Evan Glodell, Tyler Dawson and Jessie Wiseman talk BELLFLOWER at Comic-Con 2011
It's almost impossible for a small-budget indie to see the inside of a movie theaters these days, especially one that's as small and as indie as Even Glodell's Bellflower. But his movie, which he also wrote and starred in, is an impressive debut, one that's full of muscle and gristle that's accompanied by emotional and physical violence. Glodell plays Woodrow, an L.A. slacker who spends all his spare time with his best friend Aidan (Tyler Dawson), building flamethrowers and guns in anticipation of the impending apocalypse. Their belief that the world is coming to an end is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but these two misfits are obsessed with The Road Warrior. At least they are until Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman), a ballsy girl who warns him, early on, that if they get together she will end up hurting him. The pain does come to pass, and Woodrow's life is thrown into an emotional apocalypse that he never counted on. It's a film that devolves into violence, and Glodell never pulls his punches, but he's a smart enough director to never lay down all his cards. Though Bellflower didn't have an official presence at Comic-Con, all three actors were in town, accompanied by the Medusa, the souped-up fire-breathing car that is as much a presence in the film as any of the actors.
I first watched The Road Warrior way back in 1981, and I've been hooked on it ever since. But unlike Woodrow and Aidan, I've never truly fantasized about ruling the post apocalyptic wasteland. I guess I'm curious as to how much of that comes from your own experience, and how much of it is invented for the movie.
Evan Glodell: One of my old friends just found me on Facebook, who I hadn't seen since I was in the town where I grew up, and was like, 'Do you remember that we made that deal, that whichever of us had a son first had to name him Max, after "Mad Max?"' I had forgotten about it, but I made that deal. So I don't think I was faking much. Overall, for me, when I was a kid it was a huge deal. And obviously, I still love the movie, but that's the time period I was thinking of.
Tyler Dawson: I definitely love that movie and watched it plenty as a young man. But I never took it to this level.
There are plenty of people in the world who like apocalyptic fiction, but it's different for Woodrow and Aidan. It's somewhere between a running gag and reality.
Tyler Dawson: Well, there are people out there who are getting ready. In the same that they're obsessed with it and it's a joke to them, there are people who are doing it in a practical way.
Evan Glodell: Building shelters and getting water.
Tyler Dawson: We'd be so unprepared. Aidan and Woodrow?
Evan Glodell: Yeah. Well, they'd be prepared if the bomb didn't hit too close to them.
It seems, though, that they're always thinking about it in the technical sense. They never think about it in an emotional sense--even though Woodrow eventually has to go through what might be considered an emotional apocalypse.
Evan Glodell: I think it was interesting that they're waiting for the apocalypse and preparing for the apocalypse, but at the end of the movie, his character [Tyler Dawson] is the one who figures it out, when he's like, 'Wait a minute, we don't have to wait for the apocalypse. We can take our car out now and use it to pick up chicks and make friends.' Which is a huge transition.
Jessie Wiseman: And also, while you're preparing for the apocalypse, you go through an internal end of your world.
Evan Glodell: Yeah.
Let's talk about the car. How tied into the making of the movie is the making of the car?
Tyler Dawson: So tightly.
Evan Glodell: They're like the same thing.
Jessie Wiseman: Everything depends on that car.
Evan Glodell: There were more difficult emotional challenges, but logistically, the car was the biggest bastard. The engine blew up just at the time the car turned black. Once it was black and had windows on the side and the tailpipes were sticking out, it blew up, so we were done shooting with it. So we finished shooting everything in the movie except the car stuff, and then, nine months later, I was finally able to get another engine in it and start shooting pick-ups. The Medusa is on its fourth engine right now. That would sound silly to a car person, I think, but when you're talking about scrounging together whatever you can get, it's so hard. It does have a nice engine it in now, for promotional purposes.
So which came first? The movie or the car?
