An Interview With Defective’s Reese Eveneshen

defectiveheader

Take one wrong step and I’ll blow that foot clean off.

 
More recently I submitted a set of questions to the director of a surprisingly well crafted dystopian thriller by the name of Defective. Reese (Eveneshen) answered in record time and literally blew my mind with how in depth and intriguing his answers were.
Sit back, grab a bowl of snacks and take a trip into the talented mind of a talent that I’m sure the cinematic world will be seeing a lot more of in the very near future.
Alternatively seek out Defective first, it’s well worth a watch especially if like me you enjoy fast paced thriller that burst at the seams with great acting, direction and a change of direction that you won’t see coming.
Defective hits cinemas February 13th.

DIAG:  Welcome and greetings from the frozen, snow covered rolling plains of Nebraska. Thanks for giving me this opportunity, feel free to answer in any way you wish, don’t feel restricted in any way. We don’t censor.

RE:  Fellow greetings from a super cold Ontario, Canada! Thanks for the interview!

DIAG:  To start the preceedings off, as somewhat of an introduction, how did it all start? What got you interested in the film industry?

RE:  I’ve always had an interest in the film industry. Even as a kid I would watch any behind the scenes documentary I could get my hands on. And I mean I would religiously watch those and wear out the VHS. I don’t know how or why it started, I just know that I was watching movies and loving them. It was tough because I grew up in Alberta, Canada, which may as well be on the moon when it comes to the film industry (it isn’t like that anymore as they have a booming industry now). But when I was young, places like Los Angeles or even Toronto felt so far away. I would sit in my room and build sets using colored cardboard paper, my action figures would be my cast. I would be in my room for hours making my own movies in my head. I would even take a little tape recorder and do behind the scenes narration. I remember my mother taking me to meet a soap opera star when I was 7 years old at a local mall just so I could ask some questions! But life works in funny ways, before I knew it we were living in Toronto and I had family members working within the film industry. They were bringing me onto sets when I was 10 or 11. I could sit off to the side and casually observe the ins and outs of a real movie set.

DIAG:  How’s did you get from there to ‘breaking into’ making your own films? Did you encounter any unexpected obstacles along the way that you’d like to warn any excitable and aspiring film-makers about.

RE:  Over the years I had managed to acquire some cool props and what not from various movie sets I had been on. One of which was a handy little prop from a then little known film called, Resident Evil. They had done a couple last minute reshoots in Toronto which I was lucky enough to be apart of. Long story short, I sold the prop through an auction on eBay when I was 16 (I kept the cool prop to myself still, which was “The Dead Walk” newspaper you see hanging at the end of the flick). Selling that little bit of memorabilia got me enough cash to buy my first mini-dv camera! From then on I was off and making movies all through high school with my friends. And this camera was garbage by the way, it sounded like a bread maker.

After high school, some of those crappy, crappy short and features caught the attention of some film folk, and next thing I know I was working on their movies as a Production Assistant, or whatever job I could do. From then on I was able to learn from their sets, and turn around and use some of that knowledge while making my own movies. Truthfully the basic principle is still the same from high school, it’s about finding a good group of people to work with and sticking it out with them in the filmmaking trenches.

There have been so many obstacles along the way it’s really hard to pin-point one specific incident and say, “look out for that”! You really have to suffer and go through hell to be able to come out on the other side and know that you made a mistake. I will say that you need to try not to let your own self get in the way of your career. For instance, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by some people who were doing fairly well for themselves in the industry. And somewhere along the way after working for them a bit, they would offer their help or some really generous hand outs. And when I was younger I would turn that down, I was stubborn and really wanted to make a name for myself on my own. In some cases that burned a couple a bridges or set me on a really tough path. If you’ve got somebody of some influence who wants to give you a helping hand, specifically in the field you’re interested in, don’t be an idiot… take that hand!

DIAG:  What would you say are your most major influences? Are there any particular scenes in a particular film or a certain directors body of work that stand out for you, that perhaps prompted you into this avenue of work. What do you think you might be doing if the world of film didn’t pan out quite as you expected.

RE:  It really changes from project to project. At any given time I’m watching too many movies from several different filmmakers. And usually whether I like the movie or not, those influence a lot of your creative decisions at the time. Not only that, but often the type of project you’re making will dictate where your influence is coming from. As as a kid, my first big influence was everything Spielberg! And I know he’s a big in for a lot of younger filmmakers. Jaws to me as a kid (and even now for that matter) was the holy grail of movies. It has a little bit of everything in it, and it balances all those elements so perfectly. But if we were to focus on influences now, specifically with Defective. Then the most obvious would be Paul Verhoeven. RoboCop and Total Recall are a perfect double feature of the type of science fiction movie we just don’t get anymore. They don’t have a lot of gloss or polish (though they may have at the time). They’re edgy, they focus on the little guy trying to fight an oppressive corporation, and they are unabashedly violent.

