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By Brad Cook | August 17, 2011

For every person who makes it big in Hollywood, dozens of equally-talented folks fail for one reason or another. Maybe they threw their hands in the air and gave up. Maybe they fell victim to the demons of alcohol and drugs. Maybe nothing ever seemed to go their way, no matter what they did.

None of them, though, ever spent more than a decade charting their aspirations in print and in video, as Adam Kontras has done. The first full-fledged video blogger, Adam began chronicling what he calls “The Journey” in 2000, when he moved west from Ohio with his first wife, Jessica. Every few days since then, he has posted another text piece, with an accompanying video clip. As of July 2011, he has over 1,100 entries online.

When he reached number 1,000, though, he decided to condense the first 1,000 entries into “The Journey From 1 to 1000,” a tight film that showcases his numerous musical, comedic, and video production talents. While many in that position might be content with simply pulling together a greatest hits collection strung along a voice-over, Adam decided to craft an interstitial narrative: he steps back in time to 2000, when he and Jessica checked into a hotel on their way to California, and confronts his younger self. He shows him “The Journey From 1 to 1000” to see if young Adam will still want to continue the trip, knowing the emotional roller coaster ride waiting for him.

It’s not hard to imagine how the film ends (as I said, “The Journey” is now over 1,100 entries long), but the effort Adams puts into this is pretty cool, like all of his creative work. He not only filmed himself twice for those scenes, but he went back to the original hotel with Jessica and a friend to recreate the first video entry so he could include himself in the footage, a la “Back to the Future Part II.” (Stay to the end of the closing credits to see a funny outtake from that shoot. It’s guerrilla filmmaking at its finest, folks.)

Of course, I should point out that Adam has a lot of experience with this kind of thing: His “Adam and the Egos” routine involves him playing a three-member pop group (a wannabe gangsta rapper, a surfer dude, and a gay guy), with a fourth character who serves as their backstage tech guru. Adam is their manager. He stands on a stage surrounded by four TV sets, each with an Egos character on it, and performs a perfectly-choreographed comedy act.

As Adam narrates “The Journey” for his younger self, the film occasionally cuts to the two of them watching the footage; 2000 Adam gets understandably upset about some of it. My only complaint is that we don’t get enough of those moments (imagine how your younger self would react to everything you’ve done over the past 10 or 20 or even 30 years); there were times when I wanted to see more interaction between the two Adams, to really play up that storyline. The film has long stretches where I started to forget about them.

While you might wonder why you’d want to bother watching a film about yet another aspiring talent, Adam’s main draw is his willingness to put it all out there. Nothing is filtered, and even though he has an act called “Adam and the Egos,” he’s not full of himself, like so many others who also aspire to stardom. After repeatedly getting his hopes dashed, he knows it will likely happen once more, even though he can’t help but get excited when an amazing opportunity dangles in front of his face. Will it get snatched away again? Adam does a great job of heightening the tension in those situations without drawing them out to silly extremes. He’s a grounded guy who understands his place in the Hollywood food chain.

Adam’s many near-misses include: an offer to headline The Comedy Store; his time spent hosting “Living Room Live” on CBS’ “The Early Show,” when he had the chance to do “Adam and the Egos” skits on the “Price is Right” and “The Young and the Restless” sets (and broke the characters out of their TV sets); an offer to host a late-night show opposite Carson Daly; the chance to create a pilot for Comedy Central; his “Let’s Bomb Iran” parody, which received a ton of online play and almost landed him an appearance on Keith Olbermann’s show (he was bumped when the news of Rush Limbaugh’s drug addiction broke); and his one-time gig as an extra on “The Sopranos” (his story about getting a stare-down from James Gandolfini is priceless).

This is also a guy who has packed in an incredible amount of living since 2000, and it’s all documented here too: two marriages that ended in divorce (and yet both spouses were willing to become part of “The Journey”; Jessica even sings “We’re goin’ to the courthouse and we’re gonna get a dissolution” with him); a whirlwind month-plus trip across Europe and Africa; anger over the Hurricane Katrina aftermath that was so intense he quit his job and flew to DC to protest; a trip to the final 2008 presidential campaign debate; and a flight to DC for Barack Obama’s inauguration. His personal stories are just as interesting as his Hollywood ones.

Through all of his personal and professional highs and lows, Adam keeps his video camera running, never missing an opportunity to capture a moment, no matter how painful it might be. It’s like watching a reality show starring someone we actually want to root for. Will he finally succeed? Well, as he wisely notes at one point, it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s important, and hopefully we’ll have a chance to see “The Journey From 1001 to 2000” someday.

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  1. Adam Kontras says:

    This is part of a long-running stalking case out of Virginia. I’m such a nobody that I have someone stalk me constantly and comment on everything I do. Enjoy it for the nonsense it always is.

  2. Brad Cook says:

    Mark, Cecilia Black and Anon Chan are likely both the same person, a mentally unstable individual who has been harassing Adam for a long time now. This person pops up everywhere he can to make comments like these. I’d be curious to know if they’re both coming from the same IP address.

