The intense, first-time feature maker is telling Time Out about his failed relationship. It's very much the story that many a postadolescent (or budding indie director) can relate to, even if recounted with the unique conviction of 30-year-old Evan Glodell, who, by his own admission, is new to the interview game. "There were a lot of late-night fights and drunken, terrible back-and-forths," he recalls. "I remember walking home as the sun was coming up, crying after fighting all night, thinking my life was over."
From such heartaches arise movies, but rarely are they made by obsessive fans of The Road Warrior. Bellflower, Glodell's grungy romantic drama — a sensation since its Sundance premiere — situates the pain in an unlikely context. The film's modern-day Southern California is not the gentle sad-sack zone of dramas like Cyrus, but rather rough Ventura. Our like-minded heroes, Woodrow (Glodell himself) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson), spend their time in garages, building flamethrowers and preparing for the end of the world, which they pray is nigh. When another passion rears its head — the blond girlfriend — the countdown to a personal apocalypse begins.
"No one warned me about this," continues Glodell about the split that inspired his script and then the multiyear process of fund-raising and skeleton-crew shooting. "I've seen movies that say you go through a breakup and you're not happy. But I've never seen one to show what it's like to go through the whole experience — that entire living hell. And I felt like it should be done."
Done within the fortified interior of a Mad Max-style muscle car called the Medusa, a vehicle that Aiden builds for his forlorn friend, who soon slips into revenge mode. The fearsome props of Bellflower, a gearhead's paradise, offer a vivid picture of DIY male fantasy gone nuclear: a sedan equipped with a custom-made whiskey spout on the dashboard; target practice on propane tanks; oily tables crammed with pipes and tools. It all feels a bit dangerous.
"The very first filmmakers were inventors," offers Glodell, exploring his tactile love of machines. (He also built the guerrilla-style cameras for Bellflower, rigging them with scratched, imperfect lenses and lightweight turrets, contributing to the sense of psychological meltdown.) "But around middle school, I learned how to blow stuff up and I spent a lot of time doing that: bombs out of black powder, anything that would make a big plume. When I was younger, I definitely had a destructive side. Everybody does, I think. It's a human pastime, especially for men."
This is the disarming thing about Glodell, a grown-up kid who, under slightly different circumstances, might have made the papers in a far less creative manner. He can articulate the impulses that once led him to jeopardize life and limb as a teen in suburban Wisconsin, while at the same time attaching them to a sophisticated sense of testosterone-addled rage and impotence. That's good, because Bellflower is, at root, a sensitive film.
"It's like a three-way love story, totally, between the two guys and the girl," he agrees. "That was always the idea, creating that dynamic." Glodell lets on that the Aiden character was largely inspired by a childhood friend, Aaron, who once intervened in a fistfight to protect his buddy. "He told them, 'You can't do that, unless you do it to me!' It's stayed in my head for years. I'm lucky to have a friend like that."
And the ex-girlfriend? "Oh, she's been super supportive," Glodell says. "She actually loves the movie."