— by RACHEL COYNE —
After appearing in a handful of films, actor Hubbel Palmer decided to study screenwriting at USC, which inspired him to create his first screenplay. Wanting to tell a story that was both humorous and touching, he developed a tale about a Midwestern supermarket clerk looking to get more out of life. The story became the screenplay for “Humble Pie,” which Palmer himself stars in and is directed by Chris Bowman.
Having played at several film festivals around the world, “Humble Pie” has garnered many favorable reviews from both critics and audience members.
Palmer was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions about his movie and film making in general.
“Humble Pie” is the first screenplay you wrote to be made into a movie. In ten words or less, how exciting is that?
I’m thrilled to share something personal with the world.
What made you decide to tackle writing a screenplay?
I studied writing at USC and that gave me the motivation to put something down on paper that was really personal to me.
What were some of the challenges of starring in a movie you’d also written?
You have to re-approach the material as a writer instead of an actor. I was so glad to be able to turn the film over to a director I trusted [director Chris Bowman].
Of the two, which do you prefer: acting or writing?
Acting is easier and more social. Writing is an isolated and demanding process, but ultimately more rewarding.
Are any of the characters or situations in “Humble Pie” based on real people or experiences?
Not really. I’d sat that the vibe of the film and the setting are autobiographical, but none of the characters are based on real people.
“Humble Pie” was previously known as “American Fork.” Why the name change?
It had to do with foreign sales. We were told by our business manager that anything with “American” in the title was poison overseas. So the director and I generated a list of possible titles and just picked the one that felt the best.
Now that you’ve done acting and writing, any desire to take on directing?
That would be great. I would prefer to work with someone, though. I like the idea of co-directing.
When you created the character Truman Hope — a pompous Z-list actor — were you imagining William Baldwin in that role?
I didn’t really picture anyone famous when I was working on the script. I never thought this would be the kind of film that would attract name actors. But when he expressed interest, the director and I remembered how funny he was in “The Squid and the Whale” and felt like he’d be perfect.
“Humble Pie” has played at many film festivals. What are some of your favorite reactions from the fests?
The film has shown in several Asian countries and the audience always really likes the film, but they never laugh. Apparently, a lot of the humor doesn’t translate. The best is seeing it with a huge audience in a big venue. It always seems to play well when a lot of people are watching it at once.
How would you describe “Humble Pie” to someone who wants to know what it’s about?
It’s a slice-of-life comedy with a lot of heart. If you liked “The Station Agent” or “The Squid and the Whale,” I think you’ll dig “Humble Pie.”
Of all the projects you’ve worked on, which are you most proud of?
This film was a labor of love, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. So I’d say “Humble Pie.”
What are you working on next?
I acted in a film called “Cafe” with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jamie Kennedy that should be out next year. I’m also writing a couple of features with the director of “Humble Pie,” Chris Bowman.
Of all the people working in the film industry, who would you most like to work with?
Probably Robert Duvall. He’s my favorite actor and a heck of a guy. His movie “The Apostle” was a life-changer. I also like the director Bill Forsyth. I’d do anything to work with him. I’ll mop his kitchen floor if he wants me to.
If you could share one piece of advice about making movies, what would it be?
Do not procrastinate. Write that script. Direct that short. Do it this month. The people who I know that are successful are not waiting for success to come to them, but are relentlessly creating opportunities for themselves.
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“Humble Pie” will be released on DVD on Dec. 8. Click here to see the trailer.
Follow Rachel Coyne on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TheOpinionatedB.