SXSW Interview: Patrick Moote & Brian Spitz of ‘Unhung Hero’

SXSW Interview: Patrick Moote & Brian Spitz of ‘Unhung Hero’

Photos by Javi Perez/Playmaker Magazine
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Patrick Moote Brian Spitz Unhung Hero SXSW

Playmaker Magazine: So the online video of your failed proposal goes viral. In the documentary you talk about how it got 10 million views in four days. It was national news. How soon after that video went viral did you guys start making this movie?

Patrick Moote: There were reasons that the relationship wasn’t working. But that was the one that just stuck out in my head.

Brian Spitz: The only thing he heard was…

Patrick: Penis. Right. Within a couple of weeks we started talking about it. It happened so fast. Before I could even reconsider, it had already taken on a life of it’s own. I’m so glad now… In the end, it’s this journey for me, for the audience, it doesn’t go the way people thought it would, or I thought it would… It was hard and I hated it at times. When he came up with the title, I hated it. When the naked posters came out, I hated them. In the end, I’m very proud of what we were able to do with it.

Brian: Tell him what happened when you told your mom about it.

Patrick: Oh, ok. I’ve always been the cooky one in the family. Kind of the middle child. She’s always been prepared for me to be a little weirder than what she’s used to. When I told her I was doing the film and we were doing this concept, she was so nervous. When we pulled up in the van with a crew, director, photographers, sound guys, producers… you could see the sigh of relief. She thought I had found some guys on Craig’s List with handi-cams…

Brian: She was relieved!

Patrick: She was relieved that it was actually a real project. It wasn’t just me being a weirdo or letting myself get into something that was a bad idea. She thought it was going to be guys in comic book shirts with scruffy beards. So she was relieved that it was an actual project.

Playmaker: So what has the audience reaction been like? Obviously, at the screenings people love the movie, but Patrick you’ve had a lot of people come up to you and talk to you after the movie.

Patrick: People are opening up wide up to me. After the screenings, they’re coming up to me and telling me, like…

Playmaker: How small their penises are?

Patrick: … haha, or their husband, or stories that they have, or their own weird sexual experiences… As weird as it is and as weird as it is to say, it’s really cool. It’s really cool to see people let their guard down like that.

Playmaker: That is something I noticed. Girls are opening up to you to. They’re a big part of the audience that loves the movie. There’s a universality to this movie for males and females about any insecurity, not just sexual ones.

Brian: That is one of the coolest things. When we were showing our friends early on, girls would respond just as much as guys would. They’d be like, “I’ve got a big butt… I don’t like my nose… my boobs are too small…” The universal insecurity is relatable to young, old, guys, girls, and all cultures.

Patrick: Once we got through a certain portion of it, we started seeing the bigger picture. It starts off as, does size matter? We dig into it, but what we came across fairly quickly was it was more about people being objectified. And why? Why do we care? I don’t even know if a girl needs a big penis. But I know if somebody came up to me a few months ago and said, “Here’s a magic bean that’ll make your penis bigger…” I would’ve taken it before they finished talking.

Unhung Hero poster SXSWPlaymaker: “But I didn’t tell you about the side effects!”

Patrick: “I don’t care!” So that was what I was able to focus on when things got tough. It is about embracing your insecurities. It’s not about penis size. As long as we stick to what the real theme of the film is, I could put my shoulder behind it. At the end of the day, I’m very very proud of it.

Brian: Patrick got to a certain point where we were doing all these crazy things… Look at all these crazy things that people do all over the world. Why can’t we just be cool with what we have? I remember we were in Papua New Guinea once. There are like 370 tribes there and they’re not nomadic, so they all stay on their pieces of land. They all speak their own languages. One of them told us that if you change your body after you come out of your mother’s womb, you’re disrespecting your mother. You’re disrespecting what she gave you… you need to embrace what you have.

Patrick: But I believe that if you’re changing yourself because it’s something that YOU need and something YOU want… If a woman is so insecure about her breasts and it doesn’t have to do with the outside world and outside forces, no one’s telling them to do that, and they just know that they’d be a more confident person… I think… go for it! If it’s something you want and you need. But if it has to do with outside pressure, and being accepted, you’re going to do it and then you’re going to find something else. And then you become one of those people that people look at and it makes you sad to see because they know how insecure they are.

