RICH INTERVIEWS: Reese Eveneshen Director for Defective

First Comics News: How did you get involved in directing films?

Reese Eveneshen: There wasn’t really a precise moment when it started, it just kind of happened. I had a love for all things movies since I was a kid. I was locking myself in my room and building mini-sets with arts and crafts, then putting my action figures in those sets and pretending to make movies. I remember being in daycare, they had a video camera that I would ask to borrow and would videotape my friends doing these big plays. But usually, I was the one telling them what to do from behind the camera. This carried on my whole life on into high school then past high school and now into my thirties. After I finished school I hopped right into the filmmaking battlefield and started working on actual movie sets, commercials, music videos, anything I could. There isn’t a job on a set that I haven’t done some variation of. But I’ve consistently focused on producing my own work and getting that off the ground. 

1st: What is “Defective” about?

Reese: The quick pitch is that it’s about an estranged brother and sister who have to go on the run from a militant police state! In the flick, a company called the S.E.A. has created the first legal and approved police state in North America. Which on the surface seems like a great idea because it’s supposed to cut back on growing crime rates. But behind the scenes, things as always are not what they seem. If you no longer follow a certain set of principles and rules, you are deemed “Defective” and are executed right on the spot. And in the midst of all of this, you have a brother and sister who haven’t seen each other in years and they’re trying to reconnect while on the run. 

1st: Who stars in the “Defective” movie and what are their roles?

Reese: We’ve got Colin Paradine as Rhett Murphy. Rhett is the everyman, normal person in the story, the one who chooses to ignore the problem of the state. Even when he’s thrown into the deep end, he doesn’t quite know how to deal with it. It isn’t until his sister, Jean, played by Raven Cousens, comes back into his life that he is forced to face the problem head-on. Jean is on the opposite end of the spectrum, she’s the kind of person who initially falls right in line with the new state rules. She works a good job, has a good life and likes to follow the rules. There’s no reason to break the status quo, even the idea that something might be wrong with the establishment is sickening to her. There’s Dennis Andres as Pierce, he’s the guy who right from the get-go is opposing the system. You get a sense that he’s a natural born shit disturber who likes to push the rules past the limit. He knows the truth and he’s trying to turn the tide and wake others to the secrets. At the top of the ladder you’ve got Ora Green, played by Ashley Armstrong, she’s the spokesperson for the S.E.A. She’s the one who faces the brunt of any criticism towards the company from the public. But she’s also the one who pushes their agenda the hardest and makes sure public opinion is on their side when it comes time to vote for their new campaign. She’s also not afraid to get her hands dirty, she knows the office side of things, but she got her start working in the field. 

1st: What genre would you classify “Defective” as?

Reese: For sure it’s a sci-fi flick. Maybe not hardcore science fiction, but definitely fits comfortably in that genre. It’s got drama, suspense and action in there for good measure! 

1st: What type of person would enjoy “Defective”?

Reese: Seems to be folks who enjoy science fiction movies enjoy Defective. We try to put a little bit of everything in there (minus a romantic subplot). I think with any movie it’s always worth giving the film a chance no matter what your taste is, you never know what you’ll get out of it. The one thing that seems to surprise people, from what I’ve head anyway, is just how violent it gets near the end! At the last screening of it, one person was leaving the theatre covering their mouth and dry heaving during one sequence. I personally don’t think it’s that bad, but it’s a fun reaction to see from someone! 

1st: Which other movies are “Defective” similar to?

Reese: It’s a hodge-podge of movies that I grew up watching and loving. Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, RoboCop, The Terminator, The Running Man, They Live, Total Recall! I was definitely inspired by that era of sci-fi movies that spanned a 20 year period. They were a bit darker, a bit more grungy, something I feel like we don’t get a whole lot of these days. At the same time, the movie has got its own flavor as well, those were just movies that were fuelling the inspiration if I was ever having a tough writing day. 

1st: What exactly is a Preserver of Peace?

Reese: They are a person who has put into an urban pacification suit used for control and order in the streets. The Preservers patrol and guard the public within the police state. They have a robotic appearance and voice for the sake of being a more anonymous presence when dealing with the public. Originally they looked much more like heavily armed SWAT guards, but that was still a little too personal. The less human you made them appear, the more frightening and believable it was that they would be able to keep order. In reality, they are just foam and plastic that continually fell apart on set! Lots and lots of hot glue and tape kept those suits together while we were shooting. Oh, the fun of low budget filmmaking. 

