You have recently directed a film called Black Devil Doll.
Can you tell us, in a few words or phrases, what this film is about ?
Violence, Revenge, Sex, Murder, Mayhem, and a Muthafuckin’ Puppet!
came up with the idea of the black (lover and) killer puppet, and what can
you tell us about the creation of the actual prop ?
The producer/writer Shawn Lewis came up with the
idea along with co-creator/writer Mitch Mayes.
They also came up with the design and look of the doll, the
original sculpt was done by Dan Payes. Mitch Mayes put in long hours
building and creating what you see today (from the clothing to painting
and constructing Mubia). He’s
a natural puppet wrangler.
film does pay tribute to the blaxploitation genre of the 1970's. What can
you tell us about your fascination with the genre ?
Even though I am to young to have experienced the blaxploitation genre
myself my brother Shawn was a huge fan so from an early age I was watching
stuff like The Mack, Dolemite, Trouble Man, etc... So it was my first
introduction to black heros, I guess you can say its a childhood thing, it
really stuck with me. And being black myself and growing up in the black
community I'm a first hand witness to racism, police brutality, and racial
profiling. So those films were a great fantasy, an escape, watching these
black heroes, even villains, stickin' it to the man...
major influences on Black Devil Doll ?
Other major influences would have to be things like Trilogy of
Terror. I had some influence from that film when creating the storyboards for
Black Devil Doll. You can sort of see that when you watch the film.
I’m sure there are other influences in the film, it just happens subconsciously.
But other than the mixture of many genres including horror, blaxploitation, exploitation, etc…
this is honestly like no other film I have ever seen.
It has a real cruel dark side; it has a sick and twisted humorous side, and a kick ass rough and fun side.
It is definitely one of a kind.
music by the Bamboo Gods sounds pretty awesome in a retro-sort of way - at
least from what I've heard so far. How did you find the band, and what can
you tell us about them ?
They actually found us. They heard about the film and were very interested in being a part of it.
They have a style all their own.
But it is reminiscent (to me at least) of an Italian Goblin-esque feel to
it [Goblin profile - click here],
but it’s mixed with a lot of good funk and that 70s blaxploitation funk vibe.
They also did the music on the trailer Hobo with a Shotgun.
That was supposed to be a grindhouse type of trailer which worked well.
But the Bamboo Gods just seemed like they fit the mold for Black Devil
Doll. They had that feel and another great thing they did is they scored the film without even seeing the movie, which is really cool.
I think it is fair to say your
film is in some ways offensive (which in my book is not necessarily a bad
thing). How difficult (or in fact easy) was it to get a proper cast for a
film like this ?
Well, it was really difficult.
Most of the actresses that came to read for us knew the film was about a killer puppet
but when they actually sat down and read the script and what would be required of them,
they absolutely freaked out and wanted nothing to do with it.
One girl that said she was on board came to the read through, took one look at the script and said no.
We also had actors who wanted us to change the script, which was never going to happen. It was a long hard search but we finally found our
Your film is advertised with the words
This film depicts totally awesome scenes of murder and rape. Could
you elaborate on that, and is political correctness at all an issue for
First and foremost,
political correctness is NEVER an issue with neither me nor anyone on this
crew. We set out to make the
film we wanted to make. If
there is one thing we all knew going into this movie; it’s that in order
for it to work and come out the way we want it to look and feel we would
have to go all the way. That
meant never ever hold back. So
in all its filthiness and horror, the advertisement directly reflects us
as the filmmakers in respects to what type of movie we are making and what
exactly we are trying to accomplish.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The film's URL and/or mySpace ?
The Black Devil Doll
website is www.blackdevildoll.com
and the myspace page is www.myspace.com/blackdevildolldvd.
move away from the film for the time being to shed some light on your
career so far: Your initial claim to fame was a series of short montages
back in 2003. What can you tell us about them ?
Well this all started
when I was in college in Northern California. I was always into film especially horror due to my brother Shawn Lewis
who was also the creator of Blackest Heart Media for many years and later
started Rotten Cotton Graphics. But
in 2003 I was taking film as a minor in school. I had a few field assignments in which I first seriously got behind
the camera. Anyways I got bit
by the film bug and the rest is history. I actually took it upon myself to check out all the equipment and
start learning how to use it. I
created shorts while teaching myself how to use the camera and editing
systems. Using all the hot girls on campus as the stars of these
shorts - some of them were pretty good and were requested for the schools
creative arts awards ceremonies.There
is one about suicide called Lost Little Girl, another about a big chase
scene called The Chase, another was called Time 2 Go.
