411 Talks w/Jeffrey Orgill About His Dark Comedy Boppin’ at the Glue Factory
The B-Movie Interview: Jeffrey Orgill
Jeffrey Orgill is a noted indie writer/director who has been kicking around the film world since the mid-1990’s. He’s been involved in every aspect of movie production, from editing and music to writing and producing and directing. His first feature film effort as a director, Boppin’ at the Glue Factory, is a strange, dark comedy about addiction that takes place at an old age convalescent home. Boppin’ has won awards all over the world at various film festivals and is a fine example of a truly creative mind at work. Orgill was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about Boppin’ at the Glue Factory, what it took to get his vision on the screen, and what the future holds for him in the world of filmmaking.
Bryan Kristopowitz: When did you know that Boppin’ at The Glue Factory would be your first feature film as a director?
Jeffrey Orgill: Truthfully you don’t really know a film is going to happen until it’s actually happening. And with a low budget indie film like Boppin’ at The Glue Factory it can take many years to get through each of the steps.
I’d written other short and feature length scripts before, but Boppin’ at The Glue Factory was the most meaningful as a first feature to direct. It was inspired by a very intense personal experience – my close friend, a Hospital Operating Room Technician, had become addicted to intravenous drugs. This traumatic emotional experience, coupled with a divorce I’d just gone through drove me to work and focus on something positive, like fulfilling my dream of making a feature film. I submitted the script to the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and it was a semi-finalist. This encouraged my producing team, Brian O’Malley, Roger Mayer, and Christo Dimassis, and I to push on and get the film made.
BK:How long did it take to shoot Boppin’ at The Glue Factory?
JO: It’s been a long journey. I started writing the script in 1997 with my co-writer Hector Maldonado. Around 2001 I enlisted co-writer Brian O’Malley who later became a producer on the film. We didn’t actually start filming until 2005 and our festival premiere was in 2009. We did a one year festival run playing festivals and winning awards in Europe and North America. We’ve recently released the film on Amazon in the US, UK, Japan and Germany. An iTunes release is next to be followed by others.
BK: Where did you film Boppin’ at The Glue Factory?
JO: Boppin’ at The Glue Factory was shot in Los Angeles, California. We filmed the convalescent home scenes at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. Other scenes were shot in Echo Park, Balboa Park, Silverlake, Los Feliz, Pacific Palisades and East Hollywood.
Aside from a few rented locations like the State Hospital, we used homes and apartments we already had access to. A third of our budget went into renting the hospital location, and that money was all for renting a required security guard who was always working on overtime pay rate. The actual location was totally free as part of a film production program in California.
The Metropolitan State Hospital location was also used in Tim Burton’s film Ed Wood and other films and music videos.
BK: Is the convalescent home seen in the movie an actual convalescent home you were allowed to use, or was it something else that you renovated into a convalescent home set?
JO: We dressed the Metropolitan State Hospital’s unused mental illness ward as a nursing home for Boppin’ at The Glue Factory. It’s quite a creepy place and we had some misadventures there. We almost got our production shut down because a cast member had a six pack of beer smuggled onto the premises! Since the unused ward we filmed on is located on the grounds of a working hospital for the mentally ill they had very strict rules about its use. Only a few hundred feet away was a thirty foot high fence topped with razor wire which corralled the outdoor area where the criminally insane patients were housed. This atmosphere suited the tone of the film because of the satirical, socially conscious storyline about trust, addiction, making friends and getting by in a nursing home.
BK:What does “Boppin’ at The Glue Factory” mean?
JO: “Boppin’ at The Glue Factory” was a title we brainstormed by making a list of 100+ possible titles. I still have that list in a box somewhere in the basement. People have taken all kinds of meanings from this bizarre title. One key thing is the word ‘boppin’’, which just sounds fun, right? “The Glue Factory” is an antiquated saying referring to the long gone practice of sending old horses away to be turned into glue, which used to be made from animal parts. It’s also been used as a euphemism for a convalescent home. “Boppin’” refers to Bebop jazz, popularized by players including Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dexter Gordon. This is the type of music the film’s main character, Tharin Sanders, plays and wants to play louder.
BK: What changes, if any, were made to the screenplay while shooting Boppin’ at The Glue Factory? Did the movie turn out exactly like you thought it would, or did you have to make changes during the production?
JO: The screenplay for Boppin’ at The Glue Factory went through at least 12 drafts before we decided to make the movie. In the funding stage we got an investment by writing two minor characters into the film and giving one of them lines.
BK:According to imdb Boppin’ at The Glue Factory is also known as Junkie Nurse. What title do you prefer?
