The phone rings, and my old business partner (www.blacksheepnc.com), Josh, calls to let me know apparently Kevin Smith is filming his new movie, TUSK, in my parents neighborhood. He got the word from Matt, who was going to be working in the production office for the film. So I call Matt to get the details, and Matt says they are in a bit of a bind….they need an office space asap because the one they had just fell through. I let him know my parents have a building that was currently empty and they could use a temporary tenant until they find a long term one. So the next day I meet with the heads of production, they love the space, and the deal is made for them to house TUSK production office in my parents building. I’m super stoked, it means most likely I will meet Kevin and Jay and hopefully others! Being a long time Smith fan, I already have those fan boy feelings…even though I’m 40.
I let the production heads know that I would love to help on the film if I can. So within a day or two they call me for my first job. I have to drive 3hrs to pick up Harley Morenstein in Raleigh and bring him back to his hotel outside of Charlotte. His flight arrived in Raleigh at 11pm, so it was a long drive and long night…BUT totally worth it. Harley was a super nice guy and we got to chatting about his success on youtube. His advice was to just go for it, try to start doing something you enjoy and make it happen. I know this feels like a side track about my film, but this talk with Harley is what gave me courage to talk to Kevin later.
A week later I got another call from production asking if I wanted to work as a Locations PA on the film. I said YES, but had no idea what that was or what it would entail….I just knew it meant I would be on set everyday. Locations is all the dirty work. I got to fix toilets, pick up trash, ask residents to stop cutting their grass so we can film, and many other exciting things. It might not sound cool, but I loved it and I got to work with Jason and Curtis, who were locations gurus. (If you guys are reading this, THANKS! for making it all fun!). So now I’m going to set daily and seeing Kevin and Jay wondering around, seeing how a movie is made, learning a lot about production, etc. I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights the for the first few days. I could talk about all the cool stuff that went on and the cool people I met, but maybe I should finish up on how my film was born.
So one day I’m guarding the door to the set, when Kevin is coming back in. No one is around and I decide to say wassup and let Kevin know we had met before. It was a long time ago, when we were younger. I had been able to get a ticket to the premiere of Dogma in Kevin’s home town of Red Bank, NJ. I showed him a pic of the ticket and he gave me a huge hug.
So after that he would say “wassup Dieter” anytime he saw me on set. He’s one of the nicest people out there, but I let that politeness build up my confidence to ask him for a “favor”…haha. During all this time working on the set I had come up with an idea to spoof the film. I kept thinking it was so funny and any chance I got I would write dialogue and sketch scenes in the little pad I had in my pocket, which was for Locations notes.
Late one night while shooting at the mansion location, everyone was setting up for a new shot and Kevin was in the video village tent alone. I can’t decide if I should go talk to Kevin about my idea, or should I just not bother him, or will I get fired for bothering the director, or will he tell me my idea is stupid, etc, etc…you know the normal insecurity type inner dialogue. That’s when I remember what Harley said and I just go ask Kevin if he could do me a favor, his response was “sure man, whatever you want!” I let him know I was an animator and I had an idea for a little short, but I would want to get some dialogue from him and a few of the actors….he said no problem, bring in something to record with and we’ll do it. I couldn’t believe it, it was like a dream…he said “YES!”, what the hell just happened. Maybe he was tired because it was so late, he didn’t understand what I was asking….all those nice insecure thoughts came back. A few days went by. I was afraid to approach him about recording, but I had the recorder in my pocket everyday. One day Kevin sees me and asks if I’m going to bring in something to record with or what. Holy Crap! He remembered, it wasn’t a misunderstanding. I said I was ready whenever he was and so we recorded his dialogue. Later that day I as able to hit up Jay to get his dialogue. He was stoked to do it and actually gave me a few takes. The next step was to get Justin’s dialogue. I wasn’t sure about how to go about asking, but Kevin assured me he would be down for it. I had originally written dialogue for everyone, but Kevin felt it was asking too much…and who was I to argue with Mr. Smith, so we cut it down to what it is now and only needed voices from three people. I had two down and one to go. I approach Justin on his walk to lunch, he’s in full creature makeup, and tell him Kev and Jay already gave dialogue and that he was the only one left. He loved the idea, asked to see my sketches and planning and the dialogue I wrote for him. He was like “OK, you ready?”, and proceeded to give me the most amazing take where he added to my lame dialogue something that I could never have written. Justin is one of the nicest and most talented people I have met. He gave my little nothing concept the same professional respect he would have for a “real” director. He was so loud that others walking to lunch thought he was actually upset and causing a scene. Not until they saw me holding a mic and recording him did they realize it was all in fun. Micheal Parks was laughing so hard, that it made me think I wanted to write him back into the short….but I remembered to not push my luck, I was already doing something amazing. Maybe if he’s reading this, I can get him into the next one?
So the concept was born and the dialogue was in the can…as they say. Now everything relies on me not making a bad film…NO PRESSURE! If you’ve read this far then you must be interested, and I thank you! I want to say thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way. Most of all, I want to thank my wife Kate and my two little rugrats, Zoë and Jax! Please check out the other pages on how this film was made….and PLEASE subscribe to the youtube channel link on the left…