Unleashing Mayhem: Director Joe Lynch Talks Corporate Horror, and the Joys of Shooting Outside of Hollywood Confines

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MM: Do you think those crews being removed from what is considered the epicenter of the cinematic universe, Hollywood, played a part in the enthusiasm you’ve described, and the commitment level?

JL: Of course. In Serbia the jobs don’t come as often. It’s not like here; if you’re a drip, or sound guy, or an art director, it gets to where you’re grinding it out. I’ve been there too, where with that slog you can lose a little bit of the love for it, it can affect the passion. With a crew in a place like Serbia, the jobs just don’t come as often, and they get extra excited knowing the work they are doing is going to be seen around the world. Like, when the prop master makes a decision on the color of the nail gun, something that simple is extra special because it’s going to be seen for years to come. And they would tell me that. Utilizing that outlook, I want to show them too, that I’m right there. Do every little bit like it may be the last chance I get.

MM: Even with prep, things are still growing as a film is made. During the shoot for Mayhem, what was your biggest “light bulb” moment?

JL: It was a couple of days until the end of shooting and my producers came to me and said “OK, we can’t go to another location but we have to make sure that opening feels different,” and I shared the same sentiments. So I told my art department, “Let’s find that one space that doesn’t have the same geography as everywhere else, and let’s just dress it completely different, and try make it seem like a tech office or something, something other than a lawyer’s office.” But then my producer Matt and I were scouting that room, and when we were walking back to set, he was saying, “I feel like we’ve shot every corner of this office and I don’t want it to come off the same. It needs to feel far removed stylistically, so the audience gets a completely different vibe as far as the set up.” So, as he’s asking me this, my DP, Steve Gainer happened to be walking by at that moment, and was eavesdropping on our discussion. He pops over and blurts out, “Yeah remember what we said? We’re gonna shoot it in black and white!,” and then he bounces away [laughs]. I swear to God, I did not have that idea in my head until that very moment. But I said, “Yeah of course, that’s what we’re gonna do, I remember!” (laughs). Then I run back to Steve and go “Oh my God dude, how the fuck are we gonna do this in a way where it doesn’t look like we did it in post?”

So, within 24 hours, Steve retrofitted the cameras, with these settings that would make it look like we shot it in native 16mm black and white. That automatically made the film feel bigger. That had me rethinking how I was going to shoot the opening, on the fly. I knew we’d have the red eye, and the televison in the shot the only things in color. that one insatnce of luck and happenstance, man, it just made the overall film better. But Steve and I were figuring it out like two hours before we were actually shooting it! [laughs]. MM

 Mayhem opens in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD November 10, 2017, courtesy of RLJE Films.
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