The Playlist crew has definitely taken a shine to director Evan Glodell's thunderous debut, "Bellflower", calling it "a film that interacts with the audience at every step of the way," "a roadmap to a mushroom cloud," and in this writer's review, "a turbo charged indictment of male adolescent fantasy and a biting critique of misplaced machismo."
Much has been made of the film's semi-legendary production history, which saw Glodell and his cast and crew selling off worldly possessions and setting up their production office and occasional living space in a wing of an abandoned office building. The crew, who would come to be known as Coatwolf, brought "Bellflower" to Sundance along with Medusa, the flame-breathing muscle car that is undoubtedly the mascot of the film. Picked up by Oscilloscope, "Bellflower" is set to open in limited release this Friday, August 5th. We had an opportunity to sit down with writer, director, producer and star of the film, Evan Glodell, to talk about the Coatwolf crew, Oscilloscope's mission statement, the only time someone got hurt on set (a wonder considering the film featured a propane tank punctured by a shotgun in one scene and a working flamethrower in several others), and what it was like to get $1,000 from Sean Combs for no reason.
1. The Coatwolf Crew started as a group of misfits who got together to make movies.
The close-knit Coatwolf Crew responsible for "Bellflower" originally came together out of a desire to find like-minded people who didn't fit the Hollywood norm.
"I moved out to California to get into filmmaking and got there and almost instantly realized, I was like 'Holy shit, I’m never going to be able to break into this world,' because I’m not together enough, I’m not organized enough that someone would want to give me a job helping out, I’m going to work my way up on a set or something, you know? So, there are a lot of people that, from working on short films and meeting people online and finding other filmmakers that are doing projects and just want to do anything because they just love making films, I think I started to find these all these weird people who didn’t fit into the normal scheme of things," Glodell explained. "And after a certain amount of time, there was enough of us, that I was like 'We’re going to try to make this movie and try to get funding for it, it’s not gonna happen, but look at how many of us there are.' "
"The main team on 'Bellflower' is eleven people – that’s, when we went to Sundance, that’s was how many people, that’s how many co-producers, the main group that put in money, all of us, we took turns keeping things going," he continued. Asked where he plans to take Coatwolf next, Glodell said, "We’re all just friends – I know John Keevil [credited as one of the editors and a co-composer] has a movie, a script that he’s getting ready to make, so we’ll all help him out with that. I have a script that – as soon as this stuff slows down a little bit, I’m going to start pushing on that and see what I can do with it." He didn't elaborate much on the script, but did say, "It’s just weird, it’s a weird script – it does have one science fiction element in it."
2. Evan Glodell owes Beastie Boy Adam Yauch a functioning flamethrower.
Adam Yauch is quite a prolific director himself, having helmed several notable Beastie Boys videos as Nathanial Hörnblowér (memorably portrayed by David Cross). He is also the founder of Oscilloscope Laboratories, a recording studio and a film distribution company which picked up "Bellflower" at Sundance. Glodell had mentioned in prior interviews that he owed Yauch a flamethrower or two, so we naturally had to ask. "It was in the first version of the contract, I don’t know if it’s in the final one, it very likely is, I haven’t checked, but in our deliverables, we’re supposed to deliver two flamethrowers," he says. "I haven’t had time to do those yet, but it’s been on my mind, because now we’ve just, finally got everything delivered, we’re finishing our special features for the DVD this week. It’s just been non-stop work, one thing after the other, but I think after those go out, other than doing [interviews], I don’t have anything – I gotta be where I’m told to be, and then I’ve got my own time and I will definitely be putting some flamethrowers together."
3. The DVD special features will include a tour of the Medusa car.
"Last I heard was November," said Glodell regarding the DVD release of the film. Elaborating on the special features he said, "We were talking about doing [a director’s commentary] this week, before I leave [New York], because a lot of people have asked, so if people are interested in it, then I want to do it, I don’t know for sure yet. Overall, we interviewed everybody, all the main people, a pretty elaborate story of how the whole [production] played out. We have a tutorial of the Medusa car that actually shows what every single switch does, and how it was build. the actual full specs of the car and what it can do."
4. DP Joel Hodge almost lost a finger christening Medusa.
Oddly enough, director of photography Joel Hodge was injured on the last day of the behind-the-scenes shoot for the DVD. "So we were just shooting the segment for the DVD where we were breaking the champagne bottle on the bumper, being like 'The car is done, you know, here’s the plate.' I had a champagne bottle and Joel had a 32 [ounce] Miller High Life and he didn’t want to open his up like we did ours, he thought it would blow up, he hit it against the bumper and it literally cut his thumb entirely off," Glodell recalls. "The last thing before I came out here, I was in the emergency room all night, they cut the tendons in his hand and stuff, he’s going to be in casts and surgery for next couple of months. He’ll be ok though, and he’s in good spirits."
Thinking a moment, Glodell adds, "That was the first significant injury on the entire project, out of everything dumb we’ve done, and it was the absolute last minute of the last day of shooting behind the scenes special features. I guess someone wanted us to have one."
5. Glodell randomly ran into Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy aka Dirty Diddy Money), who gave him $1,000.
Certainly one of the more surreal encounters on Glodell's rise to fame was his accidentally meeting Sean Combs while shooting a segment for Carson Daly.
"P. Diddy came up, apparently to say hi to Carson, because he doesn’t know me, and figured out that the whole reason I was on Carson is that I was this filmmaker who had made this movie that doing really well, and was with absolutely no money," Glodell recounts. "So he was like 'Oh, you’re broke – you want money?' [laughing], and I was like 'Yes.' He gave me a thousand dollars cash – he looked like he had ten thousand dollars in cash in his pocket. He pulled out this huge wad of hundreds – we were looking for money already because we had run out of money to drive the Medusa car back to California, we drove it to SXSW. So we used that money to drive it back, and then we had a hundred dollars left and we bought this brass engraved plate and bolted it under the hood. So it was like a memorial plate for the car, just dedicating the car to us, being our official mascot and it said 'Sponsored by Sean Combs' at the bottom, because we thought it was cool, it was funny."
Don't believe the story? Well, watch it below.
6. “Bellflower” is named after a street Glodell lived on.
One of the more enigmatic aspects of the film is the title, which remains largely impenetrable even after a couple of viewings. As it often turns out, the explanation is less complex than one would think.
"There’s a Bellflower – you see the Bellflower Street sign in the movie for a second, and there’s a Bellflower city, I think there’s quite a few Bellflower streets in Southern California, but there’s one Bellflower Street that’s two blocks long and it dead-ends on both ends. And that’s where I was living when I was in the relationship that inspired the movie," Glodell explained. "A lot of various significant good and bad things happened on that little dead-end street. I had the script for years before I had a name for it, I was never able to find a name I was happy with, and when we were getting close to actually shooting, I was pushing super hard, I was like 'I should get a name that everybody knows what to call it.' So I went to that neighborhood where I was living however many years ago when I was writing the script, walked around and I went to the street, there’s a street that all my memories are from. I looked up, and it was Bellflower, and it was just one of those things where it just sounded right."