While I was incredibly disappointed to not be attending the Jacksonville Film Festival this weekend, the world threw me a bone and I had a memorable Saturday night regardless. I was planning on heading back to Maryland after Saturday's christening, but it turns out good buddies Ben Best and Danny McBride were in Brooklyn to screen their Sundance hit THE FOOT FIST WAY as part of BAM's "Sundance Selects" series. I couldn't pass up the opportunity, and I am quite thankful that this fell into my lap as a backup plan.
Wow. It's strange to realize that your friends are about to become absolute Hollywood megastars. I'm not kidding, this is on par with CLERKS and NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. A low-budget comedy that comes from out of nowhere and somehow wins the 'major studio' lottery. I won't get into specifics as to the details of their distribution deal, but all I can say is that we are talking MAJOR STUDIO RELEASE, with the support of a MAJOR HOLLYWOOD STAR. The studio wanted to buy the film and remake it with the aforementioned star, but the boys stuck to their guns and they appear to have gotten their way. It looks like you'll be seeing this tiny gem in a multiplex by the end of the year. Unfuckingbelievable!
THE FOOT FIST WAY was directed by Jody Hill (who I strangely had never met before last night, as I thought I knew everyone who graduated from NCSA during that late-'90s era) and was written by Jody, Danny, and Ben. It stars Danny, Ben, and Jody, and features music by Ben's band Pyramid. If it sounds incestuous, I suppose it is. But that only adds to the glory of the achievement.
Simply put, THE FOOT FIST WAY is one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long, long time. For those of you who don't remember, Danny played the character of Bust-Ass in ALL THE REAL GIRLS. This time around, Danny is Fred Simmons, a Tae Kwon Do instructor living in Concord, North Carolina. When he learns that his wife has been less than faithful, Fred's seemingly controlled life derails. I'd rather not get into plot specifics, because they don't even matter. What matters is Danny's performance, which is absolutely brilliant. This is a brand of comedy that the world has never seen before, R-rated and foul yet somehow sweet and tender. After years of knowing that Danny was insanely gifted, it's a thrill to see the pieces finally fall into place for him. He's Bill Murray, he's Owen Wilson, he's Will Ferrell. He's DANNY FUCKING MCBRIDE!!!
Ben also comes out on top as a writer, composer, and actor. As for Jody's directing, he was smart enough to realize that being overly cinematic wasn't necessary to get the job done. When you have Danny McBride playing a Tae Kwon Do instructor having a mental breakdown, perfect lighting and cinematography simply don't matter. Just roll the camera and make sure the microphones are on! It appears that Jody has already lined up several more projects with a major studio, so they recognize his ability, even if some of the film looks like it was lit by a Film 101 student. But with a project like this, that only adds to the film's charm. It's actually a great lesson. When you're dealing with comedies, if it's funny, that's all that matters. I'm tempted to shoot PING-PONG SUMMER in the exact same manner, though I would like to have a slightly prettier production. But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
When the film is finally released, I have a strong hunch there will be a backlash by many people who will only be able to see the film's shortcomings and who might have a problem with the unabashed misogyny and graphic language, but who gives a shit when you've already struck gold and become major Hollywood players (i.e., suck it, you jealous, bitter babies!).
This is one of those films that had me saying, at least twenty times, "I have to remember that line," only to walk out of the theatre being too overwhelmed to remember them all. Though one of my favorite non-Danny lines is his wife, who tries to explain herself by saying, "It got out of hand. I got really drunk. Like, Myrtle Beach drunk." The genius with Danny is his phrasing and delivery. He says seemingly common things but phrases them in a way that you've never heard before. It must be experienced to be believed. Fortunately, you'll be believing it soon enough.
Of course, after that extreme high, while driving back to Maryland today, I was flooded with the realization that it appears the COCAINE ANGEL festival fun is winding down and I really have nothing to show for myself except a huge pile of debt. That led to the more sobering realization that it's absolutely unrealistic to believe DAYDREAM is going to happen this fall. I want to do it right, yet I feel like I'm on an island with no support or connections whatsoever. I've met some amazing people during our festival run, but they're all filmmakers who are in the same exact predicament as yours truly. I've heard of this thing called a "producer" who finds a filmmaker they believe in and does whatever it takes to help them realize their vision, but I've yet to find one of those for myself. To be completely honest, I don't have the strength to do it all on my own. It's too fucking exhausting. I simply can't do it without some form of support, and while I have a lot of verbal shoulders to lean on, there's no actual-factual tactical-practical presence in my life to help me make that happen at the moment.
But fear not, loyal reader. I'm not as hopeless and depressed as I sound. I'm about to dive into a hearty pass on PING-PONG SUMMER (trimming it to 100 pages and making it more fun than ever), and am also going to write a rather somber drama that I have a 13-page outline/treatment of. Also, if DAYDREAM appears to not be a viable option this fall, I promise there will be another no-budget 24p project shot this summer/fall in Maryland. I know what I want to shoot in a general sense, and I think it could be quite funny and engaging (I don't know if Earth is ready for Michael Tully the actor but it looks like that's what you're gonna get).
I'm rambling now. In this era of quick-quick-quickness, I doubt anyone reads these longer rants. Sorry about that. But I'm in a strange place. Not low, mind you. Just a tad confused. After the extreme high of the first half of the year, it's time for yang to make an appearance. That's only right, and I will welcome him with open arms. All I can do is continue to pay off the debt and try to return to a place where I'm seeing the world from the inside-out, not being overwhelmed by it from the other way around. That really is the most important thing, I think. That, and a girlfriend, of course, but I couldn't be further away from that if I was a gay leper...