The ‘Mayhem’ of Director Joe Lynch

A dangerous virus spreads through a work office causing the workers to lose their minds and act out on their most dangerous thoughts. That’s the kind of scenario that can only play out in the mind of Mayhem director Joe Lynch. According to Lynch the movie script for Mayhem came to him while he was working a dead-end job he didn’t want to be at. “I wasn’t happy at my regular office job, so this script was a life-changer for me.”

The script for Mayhem, written by Matias Caruso, revolves around an attorney played by Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun who is fired from his job after being set-up by a co-worker. That’s just the start of the issues the work office begins to endure. A deadly virus spreads through the office inflicting rage onto all the workers. Yeun’s character Derek Cho takes matters into his hands as he tries to save his life and job.

Lynch was thrilled by being able to cast Yeun in the lead role, and proud to have an Asian actor play this role that stereotypically would be cast a white guy.

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“I’m such a big fan of Steven’s, he was critical to making this movie work and come to life,” Lynch said.

Lynch wasn’t wrong about Yeun’s impact on the movie. Yeun adds a lot of energy to his role with high intensity and timely comedic relief. Additionally, Samara Weaving holds her own alongside Yeun, playing the feisty Melanie Cross.

At one point Lynch said that film was in danger of not happening.

“We had budget restrictions, so in order to make this movie the way I wanted to I had to compromise,” Lynch stated. “We ended up shooting the movie in Belgrade, Serbia.”

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Taking the movie overseas ended up being a blessing for Lynch.

“Shooting overseas, brought all of us (the cast and filmmakers) closer together, in a way we probably wouldn’t have bonded had we shot with more budget in the U.S.,” Lynch said.

The up-and-down production status didn’t stop Lynch from making the movie he wanted. He was determined to get this movie come to reality, at all costs.

“Making this film was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, it was very personal to me,” he said.

Ultimately, Mayhem made it to the big screen. The sacrifices that Lynch and the crew had to make, paid off. His vision came to life and audiences will happily indulge in the bloody fun madness that is Mayhem.

Mayhem is available now on Digital HD and VOD and available on Blu-ray & DVD on December 26

Interview: Director Scott Waugh Discusses ‘6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain’

Scott Waugh has done it all in the entertainment industry. Directing, acting, producing, writing and editing. Not to mention he has 41 stunt acting credits to his name.  A jack-of-all trades in the biz. His previous directing work consisted of Act of Valor and the fun Need For Speed movie, but his best work can be seen in the recently released 6 Below. The film depicts the amazing real life story of Eric LeMarque and his will to survive in the deadly wintry High Sierras. I spoke to Scott about the film and the amazing story of LeMarque. You won’t believe what he told me. This is a must-listen interview.

How important was it to incorporate the wilderness and the surroundings as a central figure in the story:

SW: It is the essence of the story if not its backbone because it is a man against the elements. Being in below zero temperatures and trying to showcase that within those elements and really the change of topography he went through and the change of climate. Dealing with being wet and trying to stay warm and not having food, like in really having those elements being against him those entire eight days.

How much research did you do about human survival under extreme conditions: 

SW: You know, not much, because I wanted to be authentic to Eric and just wanted to talk to him. So I was fortunate to have the real guy and ask him what did you do? Why would I ask anyone how did they survive, I wanna ask the real guy how he survived. I didn’t want the film to be based on a true story, I wanted it to be a story.

MY TAKE: 

I was absolutely blown away by the irony of this story. What are the odds that LeMarque and Waugh actually knew each other and were friends years ago? The fact that they got reconnected due to Scott taking on the film, not even being aware that it’s the story of his friend. Just incredible stuff. Some things in life are meant to be, this HAS to be one of them.

There was this noticeable energy and excitement in Scott’s voice when he talked to me. It’s magnetic and made me want to keep hearing what he has to say. Clearly this is someone who has seen and tried it all in the entertainment industry, so his perspective is definitely one of a kind.

Some of the quotes that came from him, I found to be really poignant. The two that come to mind. “I didn’t want the film to be based on a true story, I wanted it to be a true story.” The other being, “Life is larger than fiction.” Such true and simple statements that make a ton of sense.

I’m glad I had a chance to speak with Scott. Sure, I had to make sure that wasn’t a pic of Survivor’s Jeff Probst. They sure look similar. Scott was very enjoyable and fun. The movie is excellent and may be Josh Hartnett’s best work. A must see.

6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is out now in select theaters (check local listings), Digital HD and On Demand

 

Interview: ‘Jungle’ Director Greg McLean

Director Greg McLean is stepping into the Jungle. The man that introduced us to Wolf Creek and the recent The Belko Experiment delivers possibly his most ambitious and intense film with Jungle, starring Daniel Radcliffe. I had a chance to speak to Greg about the film and the challenges he had to endure during the making of it.

