In mid-January, I was asked to watch and review a movie called Everly. I had not heard anything about this movie but watching the trailer was enough to get me interested and the movie itself was amazing.
Check out my review here!
Just over two weeks ago, I received a message from Andrew, letting me know there may be a possibility of a phone interview with Everly writer/director, Joe Lynch, and would like to interview him.
To say I was over the moon would be an understatement. Cut to the morning of and I was getting so nervous, I thought I was going to go all Linda Blair over my room.
Just a warning - this transcript is really long but if I cut anything out, I felt it would have lost some of its flow. Something I found awesome, and part of the reason I wanted to keep the whole thing, was he is very passionate about this movie and it shows in his long and detailed answers.
(JL) Where are you calling from?
Well one of our producers is an Aussie native himself so he’ll be very happy if I throw in a couple of Oi’s and get some Vegemite in there as well.
[Laughs] Have you actually tasted vegemite?
Oh of course I have he force it upon me. Its… um.. an acquired taste. I would say it’s definitely livened up a party but not something that you probably want.
No. I’ve heard that quite a lot actually. It’s more of an Australian taste, I guess being raised on it, forced upon it.
That’s what he said. He was more like it just something like you guys like blood pudding or something that’s really gross like that, like liver and onions or whatever, personally I go gross to that as well but he’s like just try it, try it on toast and I’m like how do you guys eat that thing every morning. It’s ah, it’ something else. One of the producers, Luke Rivett, who is one of the guys who actually challenged me to make this movie, he’s from Australia and this doesn’t pertain to the interview but I’ll be quick, he used to work at Disney and I used to work at Disney at New York and we had a mutual friend and one day my friend called me up and she’s like ‘Listen I have this mate from Australia and he’s flying out to LA to kind of just start things. Would you mind picking him up?’ and if you knew where.. are you familiar with LA at all?
Yeah I actually went for the first time last year.
Oh okay so you know kinda that layout and how someone calling you up randomly and saying oh if you could just pick them up at the airport is likely going to just completely destroy your day ‘cause of all the traffic and everything and I’m like yeah you know what I cant hurt. They can pay it forward someday in the future so I go and randomly pick up this guy and his girlfriend and next thing you know and a year later he’s my manager and he got me my first film.
Always pays to be nice to Australians. That’s my motto so I will be incredibly nice in this interview. Not that I’ve ever been nasty or anything in other interviews but this will one hold a special place in my heart and I know that Luke will very appreciative if I pay attention to my manners.
Awesome. I’ll remember that next time I’m in LA.
[Laughs] No you can be as rude as you want in LA, no one will notice.
So I got sent the link to watch Everly via MoviePilot and it’s awesome. To tell you the truth I hadn’t heard a thing about it before but that could be because we are in Australia but I fully loved it, it was amazing.
Thank you so much man. I can go on and on about how much I’m so proud of it and everything. I will be the biggest champion of this movie no matter what. Even my mum will be the biggest champion of this film but thank you. It’s one of those movies like Vegemite; it’s a bit of an acquired taste. If you like that sort of thing than you are going to love it and spread it on your toast every morning and every chance you can get. If you don’t you just go ‘Meh its not for me’. I don’t think too many people are throwing vegemite to the ground and stomping on it or something. If Everly can be cinemas Vegemite than I’d be very happy
I think you have a tagline for your poster.
[Laughs] At least in the Australian market.
I saw on your twitter yesterday that lady posted a review and really did not like the film.
Oh my god that was hilarious where she told me to take a time out. From the inception of the movie this is where my Australian manager/best mate/best man at my wedding, he tasked me with the idea of doing it, I knew from the outset that this was not going to be something that was a full quadrant tent pole, wasn’t going to be for everybody because the films that we were deriving our influences from everything from Takashi Miike films to Kinji Fukasaku yakuza films from back in the day to Blood Simple to obviously Desperado and Kill Bill and also Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional and those are just few of the films I would just use as ideas to go ‘Well this is the type of movie it is’ an action film buts it’s not quite an action film it got all these different components when you deal with things that are almost that out there and that crazy, it’s not gonna be for everybody.
