Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jesse's Guitar

Getting to know Jesse has been a real pleasure. I had real apprehension about even talking to him- I mean the guy has been in countless movies, is well known and really could have been an unapproachable "star" sort of guy. 

Not the case. 

Jesse is down to earth, easy to talk to and possesses a wicked sense of humor. If it weren't for a little thing called "fame" he'd fit right in with most of the guys I hang out with. (Notable exception: occasionally my friends can beat me at beer pong, Jesse has yet to do so). It just so happens that Jesse both have a love of classic rock. Jesse is also a very accomplished guitar player and guitar collector. He knows more about guitars than I could ever dream to and is constantly on the prowl for new piece for his collection. 

Earlier this week I helped Jesse cut together some brief clips of him playing a killer Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar solo and a beautiful acoustic piece by Hall & Oates. 

He along with Suki (who is another Renaissance man and master of piano) are the dominant musical forces on set. It has been a pleasure getting to know both of them. 

Below are the two pieces of Jesse on guitar. 

It's always nice to get to know the man behind the image.

Friday, July 25, 2008


If you've ever watched any sort of "promo" spot for movie, wherein actors are sitting in a chair, usually on set or near the set, you've watched an E.P.K. You see these sorts of videos in HBO's First Look or the Behind the Scenes DVD section of a film. In general, you sit the actor's down and pepper them with generic quotes about the film. The totality of every important cast/crew member's interviews becomes the Electronic Press Kit (EPK). This EPK is then sent to media outlets (E! Entertainment, TV Guide Channel, etc.) for them to use in whatever sort of fashion they want and again, ultimately used on the eventual DVD release.

Today, I wrote/directed the E.P.K.s.

The EPK crew arrived on set today (one sound guy, one camera guy) and setup their own rig near the set. I was always of the impression that these guys were sort of a two or three man production, complete with their own producer who sort of oversaw all of this stuff. WRONG. There was literally one camera guy and one sound guy, who were waiting on someone to provide them with questions. I was wandering around the set snapping photos when I happened to wander near video village where McKittrick and Darren (UPM) were hanging out. I heard Sean muttering, "God I hate dealing with EPK." Darren didn't seem too thrilled either. Apparently, the film's producers are often in charge of coming up with the questions to ask the cast/crew in these interviews. This probably explains the shitty softball questions ("Tell me more about the dresses you wear in the movie.") and the shitty answers ("Oh he is such a DREAM to work with.")

Anyway, Tucker suggested we just use the same master list of questions that I've been compiling over the course of production for use in my video blogs. So questions in hand I met up with the E.P.K. guys planning on handing over my list and getting back to stills. As it turns out, the camera guy admitted to being a bad interviewer ("I usually just stare at the camera and read the questions out of the corner of my eye") and generally being unfamiliar with the film and anything Tucker Max related. This sort of explains why most E.P.K. answers are lame- it's pretty tough to respond honestly to a camera man who can't even look you in the eye. So, I threw out the idea of stepping in and the camera guy seemed sort of relieved.

I ended up interviewing Meagan Fay first, which was nerve wracking because she's a pro and this was my first "professional" interview. (I mean the video interviews are cool, but it's a bit more informal and as of now, aren't on DVDs, TV etc.) But Meagan was wonderful, answered all my questions and endured the sweltering heat (even inside it was still around 85 degrees). Hopefully that interview ends well.

Next up was Keri (who by the way is stunningly beautiful in person and somehow even MORE gorgeous on screen). Her first words to me were, "FUCK, your interviewing me again." She'd had a VERY long day and it was nice to see she still had a sense of humor. I really haven't talked at length with Keri, but everytime has been a pleasure.

Up next was Jesse, who brought an acoustic guitar to the interview. I've been lucky enough to develop a very nice rapport with the three male leads and again it felt very much like a conversation with Jesse. After we wrapped up his interview, Jesse walked over to the extras area and gave an impromptu guitar performance. It was a very cool thing to do and somewhere down the line, I'll post pictures I snapped.

