In June 1991, a month after graduating from Boston College, Tom Hines and his childhood friend Marc Dube packed a truck, waved goodbye and rolled out of Holliston, Massachusetts toward Los Angeles with Hollywood dreams.
But for all the stories that start out the same way young, idealistic, full of hopes this one ended in an unusual way. They made it.
Hines, 46, is an actor, director and now screenwriter whose first produced screenplay opened April 29. "Mother's Day," starring Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis, is a comedy about three generations learning to connect with each other in the week leading up to the holiday. The film is directed by Garry Marshall, perhaps best known for the films "Pretty Woman" and "Runaway Bride."
For Hines, his career in filmmaking started right at home in Holliston when he and Dube would make backyard movies. Their homemade late-'80s martial arts flick "Kung Fu Movie" even had its premiere at the Holliston High School Variety Show.
After graduating from BC with a degree in communications, Hines went out to Hollywood on the pretenses he had made a key connection in school. But when he arrived, the showbiz big shot he had met told him he was quitting the industry, leaving Hines to fend for himself as a waiter. It was at that service job that he met Marshall.
"At the time I was an actor not a very good one but Garry gave me some very important advice," Hines said, fondly remembering the day. "He said 'Know how to do everything. That way you'll always have a job!'"
Marshall took a liking to Hines and brought him on as an assistant, even giving him bit parts in his films. According to Hines, Marshall often asks everybody on the set to contribute creatively and encourages his assistants to pitch jokes or ideas. While working on "The Princess Diaries 2," Marshall even gave Hines the opportunity to sit down and write a cameo scene for Marvel Comics mastermind Stan Lee.
In 2008, Hines directed his first feature, "Chronic Town," a micro-budget feature written by his brother Michael and produced by his wife, Lauri, and another childhood friend Michael Peterson, who now lives in Weston, Massachusetts. Set in Alaska, the film told the story of a lonely cab driver and the weirdo fares he picks up.
"It's not a mainstream film, it's a true indie. We had to call in favors left and right," Hines said.
Of course, Garry Marshall doesn't forget his friends. When Marshall decided he wanted to do "Mother's Day," the follow up to his last feature "New Year's Eve" in which Hines had a cameo, Hines and writing partner Matthew Walker were brought on to revise the screenplay.
"When you get a script you sit down with it and figure out how you can connect it to yourself in a way that will make the writing better," he said. "You reflect as a writer how the audience will react. You also have to realize who you're writing for."
Now a father, Hines and his family moved to Monroe, Michigan, where his wife's family lives. It's a town that he says has "a very Holliston feel." But he hasn't quit the biz he's at work directing a documentary about the life and work of Garry Marshall.
As for his pal Dube, he's a television producer now with credits on "CSI: Miami," "Castle" and "Chicago Fire."
"It all began with me and Dube in Holliston," Hines said. "He migrated to TV, I migrated to film, but we're still in touch. All we did was we loaded up his truck and went to LA Like every kid should."
Brad Avery can be reached at 508-626-4449 or bavery@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradAvery_MW.