Director Christopher Duddy talked with us about working with Guns N Roses bass player Duff McKagan on turning his book ‘It’s So Easy and Other Lies” into a film. Here is what he had to say.
KRISTIN: Before we jump in to one of your most recent projects, tell us about how you got into Directing.
CHRISTOPHER: How I got into directing: Ummm that’s a good question. I think I’ve always really just loved to tell stories. I loved writing stories when I was a kid. I always had a camera in my hand in old family photos and then really got into photography right after high school. My parents got me my first SLR camera, the Pentax K100, for my graduation and from the first roll of film I had developed I was hooked. There was something so magical that happens every time I look through a view finder even to this very day it excites me. So in that era in my life Star Wars had come out and Speilberg was blasting the world with his wonderous movies and that really influenced me and resinated in me and I just knew then that I wanted, no HAD to make movies.
KRISTIN: You wrote and directed “It’s So Easy and Other Lies”, which is the life story of Duff McKagan, Guns N’ Roses bass player. How did you come to be involved in this project and the pressures that went with it. Also tells us what we will get to see from this film and how you went about deciding the message you wanted to get across.
CHRISTOPHER: So how I came to make the film: The first time I met Duff we were walking our kids to school. We hit it off right away with our parenting skills and our love of sports and became fast friends. As we walked our kids to school together we noticed the amount of morning traffic on our street and because of the lack of sidewalks, it was a little dangerous and scary for the kids. So after a little research, Duff and I decided to petition the neighbors to have speed bumps installed by the city. After a successful campaign led by Duff and I, the city did indeed install the speed bumps and made our street safer for all the kids in our neighborhood. I remember through this process always feeling that Duff was very genuine and down to earth even going door to door with me to get the signatures needed for the petition. After being a little jaded from my almost four decades in the film business, I really respected and appreciated his kindness especially from a ROCK STAR.
One morning walking back from school he handed me his book “It’s So Easy and Other Lies” that had just come out and asked me if I would read it. So of course I read it and was blown away with his honesty and the details of his personal struggles early in life. His story is a classic inspirational rags to riches, true american hero story but, with an underlying, dark, unorthodox journey that almost killed him. After reading it , I approached him with the possibilities of making a documentary film based on his inspirational story. At first he said no, and then he said no probably a dozen more times despite my persistence. Then when the book came out in paper back as a New York Best Seller and he was doing the press junket for it he called me one day and said that maybe, if we were going to maybe do a documentary, maybe I should go with him with a camera and start exploring the possibility of maybe making a film. So, I slowly started going with him with my camera shooting b-roll stuff. At one particular book signing at Book Soup in Hollywood a guy waited in a long line to get Duff to sign his book. When he finally stepped up he hugged Duff and told him that he read his book while in re-hab and the book saved his life. That really resonated in me how inspirational this all really was. Then the more we shot the more Duff got comfortable with the idea of really doing this.
Then in the spring of 2012 it got really interesting when he asked me to go with him to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Again, of course I went. The night before the ceremony he told me to come with him to the House of Blues in Cleveland with my camera to shoot some B-Roll of him doing this book reading show that he was testing out on audiences. I was like, a book reading show? WTF is that? As a filmmaker I was very curious. What I witnessed there was not shy from genius, just an incredible show. Something I have never seen before. He sat on a stool and read excerpts from his book as his band LOADED scored the reading with live music, sort of an unplugged vibe with a steel slide guitar playing GNR and Velvet Revolver songs. I started shooting the sold out audiences reaction to what they were watching. I was looking through my viewfinder seeing people cry, laugh, and then cheering, all the while in complete AWE of his presence. WOW, how awesome was this?
After the Hall of Fame induction night where Duff’s speech was incredibly moving and the GNR reunion (Axl less) set blew the roof off of that Cleveland arena, I was traveling back to LA and had a clear vision of what the film could look like. When Duff and I talked back in LA, I approached him with my new vision for the film using the book reading show as the catalyst or device to motivate the story telling and how unique and unorthodox this method could be. He immediately responded to the idea and we started writing an extended version of the book reading show with bigger orchestration and then, of course we would have to shoot at an iconic theatre in Seattle as the backdrop. DONE.
KRISTIN: Where will viewers be able to catch this film?
CHRISTOPHER: We are releasing the film theatericaly all over the country starting May 25th. Then in July the movie will be released on VOD and ITunes and then on Netflix I believe in September. You can find all the release info on the films website at:
itssoeasymovie.com and on Facebook: It’s So Easy and Other Lies The Movie
KRISTIN: Do you have any other projects you are working on that we should be on the lookout for as well?
CHRISTOPHER: What’s next for me: My brother and I are putting together another rockumentary about a famous music family, the Porcaro brothers of the band Toto called Porcaro: A Band of Brothers and I’m shooting a remix of a horror classic Nosferatu. Then off to Thailand to shoot a family adventure that my wife Joely Fisher is directing called Oliver Storm.
KRISTIN: Where can we keep up with your work online? Social media or a website?
I’m on Facebook and Instagram /Christopher Duddy
The film opens theatrically on June 3, with event screenings taking place around the country on May 26 and June 1.