New indie DVD release
By T.T. Stern-Enzi
Photo: [l to r] Tarik Lowe and Alex Karpovsky struggle with their roles as “Supporting Characters”; Rating: Not Rated Grade: B
New York teems with life. Not just with the stars that walk the red carpet and the heroes battling mythic villains in the streets, but also clustered constellations of little vignettes waiting for their flickering lights to be seen before they wink and blink out. That’s one of the reasons why independent film matters; because everyday films can emerge from this under-lit canvas that documents the travails of characters in this netherworld between the stars and the lowly regular folks that never even get out of the cheap seats – that would be you and me.
“Supporting Characters,” from director Daniel Schechter and his screenwriting partner and co-star Tarik Lowe, spotlights a couple of guys on the fringe of the underground, granting them a few precious moments in the main frame. Nick (Alex Karpovsky) and Darryl (Lowe) are best friends ,as well as a dynamic duo in the world of independent film editing. Nick – the would-be Batman of the pairing – leads the charge with a certain brand recognition in the game, but he’s quick to point out that he would be unable to work his magic without the support of Darryl, who started out as an over-eager mentee but soon settled into the logistical support role that ensures everything runs smoothly.
Beyond their work, Nick and Darryl amble through personal relationships. Nick has a steadfast fiancée (Sophia Takal) and a solid married life to look forward to, while Darryl longs for stability, striving hard to accommodate a tempestuous girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) who is obviously not as into him or the idea of settling down. During their latest job, a hasty bit of triage on a film with a director (Kevin Corrigan) who has gone AWOL during the busy post-production process, Nick finds himself drawn into the orbit of the film’s attractive female lead (Arielle Kebbel) and further upended by an offer for a new assignment that would mean having to work without Darryl for the first time in years.
While the film takes place in the world of filmmaking, Schechter’s focus is so far behind the scenes it lends even more weight to the title. Nick and Darryl, in their front and center moment, remain resolutely minor characters. Intriguingly, they see and appreciate their small roles and it is through this understanding that they become heroic. Moreso than in most films, as members of the audience, we want to identify with them, we want to see Nick step out of himself, to seize the opportunity with the actress – who we realize is only a bit player in the larger world of cinema – because this is his one chance, and we know that the experience should be all that matters.
However, we also recognize that these guys are far too much like us. They will stumble and fail to come up big in the key moments because they are, in the end, all too human. Nick and Darryl are more like us than possibly more than 90 percent of the characters that grace the screens. They are the guys sitting at the desks behind the scenes, taking the calls that the leads wouldn’t have time for.
The film captures Karpovsky in what could be a transitional period as well. He’s got that quintessential hang dog look of an old school character actor, but thanks to a featured role in Lena Dunham’s HBO series “Girls,” he has been able to parlay his growing name and face recognition into a developing indie brand. Will he be able to chase down the full spotlight, to become something more than just another supporting character?
“Supporting Characters” makes for a unique calling card.
“Supporting Characters” is now available on DVD and digital download, following its world premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival and limited theatrical release in January 2013.
Reach DCP film critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at Film@DaytonCityPaper.com