Director Christopher Duddy
It's So Easy And Other Lies: The Movie
How was it working with Duff (McKagan?)
It was great. I don't know if you know the story but we were neighbors and I met Duff walking our kids to school. Our kids went to the same school and we met walking our kids to school. I knew who we was when we met, of course, he's a very noticeable figure but we became friends and we were friends for a long time before this whole thing came up. He's a big sports fan, I'm a big sports fan and he's just a cool guy. He's very down to earth and very approachable. He's a normal guy and I was really attracted to that about him.
When it came to putting together the film, how did that come about?
Like I said, we had been friends for a long time and Duff knew I was a film maker. I come from the movie industry and have been doing this for a long time and he'd seen some things that I'd done. He wrote his book a few years after we'd become friends and he asked me to read his book. I didn't know a lot about his backstory until I read the book. I read his book and first of all, it was really well written and his story touched a cord with me. As a film maker, I'm attracted to those kind of inspirational stories, the classic rags to riches and the conflict with it. In his case, it was the struggles of drug and alcohol abuse and almost dying and getting a second chance. All that inspirational, almost like a hero story kind of thing, so I approached him after I read the book and I said, "Duff, this is an amazing story. Your story, I think, should be told on screen. Lets make a documentary based on your book." at first he said no but I was persistent because I just think it's a great story. It's really that Americana, follow your dreams story.
With lots of persistence and it wasn't until the book became a best seller and it was being released on paperback, he called me one day and said, "Hey, the paperback is being released and I'm doing the press junket so if we're going to do this documentary thing maybe you should start coming with me with your camera because I'm doing a big press push for the paperback." So I did. I started going with him and we weren't sure exactly what we were doing. We were just hanging out with the camera and he was telling stories and I was following him around blah, blah, blah for the book press and the defining moment for the film, I think, was when Guns N' Roses was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Duff asked me to go to Cleveland with him. Just to shoot more stuff and spend time with him and stuff so I went to Cleveland with him and the night before the Hall of Fame induction ceremony he said, "Hey, I'm doing this show at the House of Blues in Cleveland why don't you come with me and bring your camera. I think the guys are gonna come after my show and we're gonna rehearse for the Hall of Fame show." Meaning, Slash and Matt Sorum and Steven Adler and all those guys and I was like, "Oh my God, of course!" Anyway, he did this show at the House of Blues and it was this book reading show and I didn't really know what to expect when I went. I'd never seen it before because he'd only done it like twice, I think, in LA at real small venues he'd done it at like The Viper Room and somewhere else.
So, I went and this show blew my mind. I'd never seen anything like that before. It was Duff sitting on a stool onstage reading pages from his book with his band, Loaded basically scoring his spoken word and it was really powerful and emotional and it was just special. The audience reacted incredibly to it and so, when we got back to LA and backing up a little bit, Duff and I really wanted to make something different. If we were going to make a documentary we wanted to try to find a way to make it out of the box and make something different. Not your basic, standard, talking heads thing and I just thought that was it, that was the thing that was going to set this documentary apart.
So, I pitched him the idea of designing a bigger book reading show to be the catalyst to describe the storytelling from the different parts of the story that he wanted to touch on in the movie. He the idea so we created the show that we shot up in Seattle. It was a bigger show, bigger orchestration. he brought in a string quartet and had the steel-ply guitar and I had like ten cameras and we shot this beautiful old theater called The Moore Theatre and that was, sort of, the device we used in the film to describe the storytelling and, I think, it turned out really special and it's unorthodox for documentaries but it works for this piece and the music is sensational. To hear those iconic song, the Guns N' Roses songs and even some Velvet Revolver songs played with that orchestration was really great.
It was super cool. When I was setting this up your camp was kind enough to send me the documentaryand I'm a big music documentary person. I'm sitting, watching the movie and saying to myself that this was so much different then anything I'd ever seen. I've never seen a documentary that was designed almost like the old VH1 Storytellers. I thought that was really, really cool and another part of the concept that I was curious to ask you about was where did the idea for that comic book animation for the stories come from?
