Director Joe Lynch (“Everly”) brings us a new kick-ass film called MAYHEM which is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra High-Definition 4K/Blu-ray combo on December 26, 2017. The film stars Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving and Steven Brand. It was written by Matias Caruso. Joe Lynch took the time to speak with me for a Horrornews.net exclusive.
Hi Joe, How are you dong?
Joe- Good, how are you doing?
First off, “Mayhem” is just amazing. How did you get involved with the film?
Joe- Honestly, the script got sent to me when I was in a corporate gig at the time and this was after “Everly” had been shot, it came out and it was like, Dah Dun and we’re done! The days of deals and residuals and being able to keep people afloat between projects, that just doesn’t happen anymore so I had mouths to feed, I had rent to pay. I had to get a gig. When you’re a director a lot of times people don’t want to hire you because their like well, what happens when the next gig comes and you have to explain to them that you can never count on these sort of things.
There have been plenty of people who go years before they get another opportunity to direct a feature so I had to work. I ended up taking this corporate gig which for all intents and purposes was not a good fit for me so I am not in a happy place. I got the script and it was like someone wrote this in the cubicle next to me for me and they were spying on me going oh, Joe is going to love this. It was like something that touched me on a very personal level. In the past I’ve always wanted to make movies and with this one I felt like I needed to make it. It was born more out the necessity to kind of tell a more personal story. That is what drove me from the moment I read the script all the way to finishing it. I had more to say with this one than I did in the past. That was really my driving force.
You have done producing, acting and directing! Did you always know you wanted to be in filmmaking?
Joe- You know when I first started having the idea of being involved in movies at all. It was very early on. My mom was both sick and smart enough to get me FANGORIA magazine when I was really little because I was already into the sci-fi and the horror and into the genre stuff. I loved all this stuff but I was also terrified of it so she would buy me these FANGORIA magazines and show me like look this how the sausage is made and these are severed limbs… but they are not real. It just made me more fascinated by the process.
I remember there was this book, a movie tie in book for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and I remember going to see that movie and this is 81 so I am five and my mom got me that book. I remember looking at all the pictures of the behind-the-scene footage and there’s this guy that keeps standing around with a baseball cap, dark sunglasses and a beard. He keeps pointing at things. I’m like, I wonder what he does. I was always just so fascinated with make-up effects and monster effects but I also loved acting so for the longest time up until I would say 1988 I either wanted to be a make-up effects artist or I wanted to be an actor.
Or I wanted to be both and be Tom Savini. That was my trajectory for a while. I was making effects for myself and these rinky-dink little projects I was doing. I was acting in school and I was acting in local plays. But then I remember and then I saw Chuck Russell’s “The Blob” and I remember that being a pivotal moment in my life because I kind of figured out the equation.
The equation was always in front of me but I could never kind of piece together like oh so that’s what a director does! A director gets to work with the actors, the make-up effects but also the camera guys. I love camera stuff and works with this stuff called editing and music so the director gets to do all that and wear white baseball cap, sunglasses and have a beard and point at things a lot. From an early age I’ve always wanted to do movies, I wanted to direct since 1988 and I have not looked back since. Much to the chagrin of my family and my bank account of course. That is just something from the beginning that it’s just always been a dream and a passion of mine.
That is amazing! Now since you are an incredible director. What would you say to someone who does have a dream but might be scared to start because you do have so much to worry about in life like bills, family, life, jobs and more?
Joe- It is a really tough situation right now because being so ensconced in the industry and the marketplace. Seeing first-hand how it changes every day, it changes with every announcement of a project or every folding of a streaming company. Its constantly evolving more-so now than ever before. In the past there would usually be like a year-long gap between the impact of something coming out or something effecting an audience. The industry itself kind of reacting off of trends. A lot of times the stuff in the industry like movies, TV and all that is working off of trends. Something is big, well then five more things are going to come out just like it! Well now with the internet and the digital.
Everything is able to be made and distributed so quickly it’s really changed everything in the market place. It has made things both easier and harder. Easier for filmmakers because you know the old chestnut of like you’ve got a phone? Well guess what, you can film something in 4K and put up quickly. Look at Sean Baker with “Tangerine” and he did it very successfully. Funny enough his next movie ends up being a 35MM film.
But look he would have never been able to make that film without “Tangerine.” He’s proved positive and many filmmakers have proved positive that you can make something worthwhile and make it look good for very little money these days. The problem is that there is so much of that out there. It is hard to say what is good and what is not! And also it’s easy to shoot, it’s a lot harder to get out to the masses other than say YouTube and Vimeo if you want to try and make any money off of it. So my advice would always still be if you are truly passionate about this. I know how to produce, I know how to edit, shoot, write so I am a jack of all trades and a master of none but there have been times where I’m like God I would just love to have an accounting job or work in some kind of administration and not being scrutinized every single second for every creative choice that I make.
I would have more stability but I wouldn’t be happy. I hate to say it but there is something to be said for someone’s well-being if they are happy. If making movies or the idea of making movies or just creating something. It doesn’t have to be movies, it could be TV, and it could be having your own YouTube channel. Anything that is exuding creativity from you that you want to really passionately push forward to the point where maybe you’re lucky enough you get to work and make a living doing that then I’m all for it. I would not want to deter anybody from doing it but they just have to know that it is harder than ever to make a name for yourself and prove to the money people that you are a worthy investment.
Most times with movies you are already setting yourself up for failure. My advice really is search your feelings, I know it sounds very Jedi-like but you’ve got to really search your feelings and say do I really do this because I want to become famous or do I want to do this because I want to affect an audience or I want to tell stories and have a story-telling voice that will resonate with others the way it resonates with me. If you can really honestly answer that inside yourself and if there was no worry about a back-up plan this is all I would do and even if there is a worry of a back-up plan I still just want to do this. It can be rough at times and there have been plenty of times when I wanted to quit but thankfully my wife has always said, she’s like this is what you were meant to do.
This was right before “Mayhem” and right after “Mayhem.” When good reviews would come to me, she is like see, see what I’m talking about and like I know but there’s going to be bad ones too. She’s like it doesn’t matter, you are connecting with people and you know clearly this one is connecting. You know there not always going to be zingers but at the very least it is working on one level and don’t give up and thank God for my wife because I probably would have quit a long time ago.
That is always good that you have that kind of support and even take the bad reviews into consideration and think hey at least someone watched the film and thought about the film!
Joe- Exactly! Up until recently I go someone actually took the effort to watch this and write about it and whether they liked it or not that is not for me to control anymore.
What types of challenges did you face with shooting “Mayhem?” Also did you shoot at different locations?
Joe- No this was one of the biggest challenges in my filmmaking career. This is the lowest budget feature that I’ve done. We shot it in Serbia with mostly non-English speaking actors which was a challenge. You name it, it was a challenge. From not having enough prep-time. We didn’t have anybody cast but Steven at one point. Every single day was an incredible challenge. The thing that I think worked well in a way was in the past I’ve always been very script with my shot list and my story-boards if I need them. I grew up when you heard these directors say I have the whole film in my head, I have it all cut and shot. It’s going out to a 1,000 screens already and I haven’t even shot it yet.
The level of confidence. Even if its bullshit or not I feel like I am in good hands with that filmmaker when I watch one of their movies because they have figured it all out and that’s great. Not everybody is like that. I always want to make sure that I am as prepared as possible also knowing that compromise comes at every corner. There is a million things that can screw up your day. If you are worth your salt and somewhat level-headed you’ll go okay I can’t have that but what can get me to my similar goal.