Johnny Harrington used to search through the Prince George Citizen classifieds for garage sale sites where he knew he would find comic-book treasures and old books that would fuel his imagination.
That imagination has come full circle with Harrington about to release a major Hollywood motion picture called Dead Awake starring Rose McGowan, Amy Smart and Nick Stahl.
Born in Prince George in 1971 Harrington went to North Nechako elementary as well as St. Mary's and attended secondary school when O'Grady high was still called Prince George College. He played hockey and was an avid and skilled soccer player and in 1987 his family moved south in order to live in a warmer climate where his dad could pursue his career in construction and the soccer season was longer.
Harrington was always interested in writing and theatre, even though he said his marks did not always reflect that.
"I was always keen on creative writing and poetry and putting on plays - even when I was in Prince George," he said. When he was given a soccer scholarship to the University of Louisville in Kentucky he had to declare a major and he picked English.
After college in 1994 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career in acting and writing.
Typically he was a waiter/bartender/acting student turned bit-part actor. The turning point in his career was when he got a small part in the thriller I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. When he got to the movie theatre to watch the film he found his scene was cut.
"That is what inspired me to write," Harrington said. "I'm waiting for my scene with Jennifer Love Hewitt, it gets to the part and my scene is cut. I was really embarrassed and disillusioned about the whole thing. To this day I still have people calling me and telling me they rented the movie and they see my name in the credits in the role of Todd but they don't see me in the movie. So at that point I realized I still want to be in this industry."
To even get to the point of getting auditions to get parts in movies a group of 20 Canadians got together and formed their own version of a talent agency called CanStar Entertainment. Harrington and his friends registered as an agency to get the inside scoop for parts. They would make the calls themselves. Harrington and his friends would use names of Montreal Canadiens hockey players. A typical call would go something like this.
"This is Guy LaFleur from CanStar Entertainiment. I got this actor Johnny Harrington. You have to meet him." And it would be Harrington calling for himself.
"We were totally pro," Harrington said. "We had business cards and we got the information we needed to go to the auditions."
There's a reality show in the works right now about just this kind of thing, Harrington added.
"I started to write so I would have more control over my career," said Harrington. "I felt if I could create a product maybe I could get a movie made."
The movie Dead Awake's premise came from Harrington's dad who attended one of his old friend's funerals in 1998. He was the only person attending the funeral in Vancouver except for the man's brother.
"That kind of hit me and I asked who would come to my funeral," Harrington said. At the same time there was a few major league baseball players that were killed in an accident and thousands of people showed up at their funerals, he added. Tommy Lasorda was quoted as saying you can tell a man's true character by who shows up at his funeral, Harrington said.
"That has stuck with me to this day," he said.
From there he and two friends, Justin Urich and fellow Canadian David Boivin, wrote a story about a man who put his own obituary in the paper, set a time for his funeral and waits to see only two people show up.
The movie questions death and what it is to be alive and people who have read the script have responded well to it, Harrington said.
The movie goes out in limited release by New Films International in the States Dec. 3 and will be available on DVD on March 29.
"The nice thing about this premiere will be I know nobody's cut out of it," Harrington laughed.
As he continues to write, his western The Sorrow and a family hockey movie called Stanley's Cup are both in preproduction and are slated to shoot in 2011.