Joel Potrykus is an American film director and screenwriter. His feature film debut Ape won the Best New Director prize at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival, while his follow-up feature Buzzard won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2014 Ljubljana International Film Festival.
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Thanks, guys! That was fun. I'm totally outta here. Next time...
American writer/director Joel Potrykus resides in Grand Rapids, MI. He made feature films APE, BUZZARD, and ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK which drops TODAY!
Hey Joel. Big fan of your films. Two questions: What are you working on next? And what are your thoughts on these clowns terrorizing America?
First off, I support the clowns (unless you're talking about Trump Pence...hey oh!). I would've loved to have been terrorized by clowns in my neighborhood as a kid. So legit.
Next up is my weirdest yet, I think. Bunuel meets Cronenberg, is all I can say right now. Burge may be back, too.
Hey Joel, do you see the film scene growing out in Grand Rapids? What is your involvement in the arts scene out there outside of your group of co-collaborators? Do you see other talent coming up? Thanks!
Hey "Bruce"...Yeah, I think there's a scene. It's small, but we all work with each other. There's young guys making stuff I could never do even today. Those fancy cameras and cranes they've got.
Hi Joel! Did you have any experience with stand up comedy when you wrote Ape, or was Trevor based on anybody you know?
Hey, man. Yes, I did was I'd call anti-comedy for about a year. Then got sick of it, because everyone seemed so phony and boring. That all went into Ape. Being an actual working stand-up is the most glamour-less life ever. I'm not that kind of dude.
Thanks, guys! I'm jetting out in a few minutes. Feel free to shoot me questions on Facebook anytime.
What do you have against coverage? Sometimes, a song can sound better in a different key.
I have nothing against coverage. I just want to know what key it's in before I get into the studio, is all.
Hey Joel I really love all of your films and consider what you're doing with Alchemist Cookbook really inspiring, I'll be buying it today, keep up the great work!
Can you tell me some influences on the films that you've made so far? Also was that a Stranger Than Paradise reference in Buzzard when Marty is talking about his food?
Thanks! Stranger is actually referenced in Ape. 100% Trevor talks about everything in his TV dinner...got my meat, got my potatoes...I love that Jarmusch scene.
Some of my biggest direct influences have been Made in Britain by Alan Clarke, O Lucky Man by Lindsay Anderson, Buffalo 66 by Gallo, all early Jarmusch, original Evil Dead, Gummo, and just recently discovered The Catechism Cataclysm by Todd Rohal with is SO RAD.
Whats with your close-ups of people eating crunchy & squishy food anyway. Make me want to rush the screen. Misophonia?
Well, dudes eating alone is one of the most private things. I'm obsessed with how people behave when no one's looking. I was blown away by this chick who was eating her leftovers at the bus stop, totally mouth closed. She was so polite, even though she didn't know I was looking at her. When I'm eating alone, it's a disgusting display.
Ah yeah that's right it was in Ape.
Thanks so much, I've never heard of Catechism Cataclysm but I'll check it out!
hell of a title for a movie, too. dude takes so many risks.
What's your favorite classic arcade game?
Yie Ar Kung Fu and Track and Field...Maybe Roadblasters, too.
Who are some promising up and comers in the film industry at the moment? Anyone we haven't heard from yet? Any artists we should expect/look out for in the future?
I'm most excited by Todd Rohal, Nathan Silver, Mike Ott has some serious craziness coming soon, too. I was blown away by the footage. Super mental. Not enough people know about Kazik Radwanski or Pop Meets the Void by William Cusick.
Hi Joel! Will you be going to fall festivals with the films even though it has been released? (thinking specifically of Thessaloniki, even though we still don't have a McDonalds ^^)
You need a McD!! I think Thessaloniki passed on Cookbook. Politics. I'll still be traveling to festivals with the film, but not quite sure when.
Hi Joel - love your films - how is the Bit Torrent thingy working out for you?
Well, I don't know if and when I will personally ever see money soon. It usually takes about 2 years for films like these to break even and make a buck. It's definitely not something I will retire on.
Hi Joel, the punk diy way you're releasing Alchemist Cookbook is really inspiring and risky, can't wait to watch it this weekend.
Would you call Alchemist Cookbook a horror movie? What are your favorite horror movies? What do you think of the current state of horror, studio and/or indie?
Thanks! I don't think it's a horror movie...I'd call it a movie ABOUT horrors, though. If I described certain scenes, you'd probably say horror, but it's not what it's about, but how it's about it, I guess.
I love Texas Chainsaw, Let the Right One In, Demons...American Werewolf in London may be my fav movie ever, and I don't even know if that's a "horror" film...probably...I'm a monster fan of Jason and Freddy. I'm going to see The Thing on 35mm this month, which is going to be amazing.
I think horror is thriving right now. People actually take it seriously for a change. It makes money, and people are more willing to experiment and see new things.
