INTERVIEW: Meet 'Spy Intervention' director Drew Mylrea
This Valentine’s day, Cinedigm is bringing movies audiences a different kind of romantic comedy with Spy Intervention. Although the story is set against the backdrop of a bigger than life world of espionage and intrigue, at the heart of the film sits a story about relationships, following Drew Van Acker as Corey Gage, a 007 style agent that is the very best at what he does. That’s about to change, however, when Corey falls for Pam (Poppy Delevingne) and decides to give up the spy life and settle into domesticity. Although he tries to leave behind his clandestine past, a new threat leads a former colleague (Blake Anderson) to pull Corey back into action. He may save the world, but he will potentially destroy any chance of a future with Pam.
Spy Intervention marks the feature film debut of director Drew Mylrea, whose passion for telling cinematic stories fuels the film’s eclectic genre mashup.
“When you go into the theater, you want to escape yourself in a way,” Mylrea tells Moviebill. “You want to escape yourself and lose yourself in the movie. Then you want to feel something profound at the end. I think that, by having a hyper-real world [like this], then you can still be grounded emotionally. Those are the movies that I feel like I respond to the most emotionally and that I get the most out of… I thought if we presented the spy world in this way where you knew you were in a fairy tale, it would come across as a fable. That way, we could do something a little different. A little special.”
Working with production designer Rob Ebeltoft, Mylrea devised a way to use miniatures to stylish effect, building a look that Mylrea likens to the 1966 Batman series.
“The idea just kind of came to me that we should use these models that the audience knows are fake,” he continues. “It should look like this a fairy tale because the movie is about a character who is stuck between worlds of security and adventure… We’ve all seen those big James Bond movies and we know what good special effects look like. I thought this would be a great way to do it for a lower budget, but to also poke some fun at the genre and have fun with it.”
Born and raised in Santa Cruz, Mylrea knew early on exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
“I started, at a young age, playing around with cameras,” he recalls. “I definitely rode the wave of the first consumer cameras.”
By the time he was in high school, Mylrea was ready to make films and found serious encouragement from his drama teacher.
“She saw that we were making movies and helped to write this big National Endowment of the Arts grant,” he says. “We got money for a video class that she put me in charge of teaching to younger kids, which was just awesome… We did kind of everything. It was awesome. It was like boot camp. I really fell into it and kept making movies with my little theater troupe. We would improvise scenes, filling a moment, and then string them together into 40 minute films.”
“In my high school, when I made short films, the acting was so, so bad,” he laughs. “I was just mortified by how terrible the acting was. I decided that I needed training with actors. When it came to camera stuff or editing, I felt like I got it. So I had to figure out how to work it back… I think I learned the mind of an actor in theater school and then I had to unlearn that because I realized that the best acting comes from such a primal place. A director can never fully understand it. They can only know whether or not it works or it doesn’t. They can challenge an actor but, to put it very simply, you can’t try to get too far into an actor’s head or you’ll get a performance that feels Frankenstein. I think I learned that less is more and that casting is everything.”
Incredibly, Spy Intervention came to Mylrea through a chance meeting with producer Sunil Perkash.
“I was doing these short films and I was directing commercials to make money,” Mylrea continues. “I was in San Jose, because I was visiting my parents, and I was headed back, working on a screenplay in the airport. I was just sitting there working and this small Indian guy with a high pitched voice comes up behind me and goes, ‘Are you working on a screenplay?!'”
An instant friendship was forged and, after Perkash got a chance to see some of Mylrea’s shorts, he knew he wanted to work with the budding talent.
“The guy is just a go getter,” Mylrea laughs. “If he sees someone working on something, he wants to know everything about what that person is doing… Even to this day, if he sees someone talking about movies, he wants to go meet them.”
“We had about 22 days,” he recalls, “which is a regular amount for an independent film, but it was not a lot for a movie that was this ambitious… We were all kind of stuck [in New York]. Nobody could go anywhere. It had a real theater camp vibe.”
Although it’s still too early to reveal and details, Mylrea already has his next project lined up in the form of a grounded sci-fi thriller. After that, though, the sky is the limit for what the future may bring.
“I want to do a big musical,” Mylrea teases. “What I really wanted to do growing up was an ‘Into the Woods’ movie. Now, they’ve already done it, so I think I’m looking for an original musical. I love telling a story with the camera and the music and the acting all together as one. I just love sequences with crescendos and energy building on energy.”
You can let Drew Mylrea give you a behind the scenes look at ‘Spy Intervention’ in the player below or click here to head over to his website and check out some of his other works:
Look for Spy Intervention in theaters and on VOD and digital beginning February 14.