On April 26th, the monster movie, ‘Something Else’ premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in New York City to rave reviews. ‘Something Else’ is co-directed by longtime friends and collaborators Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella. The film stars the awesome Jeremy Gardner (yes he acts too) and the amazing Brea Grant. The movie is about Hank and Abby’s relationship and how it turned into a monster. The story follows Hank (Jeremy Gardner) who finds a letter from Abby (Brea Grant) who has left without a reason. From that day on Hank battles a monster while struggling to understand the reasons why Abby left.
At The Roxy Hotel in New York City, April 28th, Christian A. Morán of LatinHorror.com walks into Press Room 4 to find a very hyper and joyful Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella and Brea Grant the team behind ‘Something Else’. Just picture this interview as everyone just having a good old time. Tons of nonstop laughter.
Christian A. Morán: I saw that you guys [Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella] have been friends for a while in Florida…Tell us about the friendship- how did it start and how did you guys come up to collaborate in films? I saw that you guys did other films together too.
Jeremy Gardner: Yeah, no this is my babyboy [Christian Stella], my right hand man. I’ve known him since he was twelve, I guess I was like 15, 16, which sounds weird but I was friends with his sister at the time so we just got close like that. We used to go to the movies all the time when I was in high school, that’s all we would do is drive around and go see movies. Christian was really really fat. Really really fat. And then we started making movies together. He was morbidly obese and now he’s not and it’s great, it’s an inspirational tale. But we were making fun little movies when we were in high school for years like about killer beanie babies and stuff like that. And then we started writing more and more and more. He started learning more tricks to the trade so he’s very technically savvy and I’m just like “I’ll write and do goofy shit.” And so we collaborate well in that regard because he can’t carry a film in front of the camera.
Christian Stella: No. No. No.
Brea Grant: And it’s to be determined if you can.
Morán: Where did the idea for the story come from? Where did it originate from?
Jeremy: It actually originated the way all my stupid scripts do which is I’m so bad at actually like plotting things out. I had an image in my head of a couch in front of the door. That was it. And then I told Christian I was like, “Dude what if we try this weird experiment?” I’ll write three pages but you have no idea what they are and then you add three pages and send it back to me. So I wrote three.
Christian: And then I wrote three.
Jeremy: And then I wrote three and then he never did it again. So I was like forget it you’re out.
Christian: You know what happened? We got to like page 9 and we got to the first dialogue scene and then you started writing all this Southern dialect and I was like, “I can’t write rednecks.” That’s exactly what happened. It’s all gone now. In the very first script it was like, “How ya doing?”
Jeremy: It’s all in there still.
Christian: It was written in dialect, you know what I mean?
Jeremy: He doesn’t like y’all and ain’ts but you know what that’s what we talkin’ about there and that’s how your gonna have to deal with it.
Christian: I was like I can’t write in that kind of dialect.
Jeremy: No, so it started as that and I also always wanted to do a monster movie. I don’t know why I chose that because they are not cheap to make but I have this grand vision that I will do zombies, monsters, ghosts, aliens, vampires, werewolves and then I’ll just be done. I just want to get all of the monsters out.
Christian: It’s the Gardner cinematic universe.
Jeremy: So yeah but then it was also about I was in a long relationship at the time and I was thinking a lot about long commitments and started to evolve into a romance. And the couch in front of the door became it’s because there’s something trying to get in outside and then they just started to slowly coalesce.
Morán: Yeah, I was gonna talk to you about that couch.
Jeremy: It’s a great couch.
Morán: In my review I talked a lot about foreshadowing and a lot of metaphors about relationships. I thought for instance the mixtape foreshadowed the relationship between Abby and Hank but as well as Hank’s relationship pattern. When we see the mixtape from that point on you said (Hank) it was a loop of one song, you said for ten years, you know, it connected the relationship with Abby and everything. A pattern of commitment, wooing a girl, having her around for 10 years and then it’s like where are we going?
Jeremy: Right, yeah.
Morán: So tell me about putting that mix tape in the film because you introduce it, then you stop? You show the romance, once you have that key dialogue scene between Abby and Hank in front of the door, the open door too out of all things. The next is that tape.
Jeremy: I don’t know how much the tape actually, I mean I love that you took all that from it. The tape was more a way to key back into that time in their life and connect it to the song at the end but the fact that it was for another girl and you know, who which presumably did not end well. And now he’s in this relationship that is also on the rocks. There’s probably something there. Were you [Brea Grant] the one who didn’t know that?
Brea: Yeah, that was news to me. That you put one song over and over again on a mixtape, did you do that too?
Jeremy: That was not in the script. That part wasn’t in the script.
Morán: I don’t remember people doing that in Gen X.
Jeremy: She never heard of put a song on, record it again so you don’t have to rewind it. You just let it play.
Brea: Never heard of that and I think I was shocked and I think you captured that shockness. I think you said it in the scene and I was like, “What???”
Christian: That’s like all your real reaction.
Jeremy: Yeah, it’s funny there’s like weird fake analogue bizarre technology in this movie right? It’s like that tape, and then ten years later he’s singing karaoke on a tape like it doesn’t matter right? It just suspends your disbelief and it’s about like hooking into the emotion of the moment and like the idea of him being like I don’t sing, I don’t sing, and putting himself out there and being vulnerable singing that song that was on that stupid tape is his way of saying, yeah I am, I’ll do whatever you want. I’m sorry, I’m an asshole.
Morán: The choice of the song, because I was going through the lyrics of “Stay (I miss you)” it just reflects the whole relationship, “Lovers in love and the other’s run away, Lover is crying ’cause the other won’t stay” “You say I only hear what I want to” This is a perfect song for the whole movie.
