We’ve seen them star in one of the most charmingly interesting films to ever be released. We’ve seen them be the subject of an Oscar-nominated film in The Disaster Artist. Now, we will see them reunite onscreen for the first time since The Room, and the director and producer of this new film are here to tell us all about it.
The bromance and genuine friendship of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero speaks volumes about the value of true partnership. The two men, having known each other since the late 1990s, have done it all together: From taking the same acting class, to starring in The Room, to being the subject of Oscar attention with the homage to that film, The Disaster Artist. Now, Wiseau and Sestero look to bring magic to the screen again with a brand new two-saga film to be released this year, Best F(r)iends.
In addition to the involvement of Wiseau and Sestero, the latter of whom wrote the screenplay, the film’s story is put into the hands of two fresh-faced, but passionate brothers, looking to break into the film industry. The two brothers are Kristopher, the producer, and Justin, the director. The two brothers are known as the MacGregors.
Justin MacGregor has been making films since he was a little lad, working in such projects as commercials, music videos, short films, as well as a feature entitled, The Generations, which was made when he was only out of film school and with a limited school budget. He eventually went on to form the production company, roguescots, with his brother, Kristopher, who quit his job as a banker to help out his brother and realize his own dream as a writer. With three novels to his credit, the boost from Best F(r)iends is sure to help Kris thrive.
The two brothers, while up-and-coming in their status, look to provide quality work with their handling of Greg Sestero’s script and Best F(r)iends will offer Justin and Kris a chance to break into the film industry. I, along with the folks at Hidden Remote, are honored, as a result, at the opportunity to have The MacGregors stop by and answer our questions about the film. Whether it be how the film got started or the insane work days of the production or even the film’s chances at Oscar recognition, The MacGregors tell all with insightful honesty and refreshing humbleness.
Hidden Remote: How did the idea for the story of Best F(r)iends come to fruition and why do you feel it was a story that needed to be told through film?
Producer Kristopher MacGregor: “Greg had long envisioned a reunion film with Tommy but the plans never really formulated until after he’d seen an early, unfinished cut of The Disaster Artist. Seeing how well the Franco/Rogen team had humanized Tommy, Greg wrote a story treatment that would go on to become the screenplay for Best F(r)iends. After speaking with Tommy about it, Tommy told Greg that he should take a chance and make it. The story is based on real-life anecdotes from their two decades of friendship.”
Director Justin MacGregor: “It was a story that needed to be told because Greg felt there was much more to be said about Tommy Wiseau – more than The Room was ever able to portray. Tommy deserved a role to shine in, free of the exploitation that others had thrust upon him in his post-Room on-screen appearances over the years. Greg believed there was a performance hiding within Tommy, and the right team could pull it out of him.”
HR: How did the process for choosing a director for the film go? Was it a long process or was the ideal director always there from the very beginning?
Kristopher: “Justin and I met Greg in Vancouver in 2015, at The Rio Theatre, the same theatre where Greg met James Franco, in fact; there’s a bizarre Vancouver centrality to everything Tommy and Greg lately. Justin and Greg really hit it off and bonded in the following months over mutual cinematic tastes and style. Justin later worked on an early concept trailer for a potential Tommy/Greg reunion, and further cemented their creative connection. As Greg was assembling his team late in 2016, he decided upon Justin to direct. Production began December 9, 2016, in South Pasadena.”
HR: Seeing as how the film is brainstormed by Greg Sestero, did you find it easy to recruit Mr. Tommy Wiseau into starring in your film?
Justin: “Greg’s onboarding of Tommy was something of a spiritual agreement between the two of them. Nobody else was involved in making it happen. They discussed the prospect at length and I think both men understood the magic that could happen. It was worth a go.”
HR: You’ve mentioned before that the lead team behind this project is quite small, which begs the question: Was this more of an intimate filmmaking process than the average blockbuster/high budget filmmaking process?
Kristopher: “Our team was four people strong. Aside from our cast, our sound mixer, and a small pool of volunteer production assistants from U.S.C., it was just Greg, Justin, myself, and Farhan Umedaly. The four of us at the helm made all the decisions, often on the fly, which made for very fluid filmmaking. The process was incredibly intimate. In reality, the Best F(r)iends films shouldn’t really exist. It’s a miracle that such a small team, with considerably few resources, could create two films, over 25-plus locations, across three states, in so little time as we did. But we wouldn’t change a thing. The intimacy and nimbleness of it all made the production exciting and adaptable to every situation. Ours was an exercise in the limits of independent filmmaking, and we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
HR: It goes without saying that making a film is almost never simple. Hardships, limitations, etc, can hinder progress significantly. Were there ever any serious struggles with making the film and if so, how did you pull through it?
Justin: “Nearly every scene was met with limitations. Our team was passionate though, finding solutions at every turn. The Best F(r)iends saga is far from perfect, but given our limitations, we think the results showcase the overcoming power of grit and hard work. Perhaps our greatest struggle was simply the sand in the hourglass. We had very little time to pull this project off, often filming to 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning to milk every moment. But nobody complained. Everybody was onboard. And we’re all really proud having seen it pay off.”
