Ah, The Big Lebowski. It's clocked miles of quotable moments, inspired a new generation of ironic bowling teams, and spawned a festival that's now over a decade old and rolling. With the Lebowski Fest heading to San Francisco this weekend, we aimed five questions at the Fest's founder, Will Russell, to try to get to the bottom of the phenomenon.
1. How/why/when did Lebowski Fest get started?
Lebowski Fest started in 2002 when a friend of mine and I were bored quoting lines from The Big Lebowski at a tattoo convention and suddenly some strangers jumped in and started quoting along with us. We realized we were not alone and thought if they can have a weird tattoo convention, why can't we have a Big Lebowski convention! I knew of a tiny bowling alley we could rent out on the cheap and expecting 15 or so of our friends to show up and we ended up with 150. The next year it blew up after a mention in SPIN Magazine and we has 1200 people. We added live music the next year with My Morning Jacket and we've traveled all over hosting over 50 Lebowski Fests in over 30 cities over the last 12 years.
2. What do you think is behind people's enduring relationship with The Big Lebowski?
It's hard to say but I know on the surface the movie is absolutely hilarious and endlessly quotable. Inexplicably, it gets better with every watching! I've seen it well over 100 times and I'm still completely smitten with it. And The Dude is the best. He's such a genuine guy, not caught up in the rat race. Just content to go bowling and take a bubble bath while listening to whale sounds. And that's cool. That's cool.
3. What are some of weirdest things that have ever gone down at Lebowski Fest?
The costumes are always amazing with fans dressed as lines of dialogues as well as spot on version of all the characters. The weirdest thing was these guys who brought their cremated dead uncle in a Folgers Coffee can and entered him into the costume contest as Donny's Ashes. They always watched the film with their uncle and his dying wish was to be entered into the Lebowski Fest costume contest. The funniest part is that the judging is audience response and amongst the chaos people didn't get the gravity of the costume and he only won second place. Poor Donny.
4. What can SF Achievers expect from the event?
The Extra-Action Marching Band is as good of a band as you'll ever see. Imagine a scantily clad marching band banging around a crowded bar full of Achievers and then watching the greatest film of all time. The more people participate, the better the event is so costumes at the bowling party are strongly encouraged. Plus, you could win a trophy! How cool is that?
5. What does the future hold for Lebowski Fest?
Lebowski Fest has been rolling strong for a dozen years. We just launched a brand new website and the Achiever Nation has exploded. We just marked out 90,000th Facebook Achiever today, mark it!
Lebowski Fest San Francisco
Friday, October 11th - Saturday, October 12th