Ask just about anyone if they have a celebrity crush and the answer will be yes. If they answer in the negative, then they are either just lying to you or are in denial about something. It's perfectly natural to have a crush on a celebrity -- sure, some people have crushes on them at any age, but the most common celebrity crushes date back to one's teen years where girls and guys alike hang posters and/or plaster their computer with pictures of a certain male or female actor/actress/singer that they dream about one day meeting or even dating.
999 out of 1000 of these people will never get any closer to that person than a movie theater, television screen, or concert, but for the select 1 in 1000 their dream may come true. As I sit and write this, posters of Nicole Kidman and Elisha Cuthbert adorn my walls, and I've spent countless hours thinking about what I'd say and do if I were to ever meet Liv Tyler. Thus far in my career, I've had the opportunity to meet a number of really cool people and while it's possible that one day I may be sitting across the room from Nicole, Elisha, or Liv, a lot of people will never get that opportunity. Heck, even people in Hollywood don't always get to meet those they admire or have a crush on.
Take the story of Brian Herzlinger for example. Since before he can remember, he's always liked Drew Barrymore, but after seven years in Hollywood he had yet to meet her. Then, fate stepped in, in the way of a game show appearance that netted him some money. Instead of doing the sane thing and using the money to pay off his ever-increasing pile of bills, he decided to try and make a lifelong dream come true. His mission -- to get a date with Drew Barrymore in 30 days. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Brian about life in the Hollywood fast lane and his quest.
Mark McLeod: Hello Brian.
Brian Herzlinger: Hey Mark. How are you?
MM: Not bad.
BH: Thanks for talking to me.
MM: Hey no problem. Thanks.
BH: Too bad you can't see me in person.
MM: Well that is kind of difficult, since I'm on the other coast.
BH: We'll have to hook up a flight.
MM: How about I jump on a plane. Can we charge it to Chris (the publicist on the film)?
BH: (Laughing) Sure. We just won't tell him.
MM: That does tend to work better (Laughing). To start, where did you come up with the idea for the film?
BH: Well, the idea for the movie comes from the fact that I have a lifelong crush on Drew Barrymore and a lifelong dream to meet her. So when I went on a game show a little while ago and I won the grand prize of $1100, and the winning answer was the name Drew Barrymore, for me it was a sign. It was fate, so I decided to take the money which I could use for rent, as God knows I'm a filmmaker and could definitely use the money to pay my bills. Or, since her name got me the money, I could try and make this lifelong dream come true. That kind of kick started it. I met up with my buddies Brett Winn and Jon Gunn and Kerry David, a producer friend of mine. That was a Friday and then Monday morning we started shooting.
MM: I guess it didn't hurt that you could just go to Circuit City and get a camera for free?
BH: Right, and $1100 is not that much money to make a movie with. We didn't have the video camera between us so we went there because of their 30-day return policy and that gave us our 30-day deadline to get the date. It was the best, most amazing ride of my life.
MM: Now there seems to be sort of a recent influx of these sort of "one man and a video camera"-type documentaries with your film and Super Size Me. Those two examples seem to be more entertainment-oriented than a true educational documentary. You can't really call the movie a documentary, though.
BH: Well, it's like a hybrid and you know what's really interesting is that from day one people have been saying it's more like a romantic comedy shot using the techniques that would normally be used in a documentary. For us, it's a great compliment when our audience members come out and they all tell us that first of all we inspired them to follow their lifelong dream, but also to have them come and say that it was one of the best romantic comedies they've seen. No one comes out of it thinking of it as a documentary, and it's great, and it's just a testament to the story and it being something that everyone can relate to. It's a universal theme. Everyone has that unobtainable crush and everybody has had a crush on a person on that poster in their bedroom growing up. For them in that context, the story really resonates with them.
MM: So would you say it's more like a reality motion picture?
BH: No I wouldn't. I would actually say that it's a romantic comedy shot like a documentary. If you asked me how I'd classify the movie, I'd personally say that it's a romantic comedy action thriller suspense drama...
BH:...shot like a documentary. That's how I classify it. You know, (in the movie trailer voice) the roller coaster ride of the summer!
MM: What were some of the biggest obstacles you faced while making the movie?
BH: Well for me, you know, I'd have to say it was sneaking into the Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle premiere, which was obviously the key moment to try and meet Drew. During our 30 days, we didn't know what was going to happen from day to day. We knew two things. One, we were going to use the six degrees of separation to try and get to Drew, and the other thing we knew was that during those 30 days that there was going to be the Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle premiere. That was the only time we'd know where and when Drew would be somewhere. So armed with my fake passes, I attempted to ask her out in person. The thing is for me, when I first moved to L.A., I got tickets to the first Charlie's Angels premiere and I was in the same room as Drew and I froze. I couldn't say a word that night. Going into the Full Throttle premiere was then my attempt to redeem myself for the failure of last time. So there was a lot at stake, obviously for me to try and get the date but also for me personally.
