Havre Daily News
Tracy Davey, Nate Flesche and David Storm ran around together during the 1988-89 school year at Havre High School, three guys drawn together by drama.
That interest led all three eventually to Hollywood, where each has carved out his own niche in the motion picture industry.
Of the three, Flesche took the most circuitous route.
Flesche was a three-time state Class A wrestling champion for the Havre High Blue Ponies in the late 1980s, and gave little thought to anything other than wrestling.
Then, an actor in a Havre High drama production took the thespian mantra “break a leg” to the extreme, and Flesche found another love.
“Someone in a play broke his leg,” Flesche said in an interview last week during a holiday visit to his hometown. “I was in a drama class and the teacher, Mr. Musgrove, asked me to be in the play.”
The play was “Li'l Abner,” in which Flesche had two roles and sang a song. Davey had the title role.
Flesche said he was a loner at the time with a bad reputation.
“For about two weeks, no one would sit with me” at play practice, Flesche said. “If I sat on one side of the auditorium, everyone else sat on the other.”
Things changed as rehearsals continued and by the third week he was no longer shunned.
“Everyone started to talk to me,” Flesche said. “These were nicer kids than I ran with before; they were in drama and band.”
“There's a camaraderie in any of those areas, you know,” Musgrove said. “A lot of people think they're cliques, but they're fairly open to anyone who wants to belong in that area.
“I know a lot of kids who went out for a play just as a lark and found that they enjoyed it and went in that direction,” Musgrove added. “And of course, Nate was one of those.”
That's when Davey, Flesche and Storm developed their friendship.
“My whole senior year in high school I hung out with each of those guys,” Flesche said.
Flesche graduated in 1989 and moved on to Northern Montana College on a wrestling scholarship. He performed in one play at Northern, “The Fantasticks,” and developed a stand-up comedy routine. He did his comedy routine at Northern and the Montana State Fair in Great Falls. He even borrowed an ID card when he was 19 so he could perform at a comedy club in Los Angeles.
Then he transferred to the University of Montana in Missoula. He performed in some plays there and graduated in 1992 with a business degree.
In the meantime, Davey and Storm went to Montana State University and majored in film.
Now each has become firmly entrenched in his own niche in Hollywood.
Flesche is an erstwhile actor turned full-time writer.
“David's in set direction,” Flesche said. “He worked on ‘Twin Peaks' and ‘Mulholland Falls.' Tracy writes and directs short films. He does camera work.”
Storm has a lengthy list of credits, including “The Aviator,” “Bruce Almighty,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Mousehunt,” “Lost Highway,” “Born to Be Wild,” and numerous TV shows.
In 1999, Davey, who also has numerous film and TV credits, wrote and co-directed “Everyday,” a short dramatic film for which he won the Silver Award at the Crested Butte Reel Fest.
Armed with a business degree, Flesche headed to Portland, Ore., where he spent 2 years working at an alcohol treatment center rather than pursue a career in business.
“I knew I wanted to act,” Flesche said. “I was offered some business jobs, but I knew I wouldn't act if I got tied into one, so I didn't.”
Flesche says he's glad he worked at the treatment center.
“It was a state-run treatment center and the people who came in were people off the street, people who just got out of jail or people who were trying to stay out of jail,” Flesche said. Those people and experiences are among the many he draws on in his writing.
Flesche's plan to head to Hollywood to pursue an acting career was short-circuited when he and Davey got together in Portland.
“Tracy was there working on ‘Mr. Holland's Opus,'” Flesche said. “He told me it would be easier for me to break into the movies in Portland than in Hollywood. That's where I got my first leading role, in a low-budget movie called ‘Ashes,' that was never released.”
Flesche began appearing in commercials. Then in 1996, he moved to Los Angeles. Making commercials paid his bills while he continued to hone his acting and writing skills. He already had begun a script about a high school wrestler, “Iron Man.”
“I used to work for a rancher at Conrad, Paul Johnson,” Flesche said. “He was a great guy and his kid was a wrestler.
