Dealing with college debt is hard enough without going to film school. Not only does film school accrue such a large debt, but it holds no promise of any work after you’ve graduated, and oftentimes, filmmakers have little more than a few screenplays or a short film to show for their work when finished (other than a degree, which can, of course, be used to get work in unrelated fields). Filmmaker Michael Perrone saw this and worked to beat the system, opting to spring for a full feature.
The end result was a film called Evol, and it’s out on Amazon Prime now for your consumption! I had a chance to chat with Perrone and discuss the making of the movie, as well as his numerous other exciting projects in the works, including one starring Matthew Lawrence and Harley Quinn Smith.
LRM Online: I mean this must be really exciting. I mean this is a film, from what I read, that was your college thesis and then Amazon platform just picked it up.
Perrone: Yeah, it’s a cool little story. About three or four years ago, I was graduating college, and I kinda was telling all my classmates. And it’s tough to take a short film and either get another job or be able to sell that and actually make any money. Our parents or everybody’s, you know, in debt from the school and when you go to film school, and the most you get out of it is like a short film.
So, I kinda got everybody together, and we raised about $100,000, little bit more, and we we’re able to shoot the film in about 25 days while we were still attending the school, and the cool thing about it is we have a good eye along with our casting director for talent, because you know as the film was getting edited and then distributing and going to festivals, all of our actors have going up and up, and you know one of our actors was the lead in “Halloween,” and another one won a Tony. Ethan Slater was nominated for a Tony.
So, it was nice to see this whole kind of young crew, the young filmmakers and actors kind of start building their careers as the film was being finished. And luckily we were able to get a connection with Amazon, and we’re just working with them in the future. And got our film up there and are making some money right now. We’re happy about that.
LRM Online: Well, very exciting it must have been. Now, when it comes to this film, you were the writer and director. As far as the writing goes, how did you come up with the concept of this story?
Perrone: I was in New York, and I had a phone conversation with my father about this woman who basically slept with one of her students in school, and she went to jail. And, when she got out of jail 10 years later they ended up getting married, and they had a family, and their lives went on. It kind of just, our story isn’t as deep as that, but it kind of sparked the idea what society does to us in terms of putting borders on love and to who and when are we supposed to love these people. What are they supposed to look like? It was kind of commentary on just how love is something that connects all of us, and there are about six different love stories connected to the story line of the film, and they all in their own way end horribly. It just sort of unifies people, and says that we deal with the same thing no matter what we look like, or who we are and where we come from.
So, yeah it’s a coming of age story, so it’s kind of about the kids learning about all the things and on their own time and personal hardships and obstacles. Everyone also likes to ask me if it was me, and I always have to tell people it’s not me. It’s totally fictitious. I’ve actually never been to a therapist and I need to go to one.
LRM Online: Don’t we all!
Perrone: It as kind of sparked by some news article. The next one we’re doing is all about power and the misappropriation of power, especially towards women and the fashion industry. So, everything that I like to create talks about societal issues and trying to unify people with a sense of… really separating what the real issue is and not the person who falls into a group or stereotype.
LRM Online: Yes, what I liked about your film is there no sugar coating, the reality is everyone in closed doors has issues with parents, partners, and that’s just part of reality.
Perrone: Exactly, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
LRM Online: So, tell me about the title, it was very clever, at first when I saw it I didn’t catch on, the backwards, and I was like oh duh.
Perrone: Yeah, you know we went back and forth with titles. The title I liked it just because it was what I thought this story was really about, a kid learning about love in a backwards way. Dealing with all the pain of love without having any of the actual pleasure, and I’m not just talking about romantically, I’m talking about with his family and friends and the kids starts off being beaten, arrested and all this other stuff that was happening negatively in his life. Now he gets to see the good side of love and throughout this he learns how good it feels to care for somebody. Even if it only lasts a moment, one moment is always fleeting so just appreciate what you have with somebody at the time that you have it.
LRM Online: So, I was kind of looking on the research, and the cover says Evol, but some that I’ve seen said the Evol: The Theory of Love, is that correct?
Perrone: Yeah, exactly. The reason we gave it this ultimate title was actually at the time, we were about to release the film, a famous rapper by the name of Future released an album called the same thing. So, we didn’t really wanted to get screwed up So we added this like little pseudonym. Then we came up with The Theory of Love, because the theory in the movie is that why we all basically put ourselves through all the heartbreak and hardships of love is for the one moment, where everything kind of stops and everything is just good and its just you and that person. That’s the theory that I was trying to preach in the movie, to really appreciate that moment where it just doesn’t matter about anybody else, because you are so entangled with this one human being. That’s kind of where that portion of the title came from.
LRM Online: Okay, so now let me talk to you as the director as the film. What were some challenges that you came across putting some of this from your writing material and scenes, what was one of your favorite scenes that you enjoyed filming?
