Joe McReynolds, an Austin-based filmmaker that started his career making short films on his SonyH8 video camera, graduated to feature films with“The Vern,” an award-winning indie film starring Karl Anderson. His latest horror film is the grindhouse-esque thriller “Inhumanity“ now available in the US, which tells of a detective on the hunt for a serial killer.

Joe McReynolds spoke about his projects via an exclusive interviewed granted on September 3.

Films, cameras, and inspiration

Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to seek out a life as a filmmaker and how did you get your start?

Joe McReynolds (JM): I was intrigued by the idea of being able to capture people’s attention, entertaining them and also delivering a message. I enjoyed watching Movies and the escape element but also liked how some movies tapped into my subconscious and made me think. I bought a Sony Hi8 video camera and started making little movies. My first one was called COKE.

It was about a thirsty student pouring a glass of coke. It was very revolutionary as far as cinema goes. I enjoyed the editing and just the making of it overall and soon realized I needed to be able to write so I could shoot and then edit. I moved to Austin in 2005 to find some like-minded individuals to get into filmmaking with and met Javier Garcia in a fourteen-week film class put on by Steve Mims.

From there me and Javier made a few short films then jumped right in and made a feature film called “The Vern” starring Karl Anderson who is also in the “Inhumanity” movie playing a shady detective. Javier and I have a really good friendship and work well together. His cinematography skills have become really impressive over the years.

My first paid gig was when I did an informative commercial for a hospice company a few years ago and was able to pay myself from that gig and pay everyone else. It was a good feeling, but I have never been super-focused on making commercials or things like that. I want to make feature-length films. So, I went back to that and created the “Inhumanity” project.

MM: What equipment did you use to film “Inhumanity”?

JM: On this film, we used a Canon 5D Mark II. We really love that camera, and it served us well. We are now in possession of a Mini Ursa that Javier wants to use for the next project. The first feature film I made was on a Panasonic HVX. That seems like such a long time ago. Technology has really changed so much and the cameras today are amazing.

MM: Aside from making films, have you another career?

JM: Well I am a critical care registered nurse and work a full-time job still. So, until I can get to the point where I can make films full-time and more frequently, that’s what I will do…. LOL.

MM: How did “Inhumanity“ come to you and what is most appealing about it?

JM: I wanted to create a new serial killer character and play around with blending genres. I saw Leviticus Wolfe at a pool party, and I told him he would make a great serial killer character, and he was willing to give it a shot. So, I began creating this idea that grew into what the film is. I had to make some compromises along the way, but in the end, it forced us to be more creative and gave us a unique film.

Personally, what appeals to me about it is the two main characters are female and strong, and we have a very diverse cast. I like that. I like the multi-layered plot also. