Little do young Mike Mayhall know that many years down the track he’d be inspired to write a movie based on his stays at his stepfather’s hunting cabin. Mayhall tells us about the spooky and relentlessly thrilling Jake’s Road, which is now on DVD and Digital.
Hi Mike, how did the idea for Jake’s Road come about?
I started to focus on Jake’s Road when I moved from Los Angeles back to New Orleans. I wanted to do a thriller and horror movie, because I just love the genre. But, I wanted it to be intelligent and suspenseful, rather than hack and slash. I also wanted it to have personal meaning beyond the story.
I spent many of my younger days at my stepfather’s hunting cabin out in the backwoods of Folsom, LA. A place simply called, ‘The Camp’. It sits on 250 acres of land next to a small stream and is ideal for a horror movie. It’s a place where your imagination can run wild. It was the site of some epic parties. It was an escape from the everyday and was filled with so many wild tales of the unexplainable that they bordered on supernatural.
It was also the birthplace of an old campfire story about a hired hand, named Jake, who went crazy one night and took revenge on the former owners of The Camp. So, I guess you could say Jake’s Road is one half my twisted imagination and one half stories and events from my youth.
But, the story of Jake’s Road is so much more than that. All that is just the back drop. It’s got some great acting, some fun action and twists that are just soul crushing.
Do you think it helps to be a thriller fan when writing one?
I think, as with anything, if you love what you do it shows through. That’s an old adage from my theater days. If you are having fun, if you enjoy you’re performance the audience will enjoy it as well. I just happen to enjoy thrillers …
Are any of the characters in the film based on yourself?
In one way all of them are a bit of me. But, if I had to pick one. I’d say Sam. The other are a mix of my buddies who grew up going out the real Camp with me. There was a real Heath and George and Joanie. Now, is there a real Jake? Well, you’ll have to watch and decide for yourself. And I am happy to say we are out on iTunes and Amazon.
What about the situations in the movie? Anything personal in there?
So many personal situations. In fact the original script had to many actual events that I had to take them out for time sake. There a point where the name JAKE is mentioned for the first time. And everything that happens in the next scene is based on what really happened – more or less. The inside jokes and memories the characters share all pretty much happened to me or my friends.
What about influences – in terms of the story itself or direction?
In terms of what influenced me to write Jake’s Road it was the desire to bring to life all the crazy events that happened at the The Camp and then throw in the one thing were all scared of when we were actually out there camping. ‘What if a crazy guy showed up and starting killing?’As a kid camping in the woods who grew up watching Freddy and Jason films …it was a real (if unrealistic) fear.
As far as the direction of the film …I just wanted to tell a good story with likable characters that people could relate to and feel for when the shit hit the fan. I think we did that.
How did you land Eric Roberts? How was he to work with?
He was great. Totally brought his ‘A’ game for Jake’s Road. One of our producers had worked with him and got my script into his hands. He loved it and the next thing you know I am working with him. It was awesome!!
Did the script change much before it went before the cameras?
Sometimes the script wold change as the camera was being set up. It just happens. Sometimes inspiration strikes you and suddenly have a better way to tell the story or scene. Or an actor does a bit of improv and you just go with it. Sometimes it rains and you have to switch the scene from outside to inside.
You’re better known as a stuntman, how easy was it to transition into filmmaking?
You know it’s odd. Depending on the people you talk to is how they see me. On IMDB I am defiantly stunt heavy. But, I am classically train actor who studied directing and playwriting through high school and college. I used to act in Orlando for all the local theaters and do show development for the theme parks. In L.A. I was an actor who did stunts. And, I directed plays for Universal Studios and local theaters. It all how you present yourself.
Once I made Jake’s Road everyone saw me as a filmmaker/director/actor who is a stuntman. And I think that’s kinda cool. I was able to combine all the things I love in one format. Instead of keeping it all separate. Its easier now, I think, than it was even 10 years ago. People understand stunts now. They see it as a part of the film world and not something to be pushed aside or kept hidden. Major directors we’re once stuntmen. And now they are making movies. JOHN WICK – to name a great film – was directed by stuntmen.
You can always tell those who want to pigeon hole you. You can only do this or you can only do that. But, that’s their bag not mine. At the same time you have to tell people what you can do or they will only see you one way.
All in all …I think of myself as a story teller. Sometimes I tell the sort as a stuntman, or an actor, a director, a writer or a producer. I just want to tell a good story.
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