USA Character Project

The DudeDirected by Jeff Feuerzeig

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The Dude

About the short

Meet the dude behind The Dude. As the inspiration for the beloved central character in the Coen Brothers' cult-favorite film The Big Lebowski, Jeff Dowd has become a popular figure at annual Lebowski Fests around the country. This film follows Dowd to one of these events, offering a glimpse into the fascinating world of this subculture and the colorful real-life character behind the iconic fictional Dude.

About the director

Jeff Feuerzeig is an award-winning director and non-fiction filmmaker whose feature film The Devil and Daniel Johnston won top documentary directing honors at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Continuing to push the boundaries of non-fiction, Feuerzeig has recently completed the screenplays God Bless Tiny Tim (with Julien Nitzberg), a feature biopic about the legendary crooner of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" fame, and The Bayonne Bleeder (with Jerry Stahl), a feature biography of boxer Chuck Wepner, who in 1975 went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali and inspired the Sylvester Stallone film Rocky.

Director Statement

In 1986, twelve years before The Big Lebowski, I read a quote by John Sayles where he sang the praises of Jeff "The Dude" Dowd, crediting him with much of the theatrical success of his first film The Return of The Secaucus Seven. When I got out of film school, the Dude was literally the first person in the still nascent American Indie film community that I reached out to. Two weeks later, first screenplay in hand, I flew from New York to Los Angeles, rented a car, and pulled up to the Dude's dilapidated apartment/office on the "boardwalk" of Venice Beach for my very first Hollywood meeting. As if on cue, this Avery Schreiber-looking mop-topped behemoth clad in shorts and a hideous floral Hawaiian shirt rolled up on roller blades and welcomed me to paradise. While I stood on his sagging balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean watching all the blonde bikini-clad beach girls in leg warmers skate by, the Dude ransacked his living room, overturning stacks of unread scripts, looking for my screenplay, which I'm still not convinced he'd read. Finally locating it, he launched into an inspirational rant, showering me with spittle as he gesticulated wildly, telling me with a straight face that I was the next Cassavetes and I was going to make films my own way. The Dude and I never did work together, but over the years we would cross paths on the film festival circuit, and it always warmed my heart that such a character, this true believer, was still carrying the torch for Independent film. When the Coen Brothers made The Big Lebowski in 1998, I sat in the darkened theater trying to reconcile the Dude I knew with the fictitious character Jeff Bridges was playing on screen -- Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski -- but I was not surprised in the least that they found inspiration in the Dude as well. Jeff Dowd is a right of passage in the indie film world -- baptism by the Dude -- his spittle and good vibes setting you free to create a world of your own.

Cast Bios

Jeff Dowd

Jeff Dowd Jeff Dowd is a writer/producer, producer's representative, and nationally recognized authority on film marketing, distribution and exhibition. His producing credits include Zebrahead (executive produced by Oliver Stone), which won the Filmmakers Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and the animated feature FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Dowd has been on the board of the Independent Feature Project, the International Documentary Association, The Sundance Film Festival and the Advisory Board of the Sundance Institute. Nicknamed "The Dude" since kindergarten, Dowd was the inspiration for the character of Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges) in Joel and Ethan Coen's film The Big Lebowski.

Film Credits

Director Jeff Feuerzeig

USA Network Presents An RSA Films Production

Produced By Jules Daly
Tom Dunlap

Co-Producer Michael Bernstein

Associate Producer Jonny Edwards

Editor Michelle M. Witten

Director Of Photography Ben Kasulke

Original Music Josh Mancell

Special Thanks Jeff Dowd
Jeff Dowd remains an activist and force for political good as a frequent featured speaker at colleges, universities and rallies throughout the world fighting against racism, ill-conceived wars, as well as advocating for the environment and economic justice.
In addition, he continues to be a stalwart champion of independent film and a perennial fixture on the international film festival circuit as a producer and representative of new voices.

Co-Producer – Florida Unit Mark Krumper

Additional Camera Jeff Feuerzeig

Sound Sean O'Malley
Gerald Rose (Fl)

Assistant Camera / DIT Scott Johnson
Dylan Johnson (FL)

Gaffer Jeff Powers

Grip Jesse Vallejo

Swing Nick Lancaster
Kris Wagner (FL)
Gastavo Mejia (FL)

Production Coordinator Steven Robbins

Production Assistant Chris Allen (FL)

Archival Researcher, Rights and Clearances Shannon Costello

After Effects and Color Correction Zak Stoltz

Post Sound Mixer Eleven
Ben Freer
Jeff Payne

Additional Sound Editing Stimmung
Reinhard Denke
Rory Doggett

Legal counsel Donaldson & Califf
John Hassig

Music: "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)" Performed by Kenny Rogers & First Addition
Courtesy of Geffen Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

"Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" written by Mickey Newbury, 100% Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

"Sonic Reducer" Performed by Dead Boys
Courtesy of Sire Records
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing

"Sonic Reducer" Words & Music by Eugene O'Connor & David Thomas
© 1977. Assigned to I/MAX Group c/o Larry Spier Music LLC & Warner Chappell Music.
International Copyright Secured.
All rights reserved including public performance.

"The Man in Me" written by Bob Dylan
published by Big Sky Music

"Kick out the Jams" Performed by MC5
Written by: Michael Davis, Robert W. Derminer,
Wayne Kramer, Frederick D. Smith, Dennis A. Tomich
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)

Moving Image Archive: The Big Lebowski
Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC

Wheedle's Groove Clip Courtesy of Jennifer Maas

ABC News VideoSource FILM Archives, Inc.
Getty Images
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Thought Equity Motion

Still Images Archive: Jeff Bridges
Paul Dorpat
Jeff Dowd
Ruth Hayler
Julia Ransom

Additional Archival Sources: Video of MC5 "Kick Out The Jams"
Courtesy of Margaret Saadi Kramer

ABC News
CBS News
CBS Channel 7 News, Seattle, WA
Newsweek Magazine
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The Seattle Times
They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
TIME Magazine
University of Washington DAILY
Vanderbilt Television News Archive

Special Thanks USA Network
Chris McCumber
Alexandra Shapiro
Jason Holzman
Jon Cotton
Nate Schreiber
Jamie Willet
Silent Movie Theater
Garianna Abeyta
Greg Gibbs
Kember Feuerzeig
Dede Devlin
Henry S. Rosenthal
Paul Cullum
Andy Schraderv Cheetah Chrome
Margaret Saadi Kramer
Wayne Kramer
Peter Kember
Jason Pierce
Roger Lippman
Ruth Hayler
University of Washington Archive
Don Argot
Sam Green
Jenny Dowd
Zirel Sweezy
Jane Richardson
Paul Dorpat
Joel Connelly
Joe Kelly
Coralie Allen
Steve Hudziak
Sunny Speidel
Eric Nalder
Mike James
Tim Keenan
Mike Azevedo
Jill Mcgraw

© 2011 RSA Films, Inc. and Jeff Feuerzeig. All Rights Reserved