Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Cast

The cast is going to be announced this week and I thought I'd chime in with a few thoughts. First and foremost- you are not going to recognize these actors. In fact, unless you watch a certain girly show religiously, I'm going to guarantee you will not recognize the guy who plays Tucker. The same goes for the female parts (although these girls are SMOKING hot).

This is an interesting dynamic because conventional Hollywood wisdom is to get a bankable star, get him or her attached to the script and work from there. Luckily for Tucker, the script was bankable, his brand is bankable and his determination NOT to sell to a major studio has ensured that he has complete creative control over his project.

For instance, two days ago the costume designer came in with ideas for Tucker. One of her thoughts was to have Tucker in a suit jacket, looking sort of pseudo-intellectual. WRONG. Tucker was there to point out that never in his life has he worn a suit jacket out to the bars and when he can, he usually dresses down. There is a VERY good reason for this- when Tucker goes out he is the "show." He has no need nor no desire to wear flashy jewelry or clothing that might distract/detract from him and his personality. Most of the douchebag guys you see at a bar are more concerned with what they are wearing, what car they drive, how much their watch cost etc. For Tucker- anything that distracts from him and his "show" is stupid. (As an aside she also wanted the character of Slingblade to be wearing a black trenchcoat... Not a positive response from Tucker)

To meander back to my point: by turning down multi-million dollar offers from studios for rights to his script, Tucker ensured that he could be there to stop ideas that deviated from his vision and from his script. This extends to casting. If this were a studio movie, Justin Timberlake or someone very akin to Justin Timberlake, would be starring as Tucker. In fact, Justin Timberlake was discussed early on as an option for the character of Tucker by the producers. Tucker shot that down. Why?

For a character as well defined and unique as Tucker Max, the character must be utterly believable. People already have pre-defined views of who Justin Timberlake is. Who doesn't know Justin Timberlake was in N'sync? Who doesn't know he dated Britney Spears? I'm not going to say if he is a bad actor or not, who knows- maybe he could have pulled off a good performance. What I do know is that the goal for EVERY cast member was to find the very best person for the part, in the hopes that they would BECOME that character.

You can see this sort of mentality up and down our crew and cast list. Look at Bob Gosse our director, look at our production company (Darko Studios), look at me- who hires a guy fresh out of film school to do behind the scenes stills and video?

Luckily for me Tucker is not averse to taking a chance on people who he believes in, people who are dedicated to their position and people who are committed to getting the job done.

Unfortunately for Justin Timberlake, his baggage precluded him from being part of a superb project.

P.S. Heard this story from our location manager. One "name" actor who came through Shreveport had in his contract that at every location a NBA regulation size court had to be arranged and painted for him. Our poor location manager had to do this 19 times and this asshole only used it 2 or 3 times. I certainly won't miss that sort of crap.

At Top: Our soon to be announced male leads.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

UPDATED: Houston and Paul Wall

Update 06/25/08

Video footage is up over at the movie blog:


I just got back from Houston and a treacherous drive through Texas and northern Louisiana. I am plopped on the couch listening to some Pepper trying to relax. It was a successful day, no doubt, but also a stressful one.

I roused my ass up around 9 this morning and prepped my still and video camera. As soon as that was done Tucker handed me the keys to his car. Yesterday he informed me that he had come to realization that a man of his "station" in life deserves a driver, so the 4 hour drive to Houston would be on me. A quick word on driving in the South for those who have not done it- IT BLOWS.

The freeway signage looks like it was put together by monkeys on crack. Freeways sneak up on you like nobody's business and most of them don't make any fucking sense. (i.e. a sign will point left, but if you should, like an idiot, go left you will end up on the wrong goddamn highway). As if that wasn't bad enough ,Houston's freeways involve, in order- gigantic ass frontage roads with their own on ramp systems parallel to the goddamn highway, shitty signage and here's a new one FREEWAY U-TURNS. So, given that Tucker is the worst backseat passenger ever, not exactly a stress-free environment. Whatever. Nils and I had fun making fun of the backass country we traveled through. No joke there was a front yard that included the following: a school bus, tractor, taxi, and assorted lawnmowers. Awesome.

Anyway, after getting to Houston, we kicked it at a Chili's for a while. Tucker had explained to us that Paul had his own time schedule which was sort of "Paul time." So the Chili's excursion turned into a Chuck E Cheese excursion, which required the three of us (Nils, Tucker, myself) to cross a highway. On foot. Exciting. Oddly enough, as we were walking, Tucker was recognized by some chick flying past us in a car. Go figure. Speaking of women, some Houston chick (I hesitate to use the word "whore," it's just so mean) was texting Tucker the ENTIRE time we were in the area. The girl had reservations about hooking up at Paul Wall's place. Not hooking up with Tucker mind you, just not at Paul's place. Classy gal.

