Luke Eberl is quite the well-rounded filmmaker. Not only is he a very experienced actor, but he’s got a number of credits to his name as a producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor as well and, with his upcoming feature The Movie, he’s putting the large majority of those skills to use.
Eberl is co-writing, directing, producing, shooting and editing the piece about a young man, played by co-writer Edgar Morais, struggling with financial troubles while trying to make it in the film industry out in Los Angeles. The character is ultimately swayed by the Hollywood elite and becomes part of a top tier social circle.
The Movie is still in production and very close to crossing over into the post-production phase, but Eberl took some time to talk about the film and share some exclusive stills as well as The Movie’s brand new poster. Check it all out for yourself below.
Movies.com: To start, can you tell me a bit about The Movie and what inspired it?
Luke Eberl: The Movie is about Clive who’s a young man who bottoms out financially in Los Angeles and he ends up meeting an agent who draws him into his powerful circle of friends in the Hollywood community. It’s sort of an exploration of personal identity built in the prism of show business, weaving elements through sexuality, paranoia, power and loss.
Movies.com: You’ve got a pretty extensive resume, whether it’s for your work as an actor, producer or director. So working in the film industry yourself, have you ever gone through something like this?
Eberl: Not exactly like this. I’ve been in the industry since I was a little kid, so I’ve met all kinds of different people throughout my experiences in this industry and so obviously everybody would draw some inspiration from their lives, but in the case of this particular story, it’s more of a universal story that just happens to be set in show business. It’s not only relevant to show business. It’s more of an examination of the personal dynamics, which I believe are not just specific to show business.
Movies.com: I know this isn’t exactly your story, but we do see a ton of films focusing on a small-town guy or girl going to Hollywood to be a star. Would you say that’s what sets The Movie apart from those types of films?
Eberl: There’s a lot about this movie that I think would set it apart. I’ve certainly never seen a story told in this exact way before. [Laughs] It’s tricky because I’m trying not to give away too much right now, but, let’s see – I guess I don’t really know how to answer that question. [Laughs] It’s more about this individual character and this particular story.
Movies.com: How about the financial crisis element? In some instances people shy away from movies covering the topic, but then we also get films like Margin Call. How are you hoping to connect to an audience in this respect?
Eberl: This movie, it’s not really so much about the financial crisis, but – how can I put it? This movie’s not a political message movie in that sense at all. It’s sort of set with somebody that’s struggling financially. I’m not trying to shy away from anything that might be relevant, but this is certainly not an issue movie.
Movies.com: How would you classify this movie?
Eberl: [Laughs] I guess if I had to put it in a shelf at the video store I guess it would be a drama. It’s tough for me to describe, but yeah, it’s about this character living in this world. There’s all kinds of feelings and emotions that are evoked throughout the piece and, yeah, I guess it’s difficult for me to describe it. But I guess it could be seen as sort of a drama thriller.
Movies.com: Well, it is a good thing when you don’t fit into a box like that.
Eberl: Yeah, exactly. I tried to approach my film not from the perspective of trying to fulfill the requirements of a particular genre, but to fully realize the spark of the inspiration of the idea as possible so that’s why it’s kind of difficult for me to pick those terms. I try to make my films create their own absolutely unique world.
Movies.com: This is your third feature film, so is there anything you learned from the others that you’re doing differently here?
Eberl: Every movie is so different in what is necessary to bring it to life. Every process is different. I obviously learn a lot every time I make a film and this movie, like all my other ones and hopefully like the ones I make in the future have done very unique things that require a totally different process for preparing than my other ones.
Movies.com: How do you feel about wearing four hats on a production? Do you prefer to have that kind of control over the process or do you ever get overwhelmed?
Eberl: Filmmaking’s really intense and if I only have one hat, it can be overwhelming. Filmmaking’s intense for everybody. It’s intense for the person making the food for people. But on this particular project, it was really good for me to be wearing all these hats because, yeah, I was able to maintain a very specific level of control over it. Every step of the process I was collaborating with my co-writer and the star of the film, Edgar Morais, who’s a really amazing talent. So yeah, in this project I enjoyed being able to be the cameraman and to be directing because like I said, it’s a very specific mood and a whole world that I was trying to create.
