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INTERVIEW: Writer/Director/Actor Joe Meredith

INTERVIEW: Writer/Director/Actor Joe Meredith

Joe Meredith's Teratomorph - Coming Soon / Fair use doctrine.After watching the short film South Mill District by Joe Meredith, I said to myself, “Holy shit! That was awesome and why aren’t more people talking about this guy?” If I was capable of and ever wanted to make a film, this is what I would aspire to make. Luckily for me, Joe is a super nice guy and was willing to chat with me about the making of his first film and his upcoming sequel Teratomorph.

House of Tortured Souls: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me and discuss your films. Where did you get the idea for South Mill District? It’s a huge and detailed plot. Was it something you had been formulating for years?
Joe Meredith: It’s actually a continuation of a narrative world I developed as a kid and into my teen years. All of the things like the “alien war” that the character Drennan talks about in the movie actually exist in a shoebox I have under my bed that has comics and sketches and short stories and things I did over a period of years. Recently, I noticed that elements from those stories have been creeping back into my drawings and newer writings, so when I got the nerve up to make a movie, I decided to make it a return to that old saga, which is why the movie is probably really confusing to a lot of people because it has this detailed backstory that nobody really knows but me.

HoTS: I loved the use of lighting in the film and the camera work was so crisp. Did you go to film school?
JM: I never went to film school. I used to make short movies with friends growing up. As a kid, I always had a camera, and no matter how ridiculous the movie ideas were, I was always serious about it. The lighting in South Mill District was all about separating it from a realistic look and making it more like a comic book or cartoon, where the colors in the lighting provided the atmosphere.

HoTS: The FX and gore were also really fun. I especially liked the scene where Cidney Meredith pukes up her intestines. Was it weird “killing” your wife on camera even though you knew it was fake?
JM: I owe it to her for encouraging me to step back into filmmaking after many years of not wanting to do it. She was a trooper about some of the gross things she had to endure, and if I had a director’s cut released, you would see that she went even more savage than throwing up intestines. It was all a process of getting the scene right, so I never felt a moral dilemma from her death sequence. There were probably some moments of anxiety for her, but with me, she was always safe doing whatever scene needed to be done. The more realistic gore FX like the intestines and the heads that the spiders crawl on were all created by James Bell, whose own movies were a huge influence for me to make movies again.

HoTS: The creatures and spiders were the best part of this film by far. Did you make them all yourself? I also loved the stop-motion technique used but have heard it’s a long and slow process. How did you find it?
JM: I made all of the stop-motion puppets myself, and then James Bell created the human gore FX. The alien creature suit used at the end of the movie was made by Toby Johansen. As a kid, I did stop motion videos with action figures. It was much easier to do it with a video camera than the way I did with South Mill District, which was with photographs. The stop-motion could’ve been better, and technically, I didn’t do it the “right” way, but I think it worked for what was needed. The spiders were definitely supposed to be a focal point for South Mill District, and then its sequel is more about the mutations caused by the infectious venom of the spiders.

HoTS: You’re a fantastic artist, and fans of Phil Stevens will recognize your work on the covers of his films. Do you sell your work or have any plans to in the future?
JM: Thank you. I knew Phil as an artist-illustrator himself before I even knew he was a filmmaker, and we started out gushing over each other’s illustrations, so when he wanted me to do art for his movies, I was really enthusiastic to do it. I don’t sell art usually, but I will at some point soon.

HoTS: I actually learned about South Mill District after seeing posts about its sequel Teratomorph. There has been a lot of hype in the Indie community about it. What can you tell us about it?
JM: Teratomorph is a sequel, but it can also stand alone. It takes place in a more rural area outside of the South Mill District and shows an evolution of the alien virus caused by the spiders. It stars my 8-year-old son Elijah, who plays as a vagrant kid who is infected by the virus, and its effects are unique in comparison to what was seen in South Mill District. It has some creatures that I hope are going to be really cool for people who are fans of creature movies.

HoTS: what’s the hardest part of being an Indie film director for you? Why did you choose to go into such a difficult field?
JM: Mostly just working from nothing is the hardest part, but then again that’s not so fair to say because I have friends and talented people who are all willing to contribute to my projects in any way they can. And that’s something I’m very grateful for. I love creating things. I don’t think I’ve chosen filmmaking as the ultimate means of making things. It’s just a cool outlet I have to work with.

HoTS: Do you have any plans in the future to make feature-length films? Or will you continue to make more shorts?
JM: Yeah, I think I’ll do a feature at some point, especially if I have an idea that I can’t resist turning in to a feature film. And I know I’ll also continue short films as long as I think maybe it’s something other people haven’t seen before.

Art by Joe Meredith / Image: Joe MeredithHoTS: You have such a unique style. What films and directors have inspired you?
JM: I’d have to say among my picks for greatest movies of all time are John Carpenter’s The Thing and James Cameron’s Aliens. Cronenberg’s The Fly is also up there in the greats for me. Video games like Resident Evil also fuel ideas for me. James Bell is an outstanding filmmaker in the Indie realm, and his movies are something I hold in high esteem because the vision he presents is something truly individual. And any other movies that explore surreal ideas are a plus for me. That’s actually a hard question because I could go on and on about all the movies and directors that have blown my mind.

HoTS: Where can people buy your films and when can we expect to see Teratomorph?
JM: Teratomorph will be done soon. I think it could be available by the year’s end if not early in 2019. South Mill District is gonna be available again soon, and Teratomorph will also be available in the same place which is at http://joemeredithart.storenvy.com.

HoTS: Thank you again for agreeing to do this interview! I really enjoyed your answers and look forward to what I expect will be great things from you.


Posted by Candace Stone in INTERVIEWS, 0 comments