You’d never in a million years picture Mark Troy as a mobster-goon-muscle-guy. But that’s the exact role he landed for his first film gig two years ago, when a group of college students from the University of Tampa hired him for their film, “The Source.”
“I was Goon No. 3,” says Troy as he props his arm on the nearest pillow of his cushiony couch. He still looks like anything but a mean mobster. “They picked me because I looked kind of heavy built, and I can make a mean face if I have to. I didn’t have any lines — and I was thrilled with that.”
“The Source” helped Troy branch off into other arenas. He graduated from acting in student films and moved up to independent productions with seasoned professionals.
When Troy was 13 years old, he took to his neighborhood with his parents’ 8mm camera, making movies that ranged from science fiction and horror to comedies. But he knew pursuing filmmaking as a career wasn’t an option, so he put it on the back burner, set his sights on college and entered the corporate world.
Two years ago, after spending 20 years in financial services, Troy knew the timing was right for him to reunite with his longtime passions — acting and filming. Wanting to take some professional lessons, he signed up for standup comedy classes at McCurdy’s Humor Institute, which went nothing like he expected.
“At first, they have it set up so that a friendly little audience comes in when you give standup, but after that, it’s miserable,” Troy says. “It’s a whole different thing trying to do your own thing with jokes you think are funny, and you’re trying to deliver and there’s dead silence. I still do standup, but only when I’m feeling masochistic and think I need some punishment.”
Troy did 10 to 12 films during his first year acting, but when work started to space out, he started making his own films here and there, but they were more for humor than anything else. One night while watching “Man of One Thousand Faces” with his significant other, Patricia Woodruff, the two started blurting out silly movie ideas.
“It’s about the life of Lon Chaney, a superstar from 1920s silent movies, who had the ability to transform himself physically into anything you could imagine — grotesque people, women, the Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Troy says. “We thought it would be funny if I made a film of me being a bad Lon Chaney, someone who wants to be a master of disguises but isn’t good at it at all.”
So that’s what Troy did. His first task was finding someone with the right equipment and a good sense of humor — someone who would see the silliness in the film. He contacted Joel Godin, of Venice, who happily agreed to co-produce the film and direct the photography. He then tracked down the actors: David Vogel, Sarasota actors Sage Hall and Patrick McCall, and John Smith, who is appearing in the upcoming Robert Redford feature, “The Conspirators.” They started filming May 14 and shot scenes at the HuB, Broadway Bar and L Train, in St. Petersburg.
“This thing is way bigger than me and Patricia filming each other with a flip camera,” Troy says. “Playing (the character of) Mark is a blast, because he’s silly, dumb and doesn’t think about the consequences. He’s a piece of my alter ego, a goofy child.”
In the film, viewers will see three episodes of Troy’s character trying out newfound methods of expressing himself. One method gets him fired, another gets his wife all fired up and the third finds him physically hurt.
“He does get a victory, but it’s despite his efforts, not because of them,” Troy says. “Ever since we finished the scenes, everybody has told me to, ‘Please hurry and finish it up,’ because they can’t wait to see it.”
Jack Nicholson — “He was especially great as R.P. McMurphy in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ He had a big impact on me.”
Jerry Lewis — “You either love him or hate him, but you can’t beat him for over-the-top comedy. I always liked his solo stuff more than his films with Dean Martin.”
Buster Keaton and Lon Chaney Sr. — “Two true masters from the 1920s. Keaton owned physical comedy and Chaney, of course, ‘The Man of a Thousand Faces.’”