Each spring, hordes of parents and their fame seeking offspring flock to Hollywood for a little phenomenon known as “Pilot Season”, in which all the major television studios cast their new fall shows. Apparently, the journey is much like geese migrating south for the winter as directors, Dylan Nelson and Dan Sturman, open their first film together, The Hollywood Complex , with the arrival of all these hopefuls in California, juxtaposed with gaggles of their winged friends flying in V-formation in the sky. And so, just as the kids reach for what seem to be impossible dreams, so do Nelson and Sturman begin their exercise in reaching as well.
There is a housing community in California called The Oakwood Living Community. It used to play home to new couples and single folk but around twenty-five years ago, it started becoming a popular spot as a temporary residence for out-of-towners during “Pilot Season”. Families from all over the country come to California and pay roughly $5000 per week for three months to live there. From the looks of it, most of the families come from low income households too, which makes it that much harder. I would not ordinarily make that kind of assumption but the filmmakers didn’t bother going into any of their subjects’ backgrounds so assumptions are pretty much all I have to go on.
The advantage to staying at Oakwood is its reputation. Agents, photographers, acting coaches and essentially anyone who can take advantage of these families gather at Oakwood to do just that. Of course, they do this with a big smile on their face so it doesn’t hurt as much but still. Mind you, the families eat it all up so I can’t forgive them for getting taken in. One acting coach, whose name ironically I cannot recall, was boasting to the cameras about how hard the industry can be but that if you work as hard as she did, and with her no doubt, then you too can become the star of a direct-to-video Pippi Longstocking sequel, that apparently Paris Hilton has seen like 100 times. In fact, the grand finale at this community is a guest speech from Dakota Fanning’s agent. I’m thinking that was a lot more grand ten years ago.
The Hollywood Complex attempts to demonstrate an obsession with Hollywood and fame at all costs but fails miserably because it doesn’t seem to have the resources to get anywhere near the real deal. (The biggest celebrity we see in the film is Larry King and even he is just caught on camera in passing.) Nor do they stop to ponder on the complexities of parents living vicariously through their children or why any of these children really want to be the next Lindsay Lohan anyway. It plays out as irritating and completely lost so it begs to question whether the filmmakers are also still banging on Hollywood’s door waiting to be let in too.