Auggie Logan's plight in "Ice Grill, USA" is no different than the life events we've lived through. The struggles of his friends not unlike what we've witnessed first hand. In South Jersey, there are limited options on the road to success. You either become a cog in the machine or you dedicate your life to greasing its gears. To be honest, neither of those options ever much appealed to me.
Brigantine, we referred to as "The Rock", because much like Alcatraz, it was an island quite difficult from which to escape. A great place to grow up, a safe place to raise your kids, but very much a world unto itself. A world where it is easy to lose a decade or two in the blink of an eye if you aren't always fully aware of its grasp. Sometimes an exodus would take extreme measures, like spending 4 hours in a two hundred mile daily commute (been there, done that) or heroically signing your life over to Uncle Sam (much respect to PFC Jon, Angry).
One easy, safe venture off of The Rock was to work at a casino. Corporate enough to feel like you were doing something business-like, but close enough to stay in the loop. I know this intimately, as through college and for a few years beyond I worked as a bouncer at a casino nightclub. I saw my share of shit during that time, enough to belly up to the underbelly and be able to look back and proudly proclaim my survival. I saw the rampant drug abuse and alcoholism, the infidelity and immorality, the hustlers in their mink coats and rental cars. I also encountered and observed many decent, hard-working folks with hearts of gold, doing what they had to do to get by.
It was in fully considering both sides of that poker chip that we approached first writing "Ice Grill, USA". To pay homage to the folks that spend their lives raising their kids right in the face of vice, to show love for the good cops like Haberkern and Julie Cash, to forever memorialize the casualties of that world like Rocco, Learn and CW. It was to call out those that have lost their way, steering their whip recklessly down the wrong street, with no regard for their own safety or that of those innocent pedestrians that surround them on the road that is their runaway life. That goes from our close friends that got caught up in a game they couldn't win, to doctors moonlighting as drug dealers slinging pharmaceutical grade heroine to junkies posing as patients. This movie is dedicated to all of them--the wicked and the virtuous, the lost and the found and all of those that operate in the vast gray expanse in between.
IGU is the story of that shadowy middle realm and the people who live their daily lives there. It is an ode to the South Jersey working class, a love song to the good folks--both those doing their dirt and those keeping it clean, who keep the big Atlantic City roulette wheel spinning.