A ‘Roger’ Redux on the Radar
By now you’ve probably seen the old Roger Clemens. No, not the one who looked ancient in losing to the Orioles Wednesday night. We’re talking Roger 2057, the short video created by Natick’s Michael Barber that was launched two weeks ago and has taken the Internet by storm.
Roger 2057 lasted nearly two weeks on top of Boston.com’s most e-mailed list, got a mention in Sports Illustrated, and was recently blasted all over ESPN. Even Roger Clemens himself laughed when he saw the video prior to a start recently. “The Internet is blowing my mind,” said Barber, regarding how quickly the buzz about the film has spread.
“I thought it would be something that Red Sox fans would get a kick out of,” the 34-year-old said of his original aspirations for the short film. “It’s just amazing.”
The Stonehill College grad has been acting in Los Angeles for about 10 years, primarily working in theater and doing the Southern California comedy circuit. “This is the first thing I’ve made as a film,” says Barber, who paid for the production of the video himself but got a lot of help from his camera guys, special-effects friends, and post-production crew.
Now Barber is ready to get back to the drawing board for another Roger video before expanding his efforts into other sporting areas. “We’re going to do more of it. It’s been an idea I’ve kind of played with,” said Barber on his desire to do more sports related videos. “I want to make topical sports films of a good quality, speaking about something that’s going on right now. Sports fans are also fans of film, television, and music. People’s tastes are pretty good.”
Barber is a real deal Sox fan, sans Red Sox Nation card. His favorite player growing up was Yaz. He used to take the train in from Natick to get standing room seats during the non-eventful playoff games of 1988 and 1990, when the A’s Dave Stewart used to eat Roger Clemens's lunch on a regular basis.
“His poster was on my wall growing up,” Barber said of the Rocket. “It was a big deal if I had tickets and Roger was pitching. There’s something about his bravado that I love. It’s the thing with Texans. They’ve got this bravado you can key into.”
Matt Oates, a Sacramento native, co-directed the 2057 film with Barber. “He’s the reason it looks so good,” Barber said. “I already got him on board for the next one.”
When the pair was looking for someone to play Brian Cashman, Jr. in the short film, Oates suggested that Barber knew the subject matter better than any other actor in the Los Angeles area, Michael Chiklis, Ben Affleck, and Mike O’Malley notwithstanding. So Barber took on the role himself.
But the true star of 2057 is the 95-year-old Johnny Holiday, who didn’t start acting until the age of 87 after a photographer told him he’d be a natural for film. The energetic Holiday had just worked on a short film in which he played the Pope when friends of Barber told him about the elder actor. “I just called him up on the phone, told him about the idea and he said ‘Oh that’s great. Fantastic.’ And he was on board.”
Not all of the feedback around the Internet has been positive.
“I actually enjoy some of the negative feedback,” said Barber, who works at a Los Angeles advertising agency as a media buyer by day. “We were laughing at one of the comments from someone who said ‘It must be great to have so much time on your hands,’ like we were trust-fund babies. Truth is, when we finished the video, we went out and got some cheap beer and crunch wrap supremes from Taco Bell to celebrate.”