Interview: Director Reese Eveneshen Talks About His Upcoming Sci-Fi Film Defective

This February, witness the ruthless result of minor wrongdoing with the acclaimed sci-fi thriller Defective

From writer-director Reese Eveneshen, director of Dead Genesis, and genre specialist Uncork’d Entertainment comes the highly-anticipated Defective, premiering on VOD February 13. In the near future, the corporation S.E.A., has implemented North America’s first and only police state. Uniformed, anonymous Preservers of Peace investigate, judge, and sentence people for even the smallest of crimes. The punishment? Instant public execution. Rhett Murphy and his sister Jean must escape certain execution after witnessing the dark secrets of the nefarious corporation. 

Colin Paradine, Raven Cousens, and Ashley Armstrong star in a Reese Eveneshen film, available 2/13 on VOD from Uncork’d Entertainment. We spoke with Eveneshen who gave us the 411 on the film.

TMS: First off, can you provide us with a little bit of background information. Did you always want to be involved in filmmaking? What type of training or schooling did you have? 

RE: I don’t quite recall a time where I didn’t have an interest in filmmaking. It’s always been there, definitely since when I was a kid. It started at the very basic level of just liking movies, and I mean that to an obsessive degree. I seem to recall my mother giving me money to get me to stop talking about movies! It naturally just progressed from there. When I was in high school and could finally afford to buy a camera, I started making scrappy and crappy films with friends. After that, all my training was just throwing myself into the battlefield of filmmaking. I was fortunate enough to have family members working within the industry, I was able to get onto film sets and massive productions as a kid. I didn’t have a care in the world, I didn’t know who anybody was so I would just walk up to crew members and cast members and start asking them a million questions about how movies are made. When I was old enough I started working on those sets all the while continuing to work on projects of my own on the side. 

TMS: Did you have a lot of support when you decided to get into filmmaking?

RE: For the most part, yes. As mentioned I did have family in the industry, so that certainly helped. There were certainly a fair amount of people who didn’t quite understand it (and still don’t). There is no set path to being a filmmaker or working in that industry. You can definitely go to school for certain aspects of it, but there is no financial security or safety to it. A lot of people can’t seem to wrap their head around the “draw” of it. Which always makes me laugh because often the people who have a problem with it are the same people who love movies and television. I generally tell them, “You do realize people actually work and get paid to make that show you like?”. 

TMS: What’s up with Defective? Where can people see it? And what do you want them to know about the movie?

RE: Defective is my latest project! And currently one I can safely say I’m pretty proud of. At its core, it is the story of a brother and sister trying to reconnect after being separated, all the while they’re trying to escape a militant police state! Hilarity ensues in this sci-fi action flick! I’d like folks to know that this was put together by an extraordinarily hard working cast and crew. We we’re operating on the fringes of the industry and scraping together every last cent we could find to make this movie. This was the very definition of a passion project. It was independently financed and very independently made. With that being said, we worked our hardest to bring you something that hopefully is a fun ride. It’s getting a nice little roll out release starting with VOD in North America on February 13th of this year, just in time for Valentines Day! 

TMS: What was the inspiration behind this story? 

RE: Desperation more than anything. I was trying to get another project off the ground and it was not happening. I needed to switch gears for a bit and try something else. One day I started writing and this movie came out of it. It did start initially as another idea (with the same title) but it started flowing better once it took on more of the sci-fi spin. Especially with the idea of the Preservers of Peace patrolling the streets. I also had been thinking about doing something much in the vein of 70’s or 80’s type of darker and more violent science fiction. That really appealed to me, so once the story started coming out I merged it with that initial concept. 

TMS: How long did it take to get out that initial draft? 

RE: My first draft was done in a matter of days. It was less than a week for sure. It was a lean and mean 85 pages. But it had a lot of stuff in there. My first drafts generally tend to feel more like stream of consciousness drafts, where I throw every idea I can in there. I usually call them my “vomit drafts”. And from there we can step back and start piecing together things and removing chunks that don’t work. 

TMS: How much did the script change over the course of the next few drafts? 

