While attending this year’s Comic-Con International I was able to sit down with an engaging director, Joe Lynch. The man responsible for Knights of Badassdom was at SDCC to talk about his latest feature.
UTF: As far as I can tell, Everly is a brand new property, so how did you get someone like Salma Hayek to star in it?
Joe Lynch: The genesis of the project was a dare. My manager / producing partner said, “I dare you to make a movie all in one room,” and I’m like, “I’ll take that challenge.” A week later, I came up with a 16-page script, and that was essentially the very basic story of Everly. The film is about a woman who’s trapped in this apartment when her Yakuza boyfriend finds out that she’s been talking to the Feds and sends all of these guys. Very basic idea, but what I wanted to do was just give it something else. Immediately when I wrote it at the end I go, “This is Die Hard in a Room.”
I wanted to take the feeling of a lot of the European films like Léon: The Professional and La Femme Nikita but also Japanese cinema. Takashi Miike, Kinji Fukasaku and obviously [Akira] Kurosawa. I leaned a little more towards the Gonzo side so much so that I would always say that “it’s kind of, Blood Simple meets Ichi the Killer.” That would be my litmus test to see if people went, “Awesome, yeah,” or, “What are you talking about?” So I brought in a college friend of mine, Yale Hannon, to help me write the script, because I was going off to do Knights of Badassdom. And then Crime Scene [Pictures], who did the Gambit remake, picked it up.
We made it in Serbia, which is the weirdest thing in the world. Literally, this time last year, I was in Serbia. Now I’m at Comic-Con [International], which is awesome, because last year I was on my phone going, “I wish I was there, goddammit, they’re showing Guardians [of the Galaxy] footage.” We shot it last Summer. Salma [Hayek]actually came to us, which was crazy, because we had Kate Hudson before, and Kate got Glee. I’m not going to deny a girl a song and dance, but then Salma was just like, “I really like this, but it needs more part and it needs more warmth.” We were like, “Yes, absolutely, sounds great.” She brought so much more to the script and to the movie than I ever expected.
UTF: It certainly carried a lot memorable villains. I have to say the Sadist and the Masochist were downright disturbing. How did you go about creating those characters?
Joe Lynch: Thank you, and the Sadist would love to hear that. Actually when I wrote the treatment, there were certain levels of like, “what can we throw in there next?” What can we do that’s not going to go too overboard, but at the same time be plausible, so to speak. Yale [Hannon] was the one who came up with both of them. I just remember getting a draft back and I’m going ,”All right, Who the F are the Sadist and Masochist, and couldn’t you come up with better names?” Then I read it and I went, “Oh my God, those guys are amazing.”
That was such an integral part of the movie, because it’s a big seismic shift. To me, tonal consistency bores the hell out of me. I’m sorry, it just does. Real life is a comedy in the morning and a horror movie at night. You never know, so I wanted to make sure that we were giving valid threats to the audience, and to her, but with a little panache. I always kept thinking of Roman Polanski in Chinatown. The Sadist is the Asian version of that character. I wanted to make sure that he was scary and threatening and everything, so we got some amazing actors.
Every time we’ve shown the movie, there’s been at least one walkout. I would run over to them and ask, “Are you okay?” And they’re like, “That was too much, too disturbing,” and I’d say, “That’s okay, I’m so sorry.” Then when they walked away I’d be like, “Yes, I did it.”
UTF: That’s very awesome. Going into the emotional undertones of Everly, was there always an intention to have a daughter involved in her arc?
Joe Lynch: One of the things that we knew going in was, I wanted to have a scene where there was action you didn’t see. I’m not going to give too much away, but there was a scene earlier in the movie where Everly finds out that her family’s being threatened. And she can’t leave, she’s stuck in that room, so she calls her mom who she hasn’t talked to in years, and says, “Get out of the house.” Then from there, an entire action sequence that normally you would shoot kind of unfolds before her ears. I knew that I wanted that, because I wanted to keep expanding the idea that the camera never leaves her.
I needed to have set pieces in there, but how do you make a set piece in a loft and how many times can you do it? So that was just us trying to be as creative as possible, trying to think of different ways for us to make it exciting without leaving the room or breaking the bank. So who could she call? You’re not calling the Ghostbusters, so that’s where having the mother and Everly‘s daughter played in. In the casting, we got so lucky with Laura Cepeda who played Edith, and even luckier with that little girl who played Maisey, Aisha [Ayamah].
For her to be surrounded by all the blood, the gore, and all the crazy people that’s all over the place, everybody was so protective of her. At the same time, I’m like, “Look at that blood, you look at that blood,” you know? I was very very nice to her. But emotionally, she needed to be there because it added so much more to the movie.
UTF: I think that about does it.
Joe Lynch: One more question.
UTF: Alright sounds great. I often like to ask about advice. There are plenty of fanboys and fangirls who come to our site and they might just want to be a director someday, do you have any words of wisdom for them as they pursue that career?
Joe Lynch: Yeah, I’ve been there. I’m always there, I’m one of you guys. If you’re not a fanboy, then you shouldn’t be making movies. If you don’t obsessively love the art form in which you want to create, whether it’s a comic book, TV show, music, movie or video game, with no plans for failure, then you’re not going for it. My advice is: don’t worry about waiting. Don’t wait for the opportunity, make the opportunity.
I used to say that seven years ago when I did Wrong Turn 2, and that was before the advent of, “Let me go shoot something and put it on YouTube and it gets a million hits.” Now there’s absolutely no excuse for anybody who does want to tell a story with a camera, actors and sound. Go make it and keep doing it until people tell you to stop, or until you stop, but don’t give up.
I want to take the time to thank Mr. Joe Lynch for chatting with me. It was a great pleasure to talk about Everly and I honestly can’t wait for the world to see this zany but undeniably compelling flick.
So what did you think of the interview my fellow fanboys and fangirls?
Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!