Toby Merck is a down-on-her-luck private detective stuck in a rut in a go-nowhere town. Business is tough. Her clients have a way of sticking guns in her face, and she has a way of blowing all her paychecks at the bar. So does local attorney Matt Holmes, who knows Toby is hard up and offers her a job with the local crime boss, old junkyard kingpin Deke March. Toby has a little rule about not getting involved with anyone under federal investigation, but she’s two months back on the rent, so… Deke wants Toby to track down his limp bastard of a son, Fred, who has disappeared with half of his old man’s money – half a million, to be exact. The job seems easy enough, but Deke’s hot-tempered daughter, Faith, tips off Toby that Deke may have revenge on his mind. Toby figures this one might be too hot to handle. She returns home to find her very own Dad snorting her best China. To make it up to Toby, Dad offers to ride shotgun while she picks up another package of powder. Bad luck must follow Toby everywhere, because she gets busted red handed with the goods. “Baby, you’ve been framed,” she mutters. Sure enough, enter FBI agent Hank Fallon, her old nemesis, dangling prison keys and demanding favors.
Toby and Hank used to be partners at the Bureau, and sometimes even more than partners, but Hank hung her out to dry in a botched Mob bust. Toby wound up with a contract on her head, and has been hiding out in this dump ever since. Now Hank threatens to blow her cover unless she cooperates and infiltrates Deke’s operation. Mob hitmen or minimum prison sentencing: either way she’s screwed. Toby has no choice but to take Deke’s case, however, she’s not going to take it easy on him or his boys. When Deke’s strong-arm, Jake, gives Toby the blow-off about Fred, she has to twist his arm a little. Well, to be specific, she ties up the poor slob, chains a bowling ball around the family jewels, and gets ready to roll a strike. (Jake starts talking.) It turns out Fred is hiding in a deserted camping ground. Too bad he didn’t hide a little better, because Fred ain’t much of a tough guy. In fact, he turns into a blubbering wreck as soon as Toby flashes her pistol. Pleading for his life, Fred offers Toby all the stolen money. Before Fred can reveal the secret hiding place, he is shot full of bullets by an unseen assassin. Toby mops up the mess the best she can, making sure to rifle through poor Fred’s shack for clues. All she comes up with is a ledger detailing Deke’s criminal activities, and a single key… Huffing back to town high on cocaine, Toby gets pulled over by one of Hank’s dirty troopers.
To get Hank off her back, Toby offers him the ledger, but Hank insists she stay undercover and get a steady job with Deke until they find better evidence. Toby’s no dummy and she knows it’s only a matter of time before Hank sells her out. If she can find that money, though, it could carry her far away from Hank, the Mob, this town, to the start of a new life. Toby knows Fred’s key is the key and all she needs to do is find the lock. Looking for answers, Toby checks out the bar. Not much to find out; everyone’s real drunk and her Dad can’t stop breaking bottles over Jake’s poor old head. Toby has better luck sneaking into Deke’s junkyard. She runs into Deke’s daughter, Faith, who boo-hoos that she lives her life in fear of Daddy’s murderous rage. Toby takes her under her wing, but can’t help feeling as if she’s being taken for a ride. Maybe she knows about the money. Faith tags along with Toby on a job to pick up one of Deke’s drug cargo cars outside his rathole strip club. The girls stop in for a drink, start up smoking the crack pipe, and end up taking their clothes off. They tumble outside for some privacy, but have the damnedest time getting it, constantly interrupted by knife wielding goons and peeping toms. “Can’t two girls get some love in this town?”
With all this running around, Deke has had about enough. He gives Toby a good Indian burn and shoots poor old Jake right down then and there like a broken mule. “Bring back that money or else!” Leaving Deke’s place, Toby spies Matt and Faith together. Her eyebrow raised, Toby follows Matt to a secluded spot where he meets with none other than that schemer, Hank. Toby grabs Matt by the tie and he confesses to making a deal; after all, he has his own back to watch, and Hank spares not the rod. Hank may have the fire up her ass, but Toby’s just about out of here. She’s figured out where the money is, and all she has to do to is drag her dad along with her to freedom. She finds him too late, his head bashed in by Mob goons, she assumes. Fighting back the tears, Toby grabs Faith and jumps into her car, running down Hank on the way out of town, cursing, “revenge, REVENGE!” The money is hidden in the junkyard.
Toby and Faith arrive only to be greeted by Matt and his silencer. Yes, it was Matt all along. He shot Fred to keep Deke from getting the money back. Toby’s Dad was killed to make her run for it. Now it’s time to cash in. With Matt’s gun at her back, Toby opens the trunk of an old car, revealing a suitcase full of loose green. Matt is just about to pull the trigger, when Hank limps into view, pistols blazing. The men, of course, shoot each other to death, but the gunplay’s not over; two more gunshots echo down from the house. Toby runs up to discover Faith, dressed in her birthday suit standing over Deke’s dead body. Faith’s cruel designs have come to their conclusion. She had to do it, she had to, you see, Daddy was such a devil, and Matt and her were gonna take that money and run away. But weak little Fred had to go and screw things up, didn’t he? Well Faith showed him, she showed them all! Too bad about your Dad, Toby, but now, you too must die. Faith pulls the trigger but draws blank. Toby sticks her pistol in Faith’s gut, stares into her cold, cold eyes and blows her plain away. The smoke clears. Toby drops the gun, picks up the bills and walks out the door. The violent life behind her now, Toby has learned her lesson the hard way: there’s no such thing as a perfect lie.