What's your screenwriting process like, and how much of the final film ends up being improvised? Also, what was your experience making your first feature like?
My first feature was shot only on weekends. One scene per weekend, no matter how long or quickly it took. Some days were 12 hours, most days 3-5 hours. I'm lazy like that. By the end of the summer, we had a feature.
Normally I wake up around 11am, write/tweet/facebook for a couple hrs. Get lunch. Be lazy some more. Then crank back at it late at night from like 10-3am. I wish I could be more disciplined with my sleep schedule. Whatever.
Greetings! Buzzard was without a doubt my favorite of all the films I stumbled on in 2014 and I can't wait to catch Alchemist Cookbook today! I really love how your films exist outside of any linear genre conventions - you're really doing your own thing, and as a frequently bored "seen it all" moviegoer it's truly inspiring. All that aside, I thought Joshua Burge was fantastic in your first couple of films- where did you find that guy and to what extent were your last projects tailored to his "charms"?
Thanks, man! Josh is a musician first and foremost. I was/am a huge fan of his band, Chance Jones. He has a presence on stage. I didn't know if he could act, but I thought if I could get a tiny bit of that energy in front of a camera, then we'd have something cool. I try not to write around his personality. It's much more fun to challenge him and make him get a little crazy. He's such a nice guy, that I love watching him get mean. He'll probably be in the next one.
Any favorite short films?
I love FUNNEL by Andre Hyland. Rat Pack Rat by Todd Rohal. Big Girl by Lisa Melodia. Death to the Tinman by Ray Tintori.
Are there any particular books or writers that have influenced your approach to storytelling?
I really like Essentials of Screenwriting by Richard Walter. Never been a Save the Cat guy.
I mostly wing it, though.
A buddy of mine told me that you are the "poopskidz", is this true?
Is this the guy that used the restroom on the sidewalk and showed everyone the next day? Maybe it isn't. I could be confused.
Have you turned down any projects that would have required you to sell your soul?
Not directly, but yes...A few cruise line commercials. Some wack music videos. Lots of other people's scripts. I have no desire to do things for a paycheck if I'm going to spend so much of my time on them. It's draining to do this stuff, so I want to make sure it something I personally am invested in.
why was "Peak of Fear" never submitted to Festivals?
I was waiting for the Peak director, Mr. Bowman, to edit it. Never came together, so I crapped something out on my own. Next year.
Still waiting on the producer/actor's cut of "Call of the Wild" to make its premiere.
Hey Joel - Wondering how you decide on music for your films? Also, what type of music inspires you or what do you work on when you're in your creating/thinking/madness-making zones? Thanks, man. Headed to see Alchemist Cookbook over at the UICA when it's there.
Hey hey...I listen to music when I write. Every script has a different tone. For Alchemist Cookbook I listened to a lot of Come on Pilgrim by the Pixies (there's a subtle reference in the film). But I usually write the exact songs into the script. Music drives a scene for me. And it's important that I not have a score to direct the audience on how to feel, but a soundtrack that helps us get into the head of the character. That's all I want to do, is put you in the room with these people.
Rad, man. Did anything scare you as a kid?
Weirdest yet?! Can't wait.
Those aliens in Communion! Yeesh.
And the masked people falling into the meat grinder in The Wall. Freaked me out to the maxx.
That, and a movie called Watcher in the Woods, which I haven't seen since 4th grade.
Hey Joel - What makes you stick around GR/Mich. (I'm a resident too, just curious)?
It's cheap. My friends are here. No reason to be in LA these days if you're making your own films.
There's not much work in the field, but I'm really just into doing my own things. Stick around!
How's it like seeing Josh Burge in stuff like The Revenant and the new Mike Mills movie?
It's the best. Love seeing friends in beautiful light and hanging with the stars. Dude deserves it.
Any advice for the dudes out here failing at the craft of making films?
Write your own movies. Then shoot them with people you trust. Make the movie YOU want to see, and never worry if other people are going to like it. And don't be too lazy on set. Make sure the actors are killing it and that it looks decent. If you think it's not great while filming, no one's going to think it's great afterwards.
And get crazy. Take risks.
Not sure if that helps.
Hey Joel, as a Grand Rapids Native, I'm curious, what draws you to film in Michigan? As your career develops and grows, do you have plans to expand to other more well connected areas or do you plan on staying in the area?
I make movies here mostly bc I live here. If I lived in Akron, I'm sure I'd be making Akron films. It's cheap, my friends are here, I trust people here. No need to shoot these anywhere else. GR has become a trademark, almost. And I love hearing Europeans talking about GR when discussing these movies.
Is Charley Van PortFleet a good lover?
Probably the third best I've ever experienced. Dude knows how to find the sweet spots...And the sweat spots.
Did you know that your AmA is up against Bruce Campbell?
Son of a bitch!