Jody Hill

Jody Hill

Born and raised in Concord, NC, Hill studied tae kwon do throughout his teen years and eventually worked his way up to a third degree black belt. The experience also provided him with the nucleus of "Foot Fist Way," which explored the all-too-human side of an instructor who lets the reverence of his students go to his head. After graduating from the acclaimed North Carolina School of the Arts in 1999, he relocated to Los Angeles in the hopes of launching a career in film. The experience proved disheartening for him - the quirky humor of his screenplays was met with rejection by the studios. To support himself, he worked in reality in television - a genre which left him feeling discouraged and alone.But Hill never lost sight of his goal - to direct a feature film - and after socking away as much money as possible, he returned to North Carolina and began applying for credit cards to fund his project. He also reached out to many of his friends and college alumni to work on the project, including actor Danny R. McBride and Ben Best, who both collaborated on the script. The film, titled "The Foot Fist Way," was shot over a grueling nine-week period using handheld 16mm cameras and a crew of film students; real tae kwon do aspirants were also used to play McBride's students. Even with its shoestring budget, the picture quickly exceeded its meager budget, and Hill's brother was called in to help complete the filming. Best and Hill also appeared in the film as the film's villain, B-movie action hero Chuck "The Truck" Wallace, and McBride's bizarre best friend, respectively.Hill assembled an edit of the picture in only three weeks before the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered before a midnight crowd. The audience response was nothing short of uproarious, but Hill and his partners left the festival without a studio deal. Undaunted, they began to prepare for a screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival when word came that Will Ferrell and his partner Adam MacKay were adamant about picking up the film for their new production deal with Paramount Vantage. Both were instrumental in getting the film released into theaters under their Gary Sanchez Productions banner, as were glowing responses from other well-known comics, including Rogen, Ben Stiller and Patton Oswalt. "Foot Fist Way" generated largely positive reviews during its theatrical run in May of 2008, but the true impact of the film came in the effect it had on the careers of its principals.McBride, who had made only limited theatrical appearances prior to the film, was suddenly the comic du jour - a delirious appearance as his "Foot Fist Way" character on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 1993-) boosted his profile considerably - and found himself with supporting roles in "Drillbit Taylor" (2008), "Pineapple Express" (2008), and "Tropic Thunder" (2008) with Stiller. He was also top-billed in Hill's HBO pilot, "East Bound and Down" as a failed major league baseball player who returns to his home town to coach physical education. Meanwhile, Hill got his first crack at writing and directing his first film for a Hollywood studio with "Observe and Report," starring Rogen as a mall security officer who wages war with the local police department.