What made you wanna tell this story: 

GM: It was a script sent to me by a producer friend of mine. I read it and fell in love with the idea. The reason I fell in love with it was because I was very interested in the fact it was a true story. I thought it was a very inspiring tale of what people are really capable of. The real reason was that I thought it was an amazing parable of how people use their imagination to escape from uneasy situations of horror in their life. 

Since this film is based on a real person and their story, how much freedom did you have to incorporate things on your own, or did you just try to honor all of the facts and reality that was available to you:

GM: Well because it was based on a book and because I had the writer of the book, the real person there with me when I was prepping and shooting, you know my job really was to try to use my filmmaking craft and skills to tell the story. I was trying to get out of the way and trying capture the essence of the real people, the real texture and atmosphere of what really happened. To me the most interesting part about was trying to authentically recreate the scenario and these relationships. As a filmmaker I tried to get out of the way of the story and tried to tell it very simply and honestly.

MY TAKE: 

I really enjoyed Greg describe the process of making Jungle. I feel he elaborated well and really makes you understand what they went through and the conditions that were presented while filming. I can only imagine how the rain threw them a curveball attempting to film the river scene. I could sense in the way he spoke about the river scene that there was genuine fear for the talent attempting that. Looking back on it, even in the movie it looks daring.

The casting of Daniel Radcliffe simply works for this role. This is the most physically demanding and intense role I’ve ever seen Radcliffe in. His range and diversity of roles he’s taken in recent years is noticeable. He’s really good and to think he plays a real guy who actually endured all these hardships is quite incredible.

I thought it was awesome that Greg plays video games, collects Marvel comics and Star Wars memorabilia. That’s the fun part of talking to these talented filmmakers and actors, you get to know a side of them and their interests away from the business. They are the same like every one of us, but just happen to be doing a really cool job they are passionate about, but also have their own passions and interests on the side.

Jungle is out now in select theaters (check local listings), Digital HD and On Demand

Interview: ‘Escape Room’ Director Will Wernick

Lionsgate’s Escape Room is a perfect mystery horror film treat for Halloween. The film is out now on DVD and I had a chance to talk about it with the director Will Wernick. This interview contains the film’s *SPOILERS* so beware while listening.

What made you want to direct this film:

WW: I was working on another film with one of our producers Kelly Delson and her husband, I was at their house one night, at the end of a meeting he pulled me aside and asked why hasn’t there been a movie about an escape room? I said that was a really good question. So I went home an outlined it and came back the next morning and said I have a writer that can write this quickly and we can get it going and we were shooting three months later. I’ve never seen anything get financed that quickly. 

This movie seems like it’s set in real time, there is a lot of mystery, is this something you were going for: 

WW: Absolutely, I’m a big fan of fun thrillers. We didn’t stick with it, but in the original outline the idea was that there would be a clock that you always saw, so escape room portion would be exactly an hour. That doesn’t really work out when you make a movie, but I think we we were pretty close. It ends up being a little less.

MY TAKE: 

This is the kind of movie that I’m fortunate to speak to the director of it about. Escape Room is like a puzzle and it leaves you with a few interpretations, especially the ending. I enjoyed hearing Will elaborate on the motives and ideas they had for the characters and plot. Will proved me right, when he confirmed that the movie was supposed to and was consciously trying to have the escape room take place in real time.

The actors chemistry really worked, so I was surprised to hear that they haven’t met or knew each other prior to the filming. Credit to their professionalism and skills. This movie couldn’t have been done without a solid ensemble cast that clicked together.

Escape Room really impressed me. It’s a thought provoking movie with a compelling story and theme. The ending had me wanting more, so I’m glad Will is working on a sequel. I’ll be looking forward to it.

Escape Room is out now on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand

Interview: ‘Loving Vincent’ Director Dorota Kobiela

Loving Vincent is unlike any movie you have seen. It’s a artistic masterpiece of a movie, entirely oil painted. Every one of the 65,000 frames. A collaboration that included 125 painters. The more you look into the film and the efforts it took to put this together, the more you are likely to marvel at it. I had the fortune to speak to the co-writer and director of the film, Dorota Kobiela. We discuss the very efforts and time it took to complete the film and why she decided to depict Vincent van Gogh among other topics. We also talk in Polish! The full audio is available below:

What was the process like of getting all these painters together to make this movie happen:

DK: The film brings to life 77 paintings of Vincent van Gogh, 49 landscapes and 19 portraits. The whole process started with my short story idea nine years ago. Then it transformed into a feature film. At first we were developing the script and we worked on it considering his life, his letters and paintings. They were our main source of inspiration. We wanted to tell his story with his paintings and bring it to life.