Playmaker: Patrick, you’ve talked about being open to anything. That’s pretty clear in the movie. We see how far you’re willing to go. But was there anything that you wouldn’t do that we didn’t see on camera?

Brian: There’s a lot of things we left on the cutting room floor, like in “Snake Alley” when we were in Taiwan. There were all these sort of elixirs and foods…

Patrick: And they were awful! They tasted terrible! In between scenes, I was hating it.

Brian: The turtle testicles? What!?

Patrick: When we started, I adopted the mindset that I’m going to do whatever and I’m going to say yes to everything… and it backfired, especially in Snake Alley… Another one was that I didn’t think that Dr. Jennifer Berman (a world famous urologist) was actually going to examine my penis and measure it.

Brian: I thought it was important to talk to a urologist. This is scientific evidence. I thought we were going to just do an interview and then she goes, “ok, examination time!”

Patrick: I gave Brian a look and was just like, “what!?” Brian was over pumping his fist.

Brian: That was a huge moment, though. We now had statistical evidence. It was tough of Patrick, but it was a turning point where it was officially an issue for him. And then the movie exploded into what it became.

Playmaker: Ok, so all of that made you uncomfortable. When did you have the most fun?

Patrick: I had a lot of fun in Korea. Tai Pei was awesome. I don’t get to travel a lot. The traveling for me was probably the most fun.

Playmaker: I thought you would’ve said the porn convention.

Patrick: The porn convention was cool! But it’s one of those things where you’re walking around talking to these porn stars, that are very good looking, that are probably used to a certain size of man, that you’re not that guy. I hated a lot of “man on the street” stuff. I didn’t hate it, but we got a few minutes out of hundreds of hours of me talking about awkward subjects to random people.

Playmaker: One of the things you talk about in the movie is how sex, the media, social media, and information sharing have made penis size an issue in a way that it’s never been in history. I don’t think this movie can be made as recently as 10 years ago.

Patrick: Right. I don’t think as much information as we found would’ve been out there. Watching the movie in the theatre, the first 45 minutes, people were a little apprehensive. People were laughing, but they were nervous chuckles.

Playmaker: The way school kids would laugh during sex ed.

Unhung Hero censored still SXSW

Photo courtesy SXSW

Patrick: Toward the end, the audience loosens up. So later screenings, people were loosened up after word got out. They let their guard down sooner. They seemed less threatened.

Playmaker: The thing that makes this movie great is that there’s a shift after you get back from South Korea where it gets extremely personal and it becomes more than what it is on the surface.

Brian: On paper, this is a pretty crazy idea. We didn’t just want this to be a penis movie. We wanted it to be informational, an emotional journey, exciting, adventurous, dangerous, personal. Hopefully freeing in the end.

Patrick: When we got back from traveling was when I really started to get it and see what we were doing. That was when I could embrace the whole thing. When Dan Savage asked me, “Why are you doing this documentary?” It was the first time anybody had asked me that. It had gone through so many different phases, that I didn’t know. Now I know that, at that point, we were on to something. We were on to something that was bigger than…

Brian: You and your penis.

Patrick: Yes. We were on to something that was cool. And it was starting to make sense. Embracing your insecurities and how liberating it was that I wasn’t going to try to do anything anymore to try to make my penis bigger.

Playmaker: And some of those things that you tried didn’t work. And you had someone in the movie tell you that it could have the reverse effect!

Patrick: I could literally hear my penis saying, “I told you so, you idiot!”

Playmaker: Is there anything that you left on the cutting room floor that you wish you had time for in the movie?

Brian: We found a small penis support group that Patrick took part in. There were a lot of men that were really upset, open, tears were flowing. Patrick bonded with a lot of those guys.

Patrick: Where they were at compared to where I was at… they were a lot farther along in that insecurity. There were some older men. Hearing just how big of a problem it is for them. I was looking at it like, is this where this road leads for me? It was sad, it was hard to see that.