Last was Tucker and as is usually the case, the interview was so-so. I hadn't known I was going to be interviewing him (I was actually scheduled to interview Marike, our newest cast addition, but she didn't feel comfortable with an interview after joining the cast only 24 hours ago), so I generally sort of re-hashed questions Tucker had already answered, which predictably irritated him. I don't think he has fully grasped the idea of an E.P.K. and resented having to say the same stuff over and over, when in reality, this sort of information is exactly what media outlets want/need him on film explaining.

So that's in essence how an EPK works- another new experience for me.

Week two starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Set

This is my first major "Hollywood" feature set. When I worked for MTV I started to pick up the vernacular and the motions of a set. Going to film school made me familiar with the equipment and the positions. None of these experiences really can prepare you for the machinery of a large scale production. Every person walking around with purpose, earpieces attached, visiting the various camps. Tents stretch up and down the street, each housing equipment, monitors or people. The clock is constantly ticking, the ship that is the movie is gaining steam with Dieter, our first AD at the helm urging it on. Every second is accounted for- it's quite the surreal experience.

"Hurry up and wait" is the often used maxim of sets and I've found it to be very true so far. We've covered two scenes inside a house from every possible angle over the last few days, sometimes it can be mind numbingly boring. Over and over and over the same lines and same movements. On the flipside, when you are there when the actors first make the connection and you can see the script pages come to life- it is pretty damn inspiring.

However, as much as I enjoy my work and being a part of the crew I've realized that I need keep my head straight and focus on two goals: providing the best stills and video I possibly can and two- start to wrap my head around the question of what the hell I want to do in this business.

I have an unbelievable amount of respect for the crew that Tucker et al have assembled for this picture. The work they do on set is done well and done quickly. We have braved 95 degree heat coupled with 90 percent humidity and the crew hasn't missed a step. We all pull 12 hour days. I'm up at 5:45 and am wrapping somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:30. I'm not sure I want to be pulling these sort of hours. Our first AD, Dieter, has found a way to balance his demanding work and travel schedule with a family- I'm not sure down the road I could do that. Which brings into question what road I choose. Do I pay my dues while I'm young in my early twenties to work my way up the chain of command the traditional way? Or do I do something else entirely? I'm leaning towards the latter.

The entertainment business provides plenty of options, plenty of perks and plenty of opportunities. I know that if this were my "baby" as it is for Tucker and Nils I wouldn't be having this conversation. I can very easily throw myself into my work, especially if I'm the one who created it. But having no creative input, having no say in the direction of the film drives someone like me insane. I need to have vested interest in what I work on. And I think that drive and passion will point me down the road less traveled.

We'll see.

Sidenote: New Photos and Video on the I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell website.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


As I type this Tucker and Czuchry are sitting on opposite sides of a table rehearsing one of the early scenes in the film. There is a particularly interesting exchange going on as one of Czuchry's suggested lines is being written into the film. Vaguely, Czuchry is suggesting that perhaps Nils and Tucker have not thought through the implications of a line- the line may reveal more than the two of them intend. He is a very astute actor.

The conversation has reminded me of an exchange I had with Tucker and Czuchry over lunch the other day. Tucker was relating to Czuchry the coming onslaught of celebrity that will no doubt change Matt's life. Czuchry has already achieved a level of fame via his role on Gilmore Girls (try putting Matt Czuchry into google) and now he is slowly coming to terms with how his life is about to be turned upside down as the titular character of a film that in all likelihood will do serious business.

Tucker related some interesting stories about having to put up with the "persona" of Tucker Max. Occasionally he will be out in bars or restaurants and be approached by fans who badger him about being "Tucker Max Drunk" or acting stupidly or hitting on chicks etc. It apparently does not occur to them that Tucker may in fact lead a normal life and that while he may shack up with a surreal amount of women, this in no way is indicative of his lifestyle. In fact, having lived with Tucker for a weeks now, the only thing that really shocked me is that Tucker watches Golden Girls. I haven't seen him throw dishes at a bartender, he hasn't set the house on fire (although he did participate in the bombing of Ian's bed) and he has yet to bring home a stripper.

