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Vanessa McMahon


Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)

 


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ESCAPE! with Joe Wehinger

 

 

Today I have Director/Writer Joe Wehinger here with me to speak about his new film The AmericanStandards (2010) among other, groundbreaking industry projects. Joe is one of the freshest and most far- seeing directors in the industry today. Read him speak of all his upcoming film and media hip happenings.

 

 

ME: Hi Joe, can you speak about your film The American Standards (2010)? As your first feature what inspired you to tell this story?

JOE: I had just graduated film school and somehow fortunately my student film did well. The short, "Last Breath", had an anti-death penalty message and was acquired and distributed by the ACLU. As a result, some human rights scripts were being sent to me. I wasn't interested. I was 22 and wanted to make something cool and sexy. At the same time I started accepting writer-for-hire jobs and they were all cheesy killer-animal low budget horror movies.

I went home to Pennsylvania for a week and I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who I think is the coolest person on this planet. While I was home I was reading about Alzheimer's Disease and it came across like a real-life horror movie. What would happen to my world if my Grandmother got Alzheimer's and didn't recognize me anymore (she doesn't have it and she is perfectly healthy). Suddenly, it all clicked. So for the next 2 years I got paid to write more low budget horrors and spent all my free time writing a real-life horror movie.

ME: Do you believe your film is saying something about American culture? Is there a particular message you'd like to send out to the world with this?

JOE: I'd say it's more "family culture" than just American. Families always want to come across more perfect than they are. And it's a huge facade, and behind it is a crumbling structure. But people would rather polish the facade and make it shiny instead of actually doing the hard work and fixing the problem. So what happens when something unforeseen delivers a huge blow to the already fragile structure? How do we cope and survive? That's what the story is about.

ME:  How hard was it to direct your first feature? And also to work with James Brolin who is producing and acting in the film!

JOE: It was an amazingly cool experience. I learned a lot. We were fortunate to have a better cast then I deserved and a harder working crew than we could actually afford. You wake up in the morning knowing you'd have 500 questions to answer and that didn't stop for 9 months. Your confidence grows and the big picture gets clearer with every passing moment.

Jim Brolin is amazing. We have several projects we've been developing together. He brings a ton of ideas and is full of wonder. He lives in a world of limitless possibilities and loves to share that feeling. His energy is contagious.

ME: Wow! Well, there's a perfect example how one great thing leads to another.  What will you be doing next? Will you continue to direct or produce? Can you speak about your project Escape at this time?

JOE: Escape is meant to be a very commercial thriller. Themes of the story are similar to The Usual Suspects and Reservoir Dogs and based on a story CNN called "The most thrilling adventure in the past century" I wrote it in 2006 right before The American Standards took off. We've casually cast it twice and got great feedback. Actors respond it. And with the genre, financiers have shown strong interest. As a director I've been teaching, which in itself teaches me. As a producer I've been learning development while working with other writers, learning more legal and business and learning hands-on finance from financiers of different industries and global regions.

We're launching a full slate of web series. Several projects with several million dollars invested. We're providing a fully immersive audience experience including the shows, websites, smart phone apps, social gaming, podcasts, videogames, e-books and merchandising. In the past 3 years we've opened companies that specialize in marketing, transmedia and distribution. With advancements in technology the future is immersive entertainment and audience
engagement. We're positioning ourselves to be a leader in that industry. Right now I've got teaching or speaking gigs lined up at American Film Institute and several industry-centric organizations this fall. People want to hear and learn more. It's exciting!

ME: Wow! Joe, you are on fire right now! This is fantastic news! This is the prime example of why I love doing these interviews. There are so many things to learn out there. I mean, before I just knew about your one film! Thanks so much for sharing, Joe. Good luck with your grand endeavors. Please check back with us again soon to tell us all about your marketing, transmedia and distributions companies/undertakings. We can't wait to see all you have to offer the film and entertainment world! Thanks, Joe!

 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon on August 11, 2010

 

  

director Joe Wehinger

 

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