Well, I wanted to do a series of flashback "themes," if you will, for the movie to help make it dramatized and add emotion to parts of the story and my intention initially was I was going to shoot it. I was going to hire actors to re-create situations and especially that opening sequence for the night Duff almost died from the pancreatitis and that scene I wanted to shoot, actually. But, shoot it real stylistically and flashbacky but when I was pitching that to Duff and when I was talking about that part of it when we were writing for pre-production Duff actually came up with that idea and he showed me a sample of animation from another documentary called Cocaine Cowboys 2 and they had this really cool, stylized animation in that documentary. Duff asked if we could do something like that and at first I wasn't really that into it. I wanted to stick to my original idea and it wasn't until I met the guy who ended up doing the animation for the movie, I was shooting an interview and this guy Matt was helping me shoot the interview and I was showing him this footage on my phone. A couple days before that, I had gone and shot Duff in the studio with one of his bands called Walking Papers, they were recording a record and I shot some stuff so I showed him and he showed me this music video he just made and it was all animated but it was really cool, stylized animation similar to what Duff had shown me from that other documentary and I was like, "Oh my God, who did this animation!" and he was like, "I did." So, we enlisted Matt and he came in.
It's a funny story also, when he first started sending me samples, test samples of animations of Duff, Duff came over and we were sitting in my den, on my couch, and I said I wanted to show him these animation samples. I pulled one up on my phone, he saw it, he grabbed my phone and he jumped up and he ran into my kitchen. I was like, "What the fuck is happening right now?" and my wife, Joely, was in the kitchen with some of her friends and Duff went running in there and he's like, "Joely, Joely! Look at this! Oh my God, isn't this the coolest thing?!" [Laughs] so right then I knew Duff liked it we're going to go with that. So, that's how that came about.
With everything that Duff's got going on with Guns N' Roses, was he able to come to the premier?
Oh yeah, he's seen the film many times. I involved him as much as he wanted to be in this because he's a very creative guy and he's really smart and I wanted as much input as he wanted to have on this film. He'd been in editing with me from the first rough cut all the way through and I think we made five or six cuts and Duff was involved in the whole process.
What were Duff's friends and band mates' take on being involved when asked?
Duff is really well liked in the music industry, everybody loves Duff. He's actually kind of a financial wizard, if you will. He has a consulting firm and he helps young rock stars invest their money so they don't blow through all their money and end up down the road being broke. Duff is really well respected and really well liked in the music industry and he's maintained friendships with everybody that he's been in bands with and everybody looks up to Duff. So, anytime we called anybody they were like, "Yeah! I'm in. Send your crew over." It was like that. The whole thing, everybody was totally into being involved for Duff and supporting Duff.
With the initial screenings and with the documentary being relatively new, is there anything you can comment on about distribution so fans can see the movie?
Oh yeah, for sure. First off you can go to itssoeasymovie.com and it will have all the screening information and all the theaters that it's playing in. Tonight is another series of events screenings and it's playing in twenty cities around the country tonight. Then June 3rd it's being released theatrically here in Los Angeles and then I believe the schedule is it's being released on VOD (Video On Demand,) iTunes and DVD at the beginning of July and then soon after that it'll be released on Netflix and internationally it's being released worldwide as well. I don't know the dates for those different countries and stuff yet but I know we've already sold it to Japan and all over Europe, Australia. Were in negotiations with South America and Mexico right now so it'll be seen all over but any of that information, screening information, release information will all be on the website at itssoeasymovie.com or you can follow us on Facebook at It's So Easy And Other Lies: The Movie and we're posting updates every day and keeping people aware of what's happening and where it's being released.
Chris, it was a pleasure. Really, you put together a really phenomenal product and I hope that you're proud of it because it was a really excellent movie to watch.
I really appreciate you saying that and I am proud of it. Documentaries are hard to make in the first place and it was a long hard road so I'm really happy to hear that and I hope people enjoy it and are inspired by it.