Drew Mylrea successfully mocked the spy genre with Spy Intervention.
Over the decades, there is countless over-the-top spy versus spy films that takes itself too seriously with a villain intending to end the world as we know it.
In Spy Intervention, this comedic romantic spy tale entertains the spy tropes with every parody and mockery from fight scenes, seducing women, and outrageous villains. Also, it sprinkled in the reality of maintaining a relationship with a secret spy.
Here’s the official synopsis:
When a spy meets his dream women, he abandons his life to settle into a boring suburban life. When his friends enact a “spy intervention,” the adventures of his old life not only help save his marriage but also stop an evil plot threatening the world.
The film stars Drew Van Acker, Poppy Delevigne, Brittany Furlan, Max Silvestri, Natasha Bassett, and Blake Anderson.
Drew Mylrea directed Spy Intervention from a script written by Mark Famiglietti and Lane Garrison.
LRM Online spoke with director Drew Mylrea over the phone about the plot and approach of this romantic spy spoof.
Mylrea came from the short films world with shorts Next Door, The Interrogation, Lisa, Quarters, and Arnold and the Alps under his belt. Spy Intervention marks his directorial feature film debut.
On February 14, Spy Intervention plays in select theaters and available on VOD. For more information on the film, visit its official Facebook page here.
Read the exclusive interview below.
LRM Online: Tell us why Drew Van Acker was perfect for this role.
Drew Mylrea: When I came to the project, Drew Van Acker already loosely attached to the script. With our first meeting, I realized, “Oh my gosh.” We’re going to pull this off. It has to be with Drew because he has this like magnetic movie star quality that you need, especially if you’re going to do a spy movie with a lower budget like ours. We required that excellent kind of magnetic presence. He was my secret weapon.
LRM Online: Basically, Drew was the picturesque James Bond type of person.
Drew Mylrea: He’s a cheeky arch-type–almost. He got those looks, but also this cheeky sensibility where he can play the irony of the script. With those qualities, he plays with the parody do while doing it seriously too. It’s busting into character.
LRM Online: Why did you want to direct a film like Spy Intervention in the first place?
Drew Mylrea: I’ve always wanted to do a James Bond spy movie. But, I have a sense of humor where I can’t take anything too seriously. In a James Bond movie, you have all of these classic tropes that you have to hit with a straight face. Audiences are smarter than that.
In a spy film parody, you got to have the fun and keep all these classic elements. Also, tipping your hat to the audience to say we know what they like. We’re here to subvert their expectations. In my view, the most fun thing as a director is to undermine an audience’s expectations that they are familiar with. It’s about turning the plot on its head in a delightful way.
With this script, there were so many opportunities to do that. It’s almost written like a classic rom-com. When I came on board, my idea was not to shoot this like a big budget or a typical James Bond parody. We’ve got to make the James Bond side of it as silly as possible. We shot it with models and make it look like a fairy tale. The actors take their roles it very seriously inside by fairy tale where the irony is coming from. In my opinion, it’ll be unique and fresh.
LRM Online: Basically, you’re not entirely modeling like James Bond. You’re shaping it like the original Casino Royale.
Drew Mylrea: That’s interesting. We’re trying to do a James Bond movie in the style of the early Batman TV show with all of the fake effects. The actors perform as if they were in a very serious film as if it was made today.
LRM Online: Speaking of fake effects, you did some green screen, but they were obvious green screen. Was that all purposeful?
Drew Mylrea: It came across as purposeful in the movie. Like I said again, we wanted to create this fairy tale vibe. It was this fable to talk about modern relationships. The spy world that Corey is in will look very artificial and fake. Central premise of the idea is he’s part of this fake, very superficial world where he’s flying around, going to dinner in these exotic places, and having all of this fun. Also, it’s superficial, with no real personal human connections.
In the film, he meets Pam, and everything becomes more grounded and more real. We don’t see those fake effects anymore. It speaks to where he is emotional. As a character in this real relationship, he becomes more human as you will. Between these two worlds, Corey stuck with these lives. On one side, it’s an artificial fun world, and the other is more grounded world of security–the security of suburbia. The tension is between those worlds. The effects were fake, and we are trying to use them to get inside the main characters.
LRM Online: Let’s talk about the relationship side of the story with the romance and jealousy. Is it like True Lies in its way? Could you talk about that?
Drew Mylrea: In my belief, that gets back to how we’re playing with spy tropes. Like True Lies or any of these classic Hollywood spy movies, there’s the thread of, “Oh, no! My partner’s cheating on me. You don’t know they’re a spy.”
As the audience, you know the real story and where it was going. We made it in the most fun way and over the top as possible. To me, I feel like the audience expects it and see them coming. The film crescendos and builds to the dinner party, only to be in an absurd situation. That’s how we approach that prevalent trope.
LRM Online: Let’s talk about Poppy Delevingne. Why was she perfect for the role? Her character is a little bit more serious than Drew’s spy character.
