A lazy man with a movie-making mission, Joel Potrykus continues to tap the deep creative vein of Grand Rapids, MI with his fourth feature, Relaxer. We sat down together, perched high above the SGWU mezzanine.
366: I’m here with Joel Potrykus whose movie Relaxer debuted at Fantasia to much laughter and applause. I’ll admit from the get-go that I’m not well prepared, so if you’re feeling chatty about anything, feel free to continue talking at me.
JP: I’m never prepared, so we’re on the same page.
366: Then I’ll start with an easy question: other than the promise of fame and riches, what was it that got you into filmmaking?
JP: Shoot, well, it was really all about the fame and riches… I was a “VHS kid,” and there was one summer, when I was ten, I broke my leg playing baseball, so I had to spend the whole summer in a cast up to my hip in the basement. It was so hot, and nothing to do, and we didn’t have cable in the basement, so my dad would bring me five movies every day from the video store, whatever he picked, so I just spent a whole summer watching, like, two-hundred movies. And in there was American Werewolf in London, and that kind of changed a lot of things for me. Seeing that kind of blend of horror and comedy, and [director John] Landis going whatever direction he wanted.
Then when I was fourteen, I was really into the Doors, and I was at a birthday party where they rented that movie and ‘s at the beach saying, “Yeah, I’m going to film school right now!” When I was fourteen, I had never heard those two words connected to each-other: film cchool. And I was like, “That’s where I’m going to go.”
366: You’re from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Do you have much to recommend about that part of the world?
JP: Yeah, dude, if you want to make a feature film, and don’t want to spend a lot of money for permits, and are asking the police if it’s okay to close off the street, go to Grand Rapids, Michigan. We still make the movies there because it’s really the only place… I have a manager in LA, who’s like, “What are you doing? Come to LA and direct TV, and pitch your big ideas…”. So I guess maybe it’s not fame and fortune I was after, because then I’d be out in LA. But I prefer to just hide out, that’s the only place I know how to make films.
366: Well, maybe the fame and fortune will hunt you down. Your rep said you had big ideas to pitch. What are your big ideas?
JP: In my head they’re big ideas, but I was recently tracked down by Amazon and I pitched the ideas, and I don’t think they were very big. They’re weird and small. [Amazon had] a specific budget range they need to hit, and it was ten-million dollars. I had no idea how to Continue reading INTERVIEWING JOEL POTRYKUS: THE MAN BEHIND THE COUCH