I first saw the independent short film Multi-Facial about 2 years ago, and I still I find myself returning to watch it again and again. This is the first movie that Vin Diesel, wrote, produced, directed, and starred in, before he made his impact on Hollywood.
I have always found in fascinating to catch performances of stars before they become household names. It is clear from Vin’s performance here that his abilities stretch a great deal further than that of an action hero movie star.
The story of Multi-Facial is that of an actor called Mike played by Vin Diesel, who finds his quest for work is hindered by his racial mix. Through the film we follow Mike as he travels from one audition to another, where he delivers brilliant auditions, but each time he is faced with rejection due to him being considered either too light or too dark skinned. Despite the string of rejections, he sticks to his dream of becoming successful like his heroes, Robert De Nero, Marlon Brando, and Sidney Poitier. He shows incredibly determination in achieving his dreams, which can’t fail to make you admire this character. The final audition in the film where Vin delivers his monologue about his father, to me is the high point of the whole film. And I challenge anyone not to be moved and impressed by Vin’s performance. It almost felt like he was actually talking to me. The film ends with Vin’s character Mike sitting in a café pondering over his day and his life. He overhears a conversation of a girl ordering a coffee, requesting that it is “not too light, not too dark.” It brings a small smile to his face and sums things up in a very simple and clever way .The message in the story is very simple yet incredibly important and powerful. The film also includes music recorded by Vin himself, and during one scene he performs a very entertaining rap. All of the performances come across as very natural, giving a tremendous feeling of realism to the film.
Multi-Facial is roughly 20 minutes long, and is shot on 16mm film. Vin actually borrowed the word processor that he used to write the script, which he returned to the shop afterwards. He wrote the script within 30 days. In just 3 days the film was shot on a budget of $3000. Multi-Facial was completed and released in 1994, and was then accepted to be shown at the 1995 Cannes film festival. In 1998 Vin received a call from his agent saying that Steven Spielberg wanted to get in touch with him based on the strength of his performance in Multi-Facial. This phone call resulted in Vin getting his first Hollywood role in Saving Private Ryan.
This is one of those films that really does prove how important independent films are. And it gives great encouragement to everyone trying to make an impression on the extremely tough and competitive world of acting, not just through the tale of Mike itself, but through Vin’s own story. If things are not going very quickly or very well in your acting pursuits, then make something yourself.
I can’t recommend this film enough. The story in the film, and the story about the making of the film are captivating.
By Paul Reeves