You could say it plays like an episode of "Entourage" with Bob Fosse-style musical numbers instead of club-hopping. Or a miniature version of Robert Altman's cameo-heavy "The Player," although in this case the screenwriter wants to kill himself.
"Not Your Time" is a short film now making the film-festival rounds; it stars Jason Alexander (left), and also features Kathy Najimy and Broadway star Valarie Pettiford.
But the casting that could make the 25-minute musical a must-see in certain circles comes in its smaller roles and cameos, which are studded with names from Hollywood's executive suites.
Producers Jack Rapke, Joe Roth, Sid Ganis, Stuart Cornfeld, Neal Israel and Laurence Mark play themselves in the film, as do directors Amy Heckerling and Neal Israel.
Agent Craig Wyckoff has a bigger role, though he plays "Dave, the agent" rather than himself.
And Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal steals the show with a short scene in which she decides that the editor who's calling her threatening suicide must actually be pitching a story, and tells her assistant to have the distraught caller get in touch with her production chief, Doug Belgrad.
"And then call Doug and tell Doug to take his call … and really have a meeting," Pascal (right) mutters, slouched in her chair with her hair askew. "Like, don’t do that thing where you don’t, you know."
An award winner at the Boston and New Media Film Festivals, "Not Your Time" is a semi-autobiographical, comic extravaganza from Sony staff editor Jay Kamen, who took out a second mortgage on his house to finance the $170,000 short about an editor who really wants to write and direct musicals. (He also got a lot of help from Sony's staff and facilities.)
And he's hoping that the result will get him offers to, you guessed it, write and direct musicals.
The trailer, with a few of the exec cameos and a snippet of Pascal's scene:
"I've been a film editor for 34 years, so I know a lot of those people, and almost all of them said yes," said Kamen, who has worked on films that include "Clueless" and "The Hunt for Red October," and who currently specializes in editing films for the non-theatrical market. (In other words, he takes out swearwords for TV and airline distribution.)
"And it wasn't like I was asking them for a directing job."
Producer and former Academy president Sid Ganis, who has acted in a number of films in the past, said he readily agreed to appear in the short. "Jay and I have both been on the [Sony] lot doing one thing or another for a very long time, and I knew he had ambitions to write and direct," Ganis told TheWrap.
"He easily convinced me to do it with flattery, he was in and out in 40 minutes, and he even paid me a few bucks. And then I thought he put it all together brilliantly."
(Ganis was paid $100 because he's in SAG, said Kamen; the other executives were not paid.)
Pascal, said Kamen, was the one he was most hesitant about approaching – but she agreed to do it, and then gave him one day's notice and half an hour to shoot her scene. His crew lit her office while the exec was working, and when they'd finished she did three takes and then went back to work.
At the end, Kamen said, Pascal laughed, "So that's all there is to acting?"
The other execs in his film, he said, have responded positively – though Amy Heckerling complained that Pascal and Stuart Cornfeld are funnier in the film than she is. (They are, but Heckerling's pretty funny, too.)
So far, "Not Your Time" hasn't gotten Kamen a directing job – but it did land him a manager, a lot of meetings, and interest in several circles in turning the short into a television series.
"I'll be happy if I can pull a feature out of this," Kamen told TheWrap this week. "My dream was always to direct, and I thought, I'm not going down until I give it my best shot to do what I want."