Sundance – Interview with Bellflower director Evan Glodell
The festival is coming to a close, and Bellflower is still standing out in my mind as one of my favorites, certainly one of the most unforgettable. Evan Glodell (the guy in the bloody t-shirt), the film’s director, writer, star, producer and editor, was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions for BFR. The interview is below. And check out the film’s review here.
BFR: First off, congratulations. Your film is fantastic.
Glodell: Thank you.
Do you have a distributor yet?
We don’t. Obviously, first we had nothing. And then we came to Sundance, we we were all like, just be cool, just be happy to be at Sundance.
I only ask because I’m concerned about being able to see it again.
I think you will be able to see it again. There’s some stuff that is unbelievably exciting going on right now. But everyone is telling me not to talk about it because nothing’s final yet.
Okay, so the ball is rolling, people are probably going to get to see this film?
Let’s talk a bit about financing. Your film was in the Next category, which means it was filmed on a very small budget. Do you mind telling us what budget you were working with?
I don’t mind at all telling you, but the people that are helping us sell movies say, “no way.” I will say that we were not even close to the maximum budget for a film to qualify for the Next category. [$50,000 is the highest allowed budget for a Sundance film in the Next category]
Can you talk a little bit about the chemistry of the characters? The relationship between you and the actor who played Aiden (Tyler Dawson), are you guys friends in real life?
Yes, we actually met to do this movie, I saw him in a play. But almost everybody that you meet to make the film, you end up spending so much time with them, especially for this one because it took so much time to get the movie going. So, you become friends, and you get to know each other. And then you sometimes rework the script to be more like them. So yeah, there’s a lot of reality among the friendships portrayed in the film.
I was just talking to your producer, Vincent Grashaw, and your DP, Joel Hodge. They were telling me that the majority of the locations where you shot are where you guys actually live? At least the houses and apartments?
Basically. It’s the same thing as the last question you asked. We just met people around town. The two most important locations are Woodrow’s house, and Milly’s house. I met some people at a bar in Ventura one night, just when we were really getting ready to do the movie, we were really going to do it. We met these people, got wasted with them, and I woke up in Jet’s [Jet Kauffman, co-producer] living room. This is how I met Jet. I woke up in her living, and I looked around and I thought, “holy shit, this is just like the house I was hoping to find.” So I told her, “I know I just met you, but we’re making this movie. Can we shoot in your house?” And she was like, “yes!” And then one of her other friends that was there that same day, we saw their house shortly afterward, and we were like, “holy shit.” They both had these really amazing houses. And they were almost exactly what I was looking for. And then because we ended up shooting there, they ended up getting involved. And now they are all some of our closest friends, some of us have been roommates since then. So it was the movie that brought us together, but long before we finished the film, they were just part of the team, you know what I mean?
Can you discuss, for the readers who haven’t seen it, what the film is about?
Okay, I’m the worst at this, but I’ll try. Alright, it’s a movie about two guys, two best friends. Who are completely obsessed with the apocalypse and blowing stuff up and building flamethrowers. Uh, which is just something they kind of joke around about. And then one of them falls in love and goes on this epic journey where he has his heart broken. And the film tries to illustrate how terrible it is to have your heart ripped out.
How did the script come to be, where’d you come up with the idea for a, for lack of a better word, bro-mance between two guys obsessed with the idea of the Apocalypse?
I don’t have a good answer for that. I have a lot of trust in the creative process, I guess. I don’t know if that’s the best way to put it. But it started with a breakup of a bad relationship that rocked my world. So I started writing a script about it. This is when I was doing short films or movies, or whatever. And the script seemed strong enough that I thought, this is going to be my first feature film. So initially, I just started with the meeting of the girl and the breakup. And I just spent literally years reworking it, and it just built off that.
There’s a point in the film where the two friends shoot a propane tank with a sawed off shotgun. Was that an effect? Or did you really do that?
There are no effects in the movie. I’m trying to think of what effects there were. It’s all real, we just really did it. We were terrified that day.
None of the cities you shot in (Ventura and Oxnard) had a problem with that?
[Laughs] They haven’t yet… That place where we did that, it’s a place in Ventura county called Scary Dairy, it’s a local legend place. All the kids go out there and you have to hike like a mile out to get there. It’s a rundown dairy farm that’s supposed to be haunted. I think it’s actually a state park, so I’m sure it has a real name, but I don’t even know what it is. But all the local people call it Scary Dairy.
The type of place where kids go to get drunk and have sex?
Yeah, totally, and to spray paint stuff, and whatever they do out there, right? We did a lot of stuff out there. We had to carry all our stuff out there. I hope we get away with it.
So you hiked a mile there and back with all your equipment?
Oh yeah, we did many times. Like, even carrying a propane tank out there was not easy.
I felt like like halfway through the film, we started to see the story through Woodrow’s, your character’s, eyes. And he kind of seems to be sort of an unreliable narrator. Is that true?
Yeah. That’s definitely how I see it. People keep saying to me, be careful what you say about this. Because people like to be able to try and figure out the movie for themselves. But I most certainly have a way that it is for me, and was always supposed to be. So, an unreliable narrator is a good way to put it.
In the Q&A after the film, I heard that you almost did everything on this film. You directed and wrote, you starred, and you modified the car and the cameras. Can you talk about what you did to the cameras?
Yeah, I had a lot of time to get ready for this movie. I intended to make it ever since I wrote the first version of the script in 2003 and didn’t have the means to. So that was always in my mind. That was always the thing I was going to do next, make this movie. So I was always getting things ready for it. I was trying to collect props, building flame throwers, like, different versions it, hoping each one would be ready. So I was like, okay, I’ll get this prop out of the way when I can afford it. The cameras are just a weird hobby that I have. We basically used the image sensor and the electronics from other cameras, on this movie is was SI-2K, the silicon imaging camera. And pretty much the rest of it is stuff that I built. So there’s, uh, optics, its… I don’t know if there’s a word for it yet. But it’s basically like camera hacking, I guess. So, I’m ripping apart all kinds of different stuff and mix and matching the parts along with stuff that I built mixed in their with it.
So are you some sort of engineering genius?
I’m not actually. Vince [Vincent Grashaw, co-star and producer] says that, and it does sound cool. He call’s me an engineering madman. But it’s just that I’m someone who has decent engineering skills and a technical mind, and I obsessed over refining these weird camera systems. If someone else wanted to do it, and they understood basic physics and optics, they would be able to do what I’ve done. I think. At least that’s what I think.
Have you read a lot of the reviews for Bellflower?
I think I’ve read almost all of them.
What’s your reaction to theirs?
I’m stoked. There are some mixed ones that bag on me as an actor, not too much, but somewhat. I agree with absolutely everybody. I’m stoked for the good reviews, on the bad reviews, I’m like, I can totally see how someone could see that. I couldn’t be happier with the reviews.
Do you have any future projects in the works?
Ah, yes. I have my entire life planned out. I’m sure it won’t turn out that way, but I’ve got a couple scripts I’m working on. I haven’t been talking about them much, because the next one doesn’t even have a name yet. But yes.
Has Sundance opened a lot of doors? Are people approaching you interested in working with you?
Yeah, lots of people have been talking. I’m horrible at networking, but as I understand it, it seems a lot of people have been talking to us, and are interesting in working with us in the future.
Will the whole cast and crew of Bellflower being collaborating again?
I’m sure that everyone that worked on this film will be working on the next one.
Thanks to Evan and his team for talking to BFR!