Jeremy: Yeah, that’s what we were thinking, we were like, “Wait a minute, this works!” Yeah, that’s like beautiful coincidences that with the song. The song was almost. We chose the song almost because so many people know this song. It’s such a beautiful song. But then you start to see all of the little moments that actually connect to the story. There’s the moment when he sings “Stay” and she does this tiny “okay” says okay. And it’s like oh yeah she left, stay, don’t go away again. And she kinda gives this subtle okay I won’t. That was never…it wasn’t that song in the script so it’s just amazing that those little things line up. Thanks Lisa Loeb.
Morán: How did you guys build the chemistry for the relationship?
Jeremy: We have a chemistry set.
Brea: We had only met once before I came to set. I think just once at Fantastica.
Jeremy: She was really mean.
Brea: I was not mean, I was really nice. I was a fan of theirs, I was a fan of the ‘Battery’ and so when Dave Washinger shot to me about this movie I was really excited about it because I’m such a huge fan of both of theirs. So I mean I don’t know, if you already are a fan of somebody I don’t think it’s hard for me to like already be in love with them when I got there.
Christian: Oh, that’s great.
Jeremy: I know, I’m so easy to love. No but she’s such a bro too. I’m still nervous, I’m still a fat boy at heart. I was fat too but I wasn’t as fat as him [Christian]. But so you know she was the last person to get to set. And you know it’s like, oh no now there’s Abby, there she is. And I got nervous because that was when I realized like “Oh my God” the entire movie will be hinging on whether or not these people are in love or whether anybody gives a shit. But as soon as you start looking at her eyes and acting, you’re good. It worked out. She didn’t go, “Ew gross” after our take which Christian saw. Alright we can do this. She didn’t excuse herself.
Brea: To throw-up. The story after every take.
Jeremy: After that, that’s how I always know they love me, if they don’t puke. They’re in.
Morán: How did you [Brea Grant] find your character?
Brea: I mean. It’s weird, I don’t. It’s rare for me to take role that I don’t really identify with in a strong way because I don’t think I’m that good of an actress and I have to be at least some part of the character has to be in me. So when I read the script, it was like I already felt like I knew her, I was on her side and I’m from a small town and have definitely been in a relationship similar to this one, to the one with Frank. It didn’t take a lot for me to like think about where the character was in her life, I felt like I really related to it. And anyone who’s seen the movie and is friends with me.. They’re like, “Wow, did you write that monologue?” No. Sorry I just happen to be very much in my voice and be similar situations that I’ve been in the past.
Jeremy: I was literally sitting at a Polish restaurant last night, eating pierogis and Justin and Erin were sitting there with me and I was like man I love this city, I’ve already had pho, and ramen, and Polish food and pierogis. And they were like oh he’s doing the thing… Oh the monologue from the movie, I wasn’t doing the bit. That’s real. If you live in Florida, every time you get to come to a place like this, you just have to eat all the good stuff. Except Christian, he just eats cigarettes.
Morán: Now tell us about the directing roles, you guys co-directed the movie? How was the process in the actual movie? Who’s doing what?
Christian: I’m a really technical guy so I also shot the movie. Jeremy focuses more on performances and then beforehand we both talk about like okay this is how we want to set up the shots. This is how we wanna do blocking, where will people be so that once we start I can get everything we talked about set up and he can focus on directing the actors and directing himself.
Jeremy: Yeah, and that way at the end of any take I felt great about the performances. I can just ask Christian if he felt great about the shot and if there’s anything wonky technically and then if he says we’re good, we’re good, move on. Let’s go. Let’s get it. No but it is really great because his strengths are not my strengths and I am an actor and he’s not so we can each tackle two separate sides of the coin and know that it’s great. If he ever comes over and questions my acting, I’ll knock him down in the mouth.
Christian: When I come over and question the acting you know there must be something going on.
Jeremy: He never does. So when he’s like “What are you doing with that?” “Oh my God, what am I doing?” If Christian is talking about acting, I must be doing something wrong.
Christian: Your slipping into a Southern draw right now.
Jeremy: I’ll be like Abby? Go anywhere… And all of a sudden I’ll talk like this and it’s not good. Oh no, I think I’ll do the rest of the interview like this. I can’t get out of it.
Morán: Let’s talk about Hank’s arch, the whole couch thing. The way I saw the monster was that it was Abby’s thoughts trying to get into Hank’s mind and heart. That’s why we only saw the scratches on the door.
Jeremy: You’re so deep.
Brea: I know.
Jeremy: So thoughtful.
Morán: It felt that way, even when you blew a hole on the door with the shotgun, that hole was Hank’s narrow mindlessness. Then you had the ball and chain which was the bear trap but it was her thoughts on the relationship trying to go in. That’s how I saw it.
Jeremy: That’s great. That’s amazing. I love how you interpret. I love when people interpret things beautifully that I was too stupid to think of.
Christian: I mean a part of that was we planned on something’s at the door and it’s like commitment.
Jeremy: There’s obviously a grand metaphor for fear of commitment, for your own monsters.
Christian: But the ball and chain stuff, stuff like that. That was the first time I heard that.
Jeremy: But my big thing that I was talking about this the other day I also just want it to be a monster, I want him to be grappling with these issues and also a monster came out of the woods. It’s ripe for metaphor and that’s what’s great you can interpret it however you want. It’s really just a guy trying to figure out how to make his girl come home and do the right thing and be a good man and not die. I’m not deep enough. I’m not deep enough to go much further than that.
For more on ‘Something Else’ read the Latin Horror review at: latinhorror.com/tribeca-2019-something-else/
The next Tribeca screening for ‘Something Else’ will be on Sunday, May 5th, 5:45PM at the Village East Cinema. For ticket information visit: www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/something-else-2019