Colin Michael Day on The Loneliest Road in America, stardom and avoiding getting stabbed
A couple of years back, University of Denver grads Mardana Mayginnes and Colin Michael Day set out from Denver and headed to Los Angeles to chase the dream of making it big in the film world -- and now, they return to accomplish that goal with a film about that trip...sort of. For The Lonliest Road in America, their first feature film, which they co-wrote and produced together (Mayginnes directs and Day stars), the two used their Denver-to-L.A. road trip as a template for the story of three characters taking their time and exploring the desolate Nevada stretch of Highway 50 from which the film takes its name, and where it was all filmed on location. The resulting movie, which premiered last year in L.A. and has been making the rounds of the small-festival circuit, is getting its first Denver screening tonight with appearances from both Mayginnes and Day. In advance of that, we caught up with Day to chat about the film, the original road trip and almost getting stabbed by a drunk archeologist.
Colin Michael Day is contractually obligated to do the "sexy tiger" face in every photo he takes.
Westword: The movie obviously hasn't screened anywhere here yet, so I haven't been able to see it. Do you mind telling me a little about it?
Colin Michael Day: It's a road-trip movie from Denver to L.A. The main character, Jamie, who I play, has got a girlfriend back home, he's going to college and he just feels like he has to get away, and so he goes on a road trip with his friend Matt. Matt has a lot of money, has sex with a lot of women, all that, and he's like, let's just go to Vegas, but Jamie wants to go to these small mining towns along Highway 50 in Nevada that have been abandoned when the mines moved on, and just meet some of the people who live there and hear their stories. So they go, and they get drunk in all these towns. There's a lot of drinking in the movie.
What starts to happen is, they pick up a girl along the way that Matt knows, and this love relationship kind of starts to happen between Jamie and Ashley, the girl that they pick up. So you're going through all these mining towns that have been used and just sort of exploited by capitalism -- once the mine moves on, the town dies -- and Jamie's kind of starting to do that with women; he's already got a girlfriend at home who he's basically left for Ashley, and in the end, he kind of leaves Ashley behind and betrays all of his friends. So the effect of capitalism on these small towns kind of reflects Jamie's attitude toward women, which is basically he just leaves all this devastation in his wake, doing whatever the fuck he wants.
WW: You and Mayginnes had made basically this same trip when you moved out to L.A. Is it a true story?
CMD: Semi, yeah. We road-tripped to L.A., but we kind of came up with the idea because we wanted to do something that we knew, and we've road-tripped a lot -- so there are a lot of true stories or true experiences in it, although the narrative itself is fictional. You know, going on the scouting trip before we started shooting and hanging out in these mining towns and hanging out with the locals, we had to change the script. The experiences we had just during that, we were like, we gotta put some of this stuff in.
But, yeah, the characters are kind of based on some of the people we know, and these mining towns -- Mardana knows about them because of a trip that he took when he was younger, with his father. So we used that in the movie, like Jamie knowing where to go, and how to find some of these more obscure towns that aren't necessarily right on Highway 50, that you'd really have to know how to find them to not just end up totally lost in the desert.