What is Bellflower, the
latest buzz movie of the moment? It's a road movie, a mumblecore/relationship
film, even a weird buddy pic with some bitchy girls and that
Or to sum it
up, best friends Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) toil
endlessly over Mad Max-inspired devices and vehicles to
prepare for the impending apocalypse. Yeah, right. Until Woodrow
meets a girl, falls in love, gets a gang and journeys into shifting
patterns of love, hate, betrayal, infidelity and a bit of violence
-- basically everyday fantasy life in post-millennial America.
Evan Glodell's Bellflower makes for an auspicious debut, sort
of. Yes, the ultra-indie created a buzz at Sundance 2011 and has
done pretty well at the start of its theatrical run this month. The
31-year-old's debut feature snagged a slot at this year's San Diego
Comic-Con. And it got picked up by a fine little distributor,
But it was
made on a shoestring by a guy who really didn't rack up all the
indie chits or creds. He just hammered away at writing and directing
this film, wrangling his friends into it, morphing his car -- a 1972
Buick Skylark -- into a death-dealing "Medusa" and crafting a
homemade flamethrower. Amassed over nearly a decade, Glodell edited
the collected footage into a 106-minute feature, and established an
entourage to lift off his excellent adventure.
And in the
exclusive interview he lays it all out past, present and future.
didn't even know what mumblecore was until all the reviews started
coming out saying, "mumblecore." I just last month got to watch a
couple of movies that Wikipedia said [are] "mumblecore."
Were you a
fan of the post-apocalyptic film
yeah. When I was a kid [and] I first saw that movie, I was
than you are mumblecore?
definitely influenced by Mad Max, but it's not really like
this weird, ambling social life within a little community of guys
and girls, and there's this fantasy of creating the faux life
through these kinds of cultural icons. You have found a way to put
the two together. Would that be a fair assessment of what you were
have done separate films, but you forged a relationship between the
two. What was it about those two things that you saw as connected?
There are a
lot of different relationships between those two things. The main
one for me is the two different ideas of the relationship that the
character goes through that destroys his entire view of the world.
He's so devastated by the relationship because he thought that it
was going to last forever, right? The obvious thing a lot of people
have been saying about it is that would be in his world, so it's
like the Mad Max thing. But also the obsession with Mad
Max, especially with the apocalypse, I've always thought has
something more to do with people who are having a hard time fitting
into the world. The system in the world is so big, you know as a
person that it's not going to change for you. So if the world's not
working for you, the only thing you can really fantasize about is
some kind of apocalypse coming and wiping it out and changing it
all. You've got to reset it.
pretty metaphorical. I saw the movie in a more literal sense. The
guys want to live an ordinary life, but then they want to live their
fantasy life, and they're trying to find a way to make the two work
within a pedestrian world. Neither ends up working quite the way
they think it's going to work.
absolutely right. When I had the idea for the script, it came in as
literally all those things, exactly – except there was no
apocalypse, no flame thrower, no anything. The idea came in as the
way the relationships were going to play out. There were the two
friends, and then the girl came in. Then they try to find a way to
represent the character's training with the girl, and then him going
back to his friend afterwards and trying to figure out how to deal
told, the girlfriend was kind of an asshole, the one who was really
much nicer and cuter was the one he ended up screwing but not
been the intention, you wanted to convey that often it's the girls
who get involved with guys that are assholes. You know they're
assholes, they know they're assholes; the girl knows they're
assholes, and they still go home with them.
Yes. I don't
think that was a key thing that I was trying to convey. But you're
seeing that on both sides, right? It's weird how that works. It's
definitely something that I've observed many a time.
you been on the spectrum?
I feel like
I've played all parts on all sides at different points in my life.
At an early
screening in New York, you did a Q&A, and it was interesting to see
how the audience reacted. Do women react differently from men?
I think so.
Everybody in general reacts differently regardless of whether
they're women or men. But certainly, I think there are different
parts in the movie that women are attracted to more.
you finally decide to add in the flamethrower and Mad Max car/geek
fan obsession element? It added a twist to the film that would have
made it much more mumblecore and far less merely an interesting
Aside from the
fact that I very, very strongly feel there are ways to tell probably
any story so it's exciting and a lot of that element is exciting
But I didn't
know what it was going to be to make the movie. When I had the idea,
I [thought] this was a really intense idea, and where the idea came
from for me was most emotional experiences. So there has to be a way
to convey that in an exciting and intense way in the movie. The idea
had come that the characters were building a flamethrower, and that
just literally popped in my head. I was like, what are these two
guys doing? They should be building a flamethrower. I don't know
why. From there, I had to think about it and work on the script on
and off for years after that. From that idea I had to decode it,
like, why did I think that that made sense? And that's where the
idea of the gang and the apocalypse and all that stuff came from.
seems to have a job in this film. That was intentional, I'm sure.