“My idea was to write this story about wrestling,” Flesche said, “a hard-nosed story about a father who had been a wrestler and his son who wrestles.”
In Los Angeles, he tied up with Davey again and the third member of the triumvirate.
“We were at a party at Tracy's and David Storm came over,” Flesche said. “It was great.”
“It's kind of nice to have those kinds of contacts when you're working in the business,” Musgrove said. “If they don't have those contacts it's hard to make it in the business.”
Flesche, whose screen name is Nate Adams, appeared on three television shows in 1997 - “Men Behaving Badly,” “Nothing Sacred” and “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction.”
His major motion pictures include 1999's “A Murder of Crows” starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tom Berenger and “If Dog Rabbit” written, directed by and starring Matthew Modine.
But commercials still accounted for most of his work.
“I made a living making commercials for four years,” he said. “I made $45,000 on one commercial that ran for four years. I made $12,000 for one that ran for just three weeks, but it ran during Super Bowl week.”
Flesche had already begun trying to sell “Iron Man.”
Thom Mount, who produced numerous films, including “Bull Durham” and “Tequila Sunrise,” took an interest in “Iron Man,” Flesche said.
With Alan Rudolph signed on to direct, Flesche said, the production company lined up Gary Oldman to play the father and Brad Renfro of “The Client” to play the son.
“They were going to shoot the movie in June 2000, but they couldn't get the bond,” Flesche said. “The bonding company wouldn't insure the movie because there was a threat of an actors strike for the final week.”
Oldman was already committed to directing another movie immediately after “Iron Man” and then filling the role of Sirius Black in “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” the fourth Harry Potter movie, Flesche said.
After the movie fell through, the option ran out and was picked up by another production company.
In Hollywoode, an actor has to be established by the time he's 25 or look elsewhere for work, Flesche said.
That's what he did.
“I was getting interest as a writer that I couldn't get as an actor,” he said. “I started just writing. I wrote another movie script and I got an agent.”
In 2002, he was in “Dream Hackers,” a pilot that appeared on the Science Fiction Channel. “If they'd picked it up, I would have been one of the regulars.
In 2003, he landed a part that ended up on film and in the theaters.
“I got to do a film in the Philippines, a low-budget action movie, ‘When Eagles Strike,'” he said. “I got a five-week trip to the Philippines, made some money, so it was good for me.
“I was one of three leads,” he said. “I was the medic. Stacey Keach was in it. All we did was blow up things. It was really terrible and it was out of focus. The reviews are funny.”
In 2004, Flesche wrote and co-produced a comedy short, a spoof of the TV series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” called “Straight Eye: The Movie.”
“It went to some festivals,” Flesche said. “But I write gritty drama and that was comedy - the wrong genre.”
Much of his time in Los Angeles is spent in meetings now, trying to line up work.
“I've done some rewrite jobs,” Flesche said. “I have a new script that I'm going to be going out on spec with after Sundance (Film Festival).”
Being a freelance writer means that Flesche is his own boss and must force himself to get off the couch and get to work.
“You don't have an office that you have to be at from 8 to 5,” he said. “You have to have a lot of meetings, you have to keep writing. Everyone in Hollywood has a script.
“The fact that I have an agent and have made a living at it for five years, I'm fortunate,” Flesche said. “You have to work hard. It's also hard because there's no one pushing you except with a contractual deadline.”
During his stay in Havre, Flesche had little time to think about work.
He got in a couple of days of ice fishing and spent considerable time with his mother, Ann Johnstone, and brothers Bob and A.J. Flesche. He spent an hour Christmas Eve afternoon helping Bob split a truckload of cottonwood for a friend.
“I did a sweat Tuesday afternoon with some friends of my mom's at Rocky Boy, people she works with at Stone Child College,” he said. “I look forward to that the whole year. My girlfriend loved it. She'd never seen anything like that in her life. It's really touching for me.”
Flesche added that his girlfriend, Melissa, a clothing designer in Los Angeles, also was pleased with the people of Havre.
“She can't believe that everyone here knows everyone and they all say hi to you,” he said. “She's from the big city. I think she's really having the time here.”