Knowing that I wanted to make this type of movie, I knew that if I pushed myself as hard as possible to hit all the things that I love from these types of movies, like when I sit down and I watch Takashi Miike yakuza films like Gozu, that guy has movies that are as wildly different each time out as they come, he can do a historical yakuza film and he can a kids sci-fi film, and you cant necessarily say ‘Oh this is definitely a Takashi Miike film’ maybe because its out there and so crazy at times but as long as I knew the things that when I watch Gozu, I’m gonna hit on my elements, as crazy as these films can be, as long as there is an emotional core to it than great, than at least anybody who's never seen a movie like this before, can latch onto the emotional component and whatever we end up throwing Everly’s way, whether its yakuza storm troopers or crazy ladies of the night going after her or even people as crazy as the Sadist and the Masochist. As long as the element of heart is there, the element of humanity is there so that people can relate. Anybody whose been stuck in a corner can relate to or parents who lost their children or are terrified of loosing their children or the ability to protect their children. As long as that is there than I know that I can try to get away with some of the crazier things and if you like it great, if it not don’t try vegemite, have butter.
That’s true it’s just the assumption that you’re automatically going to like it, they’re billions and billions of people in the world, not every single one is going to like it.
Exactly and that’s the toughest part about being a filmmaker is that as much as you try, even if you set out to something like James [Gunn] did with Guardians of the Galaxy, there are people who don’t like Guardians of the Galaxy, very shocking I know! It’s scary to think that’s there a world out there where people don’t like that movie but they are out there. If your trying to cater to all tastes, you’re not being true to yourself as a filmmaker and that’s why I got hired. At least that’s my understanding of it, when I get hired for a movie, whether its my own movie or somebody else’s film, they’re hiring me to have a point of view and to have perspective, where that’s backfired, like the movie that I did before this called Knights of Badassdom. I went in with the best of intentions, I went in thinking ‘Okay I’m gonna make this movie from me and all the people who love Amblin adventure movies and heavy metal and necronomicon and all the things that I would literally would peak interest in all those different brackets and also think ‘Cool. I have this stellar cast. How can any of this go wrong? And I think, besides the fact that it had a very horrible development and production and post production process, if I’m gonna talk about my own fallibility, I think the problem is that I was trying too hard to make everybody happy and not just the producers on set or the cast, it was more the audience. I was trying to make a full quadrant film, quadrant meaning your hitting all the demographics and the different age ranges and racial profiles, everything that a studio blockbuster wants to be. They’re trying to hit these major demographics and sometimes when you make films like that, when you try to hit all these different demographics, you end up dulling the movie and you end up dulling the voice and that was a very valuable lesson that I learnt from Knights [of Badassdom] going into Everly was alright; either I could make this as generic and conventional as possible then you weren’t going to have all the little flourishes that people who love the movie, loved seeing in the film everything from the blood going down the mirror to Dead Man, Dead Man would not have been in this movie, the Sadist and the Masochist, for better or worse would not have been in this movie. The way that the movie unfolds where it’s all in one room, that would have never happened, it would have been lost in the development process. There were even things that we did or were trying to do in the script stage that didn’t even make the final cut because they were too crazy but you have to pick your battles, you have to figure; Okay. At the end of the day are you still going to be able to tell your story and your voice even if you have to let the little things go as opposed to well you know we’ll make a lot more money if we do it as conventionally as possible but that was a decision we made right from the get go and by doing that, we knew we were not going to please everybody but as long as we can please ourselves and we can please the core audience who loves these type of movies then eventually the other audiences will come to it if they like it. This not a movie that gonna blow away the box office opening weekend but if by the end of the year people watching Everly during Xmas and then people reflecting on the movie that came out over 2015 and have the glow of Star Wars and The Avengers is gone maybe they will remember this little scrappy gem that may have surprised or shocked people, if we can do that than I feel like we’ve done the best job we could.
Exactly, There are so many box office not hits that are amazing. You don’t have to this quota of action scenes or something else to make an amazing movie. At the end of the day you just have to be something you’re happy with and that will translate to the people watching it being happy with.
