Jim and Christie Wood grow up in the romantic comedy documentary, The Front Man. Image courtesy of Jim and Christie Wood.

Five-time Emmy winner and Independent Spirit Award nominee Paul Devlin’s new film, THE FRONT MAN, premieres in Los Angeles and then in Orange County at the LA Comedy Festival,  followed by screenings at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Director Paul Devlin and star Jim Wood will attend both screenings. 

THE FRONT MAN is a departure for filmmaker Paul Devlin, whose documentaries (Power Trip, BLAST!) have won him over a dozen film festival awards, an Independent Spirit Award nomination and a global audience. Thirteen years in the making, THE FRONT MAN is a rare nonfiction rock ‘n roll comedy love story. 

THE FRONT MAN is about a man so busy chasing his dreams that he risks missing what success really means. Jim Wood is bursting with personality, always ready to take center stage with his clever bawdy humor. A talented musician, Jim is still dedicated to his New Jersey band Loaded Poets, together 20 years since high school. But as Jim grapples with the broken promise of rock ‘n roll stardom, he must reconcile his joy of creating music and his wife Christie’s desire for a child with a culture in which anything short of celebrity is failure. Is growing up the same as giving up?

The Front Man tells the remarkable love story of Jim and Christie Wood. Image courtesy of Jim and Christie Wood.

Director Paul Devlin describes the early process of making THE FRONT MAN as very loose and improvisational. “It started out just as a series of gags, because Jim and Christie are so funny. But then we began focusing in on interesting story threads that began to emerge in their lives, and themes developed that were unexpectedly poignant.” As the project was postponed and then re-visited, its slow progress became an asset. An intimate portrait gradually takes on epic proportions as Devlin essentially captures Wood’s entire adulthood over a 27-year period. THE FRONT MAN has evolved into a serious, if satirical, commentary on middle class America and its obsession with celebrity.

“It’s an honor to screen at a prestigious event like Newport Beach Film Festival,” says Devlin, “but adding the LA Comedy Festival to that feels like a breakthrough. So many people resist the idea that a documentary can be a comedy. Documentaries are supposed to save the world, not make people laugh. It was a real challenge getting my colleagues and the industry to accept this movie, but now we’re gaining momentum because it’s such a crowd-pleaser. Maybe I’ll just start calling it a comedy and drop the word ‘documentary.’”

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