Plans for a documentary to honor one of the truest voices in comedy has been announced. “Better Than You” is the title of the new doc going into production about the late Patrice O’Neal who passed away in 2011. The film is the work of Patrice’s fiance Von Decarlo and director / producer Mark Farrell who has worked with Larry David, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller and many more.
We talked with producer and director Mark Farrell about the project plans. Farrell says he got involved in the project when he received a phone call from Von through a mutual friend. He had met Patrice when O’Neal appeared in two episodes of “Z Rock”, a show Farrell produced and directed for IFC, and then worked with him again when Patrice was looking for a partner do develop and pitch his own show. “Well, I’m a storyteller and I think the story needs telling,” Farrell said. “Patrice was underrated by the people who didn’t know him, but everyone who knew him just loved him to death.”
The film will cover Patrice’s career, and his comedy as well as the inspiration he gave his friends and family, and feature people who adored Patrice O’Neal on and off the stage including Bill Burr, Colin Quinn, Jim Norton, Dane Cook, Rich Vos, Denis Leary, Jay Mohr, Opie, and Anthony Cumia. Plus, there will be memories from Patrice’s family including his mother Georgia. And of course the film will address Patrice’s integrity, and his style.
“Patrice really had a note of honesty about him that was hard to swallow among the Hollywood group. You had to put your ego aside to deal with Patrice, and that’s honestly what I loved about him,” Farrell told us. “He never pulled a punch. He never told you something he didn’t believe. He questioned everything based on its integrity and that’s very hard for people. It was hard for me as a director at first because I was trying to get seven pages done a day and he’s like, why are we doing this? I said, ‘well let’s just start with, we’re both getting paid so lets just do this,’ but he wanted to go deeper and the discussions were fruitful. But you really had to stop and deal with Patrice and that was, in the end, a great thing.”
Von Decarlo is on the masthead and will, at the end of the day, guide where the story goes. According to Mark, she wants the whole story told, even some parts that might be uncomfortable for some people. “We’re going to tell the stories that Jim tells about Brazil and that Von tells about Brazil, and we’re going to tell the stories about Patrice on the set and how some people loved him and some people hated him. Whatever it was, made you laugh, made you cry, he always made you think.” From Boston to New York, to the moment where his career was really about to turn, it will all be a part of the project.
Which leads to why the film is being crowdfunded. An Indiegogo campaign and page has been started for the project. According to Von and Mark, the sole purpose of crowdfunding this project is to keep complete creative control the way Patrice would have wanted it. This attitude is inspired by the way Patrice O’Neal approached his comedy and it was put into words by Bill Burr. He told Mark Farrell that he would only do an appearance in the doc if it is done “the right way”. That has become the film’s mantra.
Some of the perks for being part of the production campaign will include t-shirts, coffee mugs and invitations to the premiere and after-party. Plus, perks for the higher end donations include items like lifetime admission tickets to The Stand (that’s comedy for the rest of your life) or an appearance on SiriusXM’s Opie Radio with Opie and Jim Norton.
But the crowdfunding campaign is only one component of the funding plan for the film. “That number, $125,000 is not the full amount of what this is going to cost,” Farrell said. Even if they don’t reach the full goal they’ve set from Indiegogo, they are going to get started. “It’s going to cost double what our initial goal is, at least. And whether that money comes from private funding, or networks, or wherever it comes from, what we really wanted to do was get started being true to the fans and in partnership with the fans so that everybody felt like they were a part of this thing.”
To be a part of this documentary story of Patrice O’Neal, you can go to the “Better Than You” Indiegogo page.