“An impressive film…Brettanya Friese is a talent to watch.” -The Movie Minute
“Bret Stern is talent to watch. An impressive film debut.”– Joanna Langfield E! Entertainment
“An eye-catching directorial debut.”– Lisa G.
- Toby: Brettanya Friese
- Faith: Charis Michelsen
- Matt: Eric Leffler
- Jefty: William Laney
- Hank: Geoff Thompson
- Dad: David Greenwood
- Deke: Michael Bernosky
- Jake: John Fennessy
- Marge: Cody Carmack
- Fred: Scott Hess
- Billy: John Montana
- Cindy: Malika Kinison
- Ben: John Holiday
- Jade: Carolyn Smith
- Goon #1: Paul Borghese
- Goon #2: Pier Paolo Piccoli
- Trooper: Mike Manfro
- Desk Sergeant: Bill Tiesler
- Waitress: Victoria Lang
- Dancers: Suzanne Hall, Jane Zarsey
- Director: Bret Stern
- Producer: Victoria Lang
- Executive Producer: Pier Paolo Piccoli
- Screenplay: Steve Arhtur
- Directors of Photography: Bret Stern & Steve Arthur
- Music Composed & Performed by: Leigh Roberts
- Editors: Seth Stein & Bret Stern
- Line Producer: Julie Perlman
- First Assistant Director: Lon Ross
- Associate Producer: Paul Borghese
- Production Designer: Renee Frasca
- Costume Designer: Denise Boineau
- Hair and Make-Up: Yukie Hashimoto
- Casting Director: Danielle Buvitt
- Additional Casting: Lisa Vetere
- Post Production Supervisor: John F. Ryan
- Post Production Assistance: Barbara Steel
- Pre-Production Supervisor: Matthew Berlowe
- Assistant Camera: Phil Beloin
- Steadicam: David Rosenfeld
- Location Manager: Steve Gorman Gaffer, Pete Vitali
- Sound Technician: Bill Tiesler
- Sound Design: John McGeeman
- Mixer: Mark De Simone
- Script Supervision and Continuity: John Courtmanche Property
- Master: Matthew Berlowe
- Production Assistant: Scott Rosenstein
- Transportation Captain: John F. Ryan
- Still Photgrapher: Abbot Genser
- Production Interns: Bridget Fennessy, Siobhan Oldham
- Catering: Pete Parsley
- Legal: Nina J. Reznick
About the Cast
Brettanya “Brett” Friese (Toby Merck)
Brettanya Friese was born to play PERFECT LIES’ dangerous but vulnerable femme fatale, Toby Merck, utilizing her real life experience to play the tough private investigator. The action thriller role is her debut lead in a motion picture. Friese was named after LADY BRETT in Earnest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The epitome of self-reliance, Friese had been on her own since the age of sixteen. An accomplished all-around athlete, Friese has fashioned herself into an expert horsewoman, a green belt in Tai Kwon Do with black belt aspirations, a serious billiards player, and a formidable mountain climber. The statuesque blonde was also a ballet dancer with the Cincinnati Ballet Prepatory Company earlier in her career. Friese has been featured twice on the NBC-TV’s venerated series “Law and Order,” had a recurring role on CBS-TV’s “Juvenile Court,” a supporting role on the NBC-TV Afterschool Special, “Desperate Days” and a supporting role on the NBC series, “Fame.” She has appeared in numerous New York legit productions.
Charis Michelsen (Faith March)
Part ingenue, part temptress Charis Michelsen was born in Boring, Oregon. It’s easy to see why she left this sleepy hamlet of east of Portland. In PERFECT LIES, she plays the sweet but decidedly evil Faith March. Michelsen has played an eclectic series of feature film characters ranging from comedic and outrageous (TROMEO & JULIET), to the understanding and loving wife (a Bill Plympton animated feature), to the daughter of a mobster (THE THAWING ICE). She is currently completing the role of “the perfect wife” in Robert’s Bjorkland’s HAT’S OFF, U.S.A. for Hollywood Pictures. Discovered “off the street” by a Harper’s Bizarre Magazine photographer shortly after arriving in New York City, she continues to model in print for leading fashion magazines, including Glamour, Seventeen, and Cosmopolitan. Michelsen has appeared in television commercials for Levi Strauss and The Gap. She studied the fine arts at The New School.
