IT’S SO EASY AND OTHER LIES is based on Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan’s New York Times best-selling memoir. The film chronicles Duff's rise to fame, his near fatal struggles with addiction, and his transformation into the person he is today.
The doc also features exclusive archival footage and interviews from Duff's closest friends including fellow GNR band member Slash, PEARL JAM guitarist Mike McCready, and MOTLEY CRUE bassist Nikki Sixx.
Based on his New York Times best-selling memoir and featuring exclusive archival footage, this authorized music documentary of Duff McKagan – founding member and bass player for Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and other bands – chronicles his meteoric rise to fame and fortune, his near-fatal struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, and his remarkable life transformation.
The first time I met Duff McKagan we were walking our kids to school. It turns out that when we moved into our new home in Sherman Oaks back in 2006 we were only a few houses down from the McKagan family. Duff and I hit it off right away with our parenting skills and our love of sports and we became fast friends. As we walked our kids to school together we noticed the amount of morning traffic on our street and because of the lack of sidewalks, it was a little dangerous and scary for the kids. So after a little research, Duff and I decided to petition the neighbors to have speed bumps installed by the city. After a successful campaign led by Duff and I, the city did indeed install the speed bumps and made our street safer for all the kids in our neighborhood. I remember through this process always feeling that Duff was very genuine and down to earth even going door to door with me to get the signatures needed for the petition.
After being a little jaded from my almost four decades in the film business, I really respected and appreciated his kindness especially from a ROCK STAR.
One morning he handed me his book “It’s So Easy and Other Lies” that had just come out and asked me if I would read it. Of course I read it and was blown away with his honesty and the details of his personal struggles early in life. His story is a classic inspirational rags to riches, true American hero story but, with an underlying, dark, unorthodox journey that almost killed him. After reading it, I approached him with the possibilities of making a documentary film based on his inspiration story. At first he said no, and then he said no probably a dozen more times despite my persistence. Then when the book came out in paper back as a New York Best Seller and he was doing the press junket for it he called me one day and said that maybe, if we were going to maybe do a documentary, maybe I should go with him with a camera and start exploring the possibility of maybe making a film. So, I slowly started going with him with my camera shooting b-roll stuff. At one particular book signing at Book Soup in Hollywood a guy waited in a long line to get Duff to sign his book. When he finally stepped up he hugged Duff and told him that he read his book while in re-hab and the book saved his life. That really resonated in me how inspirational this all really was. Then the more we shot the more Duff got comfortable with the idea of really doing this.
Then in the spring of 2012 it got really interesting when he asked me to go with him to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Again, of course I went. The night before the ceremony he told me to come with him to the House of Blues in Cleveland with my camera to shoot some B-Roll of him doing this book reading show that he was testing out on audiences. I was like, a book reading show? WTF is that? As a filmmaker I was very curious. What I witnessed there was not shy from genius, just an incredible show. Something I have never seen before. He sat on a stool and read excerpts from his book as his band LOADED scored the reading with live music, sort of an unplugged vibe with a steel slide guitar playing GNR and Velvet Revolver songs. I started shooting the sold out audiences reaction to what they were watching. I was looking through my viewfinder seeing people cry, laugh, and then cheering, all the while in complete AWE of his presence. WOW, how awesome was this?
After the Hall of Fame induction night where Duff’s speech was incredibly moving and the GNR reunion set blew the roof off of that Cleveland arena I was traveling back to LA and had a clear vision of what the film could look like. When Duff and I talked back in LA, I approached him with my new vision for the film using the book reading show as the catalyst or device to motivate the story telling and how unique and unorthodox this method could be. He immediately responded to the idea and we started writing an extended version of the book reading show with bigger orchestration and then, of course we would have to shoot at an iconic theatre in Seattle as the backdrop. DONE.
My team and I went to work and put it together. We shot for three nights to a sold out crowd at the beautiful, prestigious Moore Theatre in Seattle with a String Quartet and 12 cameras to capture the emotional, powerful, exciting journey that is DUFF MCKAGAN’S IT’S SO EASY AND OTHER LIES.
For more on Duff and his upcoming film: CLICK HERE