There were many others too. But
I was entirely self taught.
you co-founded the Black Sunday Film Club. A few words about the
Well that all started because of my extensive collection of rare films and the lack of film history and
culture at Menlo College at the time among the student body. Two friends of mine and I decided its about time we do something about it.
We started screening films in the Pit which was
the campus movie theater. We
screened Sunday night at 9pm every week. But we stuck to our guns and screened only the most obscure films,
cult films, horror, sci-fi, Asian, Art House, Just the coolest and
craziest films we could show.
Within the first month of starting the club we became huge and the biggest club
on the entire campus. The
newspapers did articles on us and everything. We even had two festivals in which our first one we had the cast of
House of 1000 Corpses attend as special guest.
Your first feature, Campus Terror, did not
entirely meet your expectations. Would you care to talk about it anyhow ?
Well I wrote a script
for a slasher type film. We
had nothing but problems from the start. First the actors were the problem; actually they were the entire
problem. As Dario Argento
says, “actors are cattle”. But
yes the actors kept missing the days we were shooting, and having problems
with what they were doing in scenes. It got so bad we had to hire three different villains!
Then we ended up changing the story mid way. Part of it was poor pre-production on my part and bad actors that
ruin the movie.
came the short The Dream Audition ...
That was just a short
we decided to shoot because we had nothing else to do.
A buddy of mine and I were up drinking at like 4 or 5 in the
morning and created the entire outline.
Then I wrote the script in the next week.
We casted and shot a true story about my friends band breaking up.
Telephone, your last movie before Black Devil Doll, pays, among
other things, tribute to the Italian giallo and was rather well-received.
Please tell us about this one.
The Telephone was my
tribute to the Italian giallo and the director Mario Bava [Mario
Bava bio - click here]. It was a great experience.
I had a great time making that movie. It
was in the LA and NY underground film festival, and the HD/DV film
festival in LA. There is a
lot of Bava, Argento, and Carpenter in that movie. Its shot in black and white and I was really trying to get that
giallo or Italian feel. Down
to the score, it was very Goblin. UltraViolent
Magazine did a review on it as did some others. It was a fun movie. My
partner on that film was Mike Amaya who drew the storyboards, helped cast
and much of the pre-production work. The actual crew for production was the
Black Sunday Film Club and
my good friend who is a great AD Elliot Robinson.
Your major influences as
a filmmaker ?
So many, that’s a
hard question. Dario Argento,
Carpenter, Mario Bava [Mario Bava
bio - click here], Cronenberg, Hitchcock, Fulci [Lucio
Fulci bio - click here], Peter Walker, Ridley
Scott, George A Romero, Wes Craven, Alfred Jacobs, there are so many too,
the list goes on. But I find
influences everywhere like in authors Richard Matheson, John Milton, Edgar
Allen Poe, Stephen King, and Clive Barker and the list goes on and on.
Films you really liked (both recent and
all-time favourites) ?
Wow… That’s another impossible question.
All 600 or so films in my collection.
I’d be here all day listing!
You can kinda get an idea through the style of films I have
... and those you deplored ?
I hate shitty remakes
of good films. Why don’t
they take bad movies and remake those. Why do we need a remake of good movies.
you say that horror is your favourite genre ? And what do you think about
the genre's current state ?
I would say yes Horror
is my favorite genre. Well,
its good and bad. Its bad
because we still have studios or suits making shitty mainstream movies or
suits messing up good movies that give the genre an even worse
reputation. Also it makes the movies I go to see a disappointment.
But the genre is looking good because there are still a lot of
directors not afraid to make some really good sound horror for people 25
and older. I get sick of so
called hardcore horror concepts marketed to 12 and 13 year olds.
Plus there is a huge independent market that is growing larger and
larger. That brings films to
people that otherwise would never get to quince their thirst for Real
Horror. Now these people
won’t have to go blow their brains out! It brings hope.
Any future projects ? What
can we expect from Jonathan Lewis past Black Devil Doll ?
Black Devil Doll
2, She’s A Whore, You Fat Fuck, An Undesirable
Death, and a few other projects that are in line.
else I've forgotten to ask but you're just dieing to share with us ?
Thank you for the
for the interview.