Best F[r]iends: Greg Sestero on Making Movies With Tommy Wiseau
Greg Sestero chats about his recent collaboration with his real life best friend Tommy Wiseau at the Marfa Film Festival.
It’s 20 years to the day that Greg Sestero first met Tommy Wiseau in an acting class in Los Angeles. Sestero laughs at the memory now — a meeting which has now landed them in the middle of nowhere for a screening of their latest collaboration Best F[r]iends at the Marfa Film Festival.
Not a duo to do anything by the norms, they insisted on conducting the Q&A to their film before the screening. Many in the audience to asked about their lives since the release of their cult classic best-worst-movie The Room, as well as their thoughts on James Franco and crew portraying their feats in the recent film The Disaster Artist.
Sestero in particular has been busy. Besides penning the memoir The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made which the movie is based on, Sestero also wrote and produced Best F[r]iends (which is currently being released by Lionsgate in two volumes, with Volume One going On Digital and On Demand September 25th).
After their screening, Sestero chatted about collaborating with his now longtime buddy Tommy Wiseau — who co-stars in Best F[r]iends with Sestero — and the advantages as well as challenges of creating a film with your best friend.
Write What You Know
“I had been writing a lot of projects for TV and series where I was working on longer storylines, but was having trouble coming up with endings. However, after Tommy and I took a road trip together to Vegas, the idea of Best F[r]iends and having Tommy and I co-star everything just came together.”
In a particularly amazing feat, Sestero wrote the majority of Best F[r]iends in just four days. He wrote the two lead characters, Jon and Harvey, specifically for Sestero and Wiseau to reunite onscreen for the first time since The Room. Specifically, Sestero wrote Harvey’s dialogue with Wiseau’s delivery and tone in mind for Wiseau to use in his performance.
Spend Time Together
“This screening in Marfa in particular has been awesome. Getting out here is similar to the original trip we took to Vegas where the whole idea came together. When you spend that much time together you really get to know one another. If you didn’t like each other it wouldn’t work and you wouldn’t keep doing it.”
Coming from LA, getting to Marfa or Vegas means a long travel through the desert. In Best F[r]iends, Sestero’s characters Harvey and Jon travel is used to build their relationship and develop a bond which is stressed throughout the rest of the film.
Learn From Each Other
“Since making The Room, we’ve both grown as artists and filmmakers. Obviously there were things we did differently from The Room, but we also were able to pick up a thing or two seeing them shooting The Disaster Artist with James Franco and Seth Rogen and those guys. This time around everything was a little more fluid.”
For fans of The Room, the lore about its production runs deep. While Sestero is quick to point out that both he and Tommy decided early on to shoot Best F[r]iends on just one camera this time, it was actually a scaled-back production with a tighter and leaner crew who was there give Sestero and Wiseau the support they needed to concentrate on their performances.
Push Through the Challenges of Filming
“It’s filmmaking, by its nature you’re going to have challenges on any set. However, we had a great crew and we were able to plow through. Unlike The Room, we had a lot of locations on this one. Volume Two in particular was mostly shot out in the desert almost near here in Marfa. It took a good deal of trust in having the right team behind you.”
Even in the hot, high-altitude Marfa sun, Sestero and Wiseau pal around a morning cocktail hour with filmmakers and local fans. The overall production of Best F[r]iends took around six months, Sestero estimates. It’s finally beginning to culminate with the Marfa Film Festival as they wrap up the edit on Volume Two (where they screened a condensed version).
The Importance of Sincerity
“The biggest thing I take away from The Room is that the film did have a very unique and sincere voice. That’s what we’ve pushed for with Best F[r]iends. It’s a project we really believe in, and hope its a fresh take on both our friendship, as well as friendship in general.”
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from chatting with Sestero, their wild pre-screening Q&A, and watching Best F[r]iends at the festival, is the importance of sincere filmmaking and character. Sestero’s goal was not to push for laughs, but to let his and Wiseau’s chemistry and relationship shape their onscreen interactions. It creates some humor and some very odd moments, of course, but it stays true throughout — which Sestero stresses has been the most important aspect of his and Wisaeu’s now two decades of friendship.
You can learn more about Best F[r]iends on the film’s website, or check it out when it hits digital on demand September 25th for Volume One. Volume Two is set for release in early 2019.
For more interviews and filmmaking articles, check out our interview with the editor of The Disaster Artist on editing a film about making a film, or some of the other articles below.
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- Interview: Filmmaker America Young on Stunts, Directing, and Persistence
- Filmmaker Wendy McColm on the Meisner Technique and her Feature Birds Without Feathers
- A Conversation with Lucian Read, Cinematographer of America Divided
- Interview: The Editor of “This is America” on Building the Iconic Video