Movies.com: So how far along are you right now?
Eberl: We’re almost done. We have some more shots that we need to get and we’re going into post-production and stuff like that, but we’re pretty much done. We’re pretty much done with shooting. We have a couple more scenes that we need to get.
Movies.com: What’s the timeline looking like from here?
Eberl: We’ve been writing and we’ve been getting everything together and we’ll probably have about six months or so for post-production and stuff like that because we have a lot that we’re gonna work with, especially the post-production sound on this to get what we need to get. It’s just gonna take how long it takes to really fully realize the specific world.
Movies.com: That’s a pretty long process for something that’s not a major studio picture. What was it that dictated this schedule?
Eberl: There’s all kinds of factors that go into creating a schedule, but this one we really wanted to take our time. We didn’t schedule this movie in the traditional way where we’d have a block of time that this was the block that we’re doing the movie because a lot of times you do a schedule like that, you can have a scene or a shot that sort of got in the middle of the rest of the day of shooting and you have to rush through that and then just move onto the next one, but this one, we wanted to take our time. If I wanted to spend five hours on one shot that lasts only eight seconds of the movie, I wanted to be able to spend all day shooting that shot if necessary to get it exactly right.
Movies.com: From the producing side, how do your financial backers feel about that? Does anyone ever get nervous?
Eberl: I think our financial backers are happy that they’re gonna get the film that is as fully realized as possible and they trust me with that and that’s why they want to work with me because they know they’re not putting their money into something that’s just gonna be half-assed.
Movies.com: And for the directing portion of your brain, how do you like to prepare for a shoot? Are you big on storyboarding or anything like that?
Eberl: It depends on the scene. Some scenes that are gonna involve stunts or special effects or something like that, need to be storyboarded for the process. Some scenes, I just write out a very specific shot list. Some scenes I just use my intuition when I get to the set. Sometimes I come up with a very specific plan, a very specific idea of how I’m going to shoot the scene and then I get there on the day with the actors and I throw it all away and do something completely different. For me, it’s all about my intuition and all about following the very deepest part of my instincts. In the case of this film, some scenes were scripted to the tee and some scenes were completely improvised. Some had intensive rehearsals and some not. It really depended on the scene.
Movies.com: As a DP, do you refer to other films or perhaps art to draw inspiration for the look of the film?
Eberl: Yeah, everything. I draw inspiration from a whole variety of different art forms and from life, from music; I’m a piano player as well. And I’m, of course, inspired by lots of other films. I got a great piece of advice from a DP a long time ago who said to try to not learn film from film, but to learn film form life and from existence, that way it’s not like all the work is just referring to something else in the past, but hopefully drawing something unique from a true vitality.
Movies.com: How about the choice to shoot on film and not digitally?
Eberl: I prefer the look of film and it’s just so much more beautiful. And for this movie it actually made more sense for reasons of the story. We actually have some mixed formats in this movie, but most of it is on film. I love digital for some projects. Now is an amazing time for filmmaking because there’s so many different ways to paint, you know?
Movies.com: You mentioned mixed formats and visual effects. Would it be giving away too much to elaborate on the use of both in The Movie?
Eberl: Yeah, I’d prefer not to talk about that quite yet.
Movies.com: How about the cast? Can you tell me who everyone plays?
Eberl: [Olivia Thirlby] plays the assistant to the agent in the story. Lou [Taylor Pucci] and John [Robinson] play actors, Oliver Muirhead plays the agent and Steven Weber plays the father of this family.
Movies.com: So what’s the plan from here? What are you hoping for distribution-wise?
Eberl: We’re still working that out right now. Obviously we’ll try to get it out there to as wide of an audience as we possibly can.
Movies.com: How about festivals?
Eberl: Yeah, absolutely. We’ll be sending it to festivals when we’re done with this. Right now I’m just really focused on the movie.