Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My two days with my new best friend.

Working with most run of the mill commercial directors, they act like regular middle class joes… sometimes you get a little film school horse puckey thrown at you, but for the most part they’re a vendor doing a job for you.

This was very different.

CG sort of never has to work every again. He picks and chooses what he’s going to work on, and so he doesn’t go crazy with the customer service. He assumes you hired him because he knows how to do his fucking job, so that’s what he does. His fucking job...AS THE GREATEST COMEDIC DIRECTOR WHO HAS EVER LIVED EVER.

Last Friday we had a meeting; something called the pre-pro, where the director sort of takes the client through how he’s going to do stuff. We flew down for the day, and we to the production company’s offices, a little bungalow slapped in the middle of a studio lot in Hollywood. Me, my new best friend CG, Gerald (my work partner), Vince the agency producer, the agency account executive, and two producers from the production company.

And we sort of just hung out and compared phones and took turns riding a Segueway. CG showed us his reading glasses. They were nice.

Mr. Guest is a nice-ish sort of fellow.

He has a reputation of being sort of difficult with agency people, but I think if you act like a grown-up and don’t ask him to say “it goes to 11”, he’s a nice enough chappie. Don’t expect HUGS obviously, but he was fun to be around. He’s your favorite professor.

He seems to respond to thoughtful questions, he’s not above joking around, and he can take and throw back jabs with the best of them. (Probably because he is the best of them.)

He has a very dry sense of humor, but you knew that. He’ll do little shtick with a shlub like you or me. (He told me I’m a good straight man, and then went on to explain that, yes, it’s a compliment.)

He has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports, fly fishing, baseball, football, golf, even frickin’ NASCAR, and he dresses like a middle aged dude. Proudly shows photos of his kids.

He sort of invited my work partner to play golf at his fancy pants club, not with him mind you, but he’d make it happen if my pal G. wanted to show up and hit a few. See? Nice.

He told us about working with John Belushi, and having to threaten Belushi with a phone call to the police because he was too high to get any work done. He told us dealing with Chris Farley’s drug addictions, and he told us that most of Altman’s films were a mess. Same with Cassavetes. He showed me his mandolin pick. AWESOME.

Mr. Guest lives a life that is very different than yours or mine.

Mr. Guest has never had what one would call a conventional life. This is a true fucking fact: he’s a titled, hereditary lord. His English diplomat father was awarded a baronage, or –nate, or whatever, and it passed down to our lad, CG. He has stood and voted in the House of Lords in a freaking wig, AND he’s married to Tony Curtis’ and Janet Leigh’s daughter, AND he was in Spinal Tap.

And… jesus. The anecdotes his producer told me.

To whit:

CG meets Steve Jobs at a dinner party. “If you ever have computer problems, here’s my card. CALL ME.”

So, months later, CG has computer problems. So what does he do? Well, he doesn’t do what you or I would do. Nope. HE CALLS FUCKING STEVE JOBS. A couple hours later, a bunch of IT guys show up with a brand spanking new G5, loaded with software, including Garage Band, which leads me to the next anecdote:

CG’s producer is on the phone with CG. “Hey, I made this song on MY NEW APPLE G5. I used GarageBand. It’s great.” (Oh, and CG plays some kind of crazy number of instruments really, really well.)

The producer: “Wow, that sounds really, really good.”

CG: “Yeah, well Dweezil Zappa, Elvis Costello and Jeff Beck were over the other day, and we were just fooling around. So, yeah.” (Note that this is my approximation of what a generic casual sounding dude sounds like. I doubt CG would say “So, yeah.”)

Mr. Willard is really, really good and very, very old.

I didn’t talk to him, simply because OH MY FUCKING GOD, HE’S FUCKING FRED WILLARD. He walks with a pronounced shuffle, but he is laser focused. It was tiny-hair-on-my-neck-standing-up-causing to watch other much younger actors try to stay in the same universe with him as he improvises complete insanity. The only time I saw CG laugh out loud was during FW’s absolutely twisted utterances. His character was very dark, very crass, and completely hilarious. So…FUCKING…AWESOME.

Mr. Hitchcock is a really, really good and a very underrated actor.

He played Parker Posey’s catalog loving husband in “Best in Show” and he’s currently on MAD TV.

For all of Willard’s diatribes, Hitchcock could upstage him with a look, with a knitted eyebrows, or quiet exasperation. He’s sort of my new hero. Jesus, I sound like a wee schoolgirl.

Here’s how he does the movies.

Over a year or so, he and his writing partner (usually Eugene Levy) write extensive 30 page biographies for EACH of the characters. Each actor then studies each biography, so his or her reactions to each other will be organic. Each scene is choreographed around certain points and the actors improvise until they hit the goal. CG gives notes throughout and then the funny troll comes and the magical elves sprinkle their gumgum twinkle powder aaaaand...JOKES!

Fred Willard made fun of my wife
We used my wife’s last name, Grech, for the name of a company Willard refers to in the thingie. “The Grech Group? I like to call it the RETCH Group… RETCH! RETCH!”

That’s the ramble. I’ll think on this some more, because it is so fucking cool and I will bother my wife with anecdotes all weekend, then I’ll bother you some more. Neat! I’ll try and post some of the film next week or so. It’s pretty fucking funny.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goddamn it Greg! This sounds like a blast. If I ever hear you complain about your job, I'm going to hang you by yer eggs. Can't wait to see some footage. - Bub

3:55 PM  
Blogger G. said...

Greg, it sounds amazing--I'm really happy for you. Though, to be perfectly accurate, my favorite professor did give me HUGS...which is perhaps why he's no longer a professor. Anyways, I'm excited to hear the rest of your anecdotes.


4:50 AM  
Blogger booboo said...


6:52 AM  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

Bub -- We'll drink.

G. -- Thanks, Blog Friend! Your Mardi Gras experience sounds amazing. Sounds like you met a lot of great people. Gain any weight?

12:35 PM  
Blogger G. said...

Weight? You mean those 10 extra pounds of bulk? We refer to that as reserved muscle, my friend. "Reserved muscle."


4:56 PM  

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