HR: One of the most promoted aspects of this film that I have witnessed, apart from this being the cinematic reunion of Wiseau and Sestero, is the inclusion of Imagine Dragons drummer, Daniel Platzman. How did Platzman’s involvement with the film come to life?
Justin: “Greg and Daniel are friends. They got to chatting early in the process and things just clicked. Simple as that. We’ve also been working with Japan-based American duo, Nice Legs, named after Tommy’s line in The Room, “You have nice legs, Lisa.” Both artists have contributed to the films’ musical backdrop.”
HR: Seeing as how Wiseau and Sestero are the stars of the film, was there any motivation to pay homage to The Room or is the work designed to be completely independent of any aspect of The Room?
Kristopher: “Our mission was always to pay homage to The Room, without pandering to its fans. Best F(r)iends was never intended to be a fan-service project. We believe the films stand on their own, and not having seen The Room doesn’t preclude newcomers to Tommy and Greg’s world from enjoying the saga. There are several key nods to The Room throughout, several completely unintentional actually (the spiral staircase in Volume One, for example). It was inevitable that some references would surface just given how Tommy and Greg interact in real life. It bleeds into the material. But in terms of story, nods aside, Best F(r)iends has no connection to The Room. This is not a sequel, prequel, or alternate universe for Johnny and Mark. Best F(r)iends is its own world, and we worked very hard to situate these two men in an entirely new landscape.”
HR: The clips that have been released so far point to Best F(r)iends being something of a surreal experience. Will this be something to anticipate when finally watching the film?
Justin: “The films are definitely a surreal journey, being a series of abstract retellings of actual Wiseau/Sestero experiences throughout the years. I’d say our story finds inspiration in surreal sources like Herzog’s relationship with Klaus Kinski, for example, and really, just the depths of cinema history. Greg is a massive cinephile like myself, so there are countless moments in the films veiled in our mutual love of film history. But my work has always been somewhat surreal, and that definitely shines through in Best F(r)iends.”
HR: Was the plan always to make Best F(r)iends a two-volume saga?
Kristopher: “Greg wrote the screenplay as one film, and while page-count was very normative, its fleshing out proved to capture more time than we had anticipated. Due to the fact that the second half of the story takes place in the desert, rather than in Los Angeles and along the coast like the first half, the project very naturally evolved into a two-volume piece. The tone, landscape, and hues of both halves complement one another, but their dramatic differences made splitting the story an almost obvious outcome. As James Franco has been describing it, we ‘Kill Bill’d it’ and we think it works really well. It allowed us to tell the story as vibrantly as we wanted, without having to sacrifice narrative and character development. Plus, it’s so much fun seeing people’s face light up when they realize they get to see even more Tommy and Greg.”
HR: The reaction to Best F(r)iends has been notably positive, building up the anticipation even more than normal. Did the reaction feel this positive when first showcasing the film back in September? How does the reception so far make you feel?
Justin: “We’ve been thrilled to have received such positive early reception. There was some hesitance going into our first London screenings last September. Tommy was particularly nervous; he even tried to get the theatre’s projectionist to edit a few scenes out. But after hearing the roars of laughter and praise from fans during and after that very first screening at The Prince Charles Cinema, his – and our, nerves were all put at ease. It resonated during the rest of our UK preview shows and beyond, and has been very encouraging and affirming. We set out to create something special, and yes, quite niche, and audiences have really connected with it. It’s been very rewarding. We’re excited to premiere our final cut of Volume One this spring, and look forward releasing Volume Two into the wild after that.”
HR: Obviously it’s incredibly early for talk of next year’s Oscars, considering that this year’s awards season is still in full swing. But, seeing as how the Jordan Peele satirical horror film, Get Out, went from debuting in February of 2017 to becoming one of the leading Oscar frontrunners at year’s end, do you think that submitting this film for consideration is not completely out of the question for next year?
Justin: “Haha. No, it’s very much completely out of the question. Best F(r)iends is a fun and engaging cinematic adventure, and we’re very proud of it, but we have no delusions of golden statuettes in its future. Our goal with it is to entertain and delight as many people as we can. Audience appreciation is reward enough for us.”
HR: Will Best F(r)iends be released in limited theaters or do you plan to go big with a wide release of the film?
Kristopher: “The films will both have healthy theatrical releases respectively across the U.S., with even broader reach at home and abroad through as many independent theatres, venues, and festivals as will have us. Interest has been intense and very global thus far, and we hope to share Tommy and Greg’s new adventure as far and wide as we can.”
HR: To close things out, do you have any final words of advice for aspiring filmmakers and up-and-coming members of the entertainment industry?
Justin: “The thing about Best F(r)iends is that our own team comprises aspiring filmmakers, so it would be jumping the shark a little for us to offer advice under the guise of wisdom. What I will say is that the first step to getting into this world is to just go make your content. If you have an idea, be strong-willed and find a way to bring it to life and show it to as many people as you can. Surround yourself with passionate partners who are in your corner and on your page, and go make something.”
Best F(r)iends will be released in two volumes: Volume 1 in March 2018 and Volume 2 in May 2018.