Joe Hahn is probably best known as member of the multi-platinum selling rock group Linkin Park. However Joe is an accomplished music video director who recently made the jump to feature film directing. Hahn’s first full length film titled “Mall” is an adaption of the Eric Bogosian book of the same name. The film stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Gina Gershon and Cameron Monaghan and is currently available via Netflix. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Joe recently about the film and his move to directing full lengths.
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how you got involved with this project?
Joe Hahn: I had come across the script through a mutual friend who was a producer on the film. They worked with Vincent who was working on this project with Eric Bogosian who wrote the book the film is based on. He also was the writer on one of Oliver Stone’s early films titled “Talk Radio” and a bunch of other great things. I think Eric has a very punk rock perspective of Americana. When I read the script I loved it and really thought it was great. I then went and read the book and loved that as well. I liked how the screenplay made since of what was going on in the book without being a carbon copy. I couldn’t put it down and I had all these ideas running through my head. I called my friend up and told him this was perfect and that I knew how to do the film and that it would be very easy for me to do.
AL: Were you able to be free with your direction or did you stay more to the original script?
JH: I definitely stuck to the essence of the script. I think the visual interpretation was my thing. Every person you meet and work with on a film project acts as collaboration. Everyone who touches it is part of the process. There is always added development that each person brings to the table. We all worked together from day one. The templates were all there in screenplay. We did however have to make some tweaks along the way just to have things make a little more sense. It’s all about fine tuning the process.
AL: What do you feel is the defining characteristic of this film that showcases you as the director?
JH: Film is a great way to get someone’s attention for 90 minutes or so. With a full length film you can really get into the details of the story and its characters. With a lot of the music videos and short form things I have done you have to get in and get out as quickly as possible. There is something that is exciting about full length film experience where people can unwind and enjoy themselves. I am a fan of films and the experience so that’s something I want to try and carry over with these long form projects.
AL: Did you notice any major differences when you first started working on this film having come from working mostly on shorts?
JH: I think on the creative side a full length is just a longer version of everything that goes in to a short or music video. With a full length you often have multiple story lines happening and a variety character dynamics. You have to figure out how to make all of that fit in with how the film is written. I think when something is really well written you can use that as your master template and then the details come along to help make sense of everything. The biggest difficult I think in all of this is the logistics portion of things. The creative stuff is the fun part and something that comes naturally for me. The business side of things is where it becomes difficult for me. There’s just so much going on and so many different people involved on that front that it can be hard at times.
AL: When it came time to edit the film how did that process work for you?
JH: We did do some rearranging during the editing process. We also did a bit of voice over work as well. We actually came back later and did a majority of that after shooting was completed. After seeing the first cut of the film I felt that the films main character was Jeff played by Cameron Monaghan. We see his experiences as the film progresses and you start to wonder if what’s happening could or could not be in Jeff’s imagination. As you watch this character you sort of see how he reacts in certain situations and it makes you wonder.
AL: Looking back on the finished product. What are your feelings towards it and is directing something you would do again?
JH: There are certain moments where things feel perfect. Being creative through music, art and film has a very Zen like feeling for me. I can totally dive into projects and enjoy myself while working with people I can challenge. The whole process is very enjoyable. I am fortunate enough to where I can do different things and I hope to be able to keep doing the things I love as time goes on.
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