Playmaker: Was that a big wake up call for you? Because seeing that, you’d think that you had to deal with it emotionally or physically now before it defines you.

Patrick: Exactly. I didn’t want to be there in 30 years. If I’d kept going down that road though, it could’ve been T-minus two and a half years before I was completely crippled by this insecurity because these guys really were. That’s where I realized how big of an issue it was for me. And if I continued to allow myself to be driven by these insecurities that are fairly unfounded because it wasn’t really a problem for me before, this is where I could end up.

Brian: It was intense. This is a WEEKLY meeting for people insecure about their penis size. That’s intense. It’s like going to an AA meeting. They just let it all out. They tell stories.

Playmaker: Finally, we are a sports magazine. Who do you guys root for? You’re from the Seattle area. You love your Seattle sports teams?

Seattle Seahawks 12th Man Flag

Photo courtesy Elaine Thompson/AP

Patrick: My goal in life is to raise the 12th Man flag. That would be the greatest. I told my little brother today… I was joking… that I was going to get a 12th Man tattoo. I’m actually a huge sports fan in general. I was out in Arizona seeing the Mariners play in spring training. Most people see me and think I’m a musician or something. I’m just like, no I like fantasy sports.

Playmaker: The Seahawks future looks really bright right now.

Patrick: I love Russell Wilson. Talk about “size doesn’t matter.” That guy is the epitome of it. I go up every year for at least two home games.

Playmaker: We’ve heard that Qwest Field is college football meets European soccer.

Patrick: It’s amazing. If you’ve never been, you should go. It is a sell-out every game and you don’t sit down. I was at the game where the New York Giants had 11 false starts. You feel like a part of it. We were actually a basketball family. My dad had tickets to the Sonics when I was a kid.

Playmaker: You may be getting the Sonics back.

Patrick: Kevin Johnson, I love the guy, but he’s hating on us right now. Can’t we please, Sacramento, do you really need a basketball team? You deserve a team to. Everybody deserves a team… except Oklahoma City. They do not. That’d be awesome. One of the greatest moments of my childhood was going to Game 5 of the NBA Finals when the Chicago Bulls played the Sonics.

Playmaker: Yeah. They were down 3-0 and then they won two at home.

Michael Jordan 1996 NBA Finals Chicago Bulls Seattle SuperSonics Sonics

Brian: This guy’s good!

Patrick: I barely remember that. I was 13 or 14, but I remember being there with my dad. It was such an amazing thing being so close to those guys: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Shawn Kemp, Hersey Hawkins, Detlef Schrempf, Gary Payton!

Brian: I’m from San Francisco…

Patrick: So all he does is win championships, go to Super Bowls…

Playmaker: Both you guys have these awesome young quarterbacks for your teams.

Patrick: Same division, though! So we’re enemies. I hate Colin Kaepernick.

Brian: They beat us up! You guys got us good!

Patrick: I was at that game, actually. What was the word I used? I said we “womped” ‘em. We really womped ‘em.

Brian: We had a good little battle, though.

Patrick: I was texting him pictures of the scoreboard.

Brian: I’m a Giants fan, too.

Playmaker: It’s good to be a Giants fan right now.

Patrick: It’s just good to be a Bay area sports fan.

Brian: We had a little lull there.

Playmaker: Pretty long lull.

Patrick: Being from Seattle, whenever a franchise gets too good, I hate them automatically. I’ll root for bad franchises.

Playmaker: Except the Dallas Cowboys. You love watching them lose no matter what.

Patrick: I always joke that Tony Romo is my favorite Seahawk because he fumbled that snap. A couple of years ago, I got my buddy a Seahawks jersey that says “Romo” on the back.

Playmaker: That’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever heard of. On that note, it was great talking to you guys. Good luck with the movie the rest of the way.

Brian and Patrick: Thanks!

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About Javi Perez

Javi Perez is a contributing editor with Playmaker Magazine heading up the sports desk, as well as covering the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Texas Longhorns, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, film, and TV. He currently lives in San Antonio.