How a ‘sensei’ taught Zac Efron how to DJ for the EDM movie ‘We Are Your Friends’

Zac Efron in “We Are Your Friends”

Zac Efron plays DJ Cole Carter in the new release “We Are Your Friends.”

(Warner Bros.)

In the coming-of-age drama “We Are Your Friends,” which opened Friday, Zac Efron’s character Cole Carter says all a DJ needs is “a laptop, some talent and one track.”

The movie, directed by Max Joseph (of MTV’s “Catfish” series), then follows Cole, a twentysomething part-time party promoter from the San Fernando Valley, as he tries to break into the electronic dance music scene.

But what tools do you need if you are an actor playing a DJ? A mentor, for starters. In order for Efron to look like a real DJ he had to be trained like one. That’s where Jason Stewart, known as DJ Them Jeans, stepped in.

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“We would practice all the time at his house,” Stewart said at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere last week. “On set, I would hide underneath the DJ booth and tell him to do little things that I do while I’m dj-ing ... He’s been calling me his sensei during all of this.”

Efron also bought two Pioneer decks and two new monitors for his home, where Stewart often trained him. The actor even reportedly woke up neighbor Charlie Day while practicing.

“I talked to a lot of DJs about what the most important thing was that I should do,” Efron said at the premiere. “We wanted to make it look and feel authentic. Stylistically, on the decks, there’s a lot of things you can do to do that.”

The technicalities were the most difficult part to master, Efron added.


“We worked really hard to make sure that when we’re adding effects or when the music changes we are doing the right things,” he said.

In one scene of the movie, Efron’s character DJs in front of a large crowd for the first time. The crowd (in this case extras) showed up to see DJs Nicky Romero, Dirty South and Dillon Francis perform. Efron took the stage in between sets to film.

“I would come up on stage and start acting and talking to the crowd,” Efron recalled. “I would apologize in advance [because] it’s an emotional scene for my character ... like, don’t get too bummed out.”

At the premiere, Efron joked he’s no professional DJ yet.

“I tried to DJ the other night,” he said. "[Them Jeans] invited me up on stage. I went up there to transition one track and I hit the wrong fader and the whole crowd went, ‘What?’ and I went, ‘Oh, my God!’ He came up and saved me and then it was a great party.”

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