Ben Gourley talks about the inspiration for this film, working with a unique cast and Writers Guild of America loopholes?
Ben Gourley isn't your typical writer/actor/producer/director... wait, IS there a typical writer/actor/producer/director? While this talented Utah native didn't direct his new film coming to DVD, Moving McAllister, he has an upcoming directorial project and he performed those three other duties on Moving McAllister. I recently talked to the multi-tasker on the phone about Moving McAllister and other things, and here's what he had to say.
How did you come up with this concept? Was it inspired by any real events at all?
Ben Gourley: Yeah, it was inspired by a move I did with my mom. I was moving my mom a couple hours north in Utah, and the rental truck was pretty much the same truck that was in the movie. It was terrible. It went about 25 miles per hour and the move that was supposed to be two hours, took the day. It was a rough one.
When you finished this script was this project a tough sell at all? Did you have anyone attached while you were pitching this?
Ben Gourley Jon Heder, I had gone to college with Jon, and he had agreed to do the part, and the part was actually written for him. So, he was attached. Mila came in a few weeks before we started shooting, actually. It was pretty close to shooting when she came on board.
You've got quite an interesting cast with Jon and Mila and the legendary Rutger Hauer. What was it like working with all of them?
Ben Gourley: It was great. It's a lot different, working with different kind of actors. Rutger is very... well, you can imagine how Rutger is. He plays those characters like no one else, and he's very trained in a theatrical film sort of way. Jon is just off his rocker, crazy-funny. He's very good with ad-libbing and just going with the flow. Mila's done television for so long, that she can hit beats and change things up so well. You can give her twenty notes and she'll do them all. She'll hit everything. Everyone was so different, it gave you a little bit of everything. It was like eating at a food court in a mall. You get a little bit of everything.
We've seen a number of these road-trip movies in the past few years. What do you think sets Moving McAllister apart from this pack?
Ben Gourley: It's a good, clean, fun movie with a good message at the end. It doesn't rely on the shock value that some road trip comedies do rely on. It was made for fun, and it's just supposed to be a fun movie.
Are there any special features on the DVD we should keep an eye out for?
Ben Gourley: I haven't seen the special features yet, but I do know there are behind-the-scenes featurettes. I think there are a couple of different ones. I'm supposed to be getting my copies in the mail tomorrow, so I'm not sure yet (Laughs).
Since you both wrote and acted in this movie, what do you get the most enjoyment out of, in general? Writing or acting?
Ben Gourley: You know, it's funny because I've had that question a couple of times, and I've had the opportunity to think about it. It's the difference between what I imagine what drugs would be, and what going for the job would be. Writing is a high. It takes time, it takes effort. You put so much in and you don't get out of it until you've really struggled and you've really put everything into it. Acting is just a blast. From the very get-go you're having a blast doing it. I think they're completely different, but they're both very enjoyable. Not that I've ever done drugs, but it's just a different kind of high. It's very fulfilling in a different way.
Do you have any thoughts on the writers strike, or are there any developments you've heard of that maybe we might not have heard?
Ben Gourley: I am not WGA, so I don't hear things right away. I'm not a member of the guild, yet. I do know that they've dropped a couple of their key demands, which is great. Anything that helps get on with filmmaking sooner is fantastic. I don't know how to answer that because I'm kind of on the production side and on the writer-actor side. It's a tough one for me.
Oh, I thought you were with the guild, with your credits so far.
Ben Gourley: Yeah, I'm not. There's certain rules with the guild where if you write or direct or produce, because I produced also on Moving McAllister as well. If you're a producer, you don't have to join SAG, or WGA or whatever. There are certain rules, and I kind of kept myself exempt from joining.
So it's one of the loopholes? If you're a producer too you just kind of Pass Go?
Ben Gourley: (Laughs) Yeah. Plus, being from Utah and making films there, I've never really had the necessity to join, I guess. But I look forward to the day when I'm a member of the guild. I mean, I don't really want people telling me when I can and can't work, but they're a necessity.
What can you tell us about Repo, and when that might be coming out?
Ben Gourley: I can tell you it's fun. We're editing right now, and having a blast doing it. My producer says April, and I'm going to do everything I can to get it ready by April. We'll see. We haven't shown it to any distributors yet, so we're just getting ready to start showing it around. It's been fun. It's a fun film.
Are you going to make the festival rounds with it too then?
Ben Gourley: I think we're gonna start. I've never done the festival circuit, really, and it's something that I'm really interested in doing. We haven't had it to the point where we can send it off yet, and now it's getting to that point, and I'm excited for it.
Is there anything you can tell us about Love and Mary as well?
Ben Gourley:Love and Mary was a fun little film too. It was a great film to be on. Elizabeth Harrison did a fantastic job. It's a cute, fun, touching movie. We shot that in Houston and I just flew in for a week and rocked out. I played a singer in a band, which was a blast! I played a singer in a band for a week, then I went home and then like five months later I got to see it and I was like, 'Oh man. You guys got me by the balls' (Laughs). But it turned out fun. It's really fun to watch that kind of stuff because when you're writing and acting and producing and directing at the same time, when you mix jobs, invariably, something's going to suffer, or something's not going to be as good as it could be. On Love and Mary, it was really fun to just come in and really give it all I had, in the terms of acting. It was a blast.
Finally, what do you want people to take away from Moving McAllister?
Ben Gourley: I'm a big fan of films that uplift, and people feel better after they see them, and I hope that people have fun with this movie, and just leave on an up note. That's what it was meant to do. My main goal with the film was to leave an audience happy and full of life, and hopefully it will take it's course.
Well, that's about all I have for you, Ben. Thanks a lot for your time.
Ben Gourley: OK. Thanks so much, Brian.
You can find Ben Gourley's film Moving McAllister on the DVD shelves starting today, January 29.