I spend a lot of time focusing on the art of filmmaking. Thousands come to Hollywood each year to tell their stories, show off the craft of acting, and paint beautiful cinematic images. But what we also forget are the perks of filmmaking, which of course is sex, drugs, and Hollywood parties. Writer/director Hunter G. Williams explores the seedy underbelly of the movie business in his thriller, The Madness Within.
The film opens with the ending as businessman/movie producer Russ Washington (Hunter G. Williams) is alone in his motel room, clearly crushed by his recent life choices. He’s at his literal rock bottom. Now, flashback a few months, Russ is living the fast-paced L.A. lifestyle of coke, chicks, and business meetings. After a late-night bender, Russ walks in late on his studio pitch, and the confident Russ glosses over his tardiness and quickly convinces the backers to fund his next film fully—thanks in part to a cameo appearance by Lily Tomlin.
“…Russ is living the fast-paced L.A. lifestyle of coke, chicks, and business meetings.”
Not helping Russ in any way is his best friend and business partner, Marcus (Edin Gali), who leads Russ down the path of addiction by hooking him up with ample supplies of cocaine. Everything is not always as bad as it seems when the pair meets the vivacious April (Tessa Ferrell), while on a narcotics run. April and Russ hit it off and hook-up after a party later that night. The relationship takes off fast until Russ finds out that April’s profession is an escort—or as her “clients” call her…a “hooker.”
As the title, The Madness Within, implies, things don’t go so well for Russ throughout the rest of the film. His heavy partying with Marcus has slowed down production on his movie. Now Russ is behind schedule, which freaks out his backers and the bond company insuring the film. Unbeknownst to Russ, Marcus has a severe gambling problem and loses everything on an impossible bad beat with a Russian mobster (see unlikely poker hands in cinema). Can Russ save his film and career? Will he find true love with April in spite of her occupation? Can he save his own soul and his best friend’s from the pit of madness they’ve fallen in?