RE: It changed a fair amount. The original was more cerebral you could say, the subsequent drafts became much more science fiction based, and more action heavy. The biggest change was to the first two acts of the movie. That original script has a very different beginning and middle, yet the third act for the most part is damn near identical to that first draft. But massive edits is usually in the cards with most screenwriting, the better ideas come from feed back from other writers and just spit-balling different concepts. 

TMS: Is there anything you found more challenging when penning the screenplay? 

RE: It was always the second act and the final ten pages of the script. That’s where I had the most trouble. The second act is where the movie shifts from drama to a kind of government based conspiracy thriller. But the second is act is also where the bulk of the information dump is. And that is always tricky, I hate working out exposition, especially in a movie like this where there is a fair amount to be explained. There was a lot more in those early drafts, the exposition was through the roof. But even when I watch the movie now, there’s still too much! It’s really, really tricky to find that happy balance. And the other thing with the second act is that you are connecting all the threads from the first to the third, and there was a bunch of stuff to pay off in that third act. I can’t really talk about the final ten pages without spoiling the movie, but I will say that I rewrote those last pages more times than I care to count. Funny enough, when I sat down and started editing the movie, the second act flowed just fine it was actually the first act that didn’t translate well to screen. I cut about 15 minutes out of it, we went and reshot the bulk of it for free and edited it back into the movie. 

TMS: Are you a sci-fi fan? If so, some favorites? 

RE: Big time sci-fi fan. I love it. Obviously that’s the biggest reason I got jazzed about making a project like Defective. It’s tough to narrow down the favorites because for the most part I will tend to like most if not all science fiction. Some of the bigger inspirations for this movie were certainly RoboCop, The Terminator, Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, The Running Man, Total Recall… seemingly most things with Arnold as you can see. You can’t ignore Blade Runner, Heavy Metal, Scanners, Star Trek, Star Wars, They Live, etc. This would be a very, very long list!

TMS: How long of a shoot was it? 

RE: It was 29 official days of shooting, with an additional 5 days that were freebies. Spread that over the course of a year. We started in November 2015 and we finished shooting in October 2016. It felt like the movie shoot that would never end. 

TMS: Can you talk about some of the initial ideas for casting? 

RE: Well the main two roles of the siblings, Rhett and Jean, were both friends of mine. I had worked with Colin Paradine (Rhett) for several years prior and we’d become close friends. Raven Cousens (Jean), I had known through other filmmakers, and we’d bumped into each other over the years. I really didn’t have anyone else in mind for those two roles. There was a big age gap between the two of them that took us some time to get over. But I thought that worked just fine for the characters, I myself am fifteen years older than my sister! 

TMS: How were the main actors selected? 

RE: Two weekends in Toronto, Ontario of casting! We booked out a cool little casting house and ran lines with actors for hours on end. We pretty much pulled everyone from that. Other little bit parts here and there were friends of ours or referrals from other performers we knew. People like Dennis Andres (Pierce), I had seen him in another audition for a project Colin was doing months prior. The second I started talking to him I knew he was the guy I needed to cast. He was that character. One of the random people to come into the casting session was, Neil Affleck. He had starred in the original, My Bloody Valentine… a classic Canadian independent film. But he’d been in hollywood directing episodes of The Simpsons for years! He was just getting back into acting, he came to us for a day and did a little bit part for us, which was cool. I’m a massive fan of The Simpsons, I waited till the day wrapped up and then I geeked out on him. Poor guy. 

TMS: Was there any rehearsals prior to the shoot? Did you adjust any of the script after the actors were there? 

RE: It was mostly Colin and Raven that I was able to do some rehearsals with. But at the time we didn’t have a whole lot of pre-production time to put towards that. We were rushing to get started. The script did go through adjustments once they were cast, it always does. It’s silly for writers to assume that their dialogue can just naturally adjust to someone else’s cadence of speech. The biggest adjustment was switching a male character and making it a female character while filming. One of our main actors dropped out of the production mid-way through and we had to scramble to recast. I ended up casting an actress in the role, Jamie Sampson (Jacobs) and rewrote the character as we were shooting! 

TMS: How much of the effects were done in-camera? How many VFX scenes did you end up having? 