On the the pitch to distributors:

DK: This was very new and it was difficult to compare. They would ask me to compare it to what kind of movie was done like this and what was the box office, but we couldn’t say since this was a first movie like this. The first funding came from the Polish public funds from south of Poland, original funds from Wroclaw. That allowed us to do the first six minutes of the film which helped get more people on board and believing in it.

MY TAKE:

This was a very special interview for me. As a proud Polish-American, I’m thrilled to see a fellow Pole bring about such great work to the mainstream. Poland has been gaining recognition over the last few years (even nabbing an Oscar for Ida) for the talented artists, performers and filmmakers. It’s great to see Dorota being such an influential figure to bring this film to life.

She had a lot to say, and I couldn’t be happier that I got to listen to her speak about the process of making Loving Vincent come to life. It amazes me to hear about all the talented people it took to make this film happen and the dedication they had over a long period of time. This is a one-of-a-kind movie that you won’t see anywhere else. The visuals are intoxicating, but the story shouldn’t be overlooked either, as it really delves into van Gogh’s life.

My favorite part of the interview had to be talking to Dorota in Polish. I’ve done many interviews, but never did I get a chance to speak Polish to someone in it. For anyone that will be checking out the interview from Poland, I wanted to give them a special treat. I’m very proud to be able to give a little extra to the Polish audience and to hear someone like Dorota speak and hopefully make the Polish people proud. I hope to have another opportunity to do this one day, in Polish.

Loving Vincent is out now in select theaters (check local listings)

Interview: ‘The Crucifixion’ Director Xavier Gens

Lionsgate’s The Crucifixion is out today in select Theaters and On Demand. Earlier this week I had a chance to speak to the director of the film Xavier Gens. We discussed the real life inspiration for the movie, the filming of it and much more. Check below for the full audio of the interview with Xavier.

MY TAKE: 

I enjoyed speaking to Xavier. Yes, the French accent was cool, but the knowledge that he shared about the making of the film was great. His unique perspective really comes through. It was interesting to hear about how he wanted to keep it authentic and respect the real people this story was based on and leaning on them to bring the reality into the film.

It was interesting to hear him speak about brining an American touch, but from a French and European perspective. This really holds true and is evident in the movie with the look and presentation, it’s notable.

The Crucifixion is a terrific and unique take on the exorcism genre. There is a slew of exorcism themed films out there, but this has a whole lot more to offer. As chilling and scary as it is, it is more of a mystery you need to follow and piece together. It’s has a real journalistic flare. You get to navigate alongside the main actor Sophie Cookson and experience all the reveals together. This is an under-the-radar movie that can’t be overlooked.

The Crucifixion is out now in select Theaters and On Demand 

Interview: ‘Wetlands’ Director Emanuele Della Valle

Prior to the recent release of Wetlands, I had a chance to speak to the director of the film, Emanuele Della Valle. Emanuele opens up about the film and his life interests. You can read the excerpts from the interview and the full audio of it today.

What was the inspiration for the film:

EDV: I’ve been hanging out in Atlantic City and that area for the past 15 years. My wife is from Philadelphia and that’s where they go for the summer. I know those places and people very well. I knew my first film would be a noir, a drama with a strong element of crime and thriller. You know this place (Atlantic City) has incredible cinematic potential that hasn’t been explored fully, especially in recent years.

On the importance of showcasing and discovering the lesser known side of Atlantic City:

EDV: I discovered myself when I was writing the script. The place was the story. Atlantic City was what this film was about. It wasn’t easy to convince the financiers to go and film it over there, because New Jersey is one of the few states in the U.S. that doesn’t have a film tax credit. That adds immensely to the bottom line. I was persistent and I would rather drop the story than to film it somewhere where it would screw up the authenticity.

MY TAKE:

I genuinely enjoyed talking to Emanuele. He had so much insight to share and seemed very honest and real with everything he said. So there is a point in the interview where Emanuele shares his thoughts on the cast and leading man Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje (who is terrific in the film), but there was a technical glitch, so a small portion of the interview is cut out. I’ve mentioned how I like interviewing foreign directors. For some reason every foreign director I interviewed seemed to be very open and I could really hear their passion for their project. Not that American filmmakers aren’t open or passionate, but the way the foreign directors project their passion has stood out to me.

I was very surprised to see this was his feature film debut, mainly due to the quality of the film and the assembled cast. Emanuele’s storytelling and camerawork is very good. I felt he was very personable and easy to talk to. My personal favorite part of the interview was when he offered to just grab a beer and talk film noir. I may just take him up on that offer whenever I’m in NYC or he’s in Chicago.

Wetlands is definitely worth checking out, and not just for fans of the film noir genre. You can read more about it and my thoughts on the film in my review.

Wetlands is out now in select theaters