In more than five decades on this earth, searching for a “meaning of life,” I have come to this conclusion: There is nothing more important than making and nurturing intimate relationships with other human beings. That is our goal, our purpose in this life.
The Hacks is my passion project to that ideal.
The Hacks was inspired by experiences with my friends in our little pickup band where we drink, talk, make music and help each other navigate our paths through life (a group which also includes the producer, DP and composer of this film).
It became clear that the issues with which we struggled during these de facto therapy sessions – our fears, regrets, dreams for the future, relationships with the people we care about and ultimately the meaning of life in the face of our ever more obvious mortality – were not unique to us.
They were the same issues that we grappled with in our twenties and, presumably, will be struggling to address in our seventies. The same ones my twenty-two-year-old daughter faces as she starts her life as an adult, or my teenage son faces as he moves away to college. The big issues of life are universal. Everyone, regardless of age, sex, social or economic status, grapples with the same things.
These are the issues I wanted to explore, and the notion of a sort of Breakfast Club for Men of Certain Age began to present itself as an ideal way to do that: take five best friends, each in the midst of a crisis that addresses one of these issues, lock them in a room with a bunch of booze and musical instruments and keep them there until they work their shit out. (Plus we already had the location – the movie was shot in the space where the real-life Hacks meet.)
It was designed to be an authentic look behind the curtain at how passionate, intelligent men talk and behave when they are alone together. How true intimates interact. Friends that know you so well they can often see things you’re hiding from yourself. Men who are kind and generous but also have the courage to be brutally honest with you even when it’s painful and fraught with risk.
In order to be as realistic as possible with the dialogue and interactions, I started by recording and transcribing, David Mamet-style, some of our own conversations during our band night sessions. Then I riffed, improvised, expanded and explored the dramatic possibilities of these themes until I had created five unique fictional characters, each in the midst of some sort of existential crisis.
The intention was to make the events and conversations seem totally real and unscripted while, in reality, every line and beat is in service to a carefully designed structure with clear, strong character arcs. My challenge to myself was to dig as deep as possible into my own life experiences to find characters, situations and themes that were honest and true enough to resonate with a larger audience. No artificial, maudlin or manipulated scenarios, no cheap laughs or artificial conflicts – these are men who respect one another, who challenge one another and who truly care about one another.
Ultimately, The Hacks is a celebration of the power of intimate friendships – of the importance of carving out time to truly connect with other human beings. It’s structured to provide a rollercoaster ride between moments of conflict and tenderness, fear and joy, all while intimately exploring the complexity of personal relationships. Hopefully, it’s fun and funny but it also has something to say which I believe is critically important.
If I have succeeded, people should walk away with a fresh optimism about their lives – regardless of their age – and excited to set up a “band night” of their own – whether it’s poker with their buddies, book club with their girlfriends or camping with the kids. The Hacks is a rallying cry to fight, like the “Hacks” in the movie, to make your own life what you want it to be and to seek out those moments of joy which make life valuable.