Pre-release buzz on the apocalyptic indie ‘Bellflower’ has either centered on its being made for the staggeringly small sum of $ 17,000 or its awesome, fire-breathing “Medusa” car.
Evan Glodell not only wrote, directed and stars in the film, he also built the cameras that give it its unique, grungy aesthetic. He also built the Medusa car, which is where most of that $ 17,000 went. That’s right, most of the movie’s budget didn’t even go toward the film itself, but to making a badass car inspired by Mad Max’s own post-apocalyptic ride. The film’s cinematographer, Joel Hodge was sporting a fresh cast at the premiere. “The car tried to kill me,” he joked of cutting himself on broken glass from the Medusa car. His medical bills, no surprise, cost more than ‘Bellflower’s puny $ 17,000 budget.
Moviefone caught up with Glodell before the film’s release and at the LA premiere, where he talked about the film’s DIY aesthetic and where the Medusa car is now.
Moviefone: When did you get the idea for ‘Bellflower?’
Evan Glodell: I had the idea when I was 23. I’d just had my heart very badly broken. But it took me about eight years to finally get the movie made. We shot most of it in the summer of 2008 in Ventura and Oxnard and then we edited it and did pick-ups for the next two-and-a-half years.
You built your own cameras for this movie, which gives the film a really unique look. Is the dirt on the screen part of the aesthetic?
It’s definitely part of the aesthetic. There’s a lot of imperfections — a lot of them — and I was think that’s so cool but there were some things I want to go fix, like when there were dirt chunks over someone’s scene when it’s handheld, but some of the other stuff looked so awesome.
Has anyone else every done this, building their own cameras and shooting a feature film with them?
No one has ever done anything that’s, like, large-camera. From what I know it’s completely unique.
So you couldn’t have been able to make the movie, cost-wise, without having built your own camera?
That’s not entirely true. The sort of base camera that I hack up and make variations from is a really nice digital camera that I was a beta tester for. I could have shot with that and it would have looked very, very different.
How did you find the cast?
Some of the actors were my friends first. The lines with Jessie [Wiseman, who plays girlfriend Milly in the film] have become blurred, we’ve been friends for so long. I saw Tyler [Dawson, who plays best friend Aiden] in a play and showed him the first chapter of a script. He was the character I was having hardest time casting. I went up to him after this play and told him there’s a movie I’m going to make, but I didn’t have the resources to make it, that didn’t happen until five years later.
What sold him on the project: Was he a major ‘Mad Max’ fan too?
He was a friend of a friend. I didn’t know it, but apparently the person who invited me to the play had been showing Tyler my short films for months and he was super stoked on them, but no one was doing the same on my end.
How hard was it to convince Jessie to do those nude scenes?
Jessie was one of the first actors I met when I moved out [to LA]. I’ve made tons of short projects and films with her. We made the decision to do the nudity part of the thing when we wanted to make the movie — it was kind of her idea, she wanted it to be really real.
Did you decide to play the lead character to save money or because it was such a personal story?
Because it was so personal. I really was scared to do it. I was just not very confident of myself as an actor. Out of all the things to do with movies, acting is the thing I least enjoy. But from my experience in casting, I was like, there’s no way I’m going to get someone who understands this part this better than I do, so I decided to go for it.
Your character just gets progressively darker as the film goes on. What was your inspiration for his sort of hellish makeover?
I got into an accident a couple of years before I started making the script, so the journey of recovering from that … it was really going into hell.
What’s your reaction to some of the elaborate praise for the movie?
It’s absolutely blowing my mind. I did not expect that. I thought people would think a couple of ideas were original and be excited by them.
What were you most flattered or surprised by?
What I’m most surprised by is that a lot of people come by and tell me they really liked my performance. I thought it was going to ruin it and so that’s a big one. I’m not so much flattered as relieved.
What is it about the apocalypse that fascinates you so much?
I think when things aren’t going well, you fantasize a lot, and so the idea of all the order being taken away is really appealing. It’s like you’d get a fresh start. And I’ve always loved ‘Mad Max.’
How many times have you seen ‘The Road Warrior?’
I don’t know. A lot. And we watched it before we would shoot stuff, to get Tyler excited.
How did you get permission for those clips of Lord Humungous?
We actually recreated those scenes. Our Lord Humungous is a guy named Brandon. We made our own costume, it was awesome, it was made out of cut-up purses and hockey masks. We shot all this footage of him, just tons of footage of Lord Humongous.
Where’s the Medusa car now?
Right now it’s my only car so I still drive it.
Is it street legal?
It’s registered and insured. I never went out of my way to tell the police or DMV about it. I’ve been pulled over a couple of times by the police. They’re just curious and I tell them it’s a movie car and they get excited and want to see a demo.
And you did all the customizations yourself?
Yes, me and Paul Edwardson. We built the Medusa car and the Speed Biscuit [a car that dispenses whiskey from a dashboard fountain] and the flame thrower and some of the other special effects.
You’ve said your next project is called ‘Tales From the Apocalypse.’
That’s sort of a joke name. I’m trying to drop it. I had no idea how much the word “apocalypse” would come up with this movie! So it doesn’t have a name, but I am working on a series of films. They’re not sequels, they’ve all got separate plots, but they are all related.
Do you have funding for it?
A lot of people have been talking to me about it. A lot of them are very enthusiastic about helping out when I’m ready to show the script around. That was the goal to make this movie and maybe someone would see it, and help us out on the next one.
Will you keep using your own cameras?
Yes, I already have a new camera that I haven’t built yet. I managed to somehow end up with a new set of stuff in the next script already and I was like, ‘Are these always going to be weird custom objects?’ I guess so. Each one takes time to create and I think it’s something that I will always do.
So are you guys pumped to see ‘Bellflower’ this weekend?
Photos courtesy of Oscillosope Laboratories.
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