STAND UP GUYS
About the Production
Producers Tom Rosenberg and colleague Gary Lucchesi first came upon the story for STAND UP GUYS when their friend Jim Tauber from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment sent them writer Noah Haidle's script. They suggested it might be a project that Lakeshore Entertainment would have an interest in working on. Rosenberg recalls that when he read the screenplay he instinctively knew that it had great potential but he wanted the opportunity to work a bit with the screenwriter. "I liked it very much," Rosenberg enthuses about the script. "I saw what it could be. And Noah Haidle turned out to be a terrific young writer and a lot of fun to work with. It was great. I don't know how he did it because the experiences of the characters he created are completely outside Noah's own life experiences. It was quite a feat of his skill and imagination."
Producer Gary Lucchesi adds, "Noah Haidle is a playwright first and I remember the first time I read STAND UP GUYS I thought, what a good opportunity this would be to put three great actors in the roles of Doc, Val, and Hirsch, that he created."
When the producers were satisfied that the script was ready they set out to find the right director to take the reins of the project. One of Rosenberg's first thoughts for the job was his multi-talented friend Fisher Stevens, who has enjoyed a long career both in front of and behind the camera. Stevens won an Academy Award for producing the 2009 documentary THE COVE, which is an important but horrifying expose of the fate of dolphins in Japan. Although STAND UP GUYS is a far cry from that film, Rosenberg intuitively knew that Stevens would respond favorably to the story. "Fisher is very intelligent," Rosenberg says of the actor/director/producer. "He really understands actors. 'Stand Up Guys' is an acting piece. It's not a shooter's movie, it's an actor's movie and he really knows how to talk to actors. He understands them. I thought he would be good with the project."
Fisher Stevens had recently executive-produced a well-received documentary about Woody Allen for PBS when producer Rosenberg contacted him with the offer to direct STAND UP GUYS. Stevens says, "I've known Tom for many years and he's always had faith in me as a director ever since he saw my first low, low, low budget movie. He called and said he'd found a script that I might like to direct. He sent it to me, and when I read it, I though it was amazing. I very much wanted to direct the project."
Stevens was enamored of the story for several reasons, one of which was its take on life-long friends. "I really related to the story's take on friendships," the director says. "I love the relationships between these men and the twist at the end, and I also thought it was really funny and touching and very real. That was our goal, to keep it very real."
Producer Lucchesi was very happy that Fisher Stevens was as enthusiastic about the project as he and Rosenberg were. "I met Fisher when I was an agent twenty years ago, so I've known him for a long time and have followed his career. I was very happy for him when he moved on to producing and directing. He's a wonderful actor, too. Actors can make quite fine directors. They know how to speak to talent and they have really great instincts about were the performances should go."
Stevens agrees and further comments, "I think I started directing because I love the whole creative process. I know how to talk to actors because I am one. I can put myself in each of their positions. Sometimes, in my house, I act out the scenes by myself, to kind of try different ways of doing them."
Stevens also gives a great deal of credit to the hands-on approach to producing that defines the careers or Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi. "Tom always had my back and we did a lot of prep on this movie," the director says. "I think that was the key, so there weren't a lot of surprises when we got to the set. Tom and Gary gave me an A-Team because Lakeshore Entertainment has all these brilliant people around them that they use all the time. That's another great thing about them, they surround you with A-List people such as our DP Michael Grady, and I got the greatest AD in the world in Scotty Robertson."
As producer Lucchesi proudly adds, "We surround our directors with good cinematographers and good production designers, and everyone else so they can make great films."
STAND UP GUYS is a simple but great story about real people who are struggling to get by but share a deep friendship. "It's funny and touching and the acting is, I think, beautiful," Stevens says. "And it looks beautiful, too. We made something that I would really want to see."
What makes a stand up guy? Director Stevens says, "A stand up guy has loyalty, guts and humor. I hope that audiences are moved when they watch this story of friendship and that they start to think about their own mortality and their own friendships. I hope they'll be entertained and laugh a lot, and that they are transported to this little world we've created."
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