Moving on. I managed to navigate us to Paul's place and I quickly got my camera package together and headed in. Of course on the first day of video shooting I fucked up immediately by saying "Hello" to Paul and putting the camera down, missing a key shot. Big mistake not getting Tucker's entrance on film and he was vocal in letting me know about it. Normally I come down pretty hard on myself for an error like that, but in this case- meeting Paul Wall was pretty fucking cool. Even a "dumbshit" assistant is allowed to get starstruck on occasion.

(Someone asked me why we didn't just re-shoot a fake entrance- answer: I DESPISE reality TV and am doing my damndest to not do ANY sort of reality bullcrap shooting. I missed the shot and that's that.)

It turns out we weren't actually at Paul's house, we were instead at the house of his manager where Paul lays down all of his vocals. I shut up and proceeded to follow Tucker and Nils upstairs to Paul's recording area. Here's something unreal- Paul's recording room is RIGHT next to a bathroom. I'm not even kidding. Literally, you step out of the recording room and stare at a toilet. I'll try to pull some stills from our video, pretty hilarious. Anyway, Paul laid down some vocals for a song I can't talk about, suffice to say it fit RIGHT in with the movie and is more than appropriate. The song will definitely be in rotation in my iTunes. After recording the song and some discussion between Nils, Tucker and Paul we headed out.

All in all I said maybe two words to Paul, but he couldn't have been a nicer guy. Tucker of course introduced me as "he doesn't matter," so I doubt Paul has any impression of me whatsoever. But, as I was leaving Paul grabbed my shoulder and gave me a nice smile. Something he didn't have to do and after a stressful day, it was a nice boost and indicative of the kind of guy Paul is.

A special photo below for anyone who reads Tucker's stories. I'm not going to describe it, but you guys can guess all you want. Video and more stills later this week (Tucker has an embargo until Thursday or Friday).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Getting It Done

One of the things I’m picking up rather quickly in Shreveport is that Tucker knows exactly what he wants. This goes for all facets of his life- be it production or personal. As an example, during auditions he would stand up and give notes to actors, literally explaining minute details to them in the hopes of an improved performance (most of them didn’t get it). Keep in mind we were auditioning roles that had at MOST 3 lines in the entire movie. The script is cemented in his head.

Tucker understands completely what he has to do to get this movie "in the can." He knows what it takes to get it done. As he was explaining to me the other day, my role is to now figure out how to become a professional. How to get my job done efficiently and correctly. Last night, we had a BBQ here at the house. It was almost unbelievable to see the amount of talent I was talking to, joking with and hanging out with. I was helping Bob Gosse (the director) make corn on the cob, playing baseball with Sean McKittrick (producer), and listening to Darren Demetre (line producer) tell jokes. Hell, I live with Nils (screenwriter) and Jeff (Associate Producer) and they have welcomed me into their inner circle… although I’m still enduring the wonderful experience of being the constant butt end of their jokes. Trial by fire Nils calls it.

Tucker has done a better job of explaining their roles with respect to the film on the movie blog, but I think what I can add is to emphasize just how wonderful these people are personally. Not a bit of arrogance, (cough, TUCKER, cough) not a bit of hesitation answering my questions about the business or life in general.

You hear a lot about how Hollywood is made up of arrogant assholes. To be honest, to some extent people in L.A. are obsessed with the superficial. Hopefully, this brief glimpse into the people behind IHTSBIH helps to give you a better sense of the wonderful, creative unsung heroes of film and television.

In other news, we had our first arrest this morning. The charge was “Drunk in Public,” bail set at $330. I ventured down to Boosier City jail at ten and have ZERO intention of going back. Seeing as how I'm usually the sober driver, hopefully I can manage to stay away from any "Deliverance" style action. At the “celebratory” breakfast, sponsored by our jailbird, I sampled some Crawfish and Alligator at a local BBQ place. Can’t say that I’m a fan of either. Too much of a “city boy.”

Tonight I head to Houston with Tucker and Nils to meet Paul Wall. More on that tomorrow.

Photos soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stripper Auditions

Day one down.

I woke up on the couch around 9 on Thursday. The cot that Tucker had setup for me upstairs looked a little harsh and the couch seemed rather inviting in comparison. Regardless, I didn’t get much sleep- I repeatedly dreamt about my camera breaking. However, once awake, I shook off my little nightmare and became quite productive. My dual screen editing system is now up and running. Soon, I’ll begin posting behind the scenes videos online. Also, I’ll be linking to Flickr and Youtube. Perhaps, most importantly, I’ve tasted the deliciousness of a Chick-Fil-A breakfast sandwich- highly recommended.

