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Jeff Tremaine, center, with the cast of "The Dirt."
Jeff Tremaine, center, with the cast of "The Dirt."
David Siev

Extra Dirt, Part 2: Jeff Tremaine

After 10 interviews for the recent Mötley Crüe and The Dirt cover feature, we were left with many thousands of words of transcription, much of it fantastic. But, of course, you can only fit so much into a 2,500-word feature. So allow us to share some of the unused material as we approach the film's release. Here's director Jeff Tremaine.

L.A. WEEKLY: For how long were you trying to make this movie happen?
JEFF TREMAINE:
I’ve been attached to it since 2010. It’s been a long time. Maybe early 2011. I decided once I got the gig that that was going to be my first scripted feature, thinking that it was gonna happen pretty quickly. It took for goddamn ever to get off the ground. But I did stay true to my inkling that it would be my first scripted feature, and it is.

It's one of the first films about that scene.
I think so. There was [stage musical] Rock of Ages, which is its own thing. There’s been a few attempts at it but none that were really about that second wave of metal, the Sunset Strip metal.

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It certainly pulls no punches — there's a tangible shift in tone when Tommy hits his fiancé.
That’s the intention. You get hooked on the fun and games of it, which is probably accurate. You get hooked — their lives were super fun going super crazy. In a way they had pressure on them to be as crazy as possible, so they become almost caricatures of themselves. But then it gets real. In this movie, it’s when Tommy punches Roxie. That’s when, all of a sudden, there are cracks in the party.

Did you have many discussions with the band during filming?
They completely stayed out of it — well, I had to go and sell myself to them as the guy that’s gonna tell their story. So they had to approve of me as their director. But after that, I showed them every version of the script as we were developing it, and I would go to them for details, filling in gaps. The book is not a very linear book. Trying to organize it into a watchable movie, I would need to fill in some details and get some help. But for the most part, they left me alone to make the movie I wanted to make. But they were very helpful and I reached out quite a bit, to all four of them.

Why Netflix, and are you disappointed that it won’t be on the big screen?
No. When Netflix showed their enthusiasm toward it, I was all on board. I was just dying to get this thing made. I’m a huge Netflix fan, so to me it’s not a diminished version of it. After watching what Bohemian Rhapsody did at the box office, it would be nice to see what this thing could do. When I made this thing, I didn’t make it thinking there was a box office opportunity. We wanted to just tell a true story, but I had no idea people would be so interested in a Queen biopic. I heard a long time ago that was going to get made, with Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie Mercury. Then as we were deep into editing this movie, the trailer came out. I was a little upset that it was coming out before us. But then when it did, I thought it was great. It showed me that there’s a huge appetite for this kind of movie. It’s definitely not the same story, but in the same sense that if you tell any band’s story, there’s always going to be certain things you do.

Could this movie have a similar impact to Straight Outta Compton, in that people other than fans of the band will enjoy it?
There are some universal themes in there that will hopefully have some appeal. When I watched Straight Outta Compton, I don’t know how long that movie was but I had another half an hour in me to sit through it. I never wanted that movie to end. So I hope there’s a bigger audience than Mötley Crüe die-hard fans.

We enjoyed the L.A. Weekly cameo.
We created that, but I definitely wanted to get the L.A. Weekly in. We were trying to hit all of the early ’80s L.A. landmarks and icons. So the L.A. Weekly was how you found out about what was going on in the local music scene in L.A. It made sense that that’s in there. God bless the L.A. Weekly, I’ve been reading it for years.

Ultimately, are you pleased with it?
I think so, yeah. To me, it’s a love letter to that era that I grew up in. To be honest, Netflix truly does let the filmmaker make the movie they want to make without interference. This is definitely the movie I wanted to make. I’m happy with all the performances of all the actors, and all the crew. It was magical, how it all came together.

What's next for you?
I’ve got a film project that I’m producing with Eric Andre coming out next fall. I’ve got some TV stuff too, but that’s the next big thing.

The Dirt is released on Netflix on Friday, March 22.

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