Drew Mylrea: Her character was serious. At the beginning of the film, Drew represents this idea of wanderlust adventure. He’s jet setting around the world. It’s living a carefree, no consequence life. Poppy’s character, Pam, represents someone who’s a little more grounded in reality, consequences of reality. It holds her back in a way. She has these big dreams, but not jet setting around the world. His life is more on the security side of the spectrum.
Poppy was so great for the role because I think she’s such a goddamn good actor. She’s so grounded and subtle. Although she has this background as a model, she’s a jet setter in real life. It is totally against her type in the movie. She does it so well.
LRM Online: You had Blake Anderson, who plays the comical best friend. Talk about him on the set, because I met him a few times. The guy’s hilarious.
Drew Mylrea: Blake is hilarious. When he showed up on set, he said, “You know, what? I love the script. I made a pact with myself not going to go off the rails or go crazy with improv.” And I said, “Blake, no problem.”
It sounded good until we started rolling the cameras. The first thing Blake did was go off the rails with improv. It was the funniest thing. His energy is so high. He has this great understanding of what the scene is about at the time. Sometimes with improv, it can go out there and lose track of the meaning of the scene. But, Blake always understood where the scene is going, and his relationship with the other characters.
His infectious improv can have the other actors going with him, but they ended up where they needed to go. A couple of times, we had to cut, because the crew was busting up with laughter. We needed to move on. Blake brought a lot to the movie. Not all of his lines were improv, but he had a couple of good ones in there.
LRM Online: One of the things that had me laughing out loud is the dance numbers in the movie. Was the awful dancing in the script? Was that your idea, or was it someone else’s?
Drew Mylrea: Originally, it was a sexy dance in the script. It was more like a sexy tango, like a Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Going back to a classic spy trope, you’re expecting this sexy dance number. I wanted to kind of blow the lid off and entertainingly subvert expectations. By throwing some contemporary music, we added some cool dance moves along with crazy dance moves. It’s pretty fun.
LRM Online: Admittingly, it worked. It took me by surprise, that’s for sure.
Drew Mylrea: [Laughs] Okay, good. That was the intention to be surprising. For the audience, there are serious themes in the movie. With like the cheesy effects and the dance numbers, it’s a reminder for the audience that this is a good time. It should be a fun movie to watch.
LRM Online: Could you talk about the villain? The villain takes a back seat in this film. However, you still went with a James Bondish-over-the-top-villain.
Drew Mylrea: Max Silvestri plays the villain. He does an outstanding job of seeing subtle. Intentionally, the movie is not really about the villain, so it took the back seat of the plot. In every James Bond movie, there’s going to be a nuclear warhead to blow up the entire West Coast. It doesn’t matter. The villains are going after the stupidest thing in the world of this pen. It ultimately doesn’t matter.
The villain, taking a back seat, reflects where our emphasis was on the film. The focus is on the relationship between Corey and Pam with what they’re going through. It’s not necessarily with this villain. More interestingly, Blake’s character is more of a villain who’s coming in and trying to interrupt this marriage. He almost plays more of an active role in disrupting Corey’s life than the villains.
LRM Online: Now, with the sets, let’s look at the headquarters, the house, and the lodge. Could you talk about keeping this as an independent spy film and with the challenge of that?
Drew Mylrea: Obviously, it was an independent film. Um, we shot in upstate New York near Lake George. When we first got there, we scouted areas that were available to us and used every favor. All of those are real rooms. We didn’t build any of that.
We filmed in a real house, which we didn’t go to any sets there. Honestly, with the headquarters, we built a bunch of [partitions] that we could move around and rearrange to create rooms. Again, we wanted the effects to feel artificial or old school feel like almost like fairytale-ish. The movie shot on a green screen with minimal sets.
LRM Online: It did sound challenging for you. Let me start wrapping things up.
Drew Mylrea: I’ve got one more thing to add to that today when you say it was challenging. Another thing that helped us, my cinematographer, Danny Grunes, and I, storyboard the whole movie as if it were an animated film. That helped us with building the sets to create a bigger world than we budgeted.
LRM Online: Oh, that’s it. That’s interesting. So that helped you tremendously through the plotline?
Drew Mylrea: Yeah, definitely. By showing the storyboard ahead of time, we can plan all of the frames with the actors and producers. Everyone knew what we were doing.
LRM Online: Could you talk about some of your future projects you may have after Spy Intervention?
Drew Mylrea: My next project will be with Drew Van Acker, the actor in the movie, and the producer Sunil Perkash, who produced big films like Salt with Angelina Jolie and Enchanted with Amy Adams. We’re doing a very contained post-apocalyptic thriller with the shooting in a couple of months. I can’t talk about the other cast, but it’s a cool, very different movie.
LRM Online: Excellent. Thank you very much, Drew.
Drew Mylrea: Awesome. Thanks again.
On February 14, Spy Intervention plays in select theaters and available on VOD.
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Source: LRM Online Exclusive