Yeah there’s nothing better, when you’re an artist, whether you’re a filmmaker or a musician or a painter or a comedian or write or poet, whatever it is, when you know that your art, your work is reflecting positively onto people whether they laugh, they cry, they scream, they hum along, whatever it is, when you know you have that connection with the audience, there is nothing better, there’s nothing more exciting than doing that so when you know that you're doing something that is specifically tuned to a specific market you know you have one of the biggest movie stars in the world doing it you have to just be focused on what gonna make an impact now, you can think of ‘Well if you don’t win the box office this week, then we’re totally stuffed’. Right now movie theaters; its all window dressing. As much as I love seeing a movie in a cinema, when you have an independent action film whether or not you have a big star or not in it, really at the end of the day the movie is going to live or die on the cloud, on V.O.D, in someone’s DVD or Blu-ray collection. Movies in theatres, they come and go and the days of movies playing for six months like Star Wars or Avatar, those are all long gone. Those movies they fill the coppers in one certain section of the movie business but all movies end up it this one format, one format or another that placates and also accommodates the home theatre market. When I did Wrong Turn 2, which coincidentally enough was banned in Australia for a little while which was I was very proud of, when that movie came out everyone was like ‘Oh my god. You made a direct to video film’ I didn’t see it like that, I never approached it like; it’s a direct to video film, I’m gonna treat it like that. No, I shot it like it was going to be on 2000 screens and whether you like it or not, I’m proud of that movie for looking bigger than most direct to video films and the proof is in the pudding. It did extremely well but everyone kept harping on it saying ‘It’s a direct to video film, we cant take it seriously’ now everyone who talks about that movie says its one of the few direct to video films that is better than they expect so its just about diverting expectations, right now the expectation of anybody making a movie right now is that you have to fill 2000 screens and its has to be this grand premiere at the Chinese or New York cinemas and it has to be in Top 5 or its failing and that’s not the case anymore. There are so many different models out there to put a movie out, look at the success of The Interview, after all that and then everyone spoke with their wallets and they saw it on V.O.D and they’re gonna see it on streaming and they’re gonna see it on DVD and Blu-ray so that weekend box office that we would all around the world, would hold our breathe for Monday morning to see if 50 Shades of Grey made 300 million dollars. Who give a fuck? At the end of the day it’s not going be the reason why I see that movie. Three Amigo’s was a critical disaster and it didn’t make too much at the box office, no one thinks about that now all they think about is I want to see something funny, I love that movie and those are the movies that endure and hopefully Everly does that same.
Yeah; 50 Shades of Grey may make billions of dollars, I still have not heard one person say one good thing about it.
It’s because it ends up becoming a necessity watch, people wanna feel like they are on the pulse of pop culture then they will go see it. Lets not lie; that book has an immense following and just between all the rumours you hear about the set, like the director and the writer clashed and the two stars didn’t really like each other, people love hearing about that stuff so they can go watch for the easter eggs ‘Oh my god, he kinda gave her a shifty glance. They probably had a bad day on set’ there’s all this curiosity that’s drummed up, plus when you think about it, Universal probably spent more on the marketing than they did on the actual movie so just shoving it down out throats that’s their jobs and they did a fantastic job at doing it because everyone was talking about it, now will it matter if people said they like it and it’s word of mouth and they tell their friends? Who knows? To them its more about lets get as much as possible and cash in on the property and the idea of what 50 Shades of Grey is more than anything else. For us with Everly, it’s we have none of the marketing cash pot that Universal has, its all been grass roots, it’s been me on my Instagram and Twitter, it’s coming up with different ways of presenting a movie that makes it feel cool, like your aloud to go ‘Oh we can have fun with this movie’ I set up a drive in, we still have drive ins out here in America, there’s one that I shot a movie in years ago called Chillerama that’s 30 minutes out of LA, we’re doing a whole week there, for me that’s the perfect place to see this movie. I don’t want them to go see in a hoottie tootie snotty art-house theater, as much as I want people to see this on a big screen I’d rather them to go see it where they know they’re gonna have other people who are they’re to have a good time and have a blast doing it. So its more about getting the word out in a way that’s telling people ‘You know what? There this movie out, it’s a blast to watch, and you can have fun doing it’ you don’t need millions and millions of dollars to do it, you just need the product itself and the right people to say it.
You don’t need to have ‘Emmy Award Winning’ on your poster, at the end of the day it’s the people that are going to matter, it’s the word of mouth of Everly being a great film that’s going to get people on V.O.D or to go to the drive in.
