I love living in L.A. I love seeing Independent Films on opening weekend with Q&As by Directors or Writers or Actors. These usually happen at The Landmark, Arclight or Sundance Cinemas on Sunset. And they’re easy to get into if you buy your tickets online in advance.

Just saw two good films, DEAN and BAND AID, each with Q&A’s led by a lead Actor who’s also the Director and the Writer of his/her film.

Demetri Martin (DEAN) and Zoe Lister-Jones (BAND AID) are the Triple Threats possessing talent that crosses over into just about everywhere. These Hollywood Hybrids have stick-to-itiveness, charisma and the courage to turn their dreams into financed films, Festival Darlings and films that open with Q&As in major cities.

Like me and most Actors (except for maybe Actors like Jennifer Lawrence and Dwayne Johnson) Martin and Lister-Jones became frustrated with a system in which Actors are at the mercy of someone else’s vision and conflicting priorities. Unlike me, they’ve got the balls to go all the way.

Demetri Martin is the heart and soul of DEAN

Martin is more than a Triple Threat, he’s a Quadruple! Yes, besides being the Director, Writer + Talent, he’s also the Illustrator of charming sketches that share the screen with live action and offer insight into the mind and mood of the main character, “Dean.” Martin’s very personal film is about loss, love and coming-of-age. He’s surrounded himself with a talented cast, including Gillian Jacobs, Reid Scott, Kevin Klein and Mary Steenburgen and has allowed them the freedom to do what they do best. The film’s got cool music and cool images. Martin tells his heartfelt story in a very funny and relatable way.

Speaking of relatable, that’s how I’d describe Demetri Martin. He’s hilarious, but never in that typically Stand-up Comic “ON” sorta way. His talent and humor sneak up on you. I loved hearing his stories about his trip to the East Coast to pitch Kevin Kline and how that meal changed everything — or how Martin struggled to stay in character on set when the next day’s location had just fallen through completely.

Zoe Lister-Jones’s BAND AID is about love, pain and rock ‘n roll therapy

BAND AID’S premise spoke to me immediately when I saw the trailer: “Young Couple (Zoe Lister-Jones and fabulous Adam Pally from The Mindy Project) starts a band and turn raw-and-real fights into songs to save a marriage.”

Lister-Jones is the Director, Writer, Female Lead and the actual, songwriter,  so she too is a Quadruple Threat. Kudos to Lister-Jones for hiring an all-female crew and for surrounding herself with smart Actors who are known for comedy, but can expose dramatic truths. Lister-Jones is one of the best parts of LIFE IN PIECES, but you can really see her incredible range and willingness to show vulnerability in BAND AID. Adam Pally’s really impressive in the way he does double-duty with his voice saying one thing, while delivering an even more powerful message with his eyes — particularly in the last Act.

Fred Armison takes comedy beyond, BEYOND as the recovering sex-addict drummer and weird-creepy neighbor. BAND AID is filled with funny cameos from pals Brooklyn Decker, Angelique Cabral, Colin Hanks and Majandra Delfino. Like DEAN, BAND AID is based on real life experiences, so there’s humor and pathos in every scene.

I’m in awe, truly in AWE when I hear about Actors who face fears and just GO FOR IT!  They’re able to access their inner powers and transform themselves into their own SUPERHEROES.

So brave! So inspiring! I wish I could access mine and tranform myself…

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