The BitTorrent Interview: ‘Spring’ Filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Richard Linklater meets H.P. Lovecraft in the upcoming scifi/romance/horror mashup from filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, available on BitTorrent Bundle.

Don’t fall for the soft lighting, the flowers, or the violins. Love is a scary thing. Nobody gets that like indie filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, whose new film Spring is beauty and terror in equal, unexpected measure.

Lou Taylor Pucci (Evil Dead, Thumbsucker) stars as Evan: a young and adrift American abroad. Backpacking along the Italian coast, he meets Louise, an intense, mysterious genetics student. And romance blooms into something monstrous, as Louise’s real identity is unraveled. Benson and Moorhead’s genre mashup is bloody, intimate, and authentic. In other words: it’s just another love story, and it’s far more than that, too.

Spring premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014. Next Friday, in partnership with Drafthouse Films and FilmBuff, it’s coming to BitTorrent Bundle. Grab the Spring Bundle for $14.99 to unlock the feature film, behind-the-scenes video, and more.


BitTorrent: Spring is a perfect love story, more than a horror film, because it captures something missing from the traditional romance genre: the idea that love is complicated, and terrifying, and wonderful. Did you guys set out to make a romance film, or go against the genre’s expectations?

JB/AM: Spring was always a love story, and the scary components of the film don’t work without it (and vice versa).

Audiences now, seem less concerned with knowing everything about what the movie will be going in, and more with just having it be a good story in first place.

We didn’t specifically set out to make a film that fits on the “Romance” shelf at Blockbuster (if there is such a thing anymore…Blockbuster that is), because with all these new ways of getting your film to the public, where it fits marketing-wise is becoming less and less important.

BitTorrent: What went in to building out the mythology inside this film?

JB/AM: We wanted to make a new myth! There hasn’t really been a girl like Louise in cinema before. Without giving away too much, her world-view is one that can only be explored by the myth created in the movie.

The world has enough vampires, zombies, werewolves — where’s the new stuff?

There’s a lot of science behind her, we wanted to create a nature-based myth of evolution that was just believable enough to make a new “classic” movie monster.

BitTorrent: What films / filmmakers inspire you?

JB/AM: If we almost make a choice in our filmmaking “because someone else did it,” we often actively stop ourselves and go the other way, because it’s already been done before. But we absolutely adore the Lord of the Rings films, Almost Famous, Linklater’s Before trilogy, Children of Men, Spielberg (JAWS and Jurassic Park especially)…

BitTorrent: What were some of the challenges you faced making this film?

JB/AM: The months before production actually began on the film might have been the highest amount of stress ever experienced by two filmmaker hobos like us.

Getting your second film made in this decade is probably as difficult as getting your first made in the 90s. People want to wait around and see if you can pull off the trick of making a good film again.

Wading through titanic lists of actors that we’ve never heard of, hoping one held the key to getting the film made and had the talent and loved the script like we did, finding someone like Lou was a needle-in-a-haystack situation, and finding a financier to believe in that vision was equally hellish.

BitTorrent: Best part about the shoot?

JB/AM: No brainer: shooting in ITALY. Crew was like family, the food was world-class, the town couldn’t have been more beautiful; all of those things that are so charming about small European towns, like that French one in the opening scenes of Beauty and the Beast, are basically true.

BitTorrent: Do you see the world of independent film changing? How?

JB/AM: For a while the sky was falling, but that’s turned around and it’s only getting better. Very soon, anyone who wants to see our film can see it, anywhere in the world. That’s more and more a fact. And that’s the filmmaker’s dream, really. The amount of ways to exhibit the film is growing exponentially, which is great in terms of business and exposure for the filmmaker, and great for the consumer too. Indie film can be win-win. People are watching more than ever — let’s give it to them!

BitTorrent: You’re part of the first pay gated Drafthouse Films release on BitTorrent, and the second feature film premiere. What’s been your approach to distribution?

Drafthouse is known to be disruptive, punk-rock distributors and exhibitors, which fits our personal filmmaking ethos like a glove. Bittorrent is an extension of that.

Decentralized distribution, whatever format that takes, is one of the most important “next big things” that can happen to indie film. Give the consumers what they want how they want it and when.

JB/AM: Disruptive innovation like Bittorrent is the shot in the arm we need. We hate anything that gets in the way of innovation, and frankly, the future of distribution lies solely in the hands of the consumer.

BitTorrent: What does it take to make an indie film work? Any advice for independent filmmakers?

JB/AM: Never stop making films. Never make films that are like other films.

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