Cynthia Boris of SF Universe sat down with Joel David Moore and Zachary Levi from the movie “Spiral” (the film also has a fantastic MySpace page) and I think it’s a great interview! Make sure you also check out the “Dueling Random Questions” on SF Universe (the answers were hilarious)!
Here is the Q&A with Moore and Levi:
Take two comic actors, add a dash of Alfred Hitchcock, a sprinkling of Amber Tamblyn, drench the whole thing in a hard Seattle rain and look what you end up with — a psychological indie thriller that might very well surprise you.
Spiral is the brainchild of Joel David Moore who is better known for his work in front of the camera than behind. Though he’s appeared on dozens of TV shows such as House, E-Ring and LAX, he’s best known for his quirky roles in movies such as Dodgeball, The Hottie and the Nottie, Shanghai Kiss and Hatchet. This time Moore throws the switch on a hauntingly lonely character who paints in lieu of actually making contact with the world.
More after the jump!
“Mason is an out-of-touch neurotic painter who becomes obsessed with his subjects and we pick up in his life when he meets the lovely Amber Tamblyn,” says Moore. “It’s about their relationship and where that’s going and how it spirals in or out of control. See how I did that?” He laughs, making fun of his own ability to “promo speak”.
And it’s that laughter that makes it hard to picture him in such a dark role. On the phone, Moore is anything but dark. He’s cheerful and funny and enthusiastic about this, a film he co-wrote, co-directed and stared in.
“We were looking for something we could put our stamp on. Something that was more of a drama that could take Zach (partner and best friend Zachary Levi) and I out of the comedic roles we’ve done in the past and show people that there’s more to us than meets the eye. We wanted to make a small, art house film, a suspense movie with a sort of Hitchcockian feel to it.”
A tall order for a newbie director, writer and producer.
“I gotta say it was scary,” admits Moore. “I was very forthright with everybody who was involved. I told people, look, I’m not pretending to know more than I know, there’s a lot I don’t know but I’m ambitious, probably to a fault, and this is something I want to do. So we went and we did it.”
Through the pouring rain in Seattle, they did it. Beg, borrowing and calling in favors in order to make a cinematic feature film on a shoestring budget.
“You have to wear a bunch of hats on an indie film and you have to wear them one after another or all at the same time! You’re going from producer to director or director to actor very quickly, making decisions from both the producer side and the director side. So the director side of me is saying, ‘let’s get a crane in here because I want this to be the biggest shot it can possibly be,’ but the producer side says, ‘we can’t afford $5,000 today, we have to save that for another day.’ I start arguing with myself and people think I’m really crazy.”
So how tough is it switching from director to actor?
“That, surprisingly, was not tough. Directing a feature has its own challenges, and very difficult challenges, but you’re so involved in the shot that pulling yourself out to act in the shot is not the hardest transition in the world. I probably scared Amber at times because I’d be in a really emotional scene and I’d pop out of it real quick and say, ‘Amber, I’m sorry can we move over and catch your light’ or ‘could you say that softer and I’ll try to overpower it,’ then I go right back into it. She probably thought I actually was psychotic.”
Add to that the tricky dynamics of directing your own best friend and it could have gotten ugly. Lucky for Moore, his best friend, Zachary Levi, was willing to pitch in wherever it was necessary to get the film in the can.
“I knew they (Moore and writing partner Jeremy Boreing) were writing the character of Berkeley for me. Then, when we decided to do it ourselves, Joel called me up and said, ‘Zach, we need your money!’ I got Amber Tamblyn involved and after that being a producer meant I was a cheerleader, supporting the people we hired to do what they came to do and making sure everyone got fed.”
Hey, never underestimate the power of food on a movie set or the impact of one actor on a film.
“Zach, he’s such a talented actor. People are going to enjoy seeing the emotions that he carries in this movie,” says Moore. “There’s a scene between the two of us at the end that is pretty gut-wrenching. It took a lot of emotion and hours of time, to the point where some of it I don’t even remember. We got so deep into our characters, it’s kind of a blur.”
“It was really good. The familiarity helped when it came to communicating. We sat down ahead of time and talked about the character so by the time we were ready to start shooting it was very smooth.”
Moore agrees. “At times there were discussions on set, say if I wanted a specific shot and maybe it’s hard to explain. ‘No, I want this guy inches in front of the camera and a guy out of focus in the back.’ There were some heated moments trying to explain what can and can’t be done. It’s something I will change as I move forward. Either I’ll learn to communicate what I want better or I’ll learn to not be so anal about exactly how the shot will be.
You learn from your mistakes and we were lucky that whatever mistakes we did make on this film didn’t last or effect it in any permanent way. I had a great team and if I went off in a direction I shouldn’t go in they sat me down and said, ‘look, we need this, this, and this.’ I trusted the people around me and they trusted me.”
Zachary Levi and Joel David Moore trust that you’ll enjoy their film, Spiral. Which opens in select cities on February 8, then goes to DVD on February 18.
In the meantime, check out the trailer for Spiral at the official Spiral website.