JO: I prefer the original title Boppin’ at The Glue Factory because that’s’ the film we made and the title captures that well. When the film was programmed to play festivals in France we needed to create posters and the title Boppin’ at The Glue Factory did not translate well into French. So we used the title Junkie Nurse as an easy solution, but it does not come close to capturing the spirit or tone of the film like Boppin’ at The Glue Factory does.
BK:When did you know that you wanted to be a director? Was it always a personal/professional goal or was it something that you sort of fell into?
JO: I actually started out in music playing keyboards and guitar in rock bands in high school. But a friend, my producer Roger Mayer, got me hooked on films like Taxi Driver, Videodrome and art house cinema. I became interested in using my passion for music to do scoring and sound design for films. When I went to film school at San Francisco State University I found myself drawn beyond sound design and music into editing and filmmaking. A crucial experience for me was seeing Spike Lee’s film Do The Right Thing because I really felt Spike Lee’s feelings pouring out of it and I realized that a person could communicate through film in a personal way akin to music. Until that point I’d perceived film as more of a “corporate product” type of experience. I’m sure many films before this had been preparing me for this change too, but that’s the film where it became a conscious decision on my part that filmmaking was something I would pursue. And later that year I started film school.
BK: You didn’t edit Boppin’ at The Glue Factory but your imdb page shows several editing credits. How did you get into editing? How important is it for a director to also be an editor?
JO: Editing is very important to filmmaking. In some ways it is filmmaking because that’s where all the pieces are put together – acting, cinematography, music, text, narration, effects – and orchestrated to create the final film. All the elements of filmmaking are important for a director to know, but editing is where the final “rewrite” of the film can be completed.
I actually did a lot of editing on the film myself and have a director’s cut “in the basement,” too. I hope to release this on the Blu-Ray disc someday as a bonus extra. I ended up using most of what Chris Miglio had done in the editing adding only discoveries I’d made while experimenting with my own edits. I realized later one of the reasons I’d made a feature was to have all this footage I’d directed to play around with in editing. This had the side effect of elongating the editorial process.
A key turning point came when Boppin’ was invited to the Independent Feature Project Filmmaking Lab for a one week workshop in New York with some of the top names in indie film. We met John Sayles, Ted Hope, and other talented editors, composers, and producers who consulted with us about our films. This process drove me into the final phase of completion on Boppin’.
BK:Could you briefly describe what the editorial process is for a reality show like Badass! or Playboy’s Beach House.
JO: Editing Badass! and Beach House was complicated because I was juggling post on Boppin’ and had just had my first baby daughter. I will get into the gory details in my upcoming film book I’m writing, How Indie Filmmaking Destroyed My Life.
BK: What’s the difference between shooting a short film as opposed to a feature film?
JO: In a short film you might be able to spend more time working on the style or look of the film. If you shoot for a day or two or three to create a short you are working with a fresh cast and crew and you can max out your days. A low budget feature film is a longer haul and often comes down to just getting the shot and moving on due to lack of time and resources. Often, scheduling conflicts will determine what can or can’t be filmed any given day due to actors availability. We lost our lead actor, Henry Dittman, for a week in the middle of shooting Boppin’ and that forced a whole bunch of creative shooting solutions with doubles for the actor, alternate shots not using actor faces and so on. We made it work and actually used it to make the film better, but that could have been an end to our production if we hadn’t figured it out.
BK: Who are your movie making heroes?
JO: There are many films and filmmakers who have inspired me to keep going in this consuming art form, but some that always jump to mind, who helped me push through the years it took to complete Boppin’ at The Glue Factory include Hal Ashby, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Jane Campion, Gus Van Sant, Martin Scorsese, Kelly Reichardt, and Alex Cox.
BK: Any new upcoming projects?
JO: We recently launched FilmBudgeteers.com which allows filmmakers to create a 14-page line-item pro film budget fully customized and customizable for your film in just five minutes! Please check it out if you are a filmmaker and if you are not a filmmaker then tell your filmmaker friends about it. They’ll love you for that.
BK: What would a potential sequel to Boppin’ at The Glue Factory look like?
JO: The Girl with The Wandering Eye is a screenplay I’m working on with co-writer Sarah Tatting-Kinzy about a young woman who is addicted to love. For some reason addiction keeps popping up as a theme in my films! So thematically it’s a sequel to Boppin’ at The Glue Factory with its strange take on lifestyles of the addicted.
You can check out Boppin’ at the Glue Factory here.
Check out Jeffrey Orgill’s imdb page here