Wisconsin is hardly the center of the film industry. Just look at the massive hype surrounding ""Public Enemies"" from two years ago––the final product only included a few scenes shot in Wisconsin, but it kept people entranced and was embraced as a ""Wisconsin movie"" despite how loose its cheesehead connections may have been.
But with the Wisconsin Film Festival, all of that changes for one week as film lovers from across the state converge on Madison to celebrate the best film Wisconsin has to offer. This year, one of those offerings comes from Baraboo native Evan Glodell, the man behind sleeper indie darling ""Bellflower."" A last minute addition to the lineup, the film jumpstarts the festival Tuesday night with a special free screening at the Bartell Theatre, and as it features one of the most promising filmmakers to come out of Wisconsin in years, the week will definitely start off with a bang. Recently The Daily Cardinal had the chance to speak with Glodell about ""Bellflower"" and what it means to show off his work in his home state.
Focusing on the story of two friends in California who spend their time preparing for a supposed oncoming apocalypse, ""Bellflower"" details what happens when a woman enters the mix, throwing things completely off kilter with dark and violent consequences. That storyline is fiction, but some of the film is based in reality. The two main characters, Woodrow (played by Glodell) and Aiden, are both Wisconsinites who moved to California, just like Glodell himself. According to Glodell, it means a lot to be able to showcase his work in the Badger State.
""It's huge,"" Glodell said. ""I'm kind of sad that I won't be able to be there for the screening, but I'm really excited my friends in Wisconsin will be able to go to a theater nearby and see it.""
The local screening is particularly important because when the project started, Glodell had no idea ""Bellflower"" would become as big as it has become, serving as an official selection at both the Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest.
""We're just blown away at how far this has gone,"" Glodell said. In fact, the film was picked up for distribution by Oscilloscope and will receive a theatrical release beyond the festival circuit this summer.
""This is way beyond where we thought we would go. We started out making this small film and now we have an actual release for it,"" Glodell said.
Part of the intrigue surrounding ""Bellflower"" is the way it was shot. Glodell filmed the project on his Coatwolf II camera, which he custom built. The Coatwolf II captures HD digital video but has its own unique rustic style to it. But the do-it-yourself attitude of Glodell doesn't extend to just his camera. According to Glodell, who served as director, writer, editor and lead actor, many people have asked him what it was like to tackle so many roles at one time. But due to the intimate nature of the project, Glodell never felt overwhelmed.
""Because of the way the movie was made, there were just a couple of us and we had no money at all,"" Glodell said. ""The whole [project] seemed like a small thing and it was just kind of the way it happened.""
But the project certainly won't remain a small thing. ""Bellflower"" was one of the most talked-about movies coming out of Sundance this year, particularly by The Daily Cardinal's own film columnist David Cottrell. And as one of the higher profile films playing at the Wisconsin Film Festival this year, that will likely be the same case for viewers in Madison. With the Wisconsin Film Festival, the isthmus gets a brief chance to dwell in indie film mystique, and with its festival reputation and Wisconsin ties, ""Bellflower"" seems like the perfect film to get things up and running.