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AN OUZI BY ANY OTHER NAME...

By Vin Fraioli

Chris Sparling says that the title of his first film, AN OUZI AT THE ALAMO, a comedy soon to be premiered in Rhode Island, has nothing to do with the film.

Actor and Director, Chris Sparling. Photo by Vin Fraioli.

Okay, Chris, what's with this title? I ask. I like Chris the minute I meet him. He has the look of a clean-cut kid who is still in school and who passes his assignments in on time.

"I thought of the title first when I was living in LA, acting and writing. Oddly, enough, there was no image. The story could have gone anywhere."

That's odd.

"Actually, the title is the same that the main character gives to all of the forty-five books he has written. He feels compelled to give it to everything he writes. So, it has nothing to do with an ouzi or the Alamo.
"Well, kind of," he says. "The main character, this twenty-four year old kid who can never do anything right, thinks to himself at one time, 'Imagine, if Davy Crockett had an ouzi at the Alamo..."

So, it has nothing to do with the movie?

"No."

I think otherwise as he hands me the stills from his movie, which he had just wrapped over a year ago. Shot for a budget around fifty thousand dollars, the project was produced, written and co-directed by Chris' friend, Raymond Lepre. "I'm in so many of the scenes as an actor, I needed another set of eyes, behind the camera," he explains, "and I trust Ray's judgment. We shot AN OUZI on digital video and were done shooting a year ago. It's been in editing since then. I didn't want to rush the process and sacrifice essentials. I spend every weekend driving to Rockport College (see IMAGINE 2002) in Maine where I meet with my editor, Alyer Breau."

A pose DaVinci composed Co- Director, Ray Lepre with cameraman, Raouf Zaki, during a shoot. 
Chris Sparling, as the lead character, having another bad karma day. 
Actors, Joe Guarnieri, Ken Centazzo, and Bert Guarnieri pose between takes on a Providence sidewalk. All three photos by David Ciolfi.

The film was shot entirely in Providence around the Smith Street area where Chris lives. Five actors from the film were flown in from LA, but the rest were local actors, Mick Hoegen among them.
But what about this character, this oddball who gives the same title to every book he writes?

"He is the embodiment of kids today in their mid 20's," Chris says, "apathetic, unkempt, living at home, driving a shit-box car. He's surrounded by dysfunctional family. His mother has OCD and everything she does reflects that. His father lives in the house with a mail order Russian "companion." But his family loves him even though he is such a failure at everything he does. One day, he decides he will commit suicide on his twenty-fifth birthday. His parents, of course, are always supportive of him so they go along with him. After all, they don't want to make him feel even more like a failure (I can see it now, I think as Chris tells me this, the main character's mom going with her son to pick out a rope. "This one is softer, honey...") But, he meets the girl next door and falls in love with her. She opens his eyes in a big way and causes him to change his mind. And here begins the real essence of this comedy - if he doesn't go through with his suicide, then, he will really be a failure."

Chris is in his 20's and lives at home. He himself admits that he drives a shit-box car in real life. But the similarity ends there. He has succeeded at many things. He has a Master's in Criminal Justice from Bridgewater State and his BS from Roger Williams University. He has been acting and writing in LA for years, before coming home to do this film.
Sometime in January, the public will get a peek at the premiere of AN OUZI AT THE ALAMO. What are you looking forward to the most? I ask.

"It will be very interesting to see the effect this film has on my parents," he says. "They will see sides of me they haven't known. I'm curious to see their reaction." But I am still piqued by this title. I press him again. So, this title has nothing to do with the movie?

His voice drops to an almost whisper. "Yes," he says, "it does. It's actually a metaphor when the main character realizes that..."

Don't tell me, I say. Let me see the film.

Vin Fraioli, born in Providence, is an author of numerous articles and the book, "Change of View." He still lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two kids when not traveling around the world giving lectures and concerts as a classical guitarist. He is also a sometimes actor.

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