STARBURST: Tell us a little about your background.
Mike Mendez: I started directing in the ‘90s. My two first films, Killers and Convent were accepted to the Sundance Film Festival and Grey Dancers was in the Tribecca Film Festival. I did Big Ass Spider, which was a lot of fun to make and then after that was offered Lavalantua by the Sci-Fi channel.
What drew you to the source material?
The comedic element combined with the action spoke to my sensibilities. It was a combination of horror, comedy and action.
Dolph’s character, Jebediah Woodley, has a Clint Eastwood ‘Man With No Name’ flair about him as the vaping demon hunter who is charismatic and charming on one hand but would bash your head in on the other.
Dolph was great to work with. The Jebediah character was written as if Indiana Jones became an exorcist, He’s a wacky character that audiences gravitate to.
Were there any improvised moments or ad-libbed scenes during the filming?
I’m not married to the script and I use it as a blueprint, so sometimes there are moments you can improvise. Dolph brought his own take on the character that added to the story and it worked out well for us.
What was the shooting schedule?
We shot for 17 days in Mississippi and had 12 days to prep. During the prep time, I think I got five or six hours of sleep a night if I was lucky as we were in the holiday season and had to finish filming by Christmas.
Let’s talk about Jebediah’s armament especially his unique net gun.
Bob Kurtzman and his FX group had a lot to do with the net gun. It was a modified prop from Jurassic Park that was used on the raptors. I wanted a character that was armed to the teeth with non-lethal weapons that included rubber bullets as such as he was a demon hunter.
Sort of a modern version of the true-life jungle adventurer Frank Buck of the Bring ‘em Back Alive capturing demons instead of animals.
That’s a good analogy.
Kristina Klebe turns in a solid performance as FBI agent Evelyn Pierce. How did you find her?
I had worked with Kristina in an earlier movie that I produced, which was an anthology film called Tales of Halloween. She was right for the part, so we cast her in it and she fit right in. She’s very smart and speaks four languages.
What was your most difficult scene to film?
That would be the town hall scene. When I saw Kingsman: The Secret Service they had the church scene and I thought, how am I going to put my own stamp on something people have already seen that was already written in our script? But, we came up with some unique ideas that had all kinds of action that included a chainsaw and exploding heads. It took us two and a half days to shoot that sequence.
Are there any Jebediah Woodley sequels planned?
We’ll see how well it does at Netflix and the Amazon sales. I would love to do a series of films on Jebediah as he’s an interesting character with a lot of adventures ahead of him.
Don’t Kill It opens in the US on March 3rd.