Comedy and horror go well together, and Paintball Massacre starring Cheryl Burniston (Child), Katy Brand (Matchmakers), and Lee Latchford-Evans (The Rizen) as part of a high school reunion to play a messy game that turns into a bloody mess.
Paintball Massacre centers around a group of former classmates who get together for a reunion. The trip down memory lane is coupled with a weekend getaway that includes paintball. However, someone has a different plan that doesn’t involve celebrating stories from the past and instead aims to end everyone’s life. It’s a fun ride through messy chaos.
PopAxiom spoke with Joe about becoming a filmmaker and being a part of the Paintball Massacre team.
“My background is as a martial artist,” Joe begins, “I’ve done martial arts since the age of seven. I competed all around the world as part of team England. I became a world champion five times. I did musical forms, which was a collaboration of martial arts and gymnastics with weapons set to music.”
Joe’s love for making movies came due to “all the skills I learned,” he says of his martial arts training. “I fell quite easily into the stunt and screen fighting world. When I was 15, I was offered a really small role in a low-budget film. It was really bad and never went anywhere. But the day I went on set, I was hooked. I had one line. I loved the experience.”
As a martial artist, what’s Joe’s favorite weapon? “�� the nunchaku. I do nunchaku from watching Bruce Lee. I went to compete in a tournament called the Bruce Lee Challenge in 2012. You compete against three others with nunchaku, and I was the first person from England to win it. I was quite proud. It was in front of a crowd of 20,000 live on Paris TV.”
Joe gives some love to a few other martial weapons, “Following that, I would say the katana, bo staff, and kama.”
“At that age, it was quite hard to get into the film industry,” he says. “I started to speak to people in the martial arts world who had done it. I got a few more roles in independent movies, mainly as a ninja with my face always covered by the mask.”
Minor roles and stunt work kept coming. “I was able to do some films with Scott Adkins. I worked on a critically acclaimed web series based on the Street Fighter franchise called Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist.”
“The more I did film work, the more I wanted to perform,” Joe admits. But starting in showbiz is often a complicated path. “So, you have to have credible roles to get an agent but to get an agent; you have to have credible roles. I was always doing stunts and rarely on camera and instead making people look good. So you have to get those roles on your own and prove yourself.”
About Paintball Massacre
Joe produced and played a role in the film Paintball Massacre. Is he a fan of the global pastime? “People think I’m a paintball fanatic, but I’m not. I’ve probably gone paintballing maybe four times in my life. But it’s so worldwide; there are tournaments in America and the United Kingdom. It’s such a social affair too. Everyone knows someone who plays paintball.”
“I’m a fan of 80s slashers,” he says. “I love that they don’t take themselves totally seriously. There’s a bit of humour in them.”
Paintball Massacre falls in line with those not-too-serious horror films that Joe loves. How did the film come together? “I was working on a film for a year. It was an action-comedy film. Then it fell through. I was kind of stuck, a loose wheel, and I had all this resources lined up that I’m not using. So, a producer partner gave me this idea for this paintball film.”
The initial idea was simple enough. “… people go paintballing, and they killed in the way they work. I said, okay, that’s cool, now we need the glue between those storylines.”
“I came up with the idea of a school reunion,” he continues, “We added ideas, decided who the killer was and why they were doing what they were doing.”
Joe’s initial role was as a producer, but he “always had the idea that I would take on a smaller role. One that doesn’t survive the film, spoiler alert.”
“We switched my role with another actor,” he reveals, “which turned out to be a great idea. It cut my acting time in half and gave me more time to focus on producing. It was a godsend. Being a low-budget film, so much more falls on the producer, and there was a lot of work.”
What’s a lesson Joe will take away from Paintball Massacre that he can share with other filmmakers? “One thing I learned is to give yourself time to prepare. Don’t rush pre-production. Preparation is key. You can’t over-prepare. Take a longer time getting everything ready.”
“First of all, I have to mention Martin Scorcese,” he answers when asked about influences. “Goodfellas, that film alone, you can watch that film and learn so much about cinematography and lighting. Anything Tarantino does is amazing. There’s Spielberg; for me, it’s Indiana Jones and E.T.”
How about acting influences? “I’d say Robert Downey, Jr., Christoph Waltz, the late Alan Rickman, and Gary Oldman. They’re all just phenomenal. If I could work with any one of them, I’d be happy.”
There’s one influence that may be obvious considering Joe’s background, but it must be mentioned. “I love Jackie Chan. I have friends who’ve worked with him and tell me amazing stories.”
If Hollywood came knocking for Joe to do a remake, what would he choose? “Oh my God, what a question. I’ve never been a fan of remakes. What ends up happening is people watch the remake with the original in their head. They can’t separate the two. Jumanji is so different from the original, and I think it was so that people wouldn’t compare it to the Robin Williams film.”
“I would love, and I know it’s dangerous to say,” he begins his final answer, “but I would love to remake The Warriors.”
Paintball Massacre is out on DVD and digital, including iTunes and Amazon. With loads of bonus features on the DVD too. So, what’s next? “I’ve been fortunate to work on some short films. I did a script read for a new comedy series. I’ve decided on my next feature film; it’s sort of a crime-thriller-action film, which I am developing now”
Is Paintball Massacre on your watch list?
Thanks to Joe Hallett and October Coast
for making this interview possible.
Read more interviews from Ruben R. Diaz!