“There’s no happy ending here.”
Shock Till You Drop: The billboards have officially invaded Los Angeles. Crazy for a film that was done outside of the studio system.
Eric Balfour: It is crazy, man. The coolest part about this in my mind is it was made with an outlaw spirit. In some ways, it was a giant “F U” – not to the studio system – but to the people who said, “You can’t do it.” We wanted to make it happen and we did make it happen. That’s what Relativity and Universal saw. These guys made it happen. I love making movies and I love watching movies, so I have nothing against the studios. Without them, what we’re be doing would be impossible, but the lack of cynicism with which this movie was made, I’m really proud of them. Here we are months after we wrapped and there are billboards. This is my first lead role in a huge studio release. Yes, I’ve been a part of a lot of movies, but this really means a lot to me.
Shock: That said, what separate this shooting experience from the other pictures you’ve done?
Balfour: The biggest different between this and your normal studio movie is there was no “business.” We were a bunch of people – at the beginning – knew we were banding together with like-minded artists. Everything was personal. We stuck up for one another, we fought with one another, we were fighting for the same goal. There was never any, “this is not what my contract says.” It’s either we make it or we don’t. It was cool to be on set, it was hard, we didn’t have fancy trailers, but the end product was fantastic because it had heart.
Shock: Well, as leading man, who do you play?
Balfour: My character, Jared, is a young artist who grew up in New York and is a painter. He comes to L.A. to visit his best friend. All of this business in the movie – the alien invasion, the end of the world – for my character, specifically, it’s a catalyst to either continue being a boy or learn how to become a man. That’s the crossroads he finds himself him. Faced with the end, he has to choose what he wants to be. That’s what I’m excited the most about. People see the preview and see all of these great scenes, but they’re going to get so much more than they think they’re going to get. The other exciting part for me, is all of the hardcore fan boys who are saying, “Oh, what is this Independence Day 2 or War of the Worlds?” I’m sitting in my house laughing because they couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, I understand why they’re saying what they say. But if you play close attention, there are other things going on beyond the alien invasion. There’s no happy ending here. This is not a Disney movie. All you need to know is we give nothing about the plot of the movie away in the trailer. We give the world away, but the character stories, we don’t give away. And I know what the treatment to the sequel is, and I think it might be even cooler than the first film.
Shock: I presume there is more than meets the eye with the alien ships and monsters we’ve seen.
Balfour: There is a mythology and physics to what they’re doing that people don’t quite see in the trailer. They get a sense of it though. The biology of how everything works is really cool.
Shock: There’s certainly diversity in the designs of the ships and creatures.
Balfour: What Liam and Josh, the writers of the movie, did a great job of was: If you have this advanced intelligence, whether it be friendly or not, what could they do that we, as humans, don’t have the ability to do? Beyond the aliens attacking us, there’s this whole subversive motive and ability that they have that’s far beyond what people think it is.
Shock: Was it an easy shoot?
Balfour: The most difficult stuff definitely takes place at the finale of the movie when shit really hit’s the fan. We were on the roof of this building hanging from scaffoldings and off the edge of buildings being thrown around. It was intense, there were certain things we wanted to accomplish. But we did certain thing that, if it was a studio movie, we never would have been able to do them.
Shock: Has it opened your eyes even further about what the definition of an “independent film” is?
Balfour: Colin, Greg, Liam and Josh have redesigned the model for how filmmaking has been made. There are a lot of people looking at what we did saying, “Holy shit, we can make a movie look big budget,” because basically we’re all partners in this movie, we’re making this movie together. This is an interesting model now that I don’t fully understand, because I’m not that smart [laughs], but it’s pretty cool, man. We were fortunate that Relativity, Universal and Brett Ratner believed in us so much, but they came in after the movie was done. You look at this movie and, yes, it’s a guerilla-style film that just happened to have a couple of bad-ass dudes that knew what they were doing.
For photos, trailers, clips and more from the film visit this link.
Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor