After a number of successful festival screenings last year, Lovely Molly was recently released to Blu-ray/DVD. I had a chance to interview director Eduardo Sánchez and star Gretchen Lodge, and learned about the initial concept, the audition process, and filming some of the difficult scenes from the movie:
With so many possession films being released these days, why was Lovely Molly the project that you decided to go forward with?
Eduardo Sánchez: Jamie Nash is my writing partner and he had this idea for a possession movie. The basic idea was following someone going through a possession. It was the perfect found footage idea and something really hit me with this story.
I've always been interested in doing some kind of exorcism or possession film. I started writing and it went in a direction I wasn't expecting, where it became an exorcism movie without the exorcist. Usually, the way our collaboration works is that Jamie does most of the writing. He writes a first draft and I polish it up, but this one didn't work that way. The story kind of possessed me and by the end, I realized there was no room for an exorcist.
Was the idea always for this movie to have found footage elements? Did you ever seriously consider going all found footage or no found footage with the movie?
Eduardo Sánchez: The original idea Jamie came up with was someone videotaping themselves going through a possession. I wasn't really interested in making a found footage at that time and I had written this before Paranormal Activity came out. There wasn't the found footage craze that there is now and I was hesitant in making another found footage movie.
Even with The Blair Witch Project, there was this constant work to address why they were still videotaping themselves. I wanted Lovely Molly to be more honest than that and be a more traditional movie. It was an experiment to see if we could mix these elements and I think it worked pretty well. I'm happy with the result and it's a more conventional film than a regular found footage movie.
Did you have difficulty securing financing for the film, wish such a dark subject matter?
Eduardo Sánchez: We shopped this project and had some studio interest, but everyone thought it was too dark. They didn't know how we'd be able to tell this story and still sell tickets to teenagers. We ended up making this independently and this is the first film I shot in Maryland since The Blair Witch Project. It was great being able to go home and see my kids and wife after shooting.
I wanted to talk about Gretchen because she really sells the movie. This was really make or break based on her performance and I wanted to know what made you decide on her for the role.
Eduardo Sánchez: We went to New York to tap into undiscovered talent over there, which was the same way we did it for The Blair Witch Project. We said we were making a movie and wanted to audition people, and were lucky that Gretchen showed up and completely knocked us off our feet.
I had seen people say the same line all day, but she found a way to captivate me. There were interested actresses who were more well-known than Gretchen, but the big thing for me was finding someone who was going to be able to handle everything that was needed for this movie. I felt that I could trust Gretchen because of her attitude. She was always very professional and we got along really well. She completely trusted me, I completely trusted her, and I think that's why it worked.
Can you tell me about your acting background prior to Lovely Molly?
Gretchen Lodge: I grew up doing theater, theater, theater. I wanted to go to school, study, and do theater for the rest of my live. I studied theater in London and wanted to branch out and find a different medium to work in. There's a different type of storytelling that comes from film and it really piqued my interest. I relocated to New York, because it felt like a fresh start and a new beginning.
Thankfully, I had some interesting projects come my way, including Lovely Molly, which was perfect timing for me. I had only been in New York for six months.
The material is pretty dark to the point that it would probably turn many actresses off. What made you want to take on the role?
Gretchen Lodge: I saw very little from the first audition. It was only a paragraph or so, but it was so different from anything else. I immediately had a sense of the character and the project outline showed me a strong female lead. When I saw the script, it was raw and wasn't trying to sugarcoat anything.
Ed was very concerned and made sure I read the script and was aware of everything that was required of me. Because of the dialogue and his concern, I knew this wasn't going to be done for kicks and that he really cared for me and the material.
How did you prepare for the role? Did Ed have you read or watch anything as inspiration?
Gretchen Lodge: From the beginning, I was free to prepare however I wanted to, but we'd go back and forth to develop the character. I did watch some of the possession videos and look into actual psychological disorder cases and he's send me some as well. We wanted to go as far as we could with it and it was really fun. It certainly added to the dynamic of the character, which is what Ed wanted.
It seems like there were plenty of challenging scenes to shoot. What were the most difficult parts for you?
Gretchen Lodge: I think the most difficult part was filming the scene between Molly and Sam in the basement. It was very oppressive and dusty down there. There were props going wrong and it seemed like the longest day ever. There were so many elements that weren't coming together. I feel like the reason it came together is because Ed is such a strong and trusting director with his cast and crew.
Also, the lip bite scene was pretty difficult for a variety of reasons. There was choreography and special effects involved, and as strong of a bond as you have with your actors, there's always that fear about how much of the struggle is real and wondering where the boundaries are. Thankfully, everyone was incredible.
How long did the lip bite scene take to film?
Gretchen Lodge: It took all day. There was also time for makeup, so that added to it. It was divided up, but it was pretty intense going from one thing to the next. You get to the climax and the makeup has to be done for each take. That was challenging in its own way and took a full day of shooting.
Catch up on our recent coverage of Lovely Molly with the following links: