April 18, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

D.B.Sweeney

D.B. Sweeney

Since the mid 1980s D.B. Sweeney’s been a sustainable force in the acting community, working consistently, delivering top-notch performances in films and T.V. series such as Memphis Belle, The Cutting Edge, Life As We Know It and Jericho – the list goes on.

With his new movie Two Tickets To Paradise Santa Monica resident Sweeney takes a turn in the director’s chair, creating a truthful depiction of male friendship and bonding during an impromptu road trip from Pennsylvania to Florida. The journey provides the characters the opportunity for reflection, laughter and catharsis.

Co-written by Brian Currie, starring John C. McGinley, Paul Hipp, and Sweeney himself, the film’s meager budget comes as a surprise – $1.8 million. “We didn’t cut anything out, we just did things in an economical fashion,†says Sweeney, who shot in North Carolina, cashing in on the state’s film financing infrastructure.  

Paul Hipp, John C. McGinley and D.B. Sweeney on the set

Sweeney improvised creative budgetary alternatives. When he couldn’t find an alligator wrangler for a particular scene, he contacted a man whose business consists of relocating reptiles from construction sites. Sweeney asked for “two really big, aggressive snapping alligators…I didn’t really think much about safety,†admits Sweeney. “I figured the guy would take care of it.â€

The man showed up with two enormous alligators (loaded in tubes, their mouths taped closed), some 2-inch rope and circus pegs. He proceeded to hammer the pegs into the ground, tying the rope around the back legs of the beasts, tethering them to the pegs, before pulling the tape off their jaws.

Sweeney assessed the situation. “Three feet to the right of my right foot was a nine foot alligator, three feet to the left of my left foot was a seven footer.†  Sweeney asked, “Wait a minute, what other safety features are there?†The man replied, “That’s it.†Sweeney queried, “What do I do if they get loose?†The man sardonically responded, “Run towards the little one.†Fortunately all went well.

The music credits are equally impressive: Springsteen, Dire Straits and Dylan. “Any independent filmmaker knows that if you go through the record companies, they want to hear a six-figure offer or they laugh at you,†says Sweeney, who received gracious favors from long-time industry contacts.

At a party (14 years ago) Springsteen recognized Sweeney from his role as ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson in the baseball film Eight Men Out. They exchanged brief mutual admiration. When it came time to choose songs Sweeney sent Springsteen a kind letter explaining this film was his “labor of love†and, “Springsteen,†says Sweeney, “told his manager, ‘I like this guy, give him what he wants.’† 

Sweeney then parlayed backstage passes to a Mark Knopfler concert into an opportunity to approach Knopfler about obtaining the rights to the Dire Straits’ song “Walk of Life.†Sweeney says, “I had already filmed the scene where we sing along with [the song] which is the stupidest thing to do, but I couldn’t think of another song that worked.†Upon meeting Knopfler he half-jokingly said, “I really can’t leave without the rights.†Knopfler admired Sweeney’s plucky attitude, and signed off.

Moira Kelly and D.B. Sweeney relax between takes

This doesn’t come as a surprise. Sweeney has an easy, genial way about him so it’s understandable that he’s been able to come by such extraordinary favors. He’s simply a sincere, down-to-earth, good-natured guy.

But even nice guys suffer the occasional setback. The most difficult part of the process came five days before shooting began. Sweeney says, “I realized that the director of photography was not on my side and I had to fire him.†Sweeney had invested his own equity in the film so he was duly concerned but as luck would have it, Sweeney, who had no replacement at the time, found Claudio Rocha, “an incredibly talented D.P.†  Rocha did a seamless job of making 16mm look like 35mm.

Sweeney’s most recent acting vehicle is the Starz cable series Crash produced by Paul Haggis.  Crash is based on “the energy and themes of the movie,†says Sweeney “Without any of the storylines…I play a real estate developer who’s been crushed by the sub-prime mortgage crisis…affecting the [character’s] family and professional life…he spirals down, out of control.†Crash airs Friday nights.

Sweeney’s film, Two Tickets To Paradise,†debuts on Showtime on December 3.
Photo credit: ©Maya Myers

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