Louie used to be a local celebrity in high school, the lead singer of a boyband in the early 2000s, but he quit before the band ever made it big. Since then, he’s gone through one mindless job after another. 39 to be exact. We meet Louie as he quits his 39th job by faking a family member’s death (again).
Although his mom is concerned with Louie’s lack of direction in life, she is a complete helicopter parent who can’t stop babying her son. Thinking she can help him change his ways, she sets up a job interview for him. Louie oversleeps and misses his meeting. To make matters worse, she finds out that Louie “killed her off,” quitting his job by telling his former boss that she died in a freak parachute accident. Fed up and angry, she decides Louie needs a rude awakening and abruptly takes a promotion in Philadelphia, leaving Louie alone in their home to fend for himself.
With his mom gone, Louie hits rock bottom. Louie is miserable working at the job his mom arranged for him. Day after day, he goes through the motions of working a 9-to-5, becoming more and more depressed every day until he reaches his breaking point. One night, after walking around aimlessly, he finds himself staring at the roof of a tall building. Suicide comes to mind. And just as he’s about to end his life, Louie is robbed at gunpoint by Izzy, a desperate young man. Louie gives Izzy his wallet and the two part ways.
The next day, Louie is stunned when he hears a knock at the door and sees Izzy standing on his stoop. Izzy nervously apologizes for robbing Louie, explaining that he’s in a band and recently had his guitar stolen. Robbing Louie (with a fake gun) was an act of desperation to get money for another guitar. Louie is struck by Izzy’s honesty and invites Izzy in to hang out. The two quickly bond over music and beers. The next day, Louie decides to lend Izzy his own guitar. Izzy is in awe and insists that Louie come see his band’s next performance, a Battle of the Bands showcase. Louie is hesitant – he doesn’t feel like socializing – but tells Izzy he’ll think about it.
That night, Louie goes for a long walk to relax his mind. He walks past a bar with some great live music playing and decides to go in. He recognizes the woman behind the bar, Riley, from high school. Riley is a sassy and free-spirited woman who works at the bar for extra cash. Riley recognizes Louie from high school and his old boyband. While at the bar, Louie and Riley reconnect, reminiscing over teenage memories. Louie is guarded but Riley is relentless. She gets Louie to open up about his relationship with music and his estranged father. The night ends with Riley giving Louie a ride home and inviting him to an upcoming concert – the same event Izzy had mentioned the night before. Louie gives Riley the same non-committal response. He’ll think about it.
The night of the event, Louie makes a last-minute decision to show up. And something incredible happens. Seeing Izzy and his band perform and getting lost in the music, Louie feels inspired for the first time in a long time. After the performance, Louie, Riley, and Izzy hang out and bond over their shared love of music. Riley suggests that Louie should get back into music again, channeling his passion into managing Izzy’s band. Louie scoffs at first – he doesn’t have any experience – but he can’t help but feel like this may be the opportunity, the purpose, he’s been looking for all these years.
We follow Louie as he faces the highs and lows of managing a band, depression, and his new-found determination to finally grow up.
Nice to Meet Me is my love letter to film and life. I have battled with depression for many years and not too long ago, I thought that the only way to escape my emotions was to kill myself.
On that unforgettable night, I left my mother’s basement and started walking toward the George Washington Bridge where I was planning to jump. On my way there, a stranger stopped me and pointed a gun at my face. He said he’d kill me if I didn’t give him money. I thought to myself, "This is it. I can fight this guy off and he’ll shoot me…" But I didn’t. Instead, I started crying and told him everything I was feeling. I even told him what I was planning to do that night. He looked at me and immediately dropped his gun, crying along with me, telling me he was desperate for money to feed his kids. We hugged and I treated him to some Dunkin Donuts, bonding over coffee and talking about our battles with depression. Eventually we went our separate ways. We literally saved each other that night.
After what had happened, I started writing again. I didn’t know what I was going to write but I wanted to put on paper what I had been feeling all these years. During this writing and healing process, I went to a town carnival and watched a young band of awesome musicians perform. I was inspired by their sound and it was at that exact moment, the story I was trying to put on paper made sense.
I don’t know what happened to the guy who saved my life. But I hope one day he sees this and knows that thanks to that fateful night, I’ve gotten a second chance. I found “me.”
- Louie Salazar