It would seem rational that people would be able to distinguish between the Tucker in his writing and the Tucker who walks among us- apparently not. Now it is Czuchry's turn to carry on the torch of "Tucker Max" and the real Tucker could not be happier. Already Czuchry's fans have a hard time disassociating him from the "Logan" character he played on Gilmore Girls. I know this firsthand having recently browsed through Matt Czuchry fan sites looking for interesting questions to ask him. (Here's a few answers to questions I won't be asking Matt- he isn't married, he is single, he won't call you and he doesn't know how Gilmore Girls should have ended).

With the mantle effectively being passed to Matt, I shudder to think how many regular joes on the street will be hovering over him every time he chooses to have a drink. His personal life is effectively no longer personal. Who he dates, where he eats, when he fucks up is all public record. Certainly it makes you second guess if success in this business is worth it; or more honestly: Am I in this business for the right reasons? My standard answer to the query is: Yes, I want to tell stories. I want to be a filmmaker. I hope that I can maintain this mantra.

However, it's easy to be seduced by the allure of fame. Why are there so many terrible actresses in this business? Why are there so many awful movies made with wooden acting and little to no emotive effort from the leads? Maybe it's easy to point to a very simple example. Tell me who Ben Affleck is dating. I admit, I know the answer- Jennifer Garner.

Now tell me who Daniel Day Lewis is dating. Or if he is married. Or anything really about Daniel Day Lewis.

This is the sort of life I wish for Czuchry. He's a good kid with a great heart. He isn't in it for the fame and his work ethic reflects his devotion to character. Can he be Daniel Day Lewis? Perhaps not- it certainly is a tall order, but I'm not going to rule it out. If nothing else it is my most earnest wish that Czuchry continues to develop into an actor devoted to his art.

Czuchry understands character, story, emotion- the real underpinnings of the foundation that is acting. Ben Affleck used to, but in my estimation became seduced by the unflenching public eye. Maybe he came into the business for the right reasons, who knows?

What I do know is that setting a course to become a "star" or "celebrity" is a stupid idea. And you'll be lucky when Hollywood spits you out.

God forbid you actually get your wish.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Dallas Road Trip

Saturday morning after our 9AM rehearsal myself, Tucker, Jesse, Matt, Geoff and Tucker's special forces friend "Thomas" hopped in the production's rental van and headed for Dallas. The general idea behind this trip was for the three male leads to bond and for Czuchry to be able observe Tucker in his natural habitat (i.e. drunk and hitting on women). So after rehearsals Saturday morning, I found myself behind the wheel heading towards Texas.

Our first stop was for brews- and Tucker did not hesitate to ensure that the boys were good and sauced well before we crossed the state line. We pulled into the hotel (The Joule for anyone who cares) and I was immediately stunned at how elegant the place was. Pool jutting out from the 10th floor, service left and right- all in all one of the nicest, if not the nicest hotel I've every stayed in. Sidenote: When we were checking in Tucker informed me that because there was only 5 rooms and 6 of us, the person who did not hook up would sleep in the van. This was particularly devastating news to me given that I was traveling with: 3 legitimate celebrities, the premiere internet celebrity who specializes in random hookups and a special forces guy who was apparently as good if not better at attracting hotties as Tucker. Chances of a Greg hookup were about as likely as a Tucker Max bible reading.

Luckily for me, Tucker ended up getting six rooms which ensured that I'd have a super expensive bed to sleep in. So we headed up to our rooms, dropped our bags and headed to the pool. Geoff had arranged with some Dallas friends to have hot girls at the pool and he delivered. It honestly looked like a mini-sode of Entourage. I distinctly remember thinking to myself "I don't belong here." Anyway, I stayed for a few hours listening to Thomas tell stories about sneak attacks against terrorists in Iraq. Ended up bumming Jesse a swimsuit because he drunkenly lost his in Florida and watched Czuchry watch Tucker hit on women- which was actually very interesting. I tried my best to stay out of sight and out of mind as this really was not my trip and as I've come to realize, when you're with Tucker it is the Tucker Max show- you're just a viewer.

