Cross Judd Apatow with Todd Phillips — The 40-Year-Old-Virgin meets The Hangover, say — and you’ll get the vibe of Flock of Dudes, the new movie co-written and produced by Maryland native Brian Levin.
“Basically it’s a group of friends who have hung out for too long, a group of four guys,” Levin says. “And they are now a little bit older and they’ve realized that in order to grow up they need to break up with each other.”
The dudes have reached that sobering age of 30, says Levin, himself 32. “You can imagine them probably hanging out every day together or every weekend together since college. They are a flock of dudes.”
The movie stars Chris D’Elia (NBC’s Whitney), Brett Gelman (30 Minutes or Less), Eric Andre (The Eric Andre Show) and Marc Maron (The Marc Maron Show).
Levin is in the Washington area doing promotional work for the film, his first, which is now in editing and will be ready for release next year. He’s also scouting locations for his next project, which he wants to shoot in his home state.
He grew up in Winchester, where his family still lives. After graduating from Towson University, he came to D.C., and pursued a master’s degree in visual arts at American University.
“American was a great school,” he says. “They had all the resources to make films. But they were also flexible enough to let you find what you were interested in.”
He found himself drawn to screenwriting. In 2005, he moved to New York, where he fell in with Towson pal Bob Castrone and Jason Zumwalt, whom he met at a comedy club. As “The Post Show,” the three wrote and performed in a series of online comedy video shorts and honed their chops.
“We probably shot 120 online videos. I was producing and Bob was directing,” Levin says. That was the genesis of their division of labor — Castrone is Flock of Dudes’ director.
The shorts, gleefully tasteless and crude, also betray an intellect under their dude-like exterior.
“Weird Al Goes Off the Deep End” parodies parody-master Weird Al Yankovic. “The Post Show” website notes that the comedy site that was going to run the video ironically “shelved it because they were worried that Weird Al might not be okay with being parodied.” Then there’s what is billed as a re-creation of an excruciating recording session in which Orson Welles unleashes his monstrous ego on a young production crew while taping commercial voice-overs.
“He Wrote A Lot of Songs” is a PBS docu-spoof in which Levin plays a Bob Dylan so prolific that he “actually wrote every popular song in the last 35 years.” In ersatz early-’60s performance footage, Levin introduces “a protest song,” and with a familiar whine launches into “You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party.”
Levin became a Dylan fanatic 10 years ago, after an uncle took him to the singer’s concert. “At one point, he was playing ‘Hard Rain’ and it started to rain. It was so surreal.” Levin just stood at the side of the stage and watched it all happen. “After the concert I needed to know everything about Bob Dylan.”
Levin and his partners made video shorts for three years and felt ready to aim higher. Like first novels, this first film is semi-autobiographical.
“I was living in New York and some friends and I would go out to hang out and experience the night life. And what we realized is that, every time we would do that we’d get phone calls from other friends, other dudes who said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ And before we knew it there would be 10 people with us. And there was no way to… .”
Here he breaks off laughing. “The reality of it was there was no way to talk to girls when there’s 10 guys in a group. As we were preparing to write our first feature, we were kind of half jokingly talking about how we should just break up with our friends, even though they were the closest people in our lives. And I think the light bulb just kind of went off.”
Levin and his partners soon moved to Los Angeles. They’ve since had other scripts optioned and shot television pilots, but Flock of Dudes looks to be the first of their projects that audiences will see.
Like New York, Los Angeles has its own particular Jewish atmosphere.
“Half of our crew on Flock of Dudes is Israeli, so over the headsets when you hear people talking, sometimes it would just be Hebrew, ‘cause they’d just be talking to each other,” he says. “You would have no idea [what they were saying]. But then everything would be set up.”
The script for the Maryland project is finished, he says. “I’d like to be shooting that as [Flock of Dudes] comes out next year.” He’s not giving out plot details, but says “it’s kind of like a throwback comedy — in the world of Caddyshack and Naked Gun.”
Sounds gleefully tasteless.