    I met Adam through Facebook, via someone who was a friend of his. He and I have chatted several times since then. From the beginning, I could see that he’s a talented guy, one of many trying to catch a break in Hollywood. I know others who see him the same way. Who knows why some talented people break through while others keep banging on the door.

    In Adam’s case, though, he’s documenting the whole thing through his video blog, and he’s willing to show the bad with the good. I find his story interesting to follow, and he’s a smart, genuinely sincere guy who’s just following his dream.

    So, yes, I knew him before writing this review, but he and I weren’t really close personal friends or anything, and I had never mentioned until recently that I write DVD reviews. I have an extensive background writing for Apple, Nuance, OTR Global, Virtual Programming, Out of the Park Developments, Macworld, The Mac Observer, MacPlay, and many other companies and publications. I also recently took over the Twitter feed for the movie “Saving Lincoln.”

    In fact, I paid for the DVD I reviewed, so it’s not like he gave me a freebie hoping for a review. If I didn’t think Adam’s story was worth writing about, I honestly wouldn’t have bothered, but I truly do think it has merit.

  3. Anon Chan says:

    In doing a rudamentary search of the names of the author of this piece (hackjob) and the subject (Kontras) it is found that the two do indeed know each other and share some extensive history. This is NOT an impartial review, and should be removed as such. It appears as if the two go way back and seems that this is indeed some sort of ‘trying to become famous by trying to become famous’ scenario.


    • Mark Bell says:

      It can’t be that rudimentary, if searching for “Adam Kontras” and “Brad Cook” together on Google returns only 6 results, none of which show “extensive history.” Hell, 3 of the results link back to this review. Brad has been writing with us for a while, and I think he does a great job. I’ve never seen the film, nor am I familiar with Adam Kontras behind editing this review, so I don’t know what is going on here. It seems there are folks out there who don’t dig Kontras. Fine, but calling Brad a hackjob? Have you read anything else he’s written? I mean, it’s quite a bit… and not just about this Kontras guy.

  4. Cecilia Black says:

    Exactly my point, thanks Laura. Are you the casting director for Disneyland?

    Anyway, it also is worth noting that this ‘review’ is also written by a long time conspirator of the phenomena that Adam could only dream of being. Not a slam on Brad Cook (the article is very well written) however it is not impartial, and full disclosure should be made.

  5. Laura says:

    You know when you live your life under a microscope as Adam Kontras has chosen to do with his vlog “The Journey” you are bound to attract the attention of all kinds of people, with all kinds of opinions ( and issues), coming from all kinds of places, both literally and figuratively speaking. “Cecelia” has a right to “her” opinion – despite my belief that its an opinion being given not by a real person named “Cecelia” but more probably the lunatic that’s been stalking Adam for over 2 years and has made it his mission in life to publicly ruin him in any way possible – he/she is STILL entitled to its opinion. Here is mine. I have made my living as a casting director here in Los Angeles for the past 20 years and met Adam via Facebook in 2008. Unlike the charming “Cecelia” I was immediately drawn to Adam’s many faceted abilities – his AMAZING music, his wit, his comedic skills, his intelligent and thought provoking political commentary, his moviemaking abilities – all talents beautifully showcased in his vlog and in this exceptional documentary. Adam chronicles his life in this way because he has to – he is an artist. Artists create. And he’s created a lot of beautiful stuff. It’s kind of a no-brainer. And as someone who has spent the better part of my life around artists, actors, musicians and the last 20 years casting them, I can tell you from experience – he’s one of the least egotistical people I’ve met in this industry. By far. Not every artist is bestowed the gift of worldwide fame – and there are plenty of idiots with no talent who are (Snooki anyone?). There are thousands of incredibly talented people in this business, actors, singers, writers etc etc who have not yet achieved “fame and fortune” – truly talented people doing their thing for YEARS without huge success – that does not mean they aren’t still truly talented. And it certainly does not mean they are a failure. As an industry professional I see them on a daily basis – some go on to fame, others are still living their own creative journeys, as Adam is. I hope that one day Adam does reach more of a wide audience with his stuff, he’s good and he deserves it. In the meantime, pathetically, there will always be the “Cecilia’s” of the world – the ones who like to sit on the sidelines on their a***s criticizing the artists who choose to put themselves out there.

  6. Cecilia Black says:

    I have followed the ‘career’ of Adam throughout the years, and had known him in his days in Ohio. I can say this much, the only reason for him to even make such a ‘documentary’ is for ego #1. The people I have spoken to say that his show for family and friends was in a half empty theatre, the only one that really needed to be there was of course Adam, and he would have seen it as a huge success, since of course this is all about him…. not about fame, fortune, family, friends, or anything else but for his ‘journey’…. more me, me, me, look at me! I am so talented! I am so witty! I am so funny! Reminds me a bit of that Stuart Smallie sp? skit from SNL… I am smart enough, I am talented enough, and dogoneit, people like me…. except in Adam’s case… aside from a handful of people (family, and friends?) that have to say they do… they really don’t. Failure is lifes way of telling you that you are not enough of any of the things that you want to be to matter, and thanks for playing.

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