Why did you think that was important?
There are a
couple of different ways of explaining it. Basically, the time
period that I was writing the script and the type of people that all
my friends [and I] were, none of us had jobs that defined us at all.
They were all crappy jobs. One of my best friends worked as a
janitor, and I was working as a waiter or any job I could pick up.
My characters had jobs like that in the movie. When I was working on
[the script], during the period when I was refining it, any time
anybody talked about money, work, the police, it made me cringe.
Those elements just didn't seem that refined to me. When I had that
realization, I went through and just deleted all that stuff.
comic book and science-fiction film geeks, playing out their
fantasy. Is that what you guys are about in a sense? Only are you
actually making movies instead of just fantasizing?
version of that. I never got into comic books specifically. It was
always an obsession with ideas that came from movies and other
Who do you
think of as your models or mentors?
thinking about it and planning on making a list because I can never
think of anybody off the top of my head.
to come to mind, who's that?
don't know. I saw [Stanley Kubrick's] 2001-A Space Odyssey
for the first time like three weeks ago. I feel like I saw mostly
mainstream films growing up.
They have a
flamethrower in the new film
30 Minutes or
When I was in
San Diego, I saw one of the posters and it looked like someone was
holding a flamethrower.
tapping into a trend or creating one?
because our movie was shot three years ago now, so who knows, who's
to say? Certainly everybody thinks flamethrowers are cool. That's
why I put it in the movie, because I thought they were cool.
I guess I'm
trailing behind the trend because of limited resources. Otherwise I
would have unleashed it.
ever worried about anybody going and making their own flamethrowers,
adding to the trend? I'm hoping they don't blow themselves up.
somebody that worked on the movie has been joking around about that.
I wouldn't say I'm worried about it. But certainly if I heard that
someone had made a flamethrower because they watched my movie, and
then blew themselves up, I would feel pretty terrible. So hopefully
that doesn't happen.
Go see the
They were double flamethrowers. You might want to try the double
nozzles; one on each arm. Will you ever make another flamethrower?
I imagine I
You may be
tapping into the zeitgeist that's out there.
movie have been different if it had not been in Southern California?
Would people have behaved differently?
have been different elements. I'm from a small town in Wisconsin,
where there's not a whole lot of direction, and I could see that
entire movie playing out somewhere like that. Just some of the ideas
would have been a little different.
the mumblecore side – a bunch of people, relationships, the fucked
up-ness of today's kids or whatnot. At the same time, there's also
this kind of edginess that puts it in the same place as
Hobo with a
Where do you feel more comfortable with it being thought of?
I didn't know
anything about the mumblecore movement until recently. I watched a
couple of the movies and they were good. But I personally don't want
to be lumped in with them, because this movie is not a simple
relationship. It has elements that are unreal and larger than life.
From my perspective, I was trying to make a movie that was exciting
and a whole experience, not just a clinical portrayal of a
relationship, you know?
elements of a buddy movie, a road movie, and a trippy picture.
You've brought a lot of different genres together in a funny, weird
right in the middle. There are a lot of weird genre names now. I
don't even understand what a lot of them mean.
also have an influence on you?
I've seen that
movie, but I was very young. Some people are able to list tons of
things. When we started making Bellflower, there was no point
where I sat down with everybody and was like, oh the movie's going
to be like this movie. We talked about all the different parts, how
we were going to do them, and then we didn't. It's not to say that
I'm not influenced, because obviously I was influenced by everything
else that everybody else is.
could have found money, would you have cast your friends and
yourself or would you have put in other people if you had it?
It would have
been the same main cast. I thought I was going to be an engineer. I
went to engineering school when I was 18. I was there for about a
week and I was like, holy crap, I can't live this life. For some
reason, right at that moment – apparently it had been growing in the
back of my mind even though I'd never consciously thought about it –
I was like, I'm moving to Hollywood to make movies. And that's what
I did. I moved to LA from Wisconsin. I knew I wanted to make movies.
It was very confusing to figure out how to get involved and what I
was going to do. I didn't even know what a director was when I was
18. I don't know how that managed to slip past me.
being an engineer helps when you make a movie. There's a mentality
of organizing yourself. Is that what allowed you to get it done?