The majority of my time today was spent taking still photographs of our 6 hour casting session. We (and by we I mean Nils, Tucker, Ian and myself) departed for IHTSBIH headquarters around 1. The headquarters are about 10 minutes away from our house and basically consist of one half of an office building devoted to everything “Beer in Hell” related. Pretty much everyone important (“above the line”) has an office here. Of particular geek note today I met IHTSBIH producer Sean McKittrick, who for all those film nerds out there, also produced “Donnie Darko.” Fucking sweet. Nice guy too.

I saw over 40 people read for various speaking roles, most of which I can’t talk about. However, there is one role that I can discuss. Today, I watched as numerous scantily clad women, rounded up from local strip clubs, attempt to string together sentences in order to win the coveted roles of “Stripper 1” and “Stripper 2.” Guess how many we cast in speaking roles? Good guess. A few get to be extras, but to be quite fair- JESUS CHRIST. I mean, it’s expected that strippers might not be the greatest conversationalists in the world, but even so- I’m not kidding when I say that one or two legitimately could barely read. At this point I’m sure you’re going- Well dumbass, strippers aren’t paid to read, they are paid to be hot. Oh dear reader, not in Shreeveport, These chicks were not HOT, not pretty, not much of anything. I’m not even talking L.A. standards, but just general standards- wowie wow. I felt guilty watching them talk. I could almost feel their father’s absence.

On another note completely different note, I also took stills of another important aspect of casting- an office space I’ll call the “war room.” In this room are hundreds upon hundreds of headshots. Most are scattered across the main desk of the room and on chairs. A select few are posted to the wall. These wall shots indicate that the producers have decided upon them for a role in the film. The sheer number of people who have come into read for parts vs. the 25 or so that are on wall is staggering. Acting is such an unrelentingly hard life, it’s increasingly difficult for me to recommend it to anyone. Out of the forty or fifty actors and actresses I saw today, I can only saw with real certainty that ten or eleven had any real talent… on any level. If you really want this life, the travel, the auditions, the rejections, you must do it for the right reasons.

You must want to improve your craft. Believe in characters and stories. Doing it for fame or to be the next paparazzi target will only bring you constant rejection. I’m young in this industry, but one thing is for certain- you must bring passion to your work.

Or you’ll be doomed to a life of discarded headshots.

Can't post any of my production photos yet... but here's a few shots of life in Shreveport.

Editing Set Up

Ever growing alcohol table in kitchen

Toy table in living room

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Living With Tucker

The last time I wrote on this blog was a little over a year ago. Since then, I've graduated and begun a new adventure that warrants writing about. My posts should be much more frequent- you'll see why. I suggest as a primer for this particular adventure you familiarize yourself with the film I'm working on and the blog of the producer I'm working for- (

Welcome to my life living with Tucker Max.

I am sitting in an Amtrak train leaving Dallas TX. I’ve just gotten off the phone with my father who is now officially worried about me and frightened by my employer and worst of all I’m coming down with a cold. I am probably four or five hours away from Shreveport, Louisiana, that is assuming I get there today. If and when I arrive I will be living with bestselling author and internet celebrity Tucker Max.

Inevitably, it is best to start at the beginning. Which, of late, usually involves people looking at me and going, “How the hell are you working for Tucker Max?” Or, in some cases laughing at me and calling bullshit. I actually prefer this response as it usually involves a lot less of the same question. There are only so many times I can answer “Yeah, pretty much” to the question “Is he like how he is in his stories?” Although at this particular moment, since I’m stuck on a fucking train soon to be stuck on a fucking bus, out 400 bucks and not sitting in Shreveport drinking a beer (which is what I’m guessing Tucker is up to right now), I’d probably answer “No, he actually is a closet homosexual.” Or since, as my friends have told me via text message, Tucker updated his website to announce that he has seen fit to give away my room in the house, contented to see me and another assistant compete for it to amuse him, I may in fact respond, “He’s a closet homosexual and I think he has Hepatitis.”

I am still ahead of myself. How did I end up here?

Back in Los Angeles I am (or was I suppose) a member of a fraternity at Loyola Marymount University. This particular fraternity had well earned the reputation of “party frat, animal house, alcoholics, etc.” I loved it. Great guys, great times, not too serious. However, this level of debauchery did not lend itself to the essential act of “getting shit done.” This led to numerous confrontations with the school and a general apathy among members. As a senior this past year, I noticed that we really had done jack shit community service wise for about 2 and a half years. In an effort to alleviate the school’s concerns that we were a bunch of degenerates, I scoured the internet for community service ideas that were “appropriate.”

A quick history- I found Tucker’s website in high school and like most guys in high school thought it was pretty damn funny. I never bought his book, but snuck peaks at it in bookstores. I glanced at his message board infrequently, finally got around to registering a name, but after looking at the general discourse (notable exception: Member Boobie Thread) decided I had better things to do.

