"Everyone thought I made the movie and I thought, 'Well, this is so good, I'm going to take credit for it,'" Roth tells us. When Roth phoned up Watts for the first time, the budding director thanked him for not suing. "I said, 'Jon, please. Let's wait until we make money, then we can sue each other. This is Hollywood. You only sue after you've made a fortune on something.'"
On top of being impressed by Watts' footage, Roth admired the renegade spirit of screwing with an established person's reputation. "That's something that I would do," he says. Or did. Back in 1995, when most of his NYU film school colleagues were directing serious dramas or experimental art films, Roth shot a crazed, half-animated Tarantino parody for his senior thesis. Restaurant Dogs plugged fast-food mascots into the roles of Reservoir Dogs, a concept that delighted Roth and pissed most of his professors off. "People at my school said, 'Oh, Tarantino will sue you,'" says Roth. "I said, 'I hope he does. It means he's seen it!'" Restaurant Dogs went on to earn a Student Academy Award nomination.