Another Sundance film hits theaters this weekend, and trust me, this is no indie darling, this bad boy has teeth. Bellflower is a flow of raw emotions with honest performances set in some of the most realistically, imaginative circumstances. I grant you that sentence is confusing, but it’s hard to describe a film that literally emotes from the screen. This film is not just about telling a story, but expressing the struggles and feelings of the filmmaker himself — which apparently consisted of a frustration, anger, fear and of course a bit of love.
Evan Glodell, the films writer, director, editor, actor and probably a little bit of everything else, started with an idea and the conviction to get his career started no matter how many challenges arouse. He never gave in, he was determined to finish the film with absolutely no help from any real investors…
What gave you the strength to finish this film?
Evan Glodell: I’ve seen some people who work on a feature and drop off…
EB: Yeah it is! Because from the time I started working on it full time, for about two years, people, even my family was calling me and saying “alright Evan, go get a job. Move out of your friends garage. This isn’t working out.” And not that they meant that in a bad way… You just have to have faith I guess. I think that’s the only reason I got through.
This meant more to you than just the one film.
EB: Yeah, I started the project because I knew that there was nothing else to look forward to in my life, this was my dream to make movies, and it has not worked out. I’ve made short films and worked on productions and I’ve had a script forever and no one was helping me. I knew that I had to do this thing, to try and make my life move forward. So at some point it wasn’t even like I believe in the film, but I thought “this is going to be your only chance. You have to do this. You’ll never know unless you finish.”
So it was never a matter of “can I?” Or “should I?”
EB: No, because if I would have asked those questions I would have stopped. And it got close a couple of times!
After the pain and suffering of making a film for $17k, over 8 years, with funds coming from the cast and crew themselves, the film was finalized and he was ready for it to be over and get a job… but there was still an important $100 fee ahead. The Sundance application fee, which the crew filled out mainly on a lark. But then the dream came true….
What was it like when you finally got to see you film at Sundance?
Evan Glodell: It was a huge relief. It’s funny, someone just recently showed me some pictures from Sundance that I’d never seen before, they were just taking pictures of us in the car when we were driving to the screening, and we were all looked like ghosts! Just solemn. Because I didn’t know if anyone was going to like it! I thought there was a chance that people would watch the movie and be like “fuck you!”
EB: Just because it was too personal I think, for me. I felt like every time I got an idea, I would think “that’s too weird” and then I would go “no, no, you’re going to put it in because you’re not going to hold back!”
And yet it’s those personal touches that kept me invested in the characters even as the film starts to go a bit mad…
EB: The second half of the movie was me trying to visually express what I emotionally had gone through. But unless people actually care… the first half of the move is incredibly different, and would people go with that.
What did getting into Sundance mean to you?
EB: That was the moment of judgment. After about two years of working on it and trying to get help, all the way to when we were almost three years in and we had the exact version that is done now, and we were showing people, and none of us knew anyone in LA to help us get to the next step. We thought, “there must be a Producer, Distributor or someone who would see potential” and we didn’t even know that the festival circuit was an option! Someone convinced me to submit into Sundance, and it’s the only festival I’ve ever submitted a movie to. So I just did that online. So then, when we actually got in we all thought, “this is our big break!” So when the day came to screen it, we were all terrified because if it went bad it would just be more of the same and more struggling for years. Afterwards, someone came up and hugged me that I didn’t know and it was like “holy shit!”
The film and the filmmakers are enough to inspire any aspiring filmmakers, and prove that the impossible dream of “making it” does happen and Sundance films do still make it into the festival from a single person in a garage if they have enough intrigue to get an audience excited. The thing about Evan that makes me know that we’ll be seeing more of him is that at heart, he’s a filmmaker with a realistic view of what “making it” means for him…
Filmmakers dream of winning Oscars, receiving accolades, working with big budgets… What is your dream for your film-making future?
EB: Being able to find a way to make the next one… To find a way to do this as a living. Our highest aspiration for this movie is that ONE DAY, it would show up on Netflix. Even if there was a never an ad for it anywhere or an article about it. If it just showed up and someone could watch it! That someone would care enough to take the time to do what it takes to do all that. We joked around, because I heard about indie films that would come out in LA at the Nuart and in NY, and now it’s out and we’re booking a bunch of cities and we’re just like, that’s fucking crazy!
That my friends is an important goal for any filmmaker who isn’t just trying to reach for the stars but to make filmmaking their world and to have a career and not just 15 minutes… and normally the ones that go on to take risk and make great films.
I for one can’t wait to see Bellflower (which will be in theaters this weekend starting August 5th) go out into the world and see what Evan will come up with next!