So, it was during one of these infrequent visits to the message board that lightning struck. I remembered that Tucker had used to hold “Tanked for the Troops” events across the eastern U.S. The general premise behind these fundraisers being that the more alcohol Tucker and his fans purchased at a bar, the more money the bar would donate to our injured troops via charitable organizations. Great idea for my fraternity, especially given that one of our members is a Marine. I emailed Tucker asking if I could use his logo in the hopes of attracting more people than the local LMU drunks for our event. He said of course and I planned the event at a local dive. The event went as well as it could have (Tucker initially said he might show up, but I think had second thoughts when he realized LMU was no USC size wise- although I happen to believe LMU chicks are hotter) and that was that. I emailed Tucker one last time thanking him for his help and offering my services (inasmuch as they are as a film student grad) for his new film. I didn’t expect a response and didn’t get one.

Three weeks went by; school went on, my party life style reached new heights as I realized that my last few days as a worry free college student were slipping away. One day I booted up my inbox and saw Tucker’s name, which, believe it or not, is still very surreal to me. It was a simple message- “I think I have something for you. When can you meet?”

I was stunned. I honestly had no idea what he could possibly want. My immediate thought was that he needed an extra hand to do some computer work. This was good news. I do web design on the side for some extra cash and getting to work with Tucker even via email would be fun for a few months. If nothing else, I could say I met the guy and who knows maybe get an autograph. I quickly emailed him back “Whenever” and we set up a meeting.

We met a coffee shop somewhere in East Hollywood (I think, I know jack shit about Los Angeles geographically, even after living there for four years). All I know is that it was a coffee shop that any pseudo screenwriter/producer would comfortable in. I pulled up to the parking lot and got out of my car and immediately noticed someone who I thought was Tucker talking animatedly on his cell phone. I gathered up my resume, folder and pen took a deep breath and started to walk to the coffee shop. I waved to Tucker to let him know I was there and he simply told me to grab a table inside and sit down. I sat down ordered a drink and waited. I jotted down notes nervously, just to pass the time, keeping my head on a swivel. After about 25 minutes or so, I saw a guy I recognized, or who I thought I recognized as an actor. Couldn’t place him, but I knew he’d been in something I’d seen. He was followed by a typical “Entourage” style posse dressed as “hip, Hollywood artists” that made me want to choke them. (A quick aside, I don’t dislike actors, in fact I very much enjoy the collaborative process of directing- I DO however, hate actors who are in this business for the wrong reasons and think they are God’s gift to mankind. I’d rather listen to Celine Dion on repeat than a self important actor talking as if people give a shit.) I couldn’t tell anything about this particular guy, other than I thought his friends looked like douchebags.

Another 20 minutes roll by. I fidget a bit, but I’m not going anywhere- it’s going to take at least an hour and a half before I even consider heading home. As I’m pondering ordering some food, Tucker appears, throws his bag down on the table and informs me he is taking a piss. I don’t even think I got out a hello.

After a few minutes, Tucker sat back down and I introduced myself and listened to him as he explained what he wanted- essentially someone who could shoot and cut behind the scenes footage of his new movie. I offered my resume, but he didn’t even glance at it informing me that “If you can’t do the job, I’ll fire you. I’ve lived enough in the world of resumes, if you say you can do it, than do it.” The details were simple- Tucker would fly me out to Louisiana, I’d live with him and get credit for being the producer and director of the behind the scenes material. Pretty good deal, I told him I was in. Later, I met his ex-girlfriend Erin, who is wonderful. I’m sure I’ll write more about her, but suffice to say, she has a kind and pleasant demeanor and is a very interesting ying to Tucker’s yang.

Several weeks went by and I compiled a budget for Tucker, the first of which was god-awful and Tucker thankfully gave me a second chance. I began to order equipment and wrap my head around the idea that I would be moving to Louisiana. I made preparations to quit my job – a great job I might add, my favorite thus far. All the while I corresponded and met up with Tucker I began to get two separate impressions of him. He was brutally honest and not hesitant to call me out when I fucked up. I have many emails filled with colorful phrases to describe how Tucker felt about me on these occasions. Coupled with this sentiment I got the impression that he was obsessed with his movie and that he often felt I was taking up too much of his time. His emails are always short and terse, his text messages even more so. It is quite easy for me to imagine on some days that Tucker genuinely does not like me. On the other hand, he had taken a hell of a chance and even in one short exchange, offered me encouragement. And to top it off, he wanted me to live with him. So who knows? I’ve had tough bosses before, great bosses before, assholes, friends you name it- just never one quite like Tucker.

So here I am sitting on my Amtrak train, an hour away from Longview, Texas where I will board a bus headed for Shreveport. I just sent a text message to Tucker informing him that I was in buttfuck Texas on a train, headed for a bus and arriving around 10.

His response was a typical “Ok.”