Evan Glodell is the first-time writer, director and mechanic behind the recent indie darling Bellflower, which is out this week on Blu-Ray and DVD. Bellflower is an intense drama about a young man's obsession with The Road Warrior, and how his apocalyptic fantasies lead his reaction to a particularly painful breakup. It also may be a rough-hewn revenge fantasy with some surprisingly violent conclusions, depending one whether or not you see the film's final minutes as a hallucination or not. Either way, the film is striking and confrontational. Glodell, a gearhead and tinkerer by trade, not only constructed the glorious, flame-spewing car for the film, but also constructed his own camera equipment.
I got to have a phone interview with Glodell and asked him about The Road Warrior, his personal motivations for the film, and his taste in music.
CraveOnline: How old were you when you first saw ‘The Road Warrior?’
Evan Glodell: You know, I've been trying to figure that out exactly. I think I was probably in the 7th or 8th grade. I think I may have seen part of it when I was little, and then I saw it again when I was 12 or 13. That's when me and my friend Tyler [Dawson, the film's co-writer and co-star] saw it and freaked out.
It's clearly the central influence behind everything in ‘Bellflower.’ How big an influence does it have on your life?
I didn't really realize what an influence it had on my life until I was a bit older. I know a friend of mine had it on an old VHS, and we watched it a ton of times. And, y'know, we were stoked on it. But then I think we just ended up starting talking about the apocalypse and apocalyptic gigs and stuff like that. Which was all obviously cause by The Road Warrior, but I don't think we realized it.
When you were touring with ‘Bellflower,’ you would bring Mother Medusa, the star car, down to the theater and blow flames out the back. Have you done anything with the car since? Does it only go to auto shows?
No no no. It's been my only car this year! I mean, it's been my car for a while, but recently I've been driving it and using it for everything, like picking up groceries and stuff. About a month ago, we've been beating on it so much – we wanna use it to burn donuts and shoot flames and stuff – that it's been really hard on the engine. So in, like, the last month-and-a-half it’s hardly been driven because it needs a little work.
I glean from the film that you're a super-gearhead. I've never been able to figure out cars (or even vacuum cleaners for that matter), so I was insanely impressed that you built all your own stuff. From what I understand, you built your own camera equipment.
If you had the opportunity to make another movie, but you didn't get to build stuff, would you still make it?
Um. Yeah, I would. I think if I had an idea that required something to be built, I don't think I'd have a problem with something big. It seems that my whole life, since I was a young adult when I started this crazy project, it went on for a really long time. And I was thinking “I wonder if I'll ever stop building stuff.” But I could never stop getting stupid ideas of things I want to build that don't exist. It always seemed that that every couple of months, I'd get my tools out and find materials and build something. I am curious to see if that pattern continues. Like I'll be writing or working on a movie for a couple of months, so I'll start and project, and then I'll start to get burned out or I'll finish it, and I'll go back to writing the movie.
‘Bellflower’seems to come from a very personal place. I was wondering how much of the film was autobiographical. Milly (Jesse Wiseman) is – not really vilified, but is clearly not the hero. Was this based on a real breakup?
Yeah, yeah. When I was younger, I went through a breakup that I had a really hard time dealing with. Which I think a lot of people go through.
Oh, for sure.
It's one of those things that gives you a lesson I think you need to learn. I think the bad stuff came from that feeling of things not being right with the breakup, y'know? Y'know, how bad it got. And I became fascinated with this, so I decided to make a movie about it. But it is an interesting thing, because I had sort of an epiphany about relationships a couple of years after I wrote the first version of the script. When I went back to re-write the script, I felt I was going to re-write it to be completely neutral. I was gonna write this like it was going to be the actual ending of a relationship. And as soon as I started re-working on it, I figured out that there was no story there. No feeling that my character had to go through this arc in the movie. That's what the story needed, y'know?
How did the original version, then, differ from the final version?
It's really weird. To me, in my mind, it looks like the same movie, and it feels like the same movie. They're structured very similarly. This big difference between the two – it'd embarrassing if anyone read the original – was that my character had nothing real, he was like an angel, and then for no reason, this woman was sent from Hell to destroy him. I was like “Why are you doing this to me! It's so horrible! It's so horrible!” Which is my character's mindset for the first half of the movie. But then later I put in all kinds of little mistakes and things that I sort of realize I did in my half of the relationship that play into it.
He was an angel you say?
No no. Not literally. In the old version. Meaning that when things started going bad, he would plea: “Why are you doing this to me. There's no reason for this.” There was no semblance of any sense. He was just a victim. In the final version, he still had to be confused for the first half of the movie, but he had to go on a journey to get to a new place.
‘Bellflower,’ I guess, helped you get through that apocalyptic pain (and we've all had bad breakups, so we know what you've been through).
I'm sure I must have grown from working on the movie. Especially for so many years. But I almost felt like I had to go through the process of basically forgiving and understanding the girl before I was able to start making the movie. Just because, like… at the time when I wrote the first script – about 2003; we didn't start shooting until 2008 – the bigger part of that I had to go through on my own.
Now that you've gone through that – gotten ‘Bellflower’ off your chest – what other stories do you have in you?
Well, I'm working on a bunch of projects at the same time right now. I get ideas and I get excited about them, but they're all about different stuff. One of the main themes in the script I'm finishing right now is ambition. I didn't realize when I first started writing it, that because of what I went through making Bellflower – which took most of my life away; I was homeless and broke and doing nothing but trying to push this movie for years – that in itself was a particularly intense experience. And that was probably the motivation for where the next film is coming from.
Here are a few fun questions. How many crickets did you actually eat? [Glodell and his love interest meet over a cricket-eating contest.]
I only ate two. A lot of people are always laughing, especially when I'm in attendance at a screening. We did two takes. In both takes I put one cricket in my mouth, chewed it up and then spit it out. Which was fitting for my character, luckily, because I don't have the strongest stomach. Jesse did like three handfuls each take! Like big full handfuls of crickets. She must have eaten like 50 or 60.
[Laughs] I have a friend who's able to eat bugs without reacting at all. For some reason it's really difficult for me.
Here's something I like to ask everyone: What was the first record you bought with your own money?
Whoa. Wait, I know the answer to this! You know what it was, I remember seeing a video of it on MTV, and it wasn't my own money, but I remember pushing my mom to buy it for me. It was Faith No More. Was it their first one? It was the one with that song “Epic” on it.
“The Real Thing.”
Yes! “The Real Thing!”
I had that record when I was 12. It was one of my favorites.
I had the cassette tape, and I listened to that thing soooo much. No one's ever asked me that before!
That's am important question. I think it says a lot about your character. Anyway, thanks for talking to me today!
Thanks. See ya.