(Pictured: Photographer Mark Weiss, Director/Producer William DeVizia, and Starring Actor Keith Roth — Photo by Michele Terry)
Award-Winning Indie Film Stars Aquarian Alum Keith Roth
If you love Asbury Park and its internationally recognized music scene, you must go see William DeVizia’s Let Me Down Hard, starring Aquarian Weekly alum Keith Roth in his feature film debut.
Having won Best Homegrown Feature last weekend at the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City, the exceptionally well-made “no budget” independent will be screened during the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival at 1:45 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Parlor Gallery, 717 Cookman Ave. The historic seaside city not only serves as the setting and main location for the film but also as a metaphysical character that symbolizes the potential professional and personal comeback of Jack Ainsley, a self-destructive aging rock star courageously played by Roth.
Some might say that as a veteran Jersey Shore rocker, Roth is just playing an evil alter ego of himself. Actually, he’s a natural screen talent who can add film to a long, impressive resume that also includes radio host, radio producer, and record producer. As Jack’s adoring, forgiving, fading mom, Margo Crupi also stands out among a dedicated cast that was not paid throughout the six-year production.
The debut script by Frank Harkins is a realistically raw look into the toxic impact an intoxicating rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle not only can have on artists but those who love them. While intense, the film has many charming moments, especially between Jack and his mom, such as when they stroll the Asbury Park boardwalk. He says, “If this town can come back, then so can I.” To which his Alzheimer-ailing mom responds, “Come back? Where did it go?”
One of the funniest bits in the musical drama is the opening scene in which world-famous lensman and frequent Aquarian contributor Mark Weiss plays himself as an aggressive photographer shooting Jack as a rising star. Mark Regan, owner of the Main Man record label Roth founded in the 1990s, also has a fun turn as the music manager who tempts the delusional rocker beyond his limits.
The film’s title is inspired by a John Eddie song, which Roth sings solo acoustic at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. DeVizia told a capacity Garden State Film Festival crowd that the initial storyline of Let Me Down Hard was inspired by Eddie’s dedication to his career as a rock ‘n’ roll troubadour in the face of professional obstacles and personal sacrifices.
Former managing editor Bob Makin has been contributing to The Aquarian Weekly and East Coast Rocker since 1988. He now is an entertainment writer for Gannett NJ and USA Today Network.