"The idea came to me after film school," director Rodger Grossman tells Billboard.com. "I was thinking, 'What would be the most personal film I could possibly make?' And I thought something about punk rock would be not just a movie that speaks to what I'm about, but also really territory that hadn't been accurately depicted. And [it] needed [to be] a movie that was true and real and let people see what an amazing and exciting world punk is."
With the aid of ex-Germs guitarist Pat Smear, Crash's family and others close to the late '70s/early '80s Hollywood punk scene, Grossman first began assembling what would become "What We Do Is Secret" nearly 10 years ago. But the director admits the extended process was a blessing in disguise, as he conducted "thousands of hours of original interviews," and was able to find an actor he feels did a masterful job capturing Crash on film -- Shane West, who is best known as Dr. Ray Barnett on "E.R."
"[West] got so close to being Darby that it actually freaked out a lot of the scenesters that came by the set," Grossman says. "He committed to doing this role in a way that I've never seen an actor commit to do anything. He read all the books that Darby read. He got blue contacts and prosthetic teeth permanently affixed to his, which had to be 'chipped out' so his teeth were more like Darby's."
...In addition to West's role as Crash, the rest of the Germs were portrayed by Rick Gonzalez (as Smear), Bijou Phillips (bassist Lorna Doom) and Lukas Haas (drummer Don Bolles). Also appearing in the film is "Wildboyz" co-star Chris Pontius as singer Black Randy and Tina Majorino ("Napoleon Dynamite") as Crash's best friend, Michelle.
...the movie does not cover Crash's entire life. "Darby had a 'five-year plan' -- to become a legend," Grossman says. "And after that, he committed suicide. We start the movie in high school with Darby, who was then 'Paul,' and Pat Smear, who was than 'George,' with Darby telling Pat about his 'five-year plan.' And the movie traces [those] five years."
This sounds good, but I hope it doesn't glamorize Crash's desire to die young so he can become a legend. We've lost enough people this way, so there's no reason to inspire any more.