Joe Lynch Talks Everly: Fantastic Fest Interiew
Joe Lynch’s Everly was the best surprise of the the festival. A mean lean action film with a rocket fueled pace, twisted imagaination and real sense of heart. I hope this film gets the crossover and cult audience it deserves. I had a chance to talk to Lynch about what’s sure to be his break out film.
Let’s talk about the genesis of the film; the one setting was always there.
Joe Lynch: Absolutely. I always loved siege movies. I’m not claustrophobic but I get tense when I’m in a room. I think about that moment in Heat when DeNiro talks about, “Always know how to get out of a room in ten seconds.” I’ve always been fascinated by that. So anytime I walk into a room I’m always going, “Alright where is my exit. What’s the plan?”
When you see a movie like Assault on Precinct 13 or Rio Bravo, those are always the go to’s but that’s because they’re the best ones. I loved the pressure cooker nature of those, where you really are trapped. It wasn’t just for economical purposes-it helped- but it was more about what it feels like to be trapped. When you watch Buried, you’re in that coffin with him. That’s what makes that movie so fascinating. But for us it was, I just wanted to see how much I could get away with thematically, dramatically, structurally and visually- if I set up this room and had very strict parameters. In a kind of Dogme 95 way where I had to adhere to this rule that you literally could not leave that room, if we were going to look down the hallway the tripod on which the camera was on had to have one leg in that room. But in the elevator scene where you expect to have a reverse-nope. We had to make it feel like the camera was literally a character following her the whole time, but like her- was stuck couldn’t run out. Not to toot my own horn but I love that, I love that we stuck to that.
We were very cautious to make sure that that was aiding the themes and aiding the story. Because if we cut away to anyone on the phone or we went-when we saw where Taiko was- you would lose dramatic impact and would take the onus off of Everly’s situation, this is her story, why go away from that? Why go to a bunch of gang bangers sitting down in the lobby going like, “Eh now it’s our turn.” No this isn’t about that at all. This is her story and I wanted to stay to that as much as I could.
Well not only do you have the element of the one set, but you have the element of being close to real time. Which brings the extra challenge of shooting in sequence. They almost seemed like linked challenges to me as a writer and a director how did you juggle those elements?
Shooting it in chronological order was more of a production necessity. Mainly because to have to reset stuff just for the room would have been a logistical nightmare, as well as very expensive; that we would have to break glasses and tables and put bullet holes into walls, that shit is expensive. Especially since my edict, another rule, was when at all possible, unless it was physically impossible, it all had to be real blood. So it’s all practical blood, it’s all real flares, no digital muzzle flashes at all. But all that stuff costs money. If you want to do bullet hits across a wall, I could do that in After Effects in five minutes but it just doesn’t quite look right as opposed to the tactile surface nature of seeing bullet hits it feels more real. But that also means that I have just one wall. If I wanted that wall replaced that’s an hour- an hour away from the rest of the movie. It’s crazy that you have to juggle these things. It’s something that people who aren’t filmmakers don’t quite get, until you actually have to do it and then you, “Wait a second I have to sacrifice that for this? Has Spielberg ever had to do this?” Yes he has! Everybody has.
So that’s where the necessity of the continuity was, in terms of the real time, um- it is and it isn’t. I can see where there’s an hour or two long break- moments when the blood is dripping down, that gives me a sense of time passing. Steve Gainer the DP who shot Punisher War Zone and Super he had designed a lighting grid for the outside that he knew- “OK we’re on page 16?” [adjusts air grid] 2 O’clock.” “OK we’re on page 79? Dawn is starting to crack.” [adjusts air grid] He’d just dial it in.
So there is a feeling of real time and I think what it comes down to is other than a couple of montages that you have- a lot of the action takes place in oners, where it’s not just [staccato] cut to cut to cut to. It’s, let it all play out and see where the chips fall. And I think it works.
Can you talk a little how you brought Salma Hayek to the project? Because she’s amazing in the film.
She brought me, if anything. We originally cast- we had a lot of people we were thinking about and at the time the character was a little different. She was a heroin addict-that’s kind of how Taiko was keeping her there. At one point we had Kate Hudson. She was cast, she was in, we shot a promo with her. But then she got Glee and what are you going to do it’s Glee? But we were without an actress again.
Lo’ and behold we get a call from Salma’s people saying, “Salma really likes this script and wants to talk to you.” So we went to the Hayek compound all the way up in the Hollywood Hills- it was crazy and she basically bestowed her love upon this script. But also had amazing thoughts about how we could humanize the character. To make sure that’s she’s not just John McClane with boobs. She wanted to make sure that it wasn’t- an empty gesture to make this character a woman. She wanted there to be a pure reason why this character had to be who she was. Her goal and focus was to bring humanity to the movie and my God I don’t know what the movie would be without her.
One of my favorite sub-subgenres is non horror films made by horror directors. As a filmmaker so closely associated with horror what do you think that skill set brings when you work outside the genre?
I think it brings so much more to- the elements that aren’t horror based. And I’m not talking about when Wes Craven does a musical movie with Meryl Streep. Those things are a little too far removed. But God bless Wes for doing it.
But when you take a director like, look at Paul Verhoeven. That’s a guy who can jump genres so well that he was always known as being a European Medieval director or a Sci Fi guy and then he’s doing psycho sexual dramas or Black Book. Not what you’d expect from Paul Verhoeven. If you know the tricks of the trade in one genre and try to apply that to another genre, in a way that’s not derivative… Really it was the rare chance that I was gonna get to actually have real emotion and not have it be, “This is just an archetype.” Here I was able to- like that ending scene you’d never have that in a horror movie, but it needed to be there. If it wasn’t there the movie would be empty. And I don’t think I’d be able to do that if this was just a straight horror film.
It’s a testament to Fantastic Fest that- look we can call ourselves horror fans but I guarantee that every horror fan out there will also attest that they love ET. There’s plenty out there who love Nightmare On Elm Street Part 5 and Ratatouille. We live in a culture that allows you to love multiple genres, so for me to work out of my comfort zone was exciting and scary. But for me I feel like I’ve kind of matured… A little bit, a little bit [staccatto] a little, little, little bit. But that story gave me a chance to flex my emotional muscles as well.
Post Script: Joe Lynch is one of the most personable filmmakers I’ve met. And thanks to my Camp Crystal Lake Counselor shirt I ended up talking Friday The 13th with him for the first five minutes of the interview. So without further ado, Joe Lynch on his favorite Friday The The 13th film.
What’s your favorite?
Four- Four without a doubt. I love them all, but I was Tommy Jarvis at that time and that was…the fact that they put that kid in peril. Also it’s got Crispin Glover dancing, Tom Savini, the slide down the machete -which you think about it today that would be done digital in a heartbeat you could probably do it on an iMac; but seeing the craft that went into that movie.
I have a sneaking affection for Five just because with two films Danny Steinman became one of the sleaziest filmmakers in genre history.
He made a sleazy movie. I also don’t know if he wants to boast this, but he made the one Friday The 13th movie that killed an innocent kid and it really fucked me up. Everyone else I’m either, “Yay!” or “Ooh!” But when that fat kid got killed, when Joey got killed, that was awful. Really truly disturbing- and I don’t think that was his intent, I think he was just like, “Eh we killed a fat kid,” but it was really really brutal and it was one of those things where as a little kid I go, “We’re all going to die. Oh shit. We’re really-even fatty who didn’t have sex with anyone or smoke any weed is liable to die. That’s not fair!”