You know that any movie that starts with a quote from Lord Humongous, the monstrous goalie mask-wearing bad guy from The Road Warrior, isn’t going to be a quaint rom-com.
The film has been buzzed about in the blogosphere since its Sundance debut earlier this year. And the buzz is warranted.
Evan Glodell wrote, directed and stars in this low, low, low budget (how low? –how about $17,000 low) saga about twentysomething friends Woodrow and Aiden (played by Glodell and his real-life compadre Tyler Dawson) who tool around cruddy Ventura, California in a custom tooled muscle car, drinking and talking about the apocalypse. The shy Woodrow meets the sharp blonde Milly (Jessie Wiseman) cute (at a cricket eating contest in a local bar), falls for her and begin spending time with her. The relationship spurs bad vibes from Aidan and Milly’s friends, which leads to some nasty complications and ugly repercussions and in which reality and fantasy may or may not blend.
The movie, featuring references to Mel Gibson’s Mad Max films (in particular The Road Warrior), has been mostly praised for its in-your-face manner, Glodell’s deft handling of a cast of first-timers, and its unusual look—bleached out colors and in-and-out-of-focus visuals (often in the same frame) captured with a camera tricked up by Glodell.
Triple threat Glodell, now 31, shot Bellflower in his hometown of Ventura and nearby Oxnard over a three-year period. The initial $17,000 came from himself and his friends over that period, in dribs and drabs.
“I think I first wanted to be a filmmaker when I was 18, and I got to start when l when I was 21,” recalls Glodell, phoning in from Los Angeles. “I wrote Bellflower in 2003. We didn’t have any resources. We just started to shoot at the beginning of summer 2008, and it dragged on for 90 days. I just shot it with and for my group.”
The Road Warrior influences are obvious throughout the movie. There is talk of the apocalypse and that car—called the “Medusa”—is straight out of George Miller’s action masterpieces, a ‘72 Buick Skylark loaded with flamethrowers, front dash surveillance cameras and an integrated smoke screen generator.
“When I saw The Road Warrior for the first time, I was pretty excited,” recalls Glodell. While he’s fond of Mad Max and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the third entry in the series, “It’s really all about the second film,” he says.
Since he worked with close friends on Bellflower, one wonders if the actors’ characters in the film are based on themselves. “The characters are based on people I knew,” says Glodell, who has completed another script he hopes to get underway after he’s done promoting Bellflower. “The line gets blurred. One character is based on my childhood best friend.”
Glodell claims he’s never had a strong desire to act—especially as the lead in his own film, but there really was no other choice the first time out, considering the tight budget.
“I was apprehensive about it,” he says. “It sounded like such a challenge, but I wanted to do it because I knew the script so closely. That was not the biggest logistical challenge with Bellflower, but the one I was most skeptical about. I don’t plan to do that in my second film.”
In fact, the biggest challenge completing the film was its physical production and filming sans permissions and permits. “The main people on the film were like, ‘OK, if we were going to make the movie we were going to get things in the script that were real and dangerous.’ Luckily, I had time to be dangerous. I really thought we’d be arrested. I mean we were shooting guns at propane tanks, walking around with firearms and doing all sorts of crazy driving.”
Bellflower has it two ways: on one hand, it is edgy and nihilistic with outbursts of unsparing violence; on the other, it is surprisingly poignant, especially in its depiction of the romance between Woodrow and Milly and the bromance between Woodrow and Aidan.
But some critics have called the film’s depiction of women “misogynist,” something Glodell doesn’t agree with.
“We didn’t have much of that until recently,” Glodell says of the accusations. “It makes me sad because I am not a negative person and I don’t want to be known as bringing something into the world that is like that. I think they are wrong.
“I think it’s my fault they didn’t quite get it. Things are exaggerated in the film to help the relationship between its characters.”
Some see Bellflower as being an angry film with a nihilistic outlook, but Glodell begs to differ. “I am not an angry person,” he says. “There is one section of the film that I can say that has a lot of anger in it. But to say I am angry and the film is (angry) simply is the wrong interpretation.”
However, Glodell won’t argue that the film, like The Road Warrior, deals with issues relating to the apocalypse.
So, what does the actor-filmmaker think of the people who predict the world will end this year?
“That is so fascinating and so silly at the same time,” Glodell says. “Is it some secret society that believes in this stuff? I’m not sure what to think about it, but it is fascinating to me.”