Exclusive First Still, Comments: “BELLFLOWER” Producers’ Insane Action Follow-Up, “CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS”Home,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
For this writer, there are few films that were as unique, engrossing and breathtaking as Evan Glodell’s BELLFLOWER, an experimental love story with a truly independent aesthetic and taste for cinematic mayhem. After the film’s release, a close eye was kept on what would be next for Glodell and his Coatwolf production team. Sure enough, their next project was something even more suited for this writer’s sensibilities: CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS, a love letter to side-scrolling video games and the anarchy-laden spirit of crazy ‘80s action filmmaking.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign launched by producers Glodell and his Coatwolf partners Jonathan Keevil, Chelsea St. John and Vincent Grashaw, with cash infusion from producers/financiers Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller of Caliber Media as well as frequent collaborators Gabriel Cowan and John Suits of New Artists Alliance, CHUCK HANK was set to roll, with BELLFLOWER producer/composer Keevil taking on directorial duties this time around. But for a while, there seemed to be a radio silence on CHUCK HANK as the film underwent the post-production process… until now. Sporting an amazing cast, which includes BELLFLOWER vets Keevil, Glodell, Grashaw, Rebekah Brandes and Tyler Dawson as well as David Arquette (SCREAM), Troian Bellisario (PRETTY LITTLE LIARS), Noah Segan (LOOPER), Paz de la Huerta (NURSE 3D), Michael Pare (STREETS OF FIRE), Brett Gelman (EAGLEHEART), Don Frye (GODZILLA: FINAL WARS), Olivia Dudley (THE VATICAN TAPES) and Andrew Bryniarski (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE ‘03), CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS looks to be living up to every one of its insane intentions.
Recently, FANGORIA had an exclusive chat with Keevil, Grashaw and Sonnier (who recently produced FANGO fave SOME KIND OF HATE), and now, FANGORIA is proud to present the first official still from CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS, which you can see in our chat below!
FANGORIA: So how did you all get involved with CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS?
KEEVIL: After BELLFLOWER, the Coatwolf crew were very close and wanted to continue working together after going through the insanity that was BELLFLOWER. After our crowdfunding campaign, we got some of the money that way and started meeting with people, and that’s when I met Dallas.
SONNIER: My story is way more embarrassing than that. I saw BELLFLOWER and had some sort of a mild panic attack. I thought I had seen the future of filmmaking. I loved the Coatwolf guys; they had a squad and they were all best friends. So I actually stalked Vincent; I saw him about six times because I would go to all of these BELLFLOWER screenings since that was a way to just be around everybody.
They thought I was kidding but I kept telling them, “For your next movie, let me finance it! Let me put the money together!” So I went through some of the traditional routes first, like CAA, and I eventually got the call; we put together the money in about two weeks.
GRASHAW: I remember we were eating lunch and [Dallas] said, “I don’t think you understand what I’m telling you. I know people that will give you money.” We didn’t really know people because, after BELLFLOWER’s success, we were just riding on this unknown train of potential. It was all kind of a learning experience when [BELLFLOWER] happened, and when it happened, there was a lifetime worth of knowledge that we learned.
FANGORIA: So, who exactly are CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS?
KEEVIL: The story of the film is really wrapped around friendship and family, and the San Diego Twins are these two brothers and Chuck Hank is their makeshift older brother since their parents passed away. The film revolves around them, their friendship and their values, and they’re fighting for the people that they love even if fighting isn’t the right option. They’re always questioning the validity of what they’re fighting for, and if it’s worth fighting for or better to walk away. So the film follows the drama of them trying to figure out what their best option is, and that obviously will test the limits of their friendship and their family.
FANGORIA: BELLFLOWER was such a visually potent and intense affair, while CHUCK HANK’s crowdfunding campaign definitely pitched something more lighthearted and straightforward. Will the visual aesthetics of BELLFLOWER carry over onto CHUCK HANK?
KEEVIL: I think a lot of our aesthetics come from the style of filmmaking that we pursue. The Coatwolf crew has been working with each other for almost 10 years or so now, including our cinematographer Joel Hodge, so we have our own way of shooting. A lot of the time, it’s our very nature to have similar aesthetics, and with CHUCK HANK, we just have a little more leeway to go crazy.
We have more visual effects for this film [than BELLFLOWER], which we’re all doing in-house. It’s one of the more intense things we’re doing, but it’s been so rewarding since we are simultaneously developing the aesthetic for the film, and it’s all a part of the world-building that we’re trying to do with CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS.
FANGORIA: The Crowdfunding video indicated that the film was going to be inspired by side-scrolling video games, and would even include a side-scrolling fight sequence. Will the film carry a tone that’s more like a “video-game-on-film”, like SCOTT PILGRIM or THE FP, or will this be something grittier and more intense, like THE WARRIORS?
