Minnesotan filmmaker Karl Mueller double majored in film and political science while at Northwestern University and credits his involvement with an on campus sketch comedy show, “NSTV,” as the most important part of his film school experience. He says “I was the head writer, but because we got ridiculously ambitious about our sketches, I ended up shooting, directing, and editing sketches in all sorts of genres, along with everyone else. It was an insanely talented group of people. Some of them have gone on to become writer/producers for TV shows like ‘Dexter’ and ‘Cougartown.’ Another writer, Andrew Mason, went out and founded a little web startup called Groupon.” Karl’s latest project is a departure from his early days as the horror flick “Mr. Jones” is more chills and thrills than laughs and gab.
What it’s about: “A couple discovers that the hermit living near them deep in the woods might be a legendarily reclusive artist known only as “Mr. Jones.”
How his childhood inspired the movie: “Like most good Minnesotans, we spent part of our summers at a cabin in the great north woods. We had this neighbor that seemed to my sisters and me—when we were kids, anyway—like he was some kind of warlock. He lived in a primitive shack of a cabin with no running water, trapped animals and hung them up around the woods. He had lots of bizarre farming equipment overgrown by weeds around his house. He was the boogieman we made up stories about to scare ourselves at night. Hopefully he won’t come out of the woodwork and sue us for his life rights, or try to trap us as human prey.”
On what bothers him about films and how his is different: “I hate it when I know pretty much every plot point a movie is going to hit. A lot of times I don’t even need to see the first ten minutes—I’ve already gotten it from the trailer. This movie is designed to continually evolve and morph, both stylistically and in terms of the plot. We want to take people for a ride way off in the woods to a place they can’t believe even exists. This is a movie that goes places that you do not expect. Also, it’s scary.”
Films that influenced his movie: “My biggest influences for this were a couple scenes in the third act of Danny Boyle’s SUNSHINE, where Danny Boyle just loses his mind stylistically and tries everything he can think of. And David Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE was a big inspiration. INLAND EMPIRE is the movie where Lynch sort of threw the genre and story conventions he’s always exploited to connect with audiences out the window, and just experimented with sound, light, acting styles, etc. in ways only David Lynch can.”
On the biggest challenges: ” This movie is about a legendary, anonymous artist who became famous for sending unbelievably bizarre sculptures to random people across the country…and then just stopped. This sounds great on paper, but when you make a movie, you have to actually show those sculptures. Since I couldn’t just hire Stan Winston’s company to design these things, I scoured the internet looking for an evil genius living off the showbiz grid whose work hadn’t been seen in movies before. This is more difficult than it sounds. First you have to find work that’s original and weird in just the right way. Then they have to actually respond to you, and they have to be dependable and not psychotic.” What’s next: “I have a movie I wrote called “The Devil’s Rapture” coming out in October with Jennifer Carpenter, Rufus Sewell, and Colm Meaney. I’m working on the next script I hope to direct—it’s a crime movie with an insanely weird chronological structure.”
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.