Logline: After being taunted by a cocksure “big shot” at a coffee shop, a timid young man enlists his two best friends to help him track his newfound bully down and put him in his place. They do just that, but misguided machismo then fuels an escalating battle of wills.
Length: 83 minutes
Directors: Brad Ellis and Allen C. Gardner
Producers: Gabe Arredondo, Brad Ellis, and Allen C. Gardner
Writer: Allen C. Gardner
About the writer, director and producer:
Allen C. Gardner (Co-Director/Writer/Producer) - Allen is a life-long storyteller who loves making movies and staging plays with his friends and is always excited about expanding their community.
Brad Ellis (Co-Director/Producer) - Brad Ellis is a film enthusiast whose passion for making movies is (very likely) a direct result of his unbridled obsession with John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN.
Gabe Arredondo (Producer) - Gabe Arredondo is a Houston born filmmaker and one half of Los Angeles-based production company Open Dialogue Productions.
Key cast: Allen C. Gardner, Matt Mercer, Drew Smith, Maria Waslenko, Adam Burns, Gabe Arredondo, Matthew Gilliam, Nathan Ross Murphy, Jonny Victor, Hayden Wyatt, Rob Benedict, and Richard Speight, Jr.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Funders: Adam Burns, Brad Ellis, Sean T. Faust, Allen C. Gardner, Matthew Gilliam, Adam Johnson, Drew Smith, and many gracious Kickstarter contributors.
Made in association with: Old School Pictures, Open Dialogue Productions, and New School Media
Release date: TBD
Where can I watch it at Dances With Films?
You can see BAD, BAD MEN at Dances With Films on Sunday, June 5 at 7:15 PM. The festival is held at TCL Chinese Theatres (6925 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028). Tickets are available through these sites: http://www.badbadmen.com/, https://danceswithfilms.com/bad-bad-men/
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! Well, I wanted to make a comedy that dealt with the male ego and modern day masculinity, and how all of that can sometimes rear its head in foolish ways. In particular, I thought it was crazy how a lot of bullies consider themselves to be strong, alpha males, when really they’re incredibly weak people. Ironically, and sadly, a lot of those bullies’ victims think of themselves as being the weak ones. So, yeah, I wanted to explore the absurdity of those outlooks and the childish tendencies that guys can embody when they’re trying to act tough just for the sake of appearing to be macho.
I also wanted to direct a movie with my longtime friend and collaborator, Brad Ellis, and for us to make it with my good buddy and producing partner Gabe Arredondo. This felt like the ideal vehicle for the three of us to take that journey with, and I was also excited about working with a lot of our friends again, both in front of and behind the camera. I knew it would be a fun and rewarding project that we could all dive into.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You’ll connect with it on some level, and you’ll identify with or recognize these characters. The film is a flat-out comedy, and certain actions and circumstances are slightly heightened, but it’s all rooted in things that are very human and relatable.
It’s also a sweet-natured movie that celebrates friendship, family, love, individuality, and integrity in a way that isn’t cloying or manipulative. Also, it’s funny and ridiculous in all the ways that the team and I love, so there’s that!
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
From my experience, the more personal our movies’ themes are, the more universal those themes become. A big part of my job as a storyteller is to be as specific and honest with my viewpoint as possible. No movie is for everyone, and trying to create a movie that’s for everyone is not only far from the point, it’s debilitating to creativity and expression.
You have to tell a story that’s indicative in various ways of who you and your team are, a story that represents what you have to offer at that point in time. That’s the only way that you can stand a chance of really connecting with and engaging any member of an audience.
We all deal with the same issues in our own ways, and we’ve all felt joy and pain and everything in between. Some people just don’t open up as readily or put themselves out there as much as others. If you tell a story that resonates with you and your team and you really love it, that story has the ability to be universal and connect with the audience that it’s supposed to.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The essence and heart of the story and characters were established in the first draft of the script, but we love bringing things into sharper focus with every passing draft, every take that we shoot, and every editorial choice that we make. Until picture and sound are locked, making a movie is an on-going process of refinement, and you have to stay open to the possibilities and make choices that will strengthen the movie as a whole.
