26 January, 2009

Film of the Week: "The Butterfly Effect"

Written and directed by J. Mackye Gruber & Eric Bress

"THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT made quite a splash spec wise, didn’t it?

J: We were in NY for the festival when it went out and we were so wrapped up in the festival we didn’t really think much about it. Then we got called a day or two later and were told we had 50 meetings set up when we got back because everybody wanted to take it into studios.

But it didn’t sell at the time.

J: No. Because the subject matter was really dark. Everyone liked the story but were afraid it was pushing the envelope.


Eric: Because it’s a BACK TO THE FUTURE type premise dealing with some harsh elements like; prison rape, pedophilia and kiddie porn. A great overriding story with subject matter so dark nobody really knew what to do with it.

So what’s that like? When you go into these meetings where everyone’s telling you how much they want to make your film but the buck keeps getting passed.

J: It can be really frustrating because the people who were in love with it most, the ones who kept saying, ‘We must get this made!’ were all the younger execs. And the older execs– the ones with the power of the pen– were saying, ‘Uh, I don’t know about this.’

Eric. So most of the young execs were as flustered as we were. They were willing to bet their jobs on this product and went upstairs with a big smile on their face and came down with a big bruise on their ass having no idea what the hell just happened (laughs). The frustration got as contagious as the joy.

J: It all worked out pretty cool though, because it put us on the map, which led to more work and more sales, which validated us. "

Interview in full


"The Butterfly Effect is a very intelligent, thought-provoking movie with many twists and turns throughout the plot. Were you ever afraid the audience would get lost too easily or be put off?

J. Mackye Gruber: Yeah, I guess that was always a concern. It was a concern that production companies around town when they first saw it was like 'Well not only is this really dark material, but its really complex and could you guys pull it off?' And would anybody be able to understand it? Some people, you know, saw the script and loved it and a few people would read it and be like, 'Wow - it's so dark.' Sometimes, people would read it and lose track of things. It was complex and that's why when we came down to the shooting style of it we wanted to make sure that everybody was following along the way.

This movie is a total psychological, what I call "freak-out", that pretty much had me curled up in a ball the entire time I watched it. Where did you get the idea for such a brain-teasing thriller?

Eric Bress: I think when we first started writing we would trade ideas and go back and forth and say 'OK, the first script will be Jonathon's idea and the second will be Eric's' and we'll go back and forth. The first thing we did was a comedy and we knew that we wanted to, as soon as possible, branch out. Be like the Coen brothers who, every film they do is a completely different genre from the last film. You never know what you're going to get. When we started writing, it was my turn and I had this idea in my head. I had this idea about time travel and what if it were very different from a Back to the Future where you showed all the consequences of going back and changing the past. That's when we started working on it and brought this little kernel of an idea to life.

Did your work on Final Destination 2 ever influence the way you wrote The Butterfly Effect?

EB: Actually it was the other way around interestingly enough. We wrote Butterfly seven years ago and went around town with it. Everyone loved it. There's nothing better for a young executive to read than The Butterfly Effect because it's so creepy and it will never get made because its so out there and twisted. It took a while for the people over at New Line to eventually come up with the balls to make such a movie. But they read the script and then said, when we were hiring for Final Destination 2, 'Who are the sickest fucks we know for The Butterfly Effect?' And they knew those guys are fucked up so lets just get them on the case. After Final Destination 2, that's when they finally said, 'You guys are fun to work with so why don't we give you your shot.'

JMG: Yeah cause that was the most frustrating thing. When Eric came up with the idea almost ten years ago, in a way it was like a version of that. Our manager at the time was like, 'Oh this is too dark. People don't want to see this kind of movie. Go back to comedy.' So we kind of hid it away and then we surfaced a couple of years later when we met our present day manager who was like, 'Oh you've got to be working on this. This is cool.' And we felt kind of bad because we thought it was crap. So, we went back, structured it and figured it out and after we finished it we loved it. We wanted to make this. The seven-year journey began. First of all, it's a great script, but it's so dark it will never make money. It will never make a dime. People don't want to see this. And (people said), 'You guys are young directors and its so complex how could you ever think about pulling this off?' with kids and animals and every obstacle. But, I guess we are persistent buggers. That's what we are. "

Interview in full



"The ending is weak, and may be the result of the filmmakers writing themselves into a corner and not wanting to conclude things in a burst of nihilistic excess. Yet, even though it's a cheat, it retains a degree of resonance."

"As a thriller, The Butterfly Effect is iffy and uneven, but as a portrait of a people, it's effective and intriguing. "

"Inhabited by a genuine spirit of cruelty, both toward its characters and its audience. "





Thursday 29 January 2009, 10:35pm

1 comment:

Energetic said...

It would be good that you would include the final with the background music from Oasis I think where the guy sees her and both continues walking...Something similar occurred me today