spencer didn’t have any acting experience. However, we both had the “look” that Bill and the director were after. Check out the picture on the right, and you can see what they meant. We looked like a couple of angry feds in black suits and dark sunglasses. Spencer was officially known as Agent #1, and I was Agent #2.

Being on set was a blast! We could watch the director, camera operators, and various actors work. They were all extremely professional and fascinating to be around. It was like stepping into a different world. I’ve seen actors and directors on TV but getting to see their work up-close was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The wardrobe department fitted Spencer and me with prop guns and holsters. When given the option between a belt holster or a shoulder rig, I immediately scammed the latter. I’d used a belt holster while on the job. I wanted to rock a shoulder holster like Dave Starsky (yes, I know he wasn’t an FBI agent).

When Spencer and I were finally called to be in front of the camera, the make-up artist touched up our faces as best she could. Spencer’s a handsome guy, so it didn’t take much work. I know my limitations—I have a face made for writing crime fiction.

The movie takes place in the early ’70s so the film crew lined up several old vehicles. Spencer and I drove a 1967 Ford Galaxie. He and I had so much fun driving around in that classic car. When we drove into a scene, it was hard not to do so with grins on our faces. We were like a couple of kids playing cops and robbers. I can’t tell you how much fun we had and how many laughs we shared.

Wrapping it Up

The movie is in post-production now. The goal is for it to be ready in Summer 2023. I’m not sure what happens next, but I’ll make sure to update you when I know more.

My part in the movie might have been small but the memories they gifted me were great. I got to read the script, watch some of the production, meet the actors and the crew, and hang out with Spencer. I’m forever grateful to everyone associated with Vacant Lot. They were truly wonderful folks.

Bill and his movie let me live out a childhood dream. I was a truly police officer for five years, but for a few days, I pretended to be an FBI agent. I was also able to tell my friends and family that I acted in a movie.

What more could a guy ask for?


Check out the movie trailer in:

Vacant Lot Update

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