“Honeyglue” is an amazing film that will challenge your ideas and perspectives on life. The entire project started as a way of processing a recent death. James Bird talked to Equality365 about the film, the process and the great cast of characters. It is screening Friday, June 17th at SIFF Film Center. The filmmakers will be present for a Q&A after the film. Get more info here
Short description of the film:
After learning she only has three months to live, Morgan flips her conservative protected life upside down. That is where she meets Jordan, a rebellious gender-defying artist, who takes her on adventure of a lifetime.
Earle Dutton: Could you tell me a little about your film “Honeyglue”?
James Bird: “Honeyglue” is a film that we made about a girl named Morgan who has three months left to live. Instead of following the tradition medical advice and staying home, she goes on this adventure to show that three months can be a lifetime if you live it right. You can do all the things you dreamt of doing. It is for all of the people that feel like there is no hope. I think as people we tend to push things down the line and think we can just do them later. Life is about actually doing it right now. You can achieve everything if you just get up and do it.
ED: What was it like to work with Christopher Heyerdahl?
JB: It was weird because when I received all of this clips he was this brooding bad man. Then I met him. He is super tall, like six foot four and just really sweet. You can see the warmth in his eyes. You could just see that he was going to be the perfect dad for the film. It was a shock. I just wanted to hug him as soon as I met him. I just wanted to hug him all of the time.
ED: What was it like to witness the transformation of Zach Villa into his character Jordan?
JB: That was really cool. He was the only person to audition for the role that actually dressed the part. He showed up in fishnets, makeup and a skirt. I saw him and knew that he was Jordan.
ED: What was favorite thing about working with Adriana Mather?
JB: I worked on a comedy with her right before “Honeyglue” called “Eat Spirit Eat”. She got to play this very quirky girl that just jumps into everything. Her character was one of those people that is a producer one day, a dog walker another, and a barista the next. I got to really see how weird she could be. In “Honeyglue” she is totally different. The research for this part was just devastating for her. She had to put herself in a lot of emotionally difficult situations. She had to meet people with cancer. She had to live their lives through their words. She had to learn to be those people. She had to learn to be these people but also pull the adventurous part of herself out and use it. She had to go on this adventure with Jordan and be that weird girl again. Her character carries the stress for her family. They are there but she is the one going through it all. She had to take on all that baggage but then in one moment just drops it all and goes.
ED: What is your favorite part of this movie?
JB: I think it is the bar scene near the end when she does the impromptu lipping syncing of The Grass Roots song. It is almost like karaoke. The whole message of that song is to live for today. It was my favorite part to shoot because she had to learn that entire song and the choreography for it. We have her climbing over people and on the couch. She does this huge choreographed thing for this song but when we filmed we did it in double time. She had to do all of that to this almost Mickey Mouse sounding fast version of the song. We slowed it down later. That was the most fun to watch.
ED: What was the impetus behind this screenplay? How did it come about?
JB: While filming “Eat Spirit Eat” ,our composer/producer, Anya Remizova’s father died of cancer right in the middle of filming. That was pretty devastating to all of us but we were right in the middle of filming a comedy. I personally didn’t have time to stop what I was doing and cope or deal with it until after filming. I feel like my way of coping was to write it all down. I started doing all of this research on how someone could be diagnosed with cancer and then die so fast. It was mindboggling to me. I couldn’t understand it. My way of learning it was to write it all down into a screenplay form.
ED: What was Anya’s first reaction when you talked to her about the idea?
JB: I don’t think she understood everything that happened either. It was hard for her to wrap her head around it as well. It was a shock to everyone. I think for her to work on this film, creating music around this story and remembering her dad in this way was a huge help. It made something pretty sad become something pretty productive. The one thing we realized is that cancer affects everyone.
ED: What do you find is the hardest part of the filmmaking process?
JB: Well, there is preproduction but I love all of that. I also love the filming. I guess it would have to be postproduction. When you make a movie you actually make the movie three times. You plan it all out. You hope that part goes smoothly. Then there is the filming which is super fun. In postproduction you are making the movie again but for the audience. You are setting the pace and the tone. You have to figure out your market. You can’t make it too long. Most directors want three hour cuts because they love everything. You gotta learn to say goodbye to some of your favorite scenes because they don’t make perfect sense for this thing that you chose to go right before it. I guess the most difficult part is making the movie three times and still ending up with your initial idea from the beginning.
ED: What is your favorite part of the process?
JB: I would say the filming. I get to surround myself with everyone that is smarter than me. I get to have everyone that is experts in their department surround me. I know that everything is going smoothly. Most people think that the director is the most important part of the movie. The truth is there they are not. They are just one piece in the overall scheme.
“Honeyglue”is screening Friday, June 17th at SIFF Film Center. The filmmakers will be present for a Q&A after the film. Get more info here