That’s what we’re hoping. We said that from the beginning, this movie is going to be a word of mouth movie no matter what, even if they said this movie is so bad you have to see it, again that’s all subjective, one persons garbage is another persons gold mine. If I name off some movies that are my favourite movies, most people would commit me for being a mental case but everybody’s got their own subjectivity when it comes to the film that will affective them. Recently everyone’s been like ‘Oh it’s this crazy exploitation movie’ it sucks that the word exploitation is a bad word, I never saw it as a bad word, a couple of readers are like ‘It’s just exploitation’ I’m like ‘Well do you remember the movies that we loved or at least the one that started coining the term exploitation’ one of the films that was such a touchstone for Everly was Assault on Precinct 13 which for all intensive purposes is considered an ‘exploitation movie’ at least it was back then but the connotation that exploitation equals bad – not at all. Its different genre tropes that are being used for a particular movie so it should be treated as a bad word, it should be embraced cause this is the type of movie its trying to be, I’m not trying to be The Theory of Everything. We did not set out to make rage, I wanted to make this crazy, fun, tonal, rollercoaster ride of a movie that throws in the kitchen sink and then some and we embraced it. There’s that whole adage of ‘Did they know they are making a movie so bad’ unless your Max Bialystock from The Producers, no one ever sets out to make a bomb, everyone’s always got the best intention when they’re going to make a movie but when we did this, every day on the set we would giggle and have to check ourselves and go ‘We do realize what movie we’re making here’. There were even times when Salma [Hayek] and I were working together both on the script and also on set we were rewriting every day because we were always trying to make sure that no matter what, as crazy as we could come up with thing to throw into the room against Everly, wacko characters as such, we always made sure that no matter what that there was an emotional stamina that was always realistic for example there was this whole thing about how Everly gets shot at the beginning of the movie yet people pointed out that she doesn’t react to it. Every day on set I would say that to Salma ‘Okay how’s that wound feeling today’ even ‘Don’t you think we should probably have her rinse a little back more’ and she’s like [In a Spanish accent] ‘No no baby, no. That is not how Everly would do this’. He reasoning is her child is in danger, her mother is in danger, she has no have time to bleed. Every day that was her thing and it wasn’t laziness at all, she always comes from a place of truth. So everyday we would say to ourselves ‘Is this true, is this real?’ Okay as long as that’s that, no matter what madness that we can shove into the room, it’ll always have Everly as the emotional center. So as long as we have that, we’re good. After that, the sky’s the limit to me.
Was there anything that the studio wouldn’t let you do whether it be budgets or another reason?
To be totally honest with you, no. Really the studio, The Weinstein’s were not involved what’s so ever, they accepted the movie as is. The only thing they had suggested was two things; One; they did suggest to tone down the violence a little bit because some of the test scores were coming back where people were saying, for certain demographics like older women, the violence was a little too much. Weirdly enough as a side bar – the more sexually aggressive stuff was also very controversial both when we first tested it and also the actual screening, people got affected by it but we show nothing that the, I hate to say the beauty of it but that’s the magic of cinema is that the harder stuff for people to endure, where things that we had no screen time for, it’s all done visually, it’s all implied so The Weinstein’s suggested that and we said ‘Look if we do that then we’re taking out things that are going to impact the story’ some of the violence was kinda like well if you really want us to take it out, we’ll consider it but they never really brought it up again. And the other one was the title because Everly doesn’t scream kick ass action movie with a female centric character, but again this is her story and we came up with between myself and Adam [Ripp] the producer, Luke [Rivett] the other producer, Brett [Hedblom], all of us we must have come up with 200 alternative titles that all at the end of the day sounded like either Steven Seagal movies or Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, none of them actually screamed what we wanted to better than Everly did. The basis for that was always John Cassavetes’ Gloria and I’ll never forget it and I remember how the name Gloria will always be synonymous with that movie and how the characters made such an impact just by using that name so that was the only two things the Weinstein had in term of suggestions but they were also very respectful in our vision and just said alright if that how you wanna go, then well support that. The script has changed over and over again, it kept evolving as we went along but in terms of extremities there was only one moment and that was early on in the movie where Everly looks into bullet hole and sees Zelda, that actually took place in a different way where we actually showed that conversation happening while the opening gun fight happened, so we actually reversed time then showed that as Everly shoots up the place that the bullet that shot the John she was with and then we find out what happened after so all that stuff happened in a very different way. That led to trimming a little bit of the violence here and there. There was also the scene where all the different prostitutes are coming in and trying to get her, that was actually much more violent, much more extreme you could say. By the end of the scene there was just a pile of women that was mounting up at the door that she actually push aside so she could close and we were like ‘Yeah, that’s a little sick’. One of the first things that Salma had said when we first met was ‘That scenes got to change, that can’t be the way it is’ and she called us out and said this script was written by two dudes, we need to have some more feminine viewpoint, maternal feel and that was the first scene she honed in on and thank god she did because it added so much story and world building to the movie and now you see that Everly has a relationship with all these girls, these aren’t just some faceless people you see coming in – these are her neighbour’s. Imagine if you neighbours just all of sudden turned on you, people that you considered, maybe not friends but colleagues, people that are dealing with the same bullshit that you're dealing with all of sudden now they’re turning on you just purely to survive so thankfully what ended up being a pile of bodies ended up being something a lot more emotionally resonant and that is all due to Salma. Thank god.
Was Salma your first choice for Everly?