People talk about making movies, but pulling them off is a whole
I am actually
especially unorganized, one of the most unorganized people I've ever
met in my life.
did you know about using the camera, get the lights right and know
where to put it and everybody?
I got to LA
and I'm such an unorganized, strange person I couldn't find work
doing anything – literally anything. My brother moved out here with
me. Some people I met gave me a rundown of how the whole industry
works. I was like, "Wow, that sounds crazy, that sounds like
something I don't want to be any part of." I just got a camcorder
and [my brother and I] just started making short films on the
camcorder and on the computer. I made something like 40 short films
and music videos and weird stuff, and that's actually what led up to
making Bellflower. The only reason I got any credit assigned
to me is because when I started getting better at making short
films, I started building my own cameras that had this really cool,
unusual unique look. People started seeing my stuff and saying like,
"Whoa, you have some kind of weird camera." People started asking me
to do work, and I'd be broke, so I'd be like, "Oh okay." From my
point of view, I was always just making my own things and they just
slowly built up until finally I'd worked with the same people enough
times and had kind of a crew. And it was like, "All right you guys.
You want to try to make a feature? We're going to go for it."
threw money at you, will you go the more mainstream route or will
you stick to your guns?
I will never
be bought. If the movies that I'm going to make anyway go
mainstream, that would be the coolest thing ever, but I have set up
a plan that I've been working on for a long time.
So do you
see yourself as continuing as an actor or are you going to abandon
that the minute you can hire somebody else in your place?
I hope I don't
have to act in one of my own projects again.
embarrassed to look at your performance or did you like it?
embarrassed the whole time. My performance was by far the shakiest
of the entire movie. But also I spent most of my time on it in
editing, because I felt it was important because I was playing the
lead. In the end, I'm happy with what we managed to get, but I still
don't think I did a really good job as an actor.
have this very fresh idea of LA / Hollywood, which gets you more
girls talking to you, playing the lead in this funky movie or being
the director of it? Or do they come to you because you're either –
after all it's a movie about talking to girls, so I have to ask...
Every time we
have a screening I go and do a Q&A, and afterwards everybody knows
who I am. So any time there's a party after a screening, all of a
sudden I meet more girls and more people in general than in any
other time in my life. But I always see myself as the filmmaker. I
wonder if everybody else sees me more as an actor.
women friends in the film – how has it been for them especially, the
one who dumps you?
[Wiseman who plays Milly].
realize that they were who they were and especially how nasty Jessie
was? Did she like being villainous?
They were very
aware of their characters. I see it differently than a lot of people
do, because I don't even see Jessie's character as the villain. I
just see her as a part that she played temporarily in my character's
life. I don't know if people missed that or if I didn't really get
it in there as much as I wanted to, but that's sort of what that
whole weird conversation at the end of the movie is. Tyler [Dawson]'s
character [Aiden] is joking around about [failed roles]. But you
think he's presenting an argument for how, theoretically, the entire
relationship falling apart could have been my fault, which is sort
of what the point of that whole scene was to me.
saying, "Hey look, I'm this bohemian girl and you've got to play by
my rules or you don't play – if you don't like it then fuck it." And
you want her to be something she really wasn't. She let you know
from the start.
that's the way I see it, because I'm sure that same character went
somewhere else and played the opposite card.
The film is
very much about post-millennial relationships. This idea that
college kids hook up, that they don't really have a relationship.
It's not even an affair, it's a hookup, and what is that? It's just
screwing around. Now you've got to give it a whole other term. It's
interesting how things have been cast this way in this new
I guess maybe
I'm just a part of it so I don't see it.
In the '70s
a woman could come up to you and go, "Where are you going now, come
home with me," and that wasn't unnatural. It's now became more
conservative again. Your movie addresses that in a funny way,
colored by its punky
side. Does that make sense?
makes sense. I don't know if my perception of this is accurate or
not, but I remember, even growing up, it seemed like there were
trends and they were very specific. But then when all of a sudden
the Internet kind of exploded, it seems like now there are still
trends, but not really. All styles exist at the same time now, it
just depends on who, where and what variation of it. So what you're
talking about sounds like the exact same thing with relationships.
What I'm seeing is that it just depends on what group you're in and
who you're talking to. You can be conservative or you can be in the
free love land or anywhere in between.
should someone see the movie – what would you say?
They should go
watch the trailer, and if they think it's interesting they should go
see it. From my point of view, I [made] this movie, and tried to do
it in an extremely honest way, even against my better judgment
sometimes. I also tried to make it really interesting and exciting.