1st: What does a director do on a film?

Reese: Facilitate a safe and creative work environment for your cast and crew. You are the one with the vision and the end game in mind for what the film will look like when it’s completed. The trick is to surround yourself with talented people who are able to help you get closer to that vision. If you’ve managed to do your job right, there’s often very little “directing” you need to do, it’s more just managing everyone’s ideas and concepts to make sure they fit what you’re trying to achieve. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have some idea how to do a little bit of everyone’s job as well. I like to be able to jump in and do a little bit of everything (except for acting) when working behind the scenes as a director. It’s also important for you to work closely with the producer (or producers) to make sure that any drama or strife does not affect the working environment. That’s especially helpful when you’re working on a smaller budget. Tensions can run high on a set under that kind of pressure. 

1st: You also directed “Dead Genesis” what was that movie about?

Reese: Oh it was just a little zombie movie I directed back in the summer of 2009! It was a bunch of friends going out into the woods for a couple weeks and making a movie with less than $10,000! I love zombie movies and always wanted to make a feature-length one. It was about a young reporter who goes out to make a documentary about a hunting pack called, The Deadheads. This is in the midst of what’s referred to as the War on Dead, which is set a handful of months after they started coming back to life and eating people. It was a fun experience and in a roundabout way Defective would have never happened without Dead Genesis. Much to the surprise of myself and others involved at the time, that movie ended up getting released worldwide. It wasn’t a big release by any means, but it was a shock given how little we spent making it. It came out a year or two before The Walking Dead started and managed to hit that zombie groove right as it skyrocketed and became popular again. 

1st: Of all the films you worked on which one holds the most meaning to you?

Reese: I’m not sure, they all do in their own way. There’s a lot of stuff out there that I was involved with in some way that I don’t like. But at the same time, the projects act as mini-time capsules that capture a certain time in my life, and it’s fun to look back at them and remember what was going on in my head. Right now because Defective is so fresh, technically it holds the most meaning to me at this time. But I’m sure that will change when the next project comes around! 

1st: In creating a film what do you try to do to grab the audience’s attention?

Reese: It’s always good to leave threads and questions at the end of scenes that directly tie into something coming later in the movie. It’s like a scavenger hunt that you’re bringing the audience along for. I’m still trying to figure out the in’s and out’s of working with audience attention and interest, I’m still fresh to this filmmaking game in my mind! There may not be an answer to this question because every audience is going to be different than the last. I think you should always try to be respectful to your audience for sure. But at the same time, you have to be doing what you feel comfortable with as an artist, what’s going to make you happy at the end of the day. You the filmmaker are part of that audience as well. 

1st: Would you like to direct the next big Hollywood blockbuster, do you think you have the skills to do it?

Reese: I’d love to, I would never turn an opportunity like that down. I’ve been able to work on some bigger budgeted films in a crew capacity in the past, outside of bigger crews and bigger sets, once you call action and everyone quiets down, then the atmosphere becomes like any other set. I have no idea what blockbuster I would want to jump into, but I would happily take on the challenge. 

1st: You live in Guelph, Ontario, Canada how has that location helped or hindered your making movies?

Reese: Tough to say. I live close enough to Toronto, Ontario that I can be part of that filmmaking world. It used to be a big deal to move into the city to be a part of that “scene”. But truthfully most movies now (specifically at a certain budget level) aren’t even being shot in the city anymore. Most of my fellow filmmakers living in Toronto travel towards us or further South to make their movies. And with technology today and are smartphones, you really don’t need to live in the city to make these things possible. 95% of post-production on Defective was done in Toronto. I was driving back and forth every day, didn’t bother me. Now cities like Los Angeles and New York are different perhaps, but I wouldn’t just drop everything I have here to start over there. I think that would be suicide. 

1st: What would you like to say to the fans of your work?

Reese: I’d be surprised if I have any fans of my work yet! But if you’re out there, thank you for the support! Most importantly, watch Defective when it comes out and help support a kick-ass cast and crew that made it happen. We had very little money to work with on the shoot. It took us about a year to get the movie in the can because we kept having to stop to raise more money. And that group of hardworking people stood by our side while we slogged our way through production. Also, check out our Facebook page, look for Defective-The Movie! We’ve had the page up and running since production started, its got tons of behind the scenes photos, videos, and cool stuff. And we keep it consistently updated with new release dates and information.

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