Musician Henry Gibson finds new passion with acting gigs

Henry Gibson is seen in a still from "Tonight We Are Born as Stars," an entry in the 24-Hour Film Festival that netted Gibson the event's Best Actor prize.

Henry Gibson is seen in a still from "Tonight We Are Born as Stars," an entry in the 24-Hour Film Festival that netted Gibson the event's Best Actor prize.

Community boosters are quick to laud Knoxville's music and arts community as an undiscovered gem, often to an excessive degree. However, bringing credence to this praise was the 24-hour Film Festival held June 16 at the Bijou Theatre. Expecting the worst while hoping for the best, this year's contenders more than justified the red carpets and prom dresses of its attendees.

The festival's approximately 30 four-minute features conformed to stipulations of being planned, shot and turned in within a 24-hour timeframe, and each film was required to include four elements (a hula hoop, 15 seconds of music, a lover and the phrase, "How do you like me now?"). Despite the confines, the films showcased amazing cinematography, writing, directing, editing and acting, with one film in particular, Brandon Langley's "Tonight We Are Born as Stars," stealing the show and bringing home top honors. Among those credited for the film's success was none other than a central character in Knoxville's music scene, Henry Gibson.

None were more surprised than Gibson at the impact of his performance, which garnered the award for Best Lead Actor. Going into the event a nervous wreck, having not seen the finished product, he left in a swarm of admiration and propositions for future acting work.

"I was nervous because I haven't done a lot of acting, and I hadn't seen the rough copy of it," admits Gibson. "I didn't know how I was going to look on film. I had high expectations because I'd seen Brandon (Langley)'s work, and I did see some of the effects he was using when he was editing it after we shot the robbery scene. I was just nervous because I hadn't seen how it was going to come together.

"My winning, I thought, was a big surprise, honestly. I had no idea how big an event it was going to be. ... It's all a big blur really. After seeing it, I expected the film to win, but I never thought I was going to get Best Actor. I didn't think that was an option."

The accolades were enough to make the prominent local musician (formerly of Cold Hands and Royal Bangs, among other acts, and currently of Wolf at the Door and a solo act) and radio host reprioritize his foray into the entertainment business. With his only previous acting experience winning an award at Knoxville's Horror Film Festival for his role in "Highstreet Roundhouse," Gibson is batting two-for-two (excluding a scene in the indie film "My Name Is Jerry," where Gibson's former band Cold Hands performed in the background).

"I'll always do music because I love it, but I like acting more," Gibson explains. "I like it because you do it once and it's done. I'm disillusioned with music, I think. It's this big, nebulous thing. I don't know how to describe it. It is what it is, and it's cool. I think one of the things that got me into playing in a band in the first place was that not everybody was doing it, and it was a special thing, but it doesn't feel so much like that anymore. Acting feels fresh. There's not a lot of good things to be in, whereas with music, there's so much. There aren't as many great actors, not that I would ever become a great actor, but it's still fun to try. Plus, I really need something to get me out of my head when it comes to making music, and this could be it."

While the humble Gibson notoriously undersells himself, on screen everything must go. Those who have worked with him in both music and film frequently comment on the mild-mannered nice-guy's instant transformation once a performance begins. Gibson hopes to pursue any acting opportunities that present themselves, and is already slated to appear in this year's horror festival, but given the industry interest following last Saturday, bigger roles may be in store.

"I'm going to take it as far as I can," says Gibson. "As long as it's fun, I don't know. I'm going to set up an appointment tomorrow to see what I have to do and what can be done as far as local film. Honestly, I really like action and comedy. Anything that's supposed to be funny is something I'd be interested in. It'd be nice if I could get to the point where I could get paid for it, but right now it's just a super-hobby."

"Tonight We Are Born as Stars" took Best Film, Audience Favorite, Best Director and Best Lead Actor awards at 2012's Knoxville 24-hour Film Festival and can be viewed on

Henry Gibson's next musical appearance will be with Wolf at the Door, which will play The Well with Johnny Astro and the Big Bang on July 21.

Causing a SEEN: ANTiSEEN joins The Dirty Works, Serene Scream, La Basura Del Diablo and Dead Injuns for a show at Longbranch Saloon tonight. Music is slated for 8 p.m. and costs $10.

From the streets: Saturday night The Ciderhouse hosts Fifth Street Saints with Villains, Divided We Stand and Searchlights til Sunrise. Admission is $5 with a $3 surcharge for patrons under 21. Doors open at 8 p.m.

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