So hopefully that's enough that people can watch it.
making the movie changed you?
More ways than
I could think of right now, but I feel like I've been allowed to
move forward in my life. From the time I wrote the script in 2003,
and when I got off track – and was like how is this going to go
forward, I can't figure it out? – I got stuck for years. I was
treading water and got really depressed. Doing this freed me from
that. I had a pretty intense epiphany halfway through working on the
movie, which sort of gave me a feeling of purpose in the world.
you see yourself going from here?
I have another
film. I have the scripts and am going to start working on it. I want
to tell people about it, but I don’t have a name for it yet and I
don’t have an easy way to describe it.
don’t get money for the next one will you do it yourself?
Even if this
movie bombs, like not a single person goes to see it in the
theaters, I would still hope I’d get more support than I did on this
one. So it should be a step up. Even if someone gives me $10,000, it
will be a step up.
thought about getting into comic books, other media or on the web?
Or do you see yourself as sticking with making features?
with making features for the most part. I’d definitely like to start
producing at some point, helping other people get things made. But I
think that’s way further down the road.
blown away that you got thrown into San Diego Comic Con and ended up
in this whole fan scene, meeting people from very left field? What
were your expectations?
unbelievably blown away. My life has been flipped upside down, but
in the most awesome of ways. That’s the weirdest thing about this
whole thing. The craziest thing about all this is, in reality, is
that I made a movie which required a lot of shooting. I figure there
was maybe 110 days of shooting, and that was out of three years,
that I was basically locked in different rooms in friends’ garages
in front of my laptop, editing. The last year of working on this
movie, we ended up getting into Sundance. I was locked in my
friend’s garage where I was staying, they were letting me stay in
there just with the computer, freaking out, editing. So I was in a
room by myself for the better part of a year. Then all of a sudden I
was standing on a stage in front of 400 people and I was like, what
the hell is going on? There’s been so much going on since then.
happened to the car Medusa?
It’s just my
that you used, the one that becomes the
car, is that’s your car?
That is my
car, my only car. It’s been my only car for a couple of years now. I
was so broke I didn’t have another car, and then the only time I
spent some on the car was to keep that one running because they were
still shooting with it. And then once we got sold, I got a little
bit of money to fix it up enough that we could drive it around for
offered to buy it and put it in a museum or anything like that?
I had a couple
of people try to buy it from me, but there’s no way in hell I’m
going to sell that car.
charge to ride them around in it though.
some talk about doing that.
the road movie aspects of this film?
Going on road
trips has been one of my favorite things to do since I got my
driver’s license. I was of those people that didn’t ever even care
about getting their driver’s license. But I walked by a door in high
school and it was like driver’s ed, sign up. I was like, "Well, I
guess I should do that and get it out of the way." Then all of a
sudden the second I got a car, I was like, "Holy shit, I can go
weird trips have you taken?
I went on a
road trip that lasted a couple months with some friends.
Did you do
video of that?
documenting everything that’s been happening from when we first
started making the film.
make a doc of the experience of making and promoting the film.
all the stuff we did for the movie, especially the last couple
months Joel documented pretty much everything that we did. We drove
over 12,000 miles in the car. We’ve driven it everywhere. We’ve gone
cross-country twice in the car. We drove to Texas and back, all up
and down the East Coast. I was in the car and wasn’t home for like
over a month at one point.
I think you
should have been posting that on the website or making a travelogue.
Yeah I know. A
couple of people suggested it. But we were so excited, we were
pretty busy with everything going on, and then also just having fun,
it just didn’t get done. I know Joel just finished editing a
10-minute sequence of all the transient stuff that happened while we
were on the trip.
didn’t make it into the movie that’s worth seeing in the DVD? Were
there other funky scenes? The flamethrower never blew up at least.
flamethrower never blew up. The car caught fire a couple of times on
accident. The only times scary things happened that was anywhere
close to an actual disaster was with the car.
Do you have
certain moments in your life that the car relates to besides this
idea in the movie has some basis in reality. I was in a motorcycle
accident right at the beginning of the relationship that kind of
inspired the movie. I got a settlement and was incapacitated for a
month and it let me be able to not work and just get [checks] for
like six months straight, which is really cool because It may have
also added to the way the relationship played out and exploded in
that, if you’re not using your time productively. Girls get mad at
For me, I
think that movie seems like a timid version of me, but in that story
that’s the version of me that I am. If it had been a story about a
different relationship, it would have had crazier stuff I guess.
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