Get ready to laugh, cheer and have a good time with “Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio”, making its world premiere at the 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Larry David, Colin Quinn, Suzie Essman, Joy Behar, Jeff Garlin and Ray Romano are just a few of Lou’s old pals who appear in the film.
Clever and funny, “Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio” follows the 80’s comic through his journey to reclaim a profession he was destined to do, all while discovering along the way the real reason why he stopped doing stand-up in the first place. By the end of the film you will be rooting for Lou DiMaggio’s triumphant return to the comedy world. But will he succeed?
From 1985 to 1989 Lou DiMaggio, no relation to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, was a regular at the iconic “Catch a Rising Star” comedy club in New York City. For four years Lou worked along side of and made lasting friendships with a small group of comedians who are today some of the very best in the business. After moving to Los Angeles in 1989 to pursue acting, Lou, in a mysterious act of career and self-sabotage, stopped doing stand up comedy forever. Today Lou is an Emmy winning writer for television. He makes a quiet, modest living but a deeply repressed passion for doing stand up is beginning to emerge from Lou’s comedy hiatus.
“Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio” follows Lou as he wakes from his long winter’s nap and seeks advice about his return to comedy from his celebrity friends. After all this time, can Lou rediscover his comedic voice and once again become relevant in the world of comedy?
Q&A with filmmaker Brad Kuhlman
Could you talk about what sparked it all? What was the inspiration behind making this documentary?
Lou and I met on a game show pilot years ago and stayed connected over the years. I hadn’t seen him in a while so one afternoon in September of 2015 we met for lunch. Over burgers he told me that he was thinking of getting back into stand up after not doing it for the last twenty years.
He went on to tell me all about his past as a stand up comedian in NY and I was immediately fascinated. I guess I’ve always had it in my mind to produce and direct a documentary and hoped that one day an idea for a doc might just sort of fall in my lap. I knew instantly that this was it. Before lunch was over I told Lou we were making a documentary about his return to stand up. And we did.
You feature so many recognizable comedians that have had great success in the industry, were you intimidated at all?
The thing that made this project special is that Lou is genuinely very good friends with all of the comedians in the film. On set he got along with all of them like…well…good friends. So it made for a very friendly atmosphere while shooting with lots of joking around and talking about the good old days.
I will say that it was slightly intimidating bringing my crew into Larry David’s Pacific Palisades home. I’m a huge fan of his so it was all pretty surreal. We set up our equipment in his beautiful great room while he finished his lunch in the kitchen. I felt like I was in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Was there anything you left on the cutting room floor that you wish you could have included in the film?
We interviewed each of the comedians for over an hour. There is so much material we didn’t get to use! Deciding what to keep and what not to use kept me up at night for months. I wanted the film to have a certain pace, so I was careful to keep the interviews nice and tight despite a wealth of great material.
What was your most memorable moment or moments (good or bad) in the making of this film?
I think the best moment of this entire process so far has been being accepted by the SBIFF. When you make a documentary you run the very real risk of it never being seen by anyone other than your friends and family. When I got the call from Michael Albright, the SBIFF program director, it was an incredible moment of validation for the project. Finally knowing that I would have the opportunity to share this story was both a huge relief and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.
What did you learn or understand after making this film that you didn’t prior to making it?
As a television producer for 25 years and a production company owner I’ve made hundreds of hours of programming, so the experience of the physical production and post production of the film was very much in line with my TV experience. But what is all new to me is the idea that as an independent filmmaker it is essential to market your film in social media and at the festivals if you want anybody to see your work.
When I complete a television project, I simply deliver it to the network I’m making it for and that’s the end of it. After completing the editing of my film I had the sudden realization that if I wanted an actual audience for my movie, not only was there a lot more work to be done but I had no idea where to begin.
What were the challenges you and your crew faced making this documentary?
Our biggest challenge was sourcing locations to shoot the celebrity interviews. I wanted the locations to be real places and not just generic interview setups, so we were very fortunate when Larry David and Jeff Garlin invited us to their homes and when Howie Mandel invited us to his production office. But other locations weren’t so easy to come by.
Richard Belzer lives in France but he was in New York for a few days when he agreed to be interviewed. It all came together sort of last minute. I really didn’t want to shoot the interview in a generic hotel room because it would be so impersonal but with such short notice, me being an LA guy with zero NY favors to call in, and all the while operating on a very small budget, lets just say I didn’t have a lot of options.
Rick Newman, the original owner of “Catch A Rising Star”, suggested we ask the iconic Friars Club if they’d let us shoot the interview there. Belzer is a member and spends time there whenever he’s in NY. Long story short, the Friars Club was happy to have us and it turned out to be my favorite location in the film.
Is there anything you would have done differently if you had to create this film all over again?
Not a single thing.
What’s your favorite Lou DiMaggio joke?
I love the story he tells of picking up his kid from school and there’s a little girl who is embarrassed about being picked up by her dad, who happens to be Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers…and Lou says, “You’re embarrassed of him? He’s a f***ing rock star! What chance do I have?”
How do you feel about having the Santa Barbara International Film Festival accept and screen your film?
It’s the coolest thing in the world.
Is there anything else you would like to say about this film?
Please come see it! Friday, February 3 rd at 1:20 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. at the Fiesta 5!
Friday, Feb. 3 – 1:20 p.m. – Fiesta 5 Theater Friday, Feb. 3 – 4:20 p.m. – Fiesta 5 Theater
Watch the film’s trailer below. For more information, visit http://wherehaveyougone.com/home.