One of the more memorable moments came later in the evening when I saddled up to the bar and had a drink with our whole crew. The bar was empty and the discussion was drifting to the sort of serious dialogue that only comes when your with people who have had enough drinks to not know any better. We touched on scientology, religion, atheism- concrete tangible discussion. A conversation any group of intelligent guys could have on any given night after a few drinks.

As the sun set on the rooftop pool overlooking downtown Dallas, it struck me how surreal a moment this was. Across from me was Tucker Max, my boss, who until about two months ago was a mythical author my buddies and I quoted when we were drunk. To my right was Jesse, a guy I'd seen on my living room TV constantly due to having two younger sisters and a little movie called Bring It On. Further down were Geoff and Czuchry. Two guys who had singlehandedly re-defined for me my presumptions about actors. In fact, the principal leads on this film are stunningly down to earth, genuine and kind. I imagine that I'm going to be sorely disappointed when I get on board my next film as these guys have set the bar incredibly high. And of course Thomas sat furthest down, throwing drinks down and laughing, yelling and arguing all at once about everything and nothing. His outgoing attitude gave no indication that in a few months he was shipping out to the Middle East. And here I was in the midst of it all- a guy who three months ago was studying for a management final.

One more small example: As the discussion was winding down and everyone was trying to get in their two cents, Geoff held up his hands and pointed at me, "I want to hear what Greg has to say."

This sort of thing may seem stupid and petty, but to someone who is SO used to the superficial bullshit that permeates the L.A. scene it was unbelievably refreshing to be around genuine celebrities who have found ways to remain grounded.

Eventually Tucker was drawn away from the conversation by pretty much the only thing that draws Tucker away from intelligent discourse: girls. Some Dallas chick showed up and Tucker took off real fast. The rest of us took a cue from him and re-grouped for the night ahead.

Our first bar was right up my alley. Music was loud, but not super annoying. Girls were hot and down to earth (some were trashed and making out- I believe I took a photo of this), pool room in the back, decent drink prices and all of us had a table to ourselves. I did the majority of my photo work here. Czuchry found ample opportunity to flex his Tucker-honed flirtacious muscle. And Thomas decided it was a good idea to teach the actors the most painful pressure points on the body. I wisely stayed away from his demonstrations. A good time was had by all and once again we found Tucker with another "friend" and on a decidedly different path than the rest of us. (i.e. another girl)

So we headed out to another bar, sans Tucker, the name of which was Barcadia I think. At this point the locals were getting a bit weary of my constant photographing- so I was spared the constant photo setup. This was great because oddly enough a random comment thrown at me was banging around in my head. At the previous bar three seperate girls had asked me if I was a paparazzi. Ouch. Something about the idea of exploiting these guys had really hit home with me. I always make it clear to the actors that none of the photos I take will ever see the light of day if they are uncomfortable with them and I usually am a pretty good judge of when to put the lens cap on. Plus Tucker personally reviews every photo, so the likelihood of one of my photos pissing someone off is relatively small. However, those stupid girls still got to me. Whatever.

We spent the remainder of the night encountering the following: a 22 year old virgin getting engaged and fighting off the urge to laugh at Czuchry's jokes, a 19 year old's bachelorette party at a random Italian restaurant, 2:20AM pizza and Jesse fielding a request to help a dude find a strip club, oh and Thomas almost being hit by a car due to severe intoxication. I was a tired dude by the time I hit the sack.

The next morning we saddled up and headed home. First however, Jesse had to stop and get his damn iPhone fixed and of course of all the days Jesse picked to get his phone fixed it had to be the day that the stupid 3G was released. Luckily Jesse's charms allowed us to avoid the massive nerd line that went around the whole goddamn block. You should have soon the defeated looks of hundreds of people when the Apple store sold out of the black model. Apparently, the color white is so last year. Also, check out the photo of the blonde chick working at the Apple store- she nearly fainted when she realized "Logan" from Gilmore Girls was standing next to her.

