September 5, 2008 in Features, Seven

Open to experience

Josh Hamilton goes distance in ‘Outsourced’
Dan Webster Movies & More Staff writer

Josh Hamilton loves to travel.

His travel obsession is one reason why the New York-based actor jumped at the chance to star in “Outsourced,” John Jeffcoat’s little film that opened the 2008 Spokane International Film Festival.

I talked to Hamilton, perhaps best known for starring in Noah Baumbach’s 1995 arthouse hit “Kicking and Screaming,” in late July when he was doing phone interviews to help promote the DVD sales of “Outsourced.”

The film finally came out on DVD Tuesday.

Hamilton, 39, plays Todd Anderson, manager of a Seattle-based customer call center for a company that sells such products as hamburger-patty branding-irons or flag-draped ceramic eagles.

Or, rather, he was manager – until the company, following the lead of so many other American businesses, decided to cut costs by moving the call center to India.

Even worse, the company (represented by Matt Smith, who plays Todd’s two-faced supervisor) virtually blackmails Todd into going to India to train his replacement. Once there, though, not only does he become friendly with his assigned replacement (played by Indian actor Asif Basra), but he finds romance with a beautiful co-worker (Ayesha Dharker).

In the process of gradually accepting the flow of life as it’s lived in this brave new world, Todd becomes a better person.

After opening SpIFF 2008 on Feb. 5, and taking the juried award for best feature, “Outsourced” played for a limited Spokane run. Only now, seven months later, is the DVD edition available.

That’s a long time between formats in this modern era, when the waits between theatrical openings and DVD premieres typically take 90 days or fewer.

It’s taken this long because, as Hamilton explained, the film – which was produced by Seattle’s Shadowcatcher Entertainment – followed a nonmainstream release process.

“It played at so many festivals and had so much of a great response at festivals that the producers really wanted to handle it right,” Hamilton said. “They weren’t happy with any of the distribution offers, so they decided that they were just going to do it themselves.”

And so “Outsourced,” Hamilton said, has “been opening around the country and around the world very slowly.”

Hamilton got involved in the project after one of the film’s producers took David Skinner, Shadowcatcher’s founder and executive producer, to see him doing a New York revival of David Rabe’s play “Hurlyburly.” Shortly afterward, Hamilton’s agent sent him a copy of Jeffcoat’s script.

“My agent knows that whenever I’m not working I like to travel,” Hamilton said, “and that I like to travel in Southeast Asia. So when this job came up, he said, ‘Here’s a movie that I think you’re gonna want to do.’

“As soon as I saw it was shot in India, I started praying that I was going to like it. And, luckily, I loved it. So I went to audition and, luckily, they seemed to like me, too.”

Hamilton thinks one reason for the film’s success comes from the affection that he and Jeffcoat, who has traveled around India and Nepal, share for India and its people. And from Jeffcoat’s refusal to make his film into just another “Love Guru” type of cartoon.

“I think that’s what gives the movie a special tone, a sweetness,” Hamilton said. “The elements of the fish-out-of-water story are, I think, very genuine and also very affectionate, too.

“It’s not like someone who had this idea as an abstract idea and thought, ‘Let’s make a movie about how crazy Indian people are.’ It has a genuine affection for all the things that Westerners go through when they visit there.”

Westerners like Hamilton, that is, who are open to the experience.

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