INDIEFEST '09 INTERVIEW: "The Achievers" Director Eddie Chung

achievers

It's not easy being a spokesperson for a fringe group. While it may not have been his intention, Eddie Chung somewhat inadvertently became one, when he decided to tell the story of the Achievers—a community of hardcore Big Lebowski fans who gather each year to celebrate the Coen Brothers' cult hit—and show the world they exist. It started with a trip to one Festival to get a glimpse of the fandom and evolved into a five-year account.

We caught up with the director of the doc, Eddie Chung, to ask him a few quick questions.

eddiechungJPP: How big of a Big Lebowski fan were you when you first discovered Lebowski Fest?

Eddie Chung: Lebowski what? I've got to say that this is the first time I went to a festival of any sort, so I'm out of my element, Donnie.

After this whole experience, are you more or less of a fan?

Definitely more of a fan.

Pete Exline (the man who partly inspired The Dude's story) mentioned during the closing credits that you were winging it. Is that true? Did you have an idea of what you’re going to get when you started this doc?

I went through phases. The movie took 5 years and it wasn't until March of '08 did it really come together for me.

What was the general reaction from the fans when you told them your plan to make this movie?

They were stoked. It's like their home movie.

Some people in the film theorize that Achievers are lonely isolated people before they discovered this connecting thread. Is there truth to that?

Sure, like any underground thing, you're going to get the alienated, as Peter would say, coming together... What I found so fascinating was how well adjusted the achievers were in there normal lives.

Out of morbid curiosity, did you actually see anyone at the Fest peeing on a rug?

I had the (Internet) forum Achievers over to my house and my roommates had left a rug out on the driveway to dry out. The forum members came over and thought I had left it out for them to miterate upon.... Multiple times.... All night..... And I was filming, so I was conflicted.

Your film uses a lot of clips from The Big Lebowski. Was it difficult getting the permission?

Very. It took four months of negotiations.

Did it have anything to do with the shortened version of The Achievers being featured on the 10th Anniversary DVD?

Yes. One hand washed the other.

No one seems to know for sure why this movie specifically became a cult sensation. What’s your personal theory?

I think that's part of being a cult is its mystery... I still don't really have a good answer.
I must say the Achievers are the friendliest group I have ever met.

Be honest: Do you think The Big Lebowski is the Coen Bros’ best film?

Not at all. Best dialogue, for sure. The Coen Bros say it's their favorite title.

From what you've seen over the years, do you think the hardcore Lebowski fandom would go on for decades like Star Trek, or is this something that will phase out in the near future?

It is one movie... But more and more do discover it every day, so it might have some legs, and I take comfort in that.

Lastly, what did you think of Indiefest’s own Lebowski party?

A good time had by all.

2009

Feb
13
2009
Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.

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