Ryan Bradford in The Poof Point
In honor of the Local Music Issue, I’d like to share my own brush with rock and roll stardom.
Look up Ryan Bradford on the Internet Movie Database, more commonly known as IMDB, and this is what you get:
· 2005 3:am (Short)
· 2001 The Poof Point (TV Movie)
· 2008 Gay Hitmen (Short)
· 1996 Saved by the Bell: The New Class (TV Series)
I don’t really know how to explain 3:am and Gay Hitmen except that my friends and I made a lot of movies in college while we were drunk.
The Saved By The Bell credit belongs to a different Ryan Bradford, a child actor who also appeared in the second-to-last episode of LOST. I’ll often check out his Twitter profile to see who has more followers. It’s always him.
The Poof Point, though. That’s totally me.
In high school, I played drums in a punk band called The Flare with my friend, Ryan Seaman, whose dad was a director of photography in the film industry. This also happened to be in Utah, a right-to-work state, which meant there were a lot of small-budget, non-union projects being filmed there. Disney, being a historically anti-union company, filmed a lot of shit there, including the The Poof Point.
Now, when I said The Flare was a punk band, I meant we were pop-punk. We were Disney punk. Our songs were about dancing while you’re driving and being sad after a break-up. But they were good*, and worthy of Disney stardom, despite Mr. Seaman’s blatant nepotism.
Our Disney-funded album, Burning the Journal
Our Disney-funded album, Burning the Journal
After landing the gig, Disney paid us (PAID! US!) to record a couple songs at a fancy studio in the industrial outskirts of Salt Lake City. Our producer was a legit professional, and I remember simultaneously disliking him and feeling sorry for him. Imagine the Twilight Zone twistiness of being a well-regarded audio expert, but having a mousey overlord force you to record a bunch of shitty teens.
This guy would say things like “your songs don’t make sense, musically” or tell our singer that our music didn’t match her voice. The producer even tried to make me do a drum roll to intro one of our songs, and, oh boy, I wasn’t having it. We don’t change our music for suits, man. I was also not technically proficient enough to do a drumroll.
The plot of The Poof Point involves two kids whose wacky scientist parents (the father is played by Mark Curry from Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper) invent a reverse-aging machine. When the parents use it on themselves, they begin to mentally regress, and their kids must race against time to reverse the reverse aging before their parents hit infancy, i.e. the poof point. (Apologies—I get 25-cent royalties every time I write or say the movie title).
Complicating matters, Curry’s son (Tahj Mowry from Sister, Sister) wants to join our band. But get this: his rehearsal is at the same time as his parents’ catastrophic, potential poof point (cha-ching!).
After our first day on set, I understood why child actors are so fucked up: anything you want, it’s yours. Candy, soda, catered meals. It’s a bacchanalian orgy of freedom and hedonism, corrupting kids in the same manner as Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island—but turning them into assholes instead of jackasses.
Curry provided a dire glimpse into a future provided by Disney stardom. To say he was strange is a bit of an understatement. I have vivid memories of a stunt where Curry’s character accidentally sets the school principal on fire, and if you can picture the hallucinatory image of Curry laughing gleefully while a stunt person’s head burned, you’ve now just imagined one of my most frequent, recurring nightmares.
The Poof Point’s set also became rotten with teen hormones. Little romances sprung up. I’m pretty sure Ryan spent a lot of time hooking up with the entire supporting cast. I, however, spent most of the time self-conscious about my made-up face and wardrobe. Adorned with an embarrassing red shirt with flames on it, there was no way I was going to to pull moves on any Disney tween. The makeup department thought it’d be cool to slather my face with fake tan—I looked like someone had pureed Donald Trump and blasted my face with him.
While Ryan was off macking, I spent a lot of time alone, exploring empty parts of the set and discovering strange items. I found a copy of The Communist Manifesto in the bookshelves on the set meant to be Tahj’s bedroom. While Ryan was copping feels with brace-faced divas, I was diving deep into the worm hole of class struggle and the evils of capitalism.
It took about a week to film our scenes, and by the end, everyone in our band was thoroughly corrupted by the limelight. Except me. As we all know, I became a socially adept, happy person who never dwells on the past and who doesn’t sell bootlegged CD-Rs of The Flare’s album out of the trunk of my car for only $6 a piece. No siree, the rock and roll lifestyle just wasn’t for me. I’m totally fine with watching whatever fame I had disappear. Totally. Poof.