Tyler Amm got his start shooting commercials and events before making the transition into feature filmmaking with his 2015 comedy-adventure film called “River City.” His latest film, a genre-bending comedy-horror film called “Butcher the Bakers” is a fun low-budget monster movie about the inhabitants of a small town that band together to defeat the grim reaper.

Tyler Amm shot the movie, out this month from Dark Cuts, while also juggling his steady job as the head of truancy and homeless services at a social service in the state of Illinois. Tyler recently discussed his work, his movie projects, and more via an exclusive interview.

Movies, films, and social service work

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get your inspiration--and you start--to become a movie maker?

Tyler Amm (TA): I’ve always been into Movies, and as I got older I began to film stuff with my friends. In college, I shot sketch videos and eventually graduated to writing and then shooting feature films. The creative process of making a film is an itch that I have to scratch. Trial and error were my teachers. I write, produce, direct and edit all of my films, and these skills were honed from shooting one project after another and learning from my mistakes. Over time you make connections, build a team, and get access to resources that you don’t have when you start.

After that our films improved and gained some recognition that leads to this interview!

I got hired to help a media team at a music festival just before making my first film some odd years ago. Since then I’ve shot plenty of commercials, music videos, etc., and to be quite honest I hate the process of freelance work. I have a 9 to 5 in social service that suits my sensibilities more and allows me the time and financial balance to make the feature films I truly enjoy making.

I’ve shot on RED, Canon DSLRs, the Sony a7SII and the Panasonic Lumix GH4s for a majority of my projects. Really, I leave the camera choice up to my DP who I’ve worked with on all of my films. He knows what I like to see and selects the equipment based on that vision.

MM: If you couldn’t make movies for a living, what would you do?

TA: Technically, I already have a day job in social service. I’m currently the head of truancy and homeless services at my local, regional office of education. I like the stability of a day job, and it gives me the time off and financial resources to make my projects. It’s a great relationship that I’m glad to have.

MM: You work as a high-ranking official in the truancy and homeless services, so what is it like to work that kind of job and how, if at all, does it impact you as a filmmaker?

TA: Social service has always been a big part of my life so I feel incredibly fortunate that I now have a job where I can provide for my community and have the necessary freedom to work on my films/projects.

I work with at-risk populations and low-income families, and through that, I've learned to keep things in perspective. When I'm on set, and things aren't going right or don't look how I imagined I know that it's all relative. I have a great crew and production team who have my back, and I can rely on them to do their best; something the people I provide service for may not have. There is no reason to get angry or upset at the little things the audience probably won't notice. When you put your best foot forward with your team in mind, then you'll eventually solve most problems you face.

Horror, stories, and upcoming projects

MM: How did “Butcher the Bakers” come to you and why does the story-line appeal to you?

TA: Butcher came from the desire to challenge our comedy horror sensibilities. I had an idea of a Death that had been fired from his “agency,” and then followed that thought through to the two dopes that would stop him and it just kept growing. We didn’t hold back on any ideas. If something felt good, we went with it. It’s not a perfect film, but we’re proud that we were able to make the strange film we set out to make without pulling any punches. I write and direct my films, so I have a heavy hand in casting. I like to fill my weird characters with even weirder people. Keep it odd!

MM: So far, what have you most enjoyed about being a member of the film industry and how do you hope to keep it going over the coming decade?

TA: Probably staying out of the industry, haha. I live and work in North Central Illinois and would prefer to stay there. I like making my weird films in relative quiet and then releasing them to the world for the audience to find. I’d like to continue doing what I’m doing: working and supporting my full-time hobby of filmmaking.

MM: "The Benevolent Buckley Show" sounds really trippy...how did you think it up?

TA: Joe Buckley, who stars as himself in “Butcher the Bakers,” is his own beast. He is awkward, loud, and ridiculously funny. When you meet him, you get this hunger for more of his off-brand style of humor. Knowing that about him, it was just natural to put him in a setting where he would stick out like a sore thumb (hosting his own show).

We decided that spoofing gothic/horror movie style public access shows was the best way to go because we are all fans of the genre. Joe fit right into the archetype of his character, and before we knew it we had six scripts written, a huge set built, and an entire crew whose sole job was to make it work!

MM: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention and/or any advice that you would like to bestow on the next generation of filmmakers?

TA: We have a six-episode gothic talk show coming to YouTube called “The Benevolent Buckley Show.” It follows an erratic talk show host as he tries to keep his show on the public access airwaves. My advice is to make what makes sense to you.

Work with people who say “why not” and don’t constantly ask “why.” Try and fail and then try again. Eventually, you’ll learn to turn the thing you see in your head or on your script into the cinematic vision you wanted.