Every “little” decision counts and adds up. We had an absolutely amazing cast and crew on this movie, and Brad and I worked with an incredible editor, Laura Jean Hocking, who did such a great job and was a wonderful sounding board for us. Making those tweaks, adjustments, and cuts is always exciting and fun, and I’m proud of the work that we all did to make this movie what it needed to be.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We’re about to have our world premiere at Dances With Films, so we’re excited to start getting feedback!
We’re all confident about the movie that we made because we know exactly why we made it and can stand behind those reasons. Based off of past experiences, you have to welcome feedback and remain open to it, but you also have to keep in mind that everyone who sees it is bringing their own personal tastes and perspectives to the conversation.
When I give filmmakers feedback about a script or a movie, I try to help them further zero in on the story that I feel like they’re trying to tell. We all have our own sensibilities and approaches to storytelling, which is part of the beauty of it all. So, yeah, you have to be receptive and appreciative yet evaluate any feedback through the prism of “What story are WE trying to tell?” Filmmaking is an ongoing learning experience, so, after we start hearing the response to this film, we’ll see what lessons we take into our new movies!
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We tell stories that we believe in with people who we love and respect, so we want to share our team’s work with as wide of an audience as possible. With We Are Moving Stories, we’d love to expand our audience in various ways, and we want to connect with other filmmakers and people who are passionate about movies and their own lives. We love your mission statement and feel like you’re building a community that we could really thrive within, so thank you for the opportunity!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We could benefit from any and all of the above! We want to forge relationships with more festivals and team up with the ideal distributor. Producers, sales agents, buyers, and journalists could definitely help us to extend our reach and further our development. Really, we’d love to talk to anyone who might be enthusiastic about our work and want to get the word out there more!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I’d love for the movie to entertain and make people smile while starting and continuing conversations about how we can be better to each other and ourselves. People have to deal with cruelty and self-doubt on a regular basis, and I want this movie to help alleviate that pain and bring people joy in whatever way that it can.
A lot of movies and music and art of all forms have helped me feel less alone and more understood over the years, and I want our work to have that kind of affect on as many people as possible. Also, I want BAD, BAD MEN to get people talking about and setting up dream funds. That last one will make more sense after you see the movie!
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
“What does being a strong person mean to me?” People seem to have a wide range of answers to that question, and I think that some of those answers can be pretty toxic. For me, true strength comes from allowing yourself to be vulnerable and as loving as possible. It comes from doing whatever you can to bring more positivity into people’s lives as opposed to detracting from it.
I want people to consider how they’re approaching the world on a daily basis and if they’re doing so with their guard up or with their arms wide open. That’s something that we should all take stock of more frequently.
Would you like to add anything else?
I think that a lot of people draw too many dividing lines when it comes to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, financial status, and other factors that don’t truly define who someone is. I hope for more and more of us to acknowledge our commonality while still celebrating our individuality.
Most of the main protagonists and antagonists of this movie are men and the film deals a lot with machismo, but that’s just because we’re bringing our specific perspective to the table. The themes and emotions that are inherent in BAD, BAD MEN are ones that everyone can relate to in some way.
I wouldn’t want the movie to be seen as just being a “man’s movie”. I think that those kinds of labels are limiting and destructive. Also, the movie is much funnier than my serious response to this question, I promise! Ha!
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I wrote, directed, and acted in a romantic comedy/drama called SAVE YOURSELF. I produced that with Gabe and am editing it right now. We had a great shoot and can’t wait to get it out there! Brad, Gabe, and I are in pre-production on a supernatural comedy called COLD FEET, which we’ll shoot next spring, and Gabe and I are also in pre-production on the dramatic thriller BURN IT DOWN with our good friend (and one of our BAD, BAD MEN castmates) Matt Mercer. We have a few other movies lined up for after we make those, so we’re excited about a lot and looking forward to connecting with more and more people!
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela