Amy Berg’s ‘An Open Secret’ focuses on other alleged victims and abusers
Amy Berg‘s highly anticipated Hollywood sex abuse documentary, An Open Secret, made its world premiere to a packed audience at the DOC NYC festival in Manhattan Friday night.
Although Bryan Singer accuser Michael Egan‘s lawsuit against the X-Men director and other industry figures helped expose the existence of Berg’s documentary, in the works for years before Egan filed his lawsuits last spring, the film barely mentions Singer,whom Egan sued for allegedly sexually assaulting him, or even the subsequent lawsuits Egan filed against other Hollywood execs, all of which were dismissed, something the film only notes via on-screen text at the end, along with updates about other alleged abusers the film exposes. In fact, the first reference to Singer comes via an image of of his name typed out on a piece of paper. After that, Singer’s mentioned a handful of times but never directly accused of sexual assault.
Still, Egan figures prominently in the documentary as one of the several formerly aspiring actors who detail in interviews how they were allegedly abused by Hollywood insiders and the damaging effect those experiences had on them.
Berg said in a Q&A following the screening that Egan conducted his first interview with them roughly a year and a half before he filed his lawsuits and indicated that the film isn’t about the case, which she also can’t speak to.
“We were all kind of hit by a storm when that happened,” Berg said of the suits Egan filed. “Mike definitely encountered an attorney that he probably shouldn’t have encountered and there’s been so much negative publicity…we don’t know about the case, this isn’t about the case.”
She added that Egan participated in the film because he wanted to help his friend Mark Ryan, whose tragic story is one of the most compelling parts of the documentary. A fellow aspiring actor, Ryan moved to Hollywood and was introduced to the founders of late ’90s Internet company Digital Entertainment Network, Mark Collins-Rector and Chad Shackley, when Egan brought Ryan to a party with him. Ryan claimed in a deposition that his father reads in the film that he was drugged and abused one night at a DEN party, waking up naked in Collins-Rector’s bed. Ryan left Hollywood and his life changed dramatically after he descended into alcoholism.
“[Egan] has so much guilt that he brought his friend to that party,” Berg said, adding that when she learned of Ryan’s story she really wanted to meet him and found his experience so compelling they oriented the film around what happened to him.
“Mike opened that door for me; I don’t think I would have been able to meet him otherwise,” Berg said.
Egan also approached BizParentz founders Anne Henry and Paula Dorn, who run a foundation that supports child actors, years before he got involved with the documentary, Henry, who also appears in the film, told Hollywood Insight ahead of the screening.
Henry said that they couldn’t really help Egan when he first approached them, but over time they found more victims as others came forward and turned their records over to the filmmakers behind An Open Secret “hoping they could do something more with it than we could do as a foundation.”
We knew that he was telling the truth from the very beginning,” she said. “We had heard his story years before [he filed his lawsuits] so we knew that this had happened and wasn’t the timing that the media liked to portray that it was, because we’d heard it before, so we knew that’s not really how it was playing out.”
But again, Henry and Dorn stressed that the film and the history of sex abuse in Hollywood goes beyond Egan.
“As compelling and horrifying as Michael’s situation is, when you see the film, you’ll see that there’s more and so much more,” Dorn.