Evan Glodell: The movie came first. Everything in the movie came first. The first version of the script was focused on the relationship between me and him and me and her character. That was how it all started. Then I worked on it, and some of these other ideas came in, of the car and the apocalypse obsession, and the gang, and the different ways the story is told. Then, when we got to the car, and we knew we had to get a badass car.
So, that car, then? How do you make something like that?
Evan Glodell: I've always built stuff, my whole life. Just tinkering, not crazy stuff, but I can usually figure something out if I put my mind to it. So, we couldn't afford anything, and we had to find a mean-looking muscle car, which we did, on Craigslist. It was a Buick Skylark, which isn't as valuable as any number of other collectible muscle cars. We just started hacking it up. First, on paper, and we came up with a basic concept and made a list of what we wanted in there, like the idea of the tailpipes sticking through the trunk. And then we just started attacking it. We'd shoot during the day and then stay up all night, seeing how far we could get.
One thing about this movie is that you didn't have a lot of money, you basically ran out of money, and that means that everyone is working because they want this to work. That comes through on screen--everyone's invested.
Tyler Dawson: In fact, most of us were paying to help the production move along. A lot of people quit their jobs. And we'd worked on it for so long, and we were all so deeply attached and invested in so many different ways. Emotionally, financially, how much time we'd put in. We had a really small crew, just ten or 11 people working on this movie. All we had was faith and passion and love to go off of. A lot of times you had to figure out creative solutions, and we had to shoot long hours, or not have much food. It was challenging, in a lot of ways.
I don't mean to suggest that it's a low-budget film, but you can tell that it came out of that passion. Moving forward, you might have more money at your disposal.
Evan Glodell: It is very much looking that way.
So, how's that going to change what you're doing?
Evan Glodell: That is a very good question, and something that's been on my mind quite a bit. Right now, thinking about that is just speculation, because I haven't even gotten to the point of contracts, as far as going to investors and partners. But certainly, I want to make sure that I work with people who are going to support us. We're not going to end up in a situation where someone's like, 'Here's the money, give us the movie in six months or you're in breach of contract.' It's going to be like, 'no, we're going to find a way to make the movie the best that it can be.'
It seems like one of the challenges might be finding the same spirit, even though not everyone on board might have the same investment.
Tyler Dawson: That's what we're hoping to find. Not just go out and use money to fix problems. You don't want to just get the best of this and the best of that.
Well, we know that that doesn't always make for the best story.
Tyler Dawson: Sure. You see it sometimes in a movie where you love everyone involved. You love the writer, you love the director, you like everything about it, but for some reason it doesn't work. There is that element that's always frightening, because it's such a collective, team thing to work on.
Evan Glodell: The question that you're asking is oddly one of the main themes in the script that I have.
Is it self-referential?
Evan Glodell: No, but it's about how to take a project, any project, and find a way to actually make it as important as you want life to be. You know what I mean? You want life to be an adventure, and that's what it's about, about finding people to go on a great adventure. You only live once, and you want something magical and important to happen. I think this movie has been, for us, the closest thing to that. And the script that I'm working on now deals with a lot of that, this group of people who are trying to find a way to take this thing that they're focused their lives on and make it into something that is a life or death situation. Life or death important, that is.
Bellflower hits theaters August 5th and makes a good break away from the box office madness of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Smurfs, Captain America lovers, Cowboys and Aliens.
CAST and CREW FOR Bellflower
Starring: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes and Vincent Grashaw
Directed By: Evan Glodell
Written By: Evan Glodell
Produced By: Glodell and Vincent Grashaw
PLOT: Bellflower follows two friends as they venture out into the world to begin their adult lives. Literally all their free time is spent building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang "Mother Medusa". While waiting for the world to end, their call to excitement comes unexpectedly when one of them meets a charismatic young woman and falls hard in love. Quickly integrated into a new group of friends, they set off on a journey of betrayal, love, hate, infidelity and extreme violence more devastating and fiery than any of their apocalyptic fantasies. Often life's simplest and most obvious truths are the hardest to see, but once you've burned everything to the ground it may be the only thing left standing.