MM: Was it really that easy to get into the party, because I've seen tighter security at local film festival parties then what you see on-screen in the film?
BH: It was frighteningly easy. Here's the thing -- I got in, but afterwards Brett and Jon tried to get in and they got nabbed. We were very lucky. I wouldn't say it was easy. It was very carefully timed out and we planned it so that we went in when everyone else was, and I had Lisa and Pam on my arms so I looked like the cool guy with two girls, but oh man I was a nervous wreck. It was a huge obstacle to get through.
MM: Who was the most difficult person to convince to be in the movie?
BH: I'll be dead honest with you here. Everybody who's in the movie wanted to be in the movie. I think it just comes down to the fact that they were all related to it and they all liked the idea. It was such a pleasure and it was a dream come true just to meet Corey Feldman. I mean, that was awesome, and I was hanging out in his house for an hour and a half talking to him about the Goonies and Gremlins and, oh yeah, I forgot you dated Drew Barrymore. It was just amazing to sit and hang with him while he was playing Space Invaders.
MM: Is there any interesting footage that didn't make the final cut of the movie?
BH: We shot over 85 hours of footage that we cut down to our original first cut of 5 hours and we loved every frame of it. We felt that every frame needed to be there to tell the story.
BH: From that cut we went down to two hours and from two hours we cut it down to 90 minutes. A lot of the stuff we cut out is going to be on the DVD after the movie is released. But for us, we are very proud of the fact that the movie being released worldwide is our cut. No editorial decision on that film was made by anyone other than Jon, Brett, Kerry, or myself. It's very rare to have that sort of creative freedom. In terms of stuff that we lost that it was hard to say goodbye to was the sequence at the premiere where Brett did try to sneak in and got nabbed, almost ending up in jail in the process. That and, as you know, I like to sing in the car and there were plenty of our songs that I sang to. The Neil Diamond "Love on the Rocks" is one of my personal favorites. I think it's actually my best performance. Also Abba's "Dancing Queen" is a very nice musical montage. You had to say goodbye to those since they didn't really further what we were doing. They just didn't end up fitting and it was also expensive to get the songs.
MM: Yeah, it would be expensive to get those songs.
BH: You know what, we love music, and the songs that are in the movie are the songs we fell in love with and they definitely furthered the story.
MM: Now, you got a lot of favours during the production. One thing you got was the voice over trailer guy.
BH: For free, and that's like 10 grand right there.
MM: I need to get in that business.
BH: So do I.
We both proceed to do various versions of commonly heard trailer voice over lines.
MM: What do you think the budget would have been without those?
BH: I've gotta tell you that I can honestly say I have no idea. Between Jon, Brett, Kerry, and myself, all four of us brought an element to the movie without which the movie would not have been done. The quest wouldn't have been undertaken. In addition to Kerry, Jon, and Brett -- who gave up 30 days of their life which turned into two years to help little old me make this lifelong dream come true because they believed in it and believed in me -- so many people in that same spirit have given us so many things that we would have never been able to afford. Throughout the journey, I can't tell you how many things we got as favours from friends who knew somebody who knew somebody. The six degrees of separation really helped us out. That test date was at Jofrees Restaurant in Malibu, and it's one of the most amazing places you can eat. I think that dinner alone would have cost more than the entire movie. I'm serious.
MM: So at what point did you figure you had to change approaches and launch the website?
BH: A lot people have asked why we didn't do the website sooner. You have to remember, when we started the journey we didn't know what we were going to do. The only thing we knew was we were using the six degrees of separation and that was our baby, our bread, and then the premiere. So when the website idea came up, believe me, looking back on it, I wish we did it earlier. The website was originally used to get the trailer out so that Drew had access to that trailer. What ended up happening when we put the website up was that we told a couple of friends who told a couple of friends and before we knew, in that two weeks, we had over 150,000 hits on that website ranging all around the world. It just became it's own entity, really, and everyone was cheering me on saying Brian, get that date with Drew. Go for it, and if you can, get me a date with Angelina Jolie. Again, Mark, that just goes back to the whole idea of the universal theme.
MM: One final question. What are you and the rest of the Drew Crew up to now?
BH: Jon and Kerry have their own production company. Brett and I have formed a production company called Rusty Bear Entertainment and between the four of us we all have projects in development for feature films because we want to keep making movies. We want to make positive, uplifting movies that are in the same vein as My Date with Drew. Then, in addition to that, the four of us are executive producing a reality TV show based on the concept of the film. I'll be hosting that and we'll deal with that after the movie is done and is a huge success worldwide, thanks to you.
BH: Mark, it was really great to talk with you.
MM: You too, Brian. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with me. Best of luck with the film and your future projects.
My Date with Drew opens in theatres in the U.S. on August 5th from DEJ Entertainment and in Vancouver and Toronto on August 12th from TVA Films. Special thanks to Brian Herzlinger as well as Maria Papaioannoy and Chris Allicock at AmberLight Productions for setting up the interview.
More information, including theater listings, can be found on www.mydatewithdrew.com.
Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.