KEEVIL: I think the latter is closer to what we’re doing. Basically, we’re allowing ourselves to be inspired by those games and allowing ourselves to have as much fun as we want, but I never felt that we’d be correlating to video games that much. But you’ll definitely be able to tell our inspirations and where we’re coming from.
FANGORIA: What’s the music of CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS going to sound like? I’d assume the flick might have something cooler and more retro considering its influences…
KEEVIL: That’s funny; I’ve recently been taking a break from editing the film for the past 6 days in order to make the music, so I’ve been bouncing between the worlds of editing, producing, being the director and figuring out what the sonic range of the film is going to be. The score is in development because it’s one of those things that we do ourselves, so we create a song, put it in the movie and see if it is effective in the film or not depending on the direction that we’re taking.
So we get to gage what we need in the film and then we go back into the music world. It’s actually one of my favorite parts of the process because it allows me to set the tone for the other people who are working on the film so I can show them how a simple thing like a song can create the scene for us. It’s really cool.
FANGORIA: BELLFLOWER definitely had an improvisational and experimental style to its proceedings. Will CHUCK HANK have a similar narrative style or will it stick closer to a script?
KEEVIL: I considered it more of a guide for some of our scenes. Obviously, for some of the scenes, we had to stick to the script since we’re shooting an action movie. But for some scenes, we felt like we could do whatever we wanted and were loose with the script. You’ll see in the final movie that it’s a nice blend of the styles since there’s a traditional action feel to CHUCK HANK but it’s underneath the shell of an independent action drama.
FANGORIA: You guys promised some really insane stuff in the crowdfunding video, especially for the budget you were looking to make it with. Were there any stunts that you came up with that you asked yourselves, “How the hell are we going to pull this off? Should we even be doing this?”
KEEVIL: I think that was a question that I asked myself every day. [Laughs] It’s hard to even put into words how hard the action side of the film was, and how much it physically took out of all of us. I think we pushed ourselves to the very brink of our existence throught throughout the shoot. Our DP, Joel Hodge, literally set himself on fire during the shoot; show me a cinematographer who would do that for not a lot of money.
We choreographed all the fight scenes between ourselves and our stunt people, and it was an insane process that, by the end, was one of the more rewarding parts of the shoot. We added a certain physicality to the film, and at the end of every day, we knew that we pushed ourselves emotionally 150% and literally put everything that we had on the table.
When we first started, we had a little bit of funding, so we could do some of the more grand scenes with a full stunt crew, which was a very exciting thing to do. But very quickly, the shoot turned back into something closer to BELLFLOWER, where there was maybe 10 or 12 of us on set where we’d do our own stunts as opposed to a full stunt crew that’d show up every day, and we had to figure out how the hell we’d do the rest of the movie. There was an ever-evolving form that CHUCK HANK took that basically was insane, and it just kept getting better and better in terms of how we could get those scenes done despite having only 2 people and I had to do the stunt driving.
I also want to give credit to Nick Bateman, who is helping us out with the visual effects. It’s such a cool time to be working in independent film because 5 years ago, we wouldn’t be able to do these effects. We have upwards of 500 VFX shots in the movie, so to do all of that by myself or with one other person would have been impossible back then. It’s insane that in the trajectory of film, that is even possible now.
FANGORIA: You mentioned before that CHUCK HANK is building its own universe within the film. Is this something you would want to explore in the future if the movie is a success? If so, does that mean CHUCK HANK might be, at least in comparison to BELLFLOWER, a more colorful and humorous affair?
KEEVIL: We’ve been working on the film for so long that the world of CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS keeps developing in front of us. We have all these small characters with these enormous backstories. The world is so developed now in my mind that I can imagine exploring it further, but CHUCK HANK has a very strong core to it that is a dramatic story.
The characters are real in CHUCK HANK, and it’s not tongue-in-cheek, but it does have more of a comedic flair to it as opposed to BELLFLOWER. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and we were able to have as much fun as possible with characters who pay tribute to B-action movies. But that tribute is in their core, and not in some self-reflexive way.
FANGORIA: Is there any chance that an 8-bit playable CHUCK HANK game might surface around release time?
KEEVIL: I hope so!
FANGORIA: Do you guys have any idea yet when the film will be ready for audiences?
SONNIER: We made the movie independently without a distributor, but the Coatwolf guys obviously have a terrific track record with festivals. We’re on the radar of at several major festivals right now, and we’re planning on showing CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS to some of them later this year with the hopes of premiering in early 2016.
Keep an eye out for more on CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS here at FANGORIA later this year.