After the brief pit stop we were back on the road headed towards Shreveport. About an hour in we stopped for gas only to realize that I had missed a sign for the 20 East freeway and now was headed towards Arkansas. Predictably Tucker was pissed and I was a bit embarrassed. After consulting google maps Tucker declared that we would need to travel through the backroads to get onto the 20. As we headed deeper into farm country, Jesse brought out his guitar and began quietly playing some old classic rock licks. The guitar had a soothing effect that put everyone in the car in a quiet, contemplative mood. We passed farm house after farm house, truck after truck, field after field with only Jesse's guitar and the occasional comment here or there breaking the silence.

Slowly but surely the conversations picked up again and the guys started getting back in the groove of bagging on eachother, telling stories about the Playboy mansion and laughing. But for a few moments it became clear to me that these guys had bonded. You certainly can't put a price on that sort of honesty on screen. And for all of my struggling and doubts I'm happy to be a part of a cast and crew that their heads and hearts in the right spot.

Hanging Out

Hanging Out

Hanging Out

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Some people have a VERY hard time understanding Tucker's success. People I've talked to attribute it to sex or juvenile humor or simply understanding the male psyche. His "special" ability to channel the machismo element hidden beneath every man. Tucker is who every guy wants to be they say.

Here's my idea: Disruption.

Tucker's success thus far is due to his unrelenting ability to disrupt whatever system he in. As an example: guess how many major publications reviewed Tucker's book? One. The New York Times in a blurb mentioned Tucker's book in combination with two other books they labeled as "Fratire." Granted, the New York Times is the New York Times- BUT THAT'S IT. No major publication in the whole damn country!

Guess how many weeks Tucker's book has been on the bestseller's list? 63 weeks over a three year period and all of 2008.
THIS WEEK HE IS THE NUMBER EIGHTH BEST SELLING NON FICTION BOOK IN THE COUNTRY- three years from publication. How is this possible? Traditional media all but ignored Tucker (the scattered interview here and there). How did he solve this problem?

First, let's backtrack, and look at what has Tucker done proactively to ensure his book's success.

1. Access.

Tucker reads every single one of his emails. I know this. Don't believe me? Email him yourself- I guarantee he'll read it, although I won't guarantee he won't ridicule you. If you want to talk with Tucker about something intelligently chances are
he personally emails you back. By virtue of me being in Shreveport Louisiana right now, I am living proof of this. More importantly and to the thrust of my argument, Tucker has managed to foster the creation of a community of people with him at the focal point- his messageboard. Ask yourself- what is the common thread between these thousands of people, discussing hundreds of topics at a given time? What binds them together? Tucker. In essence an entire sub culture has evolved from the basis of one common interest; that interest being an author who, at his leisure, can and often does lead the discussion. Can you point to one other author who commands such a devoted and more importantly invested fanbase? Talk about "branding." This is branding re-defined, Tucker's brand has become the thoughts and ideas of his fans. This exchange IS his brand.

To wrap up my thoughts on access consider this- Tucker posts most of his content for FREE. Go to Click stories. Read them. Guess what- you've just digested HALF of his bestseller I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. HALF. Consumers know instantly if they want more Tucker Max. Traditional media can certainly provide them the paperback, but TUCKER provides: the stories, the movie, the blog, the message board and they can become a part of all of it.

They can be come invested in Tucker Max and the living, breathing community of Tucker Max all at once.

2. A tour (more an example than a reason, but worth discussing).

Book tours are mainstream. They happen all the time. How did Tucker mold it into his idea of new media?

From the beginning he did things on his terms. He announced it via his
personal website, kept a personal journal chronicling his adventures with photos and firsthand accounts. He personally invited his fans to come and meet him, buy a book, get an autograph and HANG OUT WITH HIM. (And when the fans were done seeing Tucker in person, they could go and post on the website and continue the discussion.)