I had really wanted to make something in that similar vein, so when it came to writing Defective, I thought this was my chance to harken back to something similar like that. It also takes its cues from others like Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, They Live, The Running Man, etc. We even tried to reflect that a little bit in the shooting style of the movie. Again, you’re constantly being influenced or inspired by other peoples work, especially in this day and age. There isn’t a single filmmaker I know personally who is not trying a new look or style because they just watched a movie they fell in love with! But the cool thing is that you just find your style and groove while trying on different pairs of filmmaking shoes.

I have no idea what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this. I don’t have a back up post-secondary degree. I had to fix and install water heaters for a time to make ends meet some years ago! That’s my back up! My wife tells me I’m a half way decent cook, but last I checked, I definitely over cooked the steaks at our previous family dinner. So I guess becoming a chef is out of the question.

DIAG:  An occasional collaboration works out very well. For me the film Crank and it’s sequel come to mind. In a perfect world who would you like to collaborate with? Any particular genre or medium you’d like to tackle as part of such a collaboration?

RE:  I’m not sure if there’s any director I’d like to collaborate with, there are plenty of directors I currently admire, but they’re so good on their own that I don’t want to muck it up! I’d love to work with a great screenwriter someday. We’ve got plenty of wonderful writers working within the industry, I’d love to be in a position where I’m sent a script that I could option to direct. For instance I’ve always wanted to do a political pot boiler type of film, but as a writer myself, that kind of work and research is not currently in my wheelhouse. I don’t trust myself enough to write material like that when I know there are other writers out there who would knock it out of the park! Same goes for a bio-pic or even a comedy for instance, I would love to work from someone else’s script if the material was strong!

DIAG:  In regards to Defective. Before my initial viewing I can’t help but see some similarities of its synopsis to that of both Judge Dredd and Robocop. Was that intentional? Are you a fan of either? Can you recommend any dystopian future movies that you feel haven’t gotten the attention they rightfully deserve.

RE:  Well as mentioned earlier, the RoboCop similarity is 100% there, I’m not even trying to hide that one. I’ve heard the Judge Dredd comparison a few times, though outside of the two films they’ve made I know very little about the comic series it’s based on, so probably not so much that. As for a recommendation, I wish I could pull out some obscure dystopian flick title, but none really come to mind. I have spoken to quite a few people who have not seen Soylent Green. Which is a damn shame, that is a solid film that unspools beautifully as it plays out. It is definitely a little dated for sure, but in the event that the ending hasn’t been spoiled for you, it is a really solid twist.

DIAG:  After a viewing of Defective I can honestly say I left impressed. The film looks sharp, professional, has a great atmosphere and moves at an adrenaline pace. It didn’t play out as I had initially assumed utilizing plot twists that I honestly hadn’t expected. I would honestly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a thriller laced with sci-fi elements. If you could use one sentence how would you describe Defective?

RE:  First off, thank you for the kind words, they are appreciated! My go to elevator description of Defective is: “In the near future, a brother and his estranged sister have to fight to escape an oppressive police state.” Which I know leaves out a ton of detail, it’s a hard movie for me to put into a single sentence. Part of the reason I keep it so simple is because of what you just said, there are a few 180 twists and turns in the story that I don’t want to spoil. It’s hard these days, but I do try and tell people not to watch the trailer or read anything about the movie before they see it. I also try to warn them not to watch it if you have a weak stomach…

DIAG:  The cast did a wonderful job of pulling me into the film, the ‘Big Brother is watching over you’ type narrative and made me feel for the characters plight. How difficult was the casting for such a movie? In my opinion Pierce, Dennis Andres, was a fantastic character. I can honestly see his future bright with roles of a similar nature.

RE:  Casting was a little tricky on this flick. People like Colin Paradine (Rhett Murphy) and Raven Cousens (Jean) were a breeze because I knew them before hand. The roles were written specifically for them, we had all worked together in the past. When it came time for our casting sessions it was difficult though. We had a very small budget for the film, the cast and crew wages were below average. Because of that we had a tough time getting people to come out for the role. On top of that, on paper it wasn’t a really intriguing project to sign up for! We didn’t have a clear start or end date for shooting. The money was low and all we could offer was a good atmosphere on set. It took awhile to pull our core cast together.

Once we had them we were able to get plenty of referrals to fellow actors and we kind of pulled from that as well. Luckily people had a good time on set and would recommend the experience to others. Our cast was amazing though, they stuck it out through some not so glamorous situations. And the schedule was hell. We went into production without a full budget, it took us a year to get the movie in the can because we had to stop, raise more money and then go back to camera. Luckily we only had one actor drop out of the film during production because of our schedule. Everybody else powered on with us for our adventure. I really have to give lots of love to Colin, he was there every single day of production. When he wasn’t acting, he was driving people to and from set, he was moving equipment, he was running errands, and he was often my on set therapist… which was needed! We always had each others back and never got into any disagreements over that whole year.

The toughest roles to cast where the actors in the Preservers of Peace suits. That’s a job that you couldn’t just hand to somebody if you tried. They were uncomfortable, they were hot, you could barely see out of them. Ultimately our go to was an awesome guy by the name of Chris Spaleta, more often than not, he’s the one who is in the Suit. Other times we were grabbing people off the street and throwing them into the mess! And Dennis, naturally is just awesome. I love Dennis. I saw him in an audition months prior to casting for Defective, and I knew right then and there that he was Pierce. Thankfully he said yes.

