We can’t brag enough about our biggest competitive advantage: Our people. They’re some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people on the planet – and we’re not exaggerating. In fact, if you knew even half the things our employees are up to in their spare time, it would blow your mind.
The Secret Life of RV reveals some of the coolest things our employees are doing outside of work. (Read: THIS is where we blow your mind.)
Secret Life: Mike Monzitta
Senior copywriter/Sci-Fi movie star
Mike graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, and he’s been a professional writer ever since. Before joining the GoodCall content team at RV, Mike was a copy lead for the branding and broadcast team at a large company in Charlotte. Aside from writing, he enjoys boxing, ‘80s metal, and his cat, Renée (although not necessarily in that order).
Oh, he also starred in the full-length horror film Night Feeders. Haven’t seen it? This way, please. We’ll see you back here in an exactly one hour and twenty-three minutes.
Four deer hunters encounter a horde of carnivorous aliens in a remote countryside and fight to survive the night. [Spoiler: it doesn’t go well.]
Q: Thanks for talking with us Mike! First of all: Every superstar has an origin story. What’s yours?
A: When I was a kid I wanted to be an actor, but I thought that was too lofty. I went to college for journalism and got my degree. Back then, I wanted to be a screenwriter — I thought I’d write films instead of act in them.
My first job out of college was with a company that reviewed self-help books, like The Secret. After months and months of reading lines like “if you can dream it, you can do it!” I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. I AM dreaming it! And I CAN do this!” That motivated me to go into acting.
Q: Nice! How did you land your first gig?
Heh. It’s such a cliché story…
Q: We can take it.
A: Well, before I started taking classes or had an agent, a casting director randomly walked up to me at the gym and asked me if I’d be interested in auditioning for a Lowe’s commercial the following day. I’d never had an audition in my life, but, somehow, I got the part! That was when I really started to consider acting professionally as a possibility. I signed up for acting classes, met with agents, and really went for it.
Q: Lowe’s? That’s a big deal!
A: It was pretty fun. You may have seen me, hand over heart, nodding confidently in the background of that spot — or in a Harris Teeter commercial I did a little later. I even did a commercial for a local weatherman (is that a thing?), which actually aired during the Superbowl! Mostly, I was doing a lot of background work, which is exactly what it sounds like…
Q: And then you got your big break…
A: Haha you could say that. I’d been acting in commercials for about 3 years when my agent called about an audition for Night Feeders — a movie about four deer hunters who go camping and get attacked by aliens. I immediately called him back and was like, “Alien movie? Sign me up.” I was really excited about it and wanted to get it right. I even called my acting teacher to sit down and run some lines before the audition. And I got the role!
“Please, NO PAPARAZZI” – Mike, probably
Q: Congrats! (Only a whole decade late.) What happened next?
A: We filmed in the outskirts of North Carolina. There was about a month of production. Of course, we all had day jobs, so the majority was filmed between 8pm and 3am. We wrapped on Halloween night.
Q: Were any aliens harmed in the making of this movie?
A: No, no. The aliens are just really bad CGI. But we did have an alien puppet that we used as a practical prop on set. There’s one scene where my character has to go back to a campsite for a camera. (We thought it would be fun to hit all the horror movie clichés that get people killed.)
Just as the alien jumps out to attack, my character snaps a picture and scares it off with the camera flash (see above gif). I actually kept that camera after we finished filming, and I still have the picture from that moment:
Rare photographic evidence that aliens probably definitely exist.
Q: Jokes aside, we heard that Night Feeders got picked up by the SyFy network. So it is kind of a big deal…
A: Yep, it aired on the network for 3 years! I remember when it first came out on DVD, and it was available at Blockbuster. It was such a cool feeling to walk into the store and see your name on the cover. I’m not proud of this, but I would occasionally bring dates by to “pick up a movie” and “accidentally” spot Night Feeders on the shelf. (Just kidding. Maybe.)
Q: Honestly, where would any of us be without Blockbuster? #RIP.
A: Right?! I was living in Hollywood at the time, and I remember thinking, “Man, what if Steven Spielberg rents it!” Ironically, several years later, one of the guys from Night Feeders actually went on to have a fairly significant role in Lincoln… by Steven Spielberg.
Q: *Record scratch* Wait a minute, when did we get to Hollywood?
A: Oh yeah – this was around 2006. I actually moved to LA on the strength of Night Feeders—which I don’t recommend. I was out there for three years and I auditioned for some pretty cool things: a few Stallone flicks (guess I look the part), a ton of commercials, pilots, TV shows. I didn’t get any of the big roles, but I did pick up some great stories.
Q: That’s what we came for!
A: Haha well, when you’re acting professionally, you’re doing multiple auditions per day which makes it nearly impossible to keep a full-time job. So, I worked at the Hollywood YMCA as a personal trainer for the “stars”—the kind of B-list stars who actually use the YMCA. Most of the people I worked with were famous in the 80s – a few Mighty Ducks, a couple of bad guys from Karate Kid.
Q: Amazing. What brought you back to the east coast?
A: I guess I just began to realize I wasn’t having fun anymore. It’s such a competitive business, and I’m a horrible self-promoter. I’d show up to auditions and see 50 guys that look exactly like me — except taller. And tanner. And buffer. The mindset for everyone out there is, “it’s only a matter of time before I get my big break…” And nobody’s telling you otherwise. I knew if I didn’t get out when I did, I’d probably be stuck there for the rest of my life.
Q: And then how’d you end up here at Red Ventures?
A: I came back to Charlotte and worked at a big corporate office as a copywriter but was always looking for a more creative outlet. I’ve been at RV for three months now, and I love it. It’s amazing how fun it is. There are so many people here with that same itch to create – whether it’s art, businesses, or something else – and I find that incredibly energizing.
Fuel that creative fire!
Q: Do you ever miss the glitz and glamour of Hollywood?
I hate to disappoint – but I really don’t. I was so ruined on it because of the business side of things. I do miss the performance part and have considered getting back into acting classes, but only as a hobby. I was so serious about it when I was younger, and I don’t think I could ever do it again with that kind of intensity. Aside from RV Culture FEST videos, I’ve officially retired.
Q: Makes total sense. But – it must still feel good to look back and know that you did it.
A: Oh definitely. And let’s be clear — I am not a good actor (laughs). But, in a weird way I’m proud of it. I must have seen Night Feeders more than any other movie. If you watch it knowing that it’s a silly movie, it’s a lot of fun. And you can imagine what it was like to want something for so long — and finally have that opportunity. I’ll be forever thankful for those terrible, totally ridiculous CGI aliens.
It’s not listed on his IMDb page (yet), but Mike’s latest project, Code Ninja, premieres on Thursday, July 27th at the 2017 RV Film Fest. Don’t miss it!