If you love someone's content, (i.e. the way I love a Lee Child novel) you are invested to make a singular purchase (I will buy Lee Child's next book). If I attach
value to Tucker's tour ("Tucker had a drink with me" or even "I saw Tucker drink in person"), what are the chances I am more invested in Tucker and his success?

3. The movie blog. This may be the most paradigm shifting revolution that Tucker has incidentally started.

Consider this as also a reason for his film's (hopeful) success. Let's break this down very basically: the movie blog is Tucker's first hand perspective on making his first movie. He has blogged about financing, casting, pre-production, me getting my ass kicked, selecting a director, selecting the principals, etc. etc. I have personally taken over 1200 photos documenting every SINGLE aspect of Tucker's producing life thus far. I have had zero limitations placed on me or the photos I take. In fact, Tucker gave me this initiative: the only way to get fired is to NOT take the photo.

I could go on about the video, but it only serves to prove the same point. Look at the access you get on Tucker's movie blog. Look at the CONTENT. Ever seen a thousand stills devoted to a movie before? No. Ever seen a producer talk about riders on a blog- AT LENGTH?

Better question- do you know what an actor's rider is? If you read Tucker's blog you would. If you were curious why Tucker hired Bob Gosse of ALL THE DIRECTOR'S IN HOLLYWOOD, (this is actually extremely disruptive in and of itself, but that's a whole different post) you could merely click his site and find out. He will tell you exactly why he has made his choices.

He has created a world opened to everyone: people interested in him, people interested in his content and people interested in film or hell, people just interested in good CONTENT.

Show me ONE other movie or author that has done or is doing this right now.

Darko Studios has effectively given Tucker full creative control over this movie. Think about this: the money does NOT have control. Unheard of. Still curious why he didn't go to Fox or Warners?

And one day, if this movie hits like I think it will, this industry is going to have rethink the way things were.

One last thing to consider- according to Alexa's ranking the I Hope They Serve Beer blog is already in the top 100 movie blogs. Let that sink in. In two months, a website dedicated TO ONE SPECIFIC MOVIE, is in the top 100 of all movie blogs in the world... Food for thought.

Cast was announced, I went out to a bar with Tucker, Bob, Nils & fiancee and the "fake Tucker" Matt Czuchry. Here's the shot I felt I framed up best:

Hanging Out

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Drive Thru Bars, Choked Out & Senator Clinton

First things first. If you have not seen this video- go take a look. Jeff the AP is not a man to be trifled with. Tucker did a pretty good job describing what happened.

My most stunning discovery this week however, was the existence of DRIVE THRU bars. I had heard rumors of such things, but… it literally exceeded every expectation I had. The place is called "Cajun Daquiris" and it is about a 5 minute drive from our house. I went through around 3PM on Thursday and the line extended into traffic. As I checked out the menu (pictures below) I realized YOU COULD ORDER SHOTS. You can pull up, order 4 shots and be on your way. Unbelievable. Also, they have happy hour specials- even writing about this still blows my mind.

The 4th of July saw Jeff "acquiring" about 900 dollars worth of fireworks. It was also the day that beer pong began at the house. Nils is good, I still haven't beat him, but other than his uncanny ability, I think this may be the one game I will dominate.

Actors arrive beginning on Monday. The Variety piece was apparently supposed to have run this week, if it doesn't run on Monday- Tucker will announce them on the blog. I'll be there when the actor who plays Tucker arrives- so you can expect video of that.

We went on our last location scout, everything is ready to go. Rehearsals start next week. Those will all be taped, although I seriously doubt those will be released until after the movie is released. Funnily enough I talked with Tucker about sequel ideas, which is a foregone conclusion if this movie blows up. I pitched him an opening scene which was sort of close to the general direction of what they have written. Odd coincidence.

I've taken a TON of pictures over the last few days. Check out the blog. A few of my favorites below.

Hanging out


Hanging out