After a documentary about a summer camp for underprivileged kids (Wabenaki Braves) and the creatures of the night opus Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1, writer-director Phil Messerer has ventured into the realm of dark comedy.
Premiering Friday July 27th at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, Underbelly Blues is about Uforic (Jamar Neighbors), a rapper whose life is threatened when car trouble in the desert brings him into contact with hillbilly York (Seamus Reed). He convinces his captor to accompany him to LA in pursuit of a briefcase full of cash, which leads to encounters with lesbian strippers, a Bruce Lee obsessed redneck and more.
What's most notable about Underbelly Blues is that Messerer, for his 26 speaking parts, gathered together various up-and-coming members of the Hollywood comedy scene and charged them with creating their own characters, first. After two months of improv, Messerer and Reed (who also co-wrote) then fashioned together a script based on these creations.
Another thing worth mentioning is Messerer's unlikely heritage. His father, Azharik Messerer, was a Russian child star while his aunt, Maya Plisetskaya, performed as a ballerina at the Bolshoi Theater. He immigrated to New York from Russia at age seven and later spent some time in Australia, where he earned a degree from the University of Wollongong.