RE: Most of the effects were done right in camera. We have about 175 VFX shots over the 100 minute runtime. But even in those shots there is always a practical element. The Preservers of Peace are 100% practical suits with no digital augmentation. The Drone is our biggest VFX show piece. But even with that we had a full sized version on set that we could puppeteer in certain shots. There’s a fair amount of blood shed in the movie, and all of that was practical and on set. There were a couple bullet hits that we augmented or added a hole to, but we were always spraying fake blood! It was a very sticky set on some days. Much to the chagrin of the cinematographer. 

TMS: In terms of directing choices, anyone that you try to emulate? Or ones that have influenced you? 

RE: It’s hard not to inevitably emulate some directing styles. Especially in this day and age, I’m constantly watching movies, so different looks and feels will always find their way into the directing style. We were definitely influenced by films from the 70’s and 80’s period, certainly their framing and shooting style. We did a lot of run and gun shooting, not a lot of gloss or finesse. We did try to intentionally make some scenes feel dirtier, a lot of that was the lenses we were using. The look of RoboCop and The Terminator were the biggest go to films to watch for a certain feel. They both shot in the 1.85:1 ratio, we shot in the same. They have a similar color palette that we tried to go with as well. It’s tough these days with digital cameras looking as clean as they do. We were aiming to have it look more like film without having to use filters in color correction. And for the most part I think we did okay.

TMS: Low budget film productions have been historically known for being difficult and demanding. How was this production on the cast and crew? Any challenges or funny stories?

RE: I think if you spoke with the cast and crew they would have pretty good things to say about the production. Myself, the producer and director of photography tried to hide a lot of the behind the scenes issues we were having, whether it be financial or technical. Nobody was getting paid what they were worth, I’ll say that for sure. We didn’t have the budget to pay full wages. Both myself, the producer and cinematographer forfeit our fee and put it back into the movie. The biggest challenge for me was that it took us about a year to shoot. We had to keep stopping so we could get more money to shoot another day or two. There’s a lot going on in the movie, it’s a film with four different plot lines essentially. And we’re shooting out of order, and we’re shooting over many different months… that was stressful. The Suits were a pain in the ass too, they were falling apart daily. We always had a designated “Suit Fix” spot on set, which usually meant you brought out the paint, the hot glue gun and tape. Lots and lots of tape. But through all that, there were a lot of laughs. Ultimately we did have a good time. It was a great film family to hang out with for a year.

TMS: If the movie was playing as one-half of a double feature at a Drive-in theatre what would be the perfect support feature? 

RE: That has to be one of the toughest questions I’ve been asked. It’s easy for me to say RoboCop, but I’m not so sure! I think The Running Man would be a really, really fun double feature. After this interview is done I’ll end up thinking of five other titles this would pair up with! 

TMS: If you had a choice to remake a genre movie, what movie would you like to remake? 

RE: Alright I know I just mentioned it above, i’ll bring it up again: The Running Man. But I would actually base it off the damn book! I love the movie for what it is. But it does not hold a candle to that book. 

TMS: Can you tell us anything about the other projects that you are working on or planning on working on? Or, anything else that you would like to plug? 

RE: Right now we’ve got three different projects in the works, all different genres. It’s more than likely going to be the sci-fi project that’ll happen first. That’s just the market place doing its thing. And I’m fine with that, it’s the polar opposite of what Defective is, so it’s just different enough that it doesn’t feel like we’re doing the same thing twice. But we’ll see! We’ve had so many projects fall apart at the last minute. I will however take this opportunity to plug a movie I made when I was in my early twenties… it’s a scrappy super, super, super, ridiculously low budget zombie movie called, Dead Genesis. It was shot in the summer of 2009 and got a bit of a release. Find it if you want and check it out. It got horribly censored in Germany and Japan and that seems to be the version most people watch! If you can find the unrated one, go for it. It’s not a movie I really like… at all. But a lot of awesome people helped me get it made, watch it for them! Oh, and PLEASE check us out on Facebook! Look for Defective-The Movie. We’ve had that page running since we started production, we’ve got a ton of behind the scenes photos, videos and alternate trailers. And we frequently update it with whatever new news we have coming down the pipe!