Perrone: Well, it’s actually really funny, so I’m the type of director that really treats and looks at the script as a blueprint and I found once it is all there and once you know the story and script so well, that’s when you allowed to break rules and be improvisational and actually trying to create art. Film is such a structured form of art, you know what it’s supposed to look like prior to it looking like that. My favorite scene in the movie is actually it’s like a back and forth intercut scene with the couple played by Mathew Lawrence and Aynsley Bubbico and the other couple played by Conor Donovan and Andi Matichak, and the amount of track you go between the blue and red light and it’s highlighting the difference between their relationship and their young playful love, to the more mature, done with the honeymoon type of love. What I’m getting at though with this scene is it was totally improvisational, it was never written into the script, I gave them some notes and ideas to run with and they just took it from there and it turned out to be my favorite scene of the movie.
LRM Online: Oh okay, and where was the film actually filmed, was it really New York?
Perrone: Yeah, so it was filmed in New York, throughout most of the city which was a great challenge. New York, they have a great system for getting permits because its about $300 flat rate for in L.A. and other cities they can really just charge you whatever you want depending on what the location is. So we were able to get a lot of permits and we did everything the right way, but the permits don’t really allow you to stop complete traffic. So we spent a lot of time having to fight with people on the streets, nobody in New York really wants to stop for a film crew. That was definitely hard to a achieve in New York, but yeah it also gave it this authenticity, especially being 19, you really felt like you were there with the character and especially being from Los Angeles, at that time I had only been in New York for a year and a half. So, I was pretty new to the city too, I was kind of showing you through the lens of a tourist. So was our DP. Our DP was actually born in the Philippines and immigrated over here when he was 14. Crazy story. He taught himself how to speak English.
I met him though the ranks and he was doing all these music videos very gung ho driven guy and he was an integral part to the film being made, and I will be working with him in the future as well. We worked on the film and we saw it through the character’s eye and I think that added so much to what our hearts and our film was and our hearts were young just like the character himself. I look forward to shooting in New York again to see what a different lens I have, having lived there for so much longer.
LRM Online: Right okay, now maybe getting a little personal, if it was from your part. There was a dedication on the film dedicated to my mother and grandmother, was that from you?
Perrone: Well, yeah at the time my grandmother did pass away while we were making the film and it was unfortunate that she never even got to see it on Amazon. She did help out financially with whatever a grandma can do. My family had a typical middle-class white family drama growing up, 50% of this country getting divorced and so were we. I think that coming from divorced parents the problem is you lose faith in love and. It’s brought me to have this kind of edgy look towards relationships that might just be me. When I was working on the film I studied a lot of the Freudian theories and there is something to say about the psychology of feeling the absence of a mother or father and how it affects you in future relationships romantically. I can’t say that I come from a troubled past I came from a very nice life. But I think pain is unavoidable and everybody has their own pain and I definitely had family pain growing up, just as I know most of my friends did.
LRM Online: Well, thank you so much for sharing that. I know that’s a little personal, that’s why I was like, I know it’s a little personal, but I was just curious. I mean in this case you didn’t get to your grandma and I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m sure she is looking down and is very proud of you.
Perrone: You are so sweet thank you so much!
LRM Online: Of course, I know grandmas. To finalize is there something you can share that you are working on? You said you were going to be working more with Amazon.
Perrone: Yeah, we’re working on a great project called Kurt, it’s starring Mathew Lawrence who was in Evol. I have this thing about working with the same actors from the beginning and just kind of growing with them. I’m really excited for Matt to play that. He plays a misogynistic fashion photographer that is like borderline Harvey Weinstein-ish, I call this the post-Harvey Weinstein movie, it speaks about power, and it talks about how our society is perpetuating. You know, a famous director makes something, its a great piece of art and at the same time, he is doing something behind the scene that is negative. I feel as if we should not watch his art, because you pull yourself into your art and I believe that is extension of yourself and I think that if it is something that comes from a bad source we shouldn’t support that.
Perrone: So, I think this movie highlights and talks a lot about a very famous fashion photographer, who is fictitious, of course, but everybody is still loving the man but he’s really sick. In his journey, he falls in love with an upcoming model, which leads to his ultimate downfall. We have a lot of cool people attached, we have Harley Quinn Smith, who’s Kevin Smith’s daughter she’s awesome, Ian Nelson, Caitlin Carver as well. We plan on shooting at the end of July, at the beginning of July rather and the other big thing right now on the pipeline is a documentary in Venezuela about its past, present, and future. We are working with Venezuelan-born director-writer, so he’s taking the reins on that, but we’re providing financing and production services for that so that’s cool. Then we’re working horror TV series right now and we’re working on a comedy series as well that we will be pitching around next year.
LRM Online: Well that’s great, it sounds you have a lot ahead of you and a lot of great stuff that is coming up too.
Perrone: Thank you!
Evol: The Theory of Love is on Amazon Prime Video.