The very talented Joe Begos, who gave us the underground hit ‘Almost Human’ is back with mighty vengeance. Taking no prisoners with his second feature ‘The Minds Eye’, Begos has set out to give us more blood, more implosions and explosions than ever before.
Scream managed to him track down at FrightFest Glasgow 2016 to find out a little bit more about The Minds Eye.
Scream: Welcome to FrightFest, how many times have you been here now?
Joe: Well, this is second at FrightFest Glasgow but I was at FrightFest London in 2011 with a short. This is my third time at FrightFest but second time in Glasgow.
Scream: Are you a regular on the festival circuit?
Joe: Yeah both Almost Human and The Minds Eye premiered at Toronto, TIFF Midnight Madness, we did Fantastic Fest, Sitges from then the Mind’s Eye fell on more festivals than Almost Human. I think we are on number 15 maybe now??
Scream: Can you tell me a little bit about The Mind’s Eye?
Joe: It is a really violent telekinetic revenge movie. I would describe it as Death Wish meets Scanners. The Scanners sequels were never very good and as much as I liked Scanners, it is never as good when you look back. I love it but you just remember such a crazier movie. So I just wanted to make it as if someone wanted to take Scanners and make a sequel like James Cameron did Aliens. So it’s straight up, violent action movie. No one has done a violent, action telekinetic movie.
Scream: This is your second feature, how have you seen yourself progress?
Joe: I am a more battered broken man (laughs) this movie was actually a lot harder to make. The budget was a bigger but the movie we were trying to make was much more significant than the increase in budget. With Almost Human the biggest thing I took away from it was that I would never shoot a movie in 18 days again. The Mind’s Eye we shot in 37 days and there still wasn’t enough time. We had 12 days where people were up 20 feet in the air on wires, we had 140 inches of snowfall during the shoot. We were sneaking dynamo and blowing up fake bodies, shooting bodies with shotguns. We were doing so much ridiculous stuff. I had no money and not a lot of time. I tried to implement everything that I learnt from Almost Human but I was going so big that it was still a really big struggle, but I don’t regret that. Even if the next movie isn’t as big as budget as The Mind’s Eye, I am going to bust my balls to make it.
Scream: You have some interesting actors in the film: Larry Fassenden, Graham Skipper, Lauren Ashley Carter and John Speredakos. When you were writing your script did you have any actors in mind?
Joe: I definitely wrote for Graham Skipper and then interestingly enough with Larry, Noah Segan and Matt Merecer. Larry and Jeremy were supposed to get smaller roles but they ended up getting a much bigger role. It went far beyond my expectations.
Scream: You are known for your love of practical effects and I have read that we will see plenty of exploding heads. How did you achieve this?
Joe: A variety of ways, some of the scenes we used a 12 gauge shot gun at close range to blow up parts. We went out in the middle of nowhere and there’s this one instance where the characters are floating in the middle of a hallway and the head explodes. We had a dummy, went into the woods and we jammed a shotgun up behind it and blew it off. The three best head explosions of all time are with shotguns. There were a couple of body blows, which we literally just jammed with explosives. The most cheapest, nastiest most efficient way to do something we just did it. It was highly dangerous.
Scream: How are the health & safety regulations over there?
Joe: Yeah they are really tight. This movie should have been shut down; we had more money, more people that cared -but we were so far below the radar because we were shooting like an hour outside of any major city. We sometimes couldn’t even get onto set because there was so much snow; they were trying to shut us down because of the regulations.
Scream: We know you love John Carpenter but what were your influences on making The Mind’s Eye?
Joe: Hmmm very De Palmeresque. I wanted a lot of the camera moves to be very purposeful and thought out but we just didn’t have a lot of time. Brian De Palmer and his early stuff – The Fury, which was another telekinetic movie that I was influenced by, and David Cronenberg.
Scream: You said you battling against the elements in the making of this film. On your next feature are you staying with nature or go more urban?
Joe: I think it really depends on the story. I have a summer camp horror movie and I have a time travel movie that I want to do, that is sort of Cyber Punk kind of thing that takes place in a retro/futuristic Torontoesque city-state. I feel that shooting a movie in a tiny town we can get much for our buck. I would love to shoot in the city especially with the things that I want to do, like blowing shit up. If I were going to do a movie with no effects, it would be easy to shoot in a city. I can’t contain myself to do something like that.
Scream: How you are constrained by the amount of money to make a movie?
Joe: If I am going to do with something in the higher frame like two million dollars, I will go to my agency and they will bring it to a production company who has the infrastructure to make a movie like that. With the last two movies, me and a couple of other producers will find equity or investors. Luckily Almost Human was small so we made pretty good money on it. So we were able to bring that over to The Minds Eye. I have brought on a producer from VHS movies; he brought on some additional financing. I don’t see the point in going to a big production company who are going to micro manage you. I really wanted to make the movie a lot sooner but it took like a year to put the money together. But I got total control, which is something that I am a big stickler for and with this movie I got final approval of the contracts.
The ultimate goal would be just to go up incrementally every time, so when I finally get to a million or two million budget, I can say hey I got five movies and every movie I’ve had full control and they turned out fine. But if I go up from a few hundred thousands dollars for The Mind’s Eye and then five million, then there is not much there for me to argue my case to have control. For me I would rather take control over money. I could live with myself if I had to scrape by but I couldn’t live with myself if I knew that something had my name on it that was tarnished. Like if something was fucked up and it was me because of the choices I made, I could live that!
Scream: Thank you so much for chatting Joe, it has been awesome.
Words by Amanda Hunt @mand_ders11