‘Gone for the Weekend’: Troy Burbank’s Raucous Indie Comedy Debuts at the Garden State Film Festival

When Phil’s wife heads off on a “so-called” business trip, he gathers his friends for a no-holds-barred weekend. The problem: Phil’s middle-aged friends still think they’re teenagers and are culturally stuck in the ‘80s. Chaos ensues as the boys—more concerned with partying and getting high than being adults—go to Go-Go bars, try to pick up women, and stalk legendary rock photographer Mark Weiss in hopes of going back stage at concerts to meet their rock heroes. The film features cameos by Tesla bassist Brian Wheat and Enuff Z’nuff’s Chip Z’nuff. Recently, AQ sat down for a chat with both Burbank and Weiss.

Gone for the Weekend is certainly a “New Jersey movie.”

Troy: Absolutely. I grew up in Leonardo, New Jersey, and the characters in the film are based on real people. They were my older brother’s friends. A lot of what happens in the film was inspired by watching my brother and his friends.

Kevin Smith [Clerks, Mallrats] also hails from the area. The taste for filmmaking must be in the water.

Troy: I’ve known Kevin Smith since his days working at the Quick Stop [as seen in Smith’s film Clerks]. I lived five minutes away and would go there for milk and lottery tickets. He was going to cameo in the film, but there were scheduling issues. One of Kevin’s best friends, Ernie O’Donnell, not only appears in the film but is also credited as an associate producer. He’s going to help secure a distributor and get the word out. I also hope Kevin gives the film his blessing. I really think Gone for the Weekend is Kevin’s type of film.

How did Mark get involved?

Troy: Mark and I have a mutual friend, Danny Sanchez, who has helped me during my [foray] into filmmaking. He has introduced me to camera guys and audio people. I asked him to see if Mark would be interested in doing a cameo in the film.

Mark: Danny put me in touch with Troy about three years ago when he was [working on an early draft of the script]. To be honest, I didn’t think he was there yet. About six months ago, Troy hit me up again and told me he had rewritten the script. I didn’t expect much, but when I saw it, he had really gotten things together.


What impressed you?

Mark: I was impressed with the overall project: the script, the lighting, everything. I told him I would do it. I did this little diner scene and after I saw the footage, I started getting these ideas. At that point, the film was done, but I said, “We’re just getting started.”

How did Tesla bassist Brian Wheat get involved?

Mark: I came up with these rock ‘n’ roll ideas. I reached out to Brian and he said sure. He told us to meet them where they were playing, and we shot [the scene] on the band’s bus.

At that point, Troy considered the film “wrapped”?

Mark: Yes. He was ready to submit it to the film festival, but I told him I had this idea that would add value to the film. My daughter Adele was graduating college and we were throwing her a big party at my house. There was going to be an ‘80s cover band. I told Troy to let the characters crash the party and he ran with it.

The scene is great, but weren’t you concerned about clearance for certain images in your studio?

Mark: When I saw the footage, it was exactly as I had envisioned. One of the characters is wearing a Twisted Sister t-shirt and looking at photos in my studio. Troy asked about us using it in the film and I said, “Don’t worry, it’s my photo [on the shirt].” He said, “We still need clearance.” So, I contacted [Twisted Sister guitarist and manager] Jay Jay [French]. I shot the cover photo for [the band’s] Stay Hungry album and I [remain] close with the guys. Getting [clearance] was not an issue.

Chip Z’nuff cameos in a bathroom dream sequence?

Troy: Mark said Enuff Z’nuff was performing at the Stone Pony and we should go to meet Chip.

Mark: I told Troy to talk to him a bit. They hit it off and, a week later, we flew Chip in from Chicago.

And in the sequence, he sings one of Enuff Z’nuff’s biggest hits “Fly High Michelle.”

Mark: The actress in the film is named Michele, so it all ties in.

Music is an important part of Gone for the Weekend.

Troy: I grew up during the ‘80s and that decade produced the music I still listen to today. Maybe this is just me getting older, but I still love ‘80s music and film. That was what I was hoping to recapture with this film.

Will you be releasing film’s soundtrack?

Troy: We’re considering it. Each song in the movie—except “Fly High Michelle”—was written and recorded by an independent artist. I went to each one and asked if they had a song that they’d be interested in including…. I said, ‘If it fits, I will use it.’ Every song contributed was used. Red Bank’s Colossal Street Jam ended up contributing four songs.

Gone for the Weekend is referred to as a Leonardo Boyz Production.

Troy: When I started making movies in 2008, I simply thought Leonardo Boyz was a good production name.

Will Leonardo Boyz produce other filmmakers’ projects?

Troy: Ironically, I have been contacted by other filmmakers recently asking if I would produce their projects. I am not opposed to it. If I think it is good, I would certainly produce it.

You are already thinking about a sequel?

Mark: Yes. Gone for the Weekend 2. After that we are hoping to turn the concept into something episodic, perhaps a rom-com sitcom. The guys will continue stalking me and try to get into concerts by bands from the ‘80s by using my contacts.

Troy: A sequel could happen, if everything falls into place. I also have another script I’m developing, including a comedy titled Saint Patrick’s Day.

Given your background in boxing, you haven’t considered a pugilistic comedy?

Troy: I was involved with boxing for so long that I have no desire to do that type of movie. It just doesn’t appeal to me right now.

The film will be shown at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park on Saturday, March 30th at 9pm. That is quite an honor.

Troy: Most films in the festival will be shown in smaller venues at earlier times. We could have been placed at 2pm in the afternoon on a Sunday in a mediocre location. We plan on packing the place with the following we have built through Facebook and other places.

For an independent filmmaker, social media is vital to your success.

Troy: Absolutely. And I’ve just started promoting the film’s inclusion at the Garden State Film Festival. Social networking is one of the few promotion tools indie film makers have available. People can go to Troy Burbank or Gone for the Weekend on Facebook or leonardoboyzfilms.com.

An Official Garden State Film Festival selection, Gone for the Weekend premieres on Saturday, March 30 at 9pm at the Paramount Theater 1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712.

For tickets go to www.gsff.org