Oh definitely not, she was so far removed from my first choice only because we when we first wrote it, the idea was we’re going to take the girl next door and for no better terms, break her bad. What happens when the girl next door goes on a downward slide? I had this neighbor of mine and I grew up with her, at least I grew up watching her grow up, when I left high school she was maybe 10 or 11 and as I kept coming back home, I kept watching how the sweetest, you could not have picked a perfect example of ‘the girl next door’; blonde hair, blue eyes, all of the right classes, doing all the right things and then one day you come back and you realize ‘Holy shit she’s a disaster’ she fell into drugs, she’s dealing with a lot of dark stuff, it was awful and that’s, I hate to say inspiring to me but it’s like wow look at this character's arc that happened to this person so that was our original intent was we were going to try and find someone that fit that model and then show her in a way that you’ve never seen her before and that’s when Kate Hudson came in and for that model; she was perfect. For a while she was it, we actually shot a promo with her that’s floating around the internet where you see Kate Hudson with a fuckin’ shotgun, it doesn’t get crazier than that and with that we pre-sold the movie all over the place and then Glee came up and I‘ve said this before; I’m not gonna be the guy that gonna tell someone they can’t sing and dance on Glee because we had first right refusal for it but we were like this is probably good for us anyway so go ahead and do it and we never heard from her again but I think if anything she was probably a little freaked out by the movie and was like ‘Oh Glee, let me do this, this sounds like fun’ but then all of a sudden we get a phone call and it’s Salma Hayek’s representatives and they were like Salma really liked the script and she really wants to talk to you and believe me that first time I got that phone call was like ‘WHAT?’ that’s never going to work and then I sat down with her and Luke [Rivett] and I and Rob Paris, one of the other producers, we all sat down and she basically went off on the script; both good and bad and showed how much she felt like it was a story worth telling, she basically completely got the vision that I wanted for it, ‘cause I had made a trailer for the script when we first put it out there just so people knew that I was going for something that’s a little bit different; a little more visual, not just your standard action film and she totally got the vision but she also said this needs heart, this needs humanity and I really want to do this. So we went back and looked long and hard at the script and went ‘Look there’s the reality of, well we can either make the movie with this actress of not make it all’ and there was time, and Luke can back me up on this, where I went “I don’t know if I wanna make this movie’ because am I just doing it to just to make it and that’s not fair because that last movie I did was somewhat similar to that and I got burned on that bad boy [Knights of Badassdom] and I feel like I have very limited chances to make a good impression for a career but then we broke down the script then we really figured out who every was and what the character needed to be and what we kept coming back to was my god she really wanted to add heart, she really wants to make sure that for her the importance is not the cool shots, the crazy action or are we using real blood, she cared about the mother and the daughter and that really what convinced me and said this is where we need to go, this is the right choice and second that we had her on set finally and were kind of the moment, in the scene, no one every questioned her otherwise.
It’s probably because I’ve seen the film but I just can’t imagine Kate Hudson doing it now, which could be a pleasant surprise because we haven’t seen her do it.
I think it was a novelty more than anything else; it was like ‘Oh crap look it’s Almost Famous with a shotgun’. It was a little easier for us to be able to sell the idea that Salma was this kickass character just because of her track record with Desperado and Once Upon A Time In Mexico and Bandidas but I don’t think anyone expected the amount of emotional catharsis that the movie has. No ones expecting that there’s heart, no one expecting the ending the way it is but again if we didn’t have Salma I think the movie would be a lot more soulless, a lot more just empty a film and just an exercise in blood bags so to speak instead of being something that’s really about a mother connecting with her daughter.
With not a lot of time left, what next for you? What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a sci-fi movie now, this one is nuts. The best way to describe it is it’s a, you’re gonna love this, it’s a psi-rotic thriller. If Paul Verhoeven and David Cronenberg had sex; that’s essentially what this movie is; it’s called Switch Culture and I say no more. But I think if you think about Paul Verhoeven and David Cronenberg bumpin’ uglies than that’s essentially the feel. So there’s that and we’re working on Holliston, that is the TV show that I’m part of; I’m one of the cast members. There’s that and there’s a movie coming out in the states later this month called Ghoul that I executive produced, it’s a movie that this director Petr Jákl came to me with, I sat down with them with a couple of months and we really worked something out, its about a real story about the Ukrainian cannibalism at the time, it’s pretty crazy, it’s a crazy movie. But right now its mostly focusing on making sure that the world gets out and sees Everly.
Well you got my vote, it was an amazing movie and I loved it. Definitely a Blu-ray purchases when it comes out.
Oh man, thank you so much, I really appreciate it.
No worries. Thank you for your time and thank you for this. It’s been an amazing pleasure.
Oh no problem at all. If there’s anything else that comes up, just let me know, if you need anything for follow up.
Awesome. Thank you so much. Bye
Check your local listings and go see EVERLY, out in theaters today and on demand !
Just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Andrew Marco, the Moviepilot team and Joe Lynch for the opportunity.