DIAG:  The idea of an all controlling state is prevalent in cinema past and present. Have you any intention of widening your vision to other mediums, perhaps a prequel or a sequel, so that the audience may be able to explore your vision further.

RE:  At this time there’s no plans for any sequels, prequels or anything like that. I do have a nugget of an idea for a sequel, but it’s not enough of a concept to run with right now. We spent along time working on that movie, and the idea of running back into that world so soon is not very exciting. I always wrote it with the intention that the movie had a definite end to it. All the characters reach their arc and goals. And the story builds to what it inevitably leads too. Without spoiling the ending, you could certainly go places with what comes out of those events, but would they be that interesting? With that being said, never say never! It could happen. Let’s see what kind of response this movie gets first.

DIAG:  Moving onReboots have become a huge thing in the last decade or so. Do you have any favorites?

RE:  I’m really diggin’ the new Planet of the Apes series. I watched the originals quite a bit as a kid, it’s been fun to see how they handled rebooting these classics. And the fact that the new films actually ended up being massively successful is pretty wild too. That’s really the only one that comes to mind! I know there are others, and I’ll probably think of them after we’re done this interview.

DIAG:  In much the same vein is there a movie you would like to tackle a reboot/rehash of? Alternatively, is there a film you would like to produce a sequel or a prequel to? For any particular reason?

RE:  Well I’d love to see a new version of The Running Man. One based right off the book. So it’s not so much a reboot or remake as it is an actual proper adaptation. Don’t get me wrong, that original film is a perfect slice of cinema cheese. But if you read the book, then see the movie, it is massively disappointing. This is a pipe dream, but I would totally throw my hat into the DC ring to make anyone of those movies, I’d love to tackle a Superman movie. But other then that, not much else comes to mind! It’s a taunting prospect doing either a reboot, sequel or prequel. Your best bet is to find a not so popular title, then revamp it in a completely awesome and different way.

DIAG:  Delving into your past works is there anything you would do differently if given a chance given your current experience?

RE:  It’s easy to look back and say that I wish I could fix this or that. I already watch Defective now and start thinking about what I should have changed. But truthfully I think it’s best to just leave it and move on. I’m certainly not going to try and bury it. It’s fun to look back and shake your head and see how far you’ve come. I probably should have taken advantage of a few more situations that were presented to me, but then I might not have learned what I did. I may have ended up in a worse situation. You can drive yourself crazy over thinking all these damn things.

DIAG:  Defective sees you change direction a great deal from your past works. What are your thoughts on the horror genre, in particular the direction in which the Zombie arena is headed.

RE:  I haven’t been watching as many horror movies lately. Not for any reason specifically, I just think there are so many of them that it’s hard to keep up. But if I do, I’m usually watching a zombie flick. Zombies are zombies, right? There’s not a whole lot new you can do with them, it just seems to be the way you present the story that makes all the difference. I love that they are much more accessible now, The Walking Dead really did open the door for other people to find zombies “cool”. If it wasn’t for that show, my younger sister would have had zero interest in watching the Romero movies. But she happily sat down and watched the original trilogy with me. I don’t think she would have sat though those movies otherwise. I still get surprised every once and awhile though, just last night I saw another Canadian zombie film called, “Les Affames”… and I thought it was great. I think zombie movies are doing just fine… for the most part. There may have been another remake released this year of a zombie film I love dearly… and I may have watched this remake… and I may have been incredibly disappointed by it.

DIAG:  Wrapping up. What does the future hold for Reese Eveneshen? Are there any projects (you can discuss) that you’re currently working on?

RE:  Well I’m digging back into some older projects I was working on before Defective. Luckily the release of this movie has helped in opening a couple doors, but we’ll see what actually gets made. It looks more than likely that we’ll be doing another sci-fi film. So we’ve just started digging into the meat of that. It’ll be fun, it’s completely different than Defective. That’s what I love about science fiction, there is a lot of room to play within that genre.

DIAG:  Last question, thanks again for your patience. To finish this I’d like to give you the reins. Feel free to tell our readership whatever you’d like.

RE:  I definitely try and push folks towards our Facebook page! Look up Defective the movie! We’ve had that page up since we started production, it’s got a bunch of behind the scenes photos and videos. You can pretty much track the whole production from beginning to end. If anything, check out the movie to support a bunch of people who worked their asses off to make it. As mentioned above we didn’t have a whole lot of money to work with. People were coming on board and staying there because they wanted to be a part of it, and they wanted to see it through to the end. When I watch the movie, that’s what I’m most proud of. Most importantly, just have fun watching it! And if you like it, please let us know, we love to hear it! And if you don’t like it… well… if you’re relatively nice about it… you can tell us. But don’t be a dick. All jokes aside, check it out when it comes out in February, and continue to support independent cinema!

Thanks again for your consideration, and allowing me to view/study Defective, it really is a stunning piece of work. All the best for any and all of your future projects. Feel free to stay in touch.

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