Eric Leffler (Matt Holmes)
Eric Leffler has appeared in major studio films, including WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and THE JUROR, as well as in CLOSE UP, which was featured at the Slamdance Film Festival.
William “Bill” Laney (Jefty)
William “Bill” Laney has appeared in several studio films including MONEY TRAIN, JERKY BOYS, THE PALLBEARER, and NEW YORK NEWS.
Geoff Thompson (Hank Fallon)
A founding member of the international-touring, award-winning a cappella group, 5th Avenue, Geoff Thompson has performed with artists such as Whitney Houston and Natalie Cole. Most recently, he has played various roles on ABC-TV’s daytime drama “The City,” starring Morgan Fairchild.
Bret Stern Director/Screenwriter
Bret Stern, an established Director and Director of Photography for national commercials, including Turner Broadcasting, AT&T and MCI, displays a distinct visceral style in his feature film directorial debut. The helmer smoothly blends hard-hitting action with the story’s character-driven elements. In an added twist, Stern also serves as PERFECT LIES’ cinematographer. Stern is currently developing “The Bert Stern Story,” about the life and times of his enigmatic and controversial father who revolutionized advertising photography and celebrity portraiture in the 1950s and 60s. He is also scripting a science fiction drama. Most recently, Stern authored the book How To Shoot a Feature Film and Not Go To Jail, currently being edited prior to publication by Independent Film & Video Magazine editor Dana Harris.
Steve Arthur Screenwriter
PERFECT LIES represents Steve Arthur’s first produced screenplay. He is currently writing a new dramatic thriller, OFF RAMP. Arthur is also a successful freelance writer specializing in film criticism, most recently published in The Film Quarterly and the Columbia Review. He is currently working on a film review catalogue for Dell Publishing.
Victoria Lang Producer
For her work as a Producer on the popular nationally syndicated television show “LIVE WITH REGIS & KATHIE LEE,” Victoria Lang has received three Emmy Award nominations. She then went on to Create and Executive Produce “HAVEN,” a syndicated weekly half-hour sponsored program on home decorating starring Joy (Mrs. Regis) Philbin, which is now enjoying a successful seventh season. Ms. Lang co-produced and wrote the highly prosperous 1994 and 1995 Pledge Specials for PBS: “GUY LOMBARDO: THE SWEETEST MUSIC THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN” and “GLENN MILLER’S GREATEST HITS,” starring Kathie Lee Gifford. For A&E, she produced the star-studded, top rated network special “ROSEMARY CLOONEY’S DEMI-CENTENNIAL: A Girl Singer’s Golden Anniversary,” starring Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Joanne Woodward, Barry Manilow, Diane Sawyer, Bob Hope and George Clooney.
Ms. Lang served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Broadcast Department at the Rowland Company, a division of Saatchi and Saatchi. There, she worked within the company to develop innovative broadcasting concepts such as sponsored entertainment, educational programming and infomercials. Additionally at Rowland, she supervised network and local placement activity, satellite and video news release production and distribution. Ms. Lang has worked with Lorimar/Warner Brothers Television, Saban Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting, and Stephen J. Cannell Productions on program development, served as Production Executive for Elizabeth Taylor/Zev Bufman Productions, Media Coordinator for American Cinema Releasing, and Talent Coordinator for Guber-Gross Productions, producing stage shows with the brightest names in the music and comedy arenas. In 1993 she formed the Lang Entertainment Group, Inc. to develop and produce television and home video entertainment. In 1995 Ms. Lang joined with Pier P. Piccoli to form PLus Films, Inc., an independent film production company focusing on commercial features. In addition, they created PLus Media, Inc. to develop and produce lifestyle programming for national and local television.
Ms. Lang is a member of New York Women in Film and Television, the Independent Feature Project, the British Academy of Film & Television, the National Association of Television Programming Executives, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the International Radio and Television Society, the Drama Desk Association, Who’s Who in Entertainment, Who’s Who in American Professionals and Who’s Who in American Women, and has served as a judge for the Long Island Film Festival, the Emmy Awards, the FilmMakers.com screenwriting competition and the International Film and Television Festival of New York. She attended Emerson College and is a summa cum laude graduate of Long Island University.
Pier Paolo Piccoli Producer
Piccoli’s first venture into filmmaking was with film school chum, Matthew Harrison. He served as Associate Producer on the highly acclaimed film RHYTHM THIEF. In 1995 he formed Piccoli & Piccoli Productions, Inc. to develop, produce and distribute feature films, television and home video projects. Its mandate included the establishment of an entertainment product library. In 1995 he merged the company with Victoria Lang to form PLus Films, Inc. Pier Paolo Piccoli brings an unusual blend of creativity and business savvy to the motion picture industry. His TV marketing and production company specializes in lifestyle programming for local and network television. Piccoli & Piccoli Media Marketing Enterprises was one of the first promotional TV packaging companies to use satellite technology. Piccoli earned a doctorate in Business & Marketing from the University of Genoa, Italy and attended film school at New York University.