‘The Dirt’ Director Jeff Tremaine Talks Translating Motley Crue’s Book to the Big Screen
Motley Crue are making sure they go out with a bang rather than a whimper. That includes not only the massive ‘Final Tour’ they’re preparing to embark on, but also the finally realized big screen adaptation of their best-selling book, ‘The Dirt.’ Director Jeff Tremaine, best known for his work on the ‘Jackass’ films and ‘Bad Grandpa,’ was recently chosen to oversee the movie and Loudwire spoke to him about bringing ‘The Dirt’ to the big screen.
How long have you been a fan of Motley Crue?
I mean look, I’m 47 years old. I’m from the world of skateboarding and BMX so Motley Crue was definitely on my radar. I’m a fan. It’s perfect music to skate to and destroy s–t, you know? I’ve been a fan. But my attraction, I’m not coming into this movie as a super fan. I’m attracted to this material because I’ve lived it. That book, I just connected to it on so many levels and it’s incredible fun and tells a real story. I’m not even out to make a rock movie. I’m making a really interesting movie and it’s set in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s set in a really loud time and place. Ultimately, it’s going to be a great movie.
There are so many great stories in that book. How do you pare that down and go through the process of making that into a movie?
That’s been difficult. That’s been our struggle but first and foremost. ‘The Dirt’ has just such a point of view, such a distinct voice. We want to make sure we are making ‘The Dirt,’ not just a rock movie. ‘The Dirt’ is separate from all the other rock books that I’ve ever read that’s just thinking they really nailed each guy’s voice. You really felt like they were telling a first hand account of what happened. It was honest and that is what I really [want to] guard and make sure that is the movie we are taking in.
People outside of the industry don’t know exactly what it takes to get a movie made. Can you talk about what you had to go through just to get to the point where you are a part of this?
I came from a severe underdog position when I haven’t done a scripted movie. Coming in as an outsider. I’ve made movies but definitely not scripted. Ultimately, I’m all set to do this. I really had to dig deep and show them that I’m capable — show them that one, I’m connected to this material. Here is how I think it should look, here is how I created a mood reel. I just took my sources of what I think it should feel like. I made a book. I chased it really hard.
I’ve been really careful. I’ve had a lot of scripts thrown at me since the first ‘Jackass’ movie came out. Once you become successful you get opportunities but I was really careful. One, ‘Jackass’ has been successful enough that I can be selective. Let’s just word it like that. So, I’ve been really careful of what I’m putting my name on, but this is one I had to do. I just chased it.
Because this material focuses on what the guys in Motley Crue actually lived, how much have you had a chance to talk to them and get their personal takes?
I’ve had sit downs with each of them. We are just getting started. The book is the source for me. I just wanted to get the script going and get them to respond to what we’ve got. So right now they are just getting the script. I’m looking forward to getting into it with them. Hearing more about their perspective and how we are going to handle it. It hasn’t been super collaborative.
One, I’ve had to get their approval to shepherd this and tell their story. Past that, its just been us diving in and using the book as the source — getting the story right and now its going back out to them and I want to hear what they say. So we will collaborate and I feel very much a real responsibility that I’m telling their story. They have to have approval. They’ve provided a great road map in the turn. So all those stories are fair game.
There’s so many highs and lows, personal traumas, so many great records. Is there a particular era of Motley Crue, like an album cycle or time period that you’re really into focusing on?
No, we are telling that whole progression. I think the focus is the first ten years. This is hard. They’ve had a long career and they have outrageous stories that span all the way up to now. So finding a way to fit it in a cohesive story that doesn’t last five hours. My plan is to do this in 90 minutes to two hours. I don’t think it’s a three-hour movie, I want it to [be]. I think I have severe ADD and make movies for that audience who just don’t have the time. I don’t want anyone looking at their phones or watches during this movie.
I’m guessing we’re probably not far enough along to discuss casting yet, but …
No, it’s exciting to think about, though. But as far as the band goes, they gotta be in that sweet spot age wise. You’re limited to the scale of the names you can put in it, but we’re going to look at everybody. Its just gotta feel authentic and right. The net will be cast out wide and I’m openminded to interesting ideas. We do have some good characters we can attach some names, not on the band side of it, but their manager, etc.
You’ve had such success with the ‘Jackass’ franchise over the years. Can you talk a little about what the relationship with Johnny Knoxville and the guys has been like in helping getting your career going?
Like Motley Crue, we are a family. And a family not without some dysfunction. But we have each others back. Yeah, we’ve been through everything together. Look, Knoxville and I just did ‘Bad Grandpa’ and we’re still baffled people like it. My relationship is family with those guys.
This tour will go on for a while. Any thought process or is it too early to say where this movie falls in the planning for the final Motley Crue tour?
This is just coincidence the movie is being announced with their final tour. It’s an interesting coincidence that it’s the end of something and the beginning of something. But it’s strictly a coincidence. It’s not been timed out. We haven’t waited to announce this. For the last three years, two and half years, I’ve been in a hole getting this stuff up to the speed it’s at right now. It’s just happening at the same time, which could work out for us man. Maybe we can go out and steal a few shows and get some of those big set pieces without having to pay full price for them.
It’s a great opportunity if we can get it up and going, not lost on me. Getting a crowd like that, that’s real. I’m sure [the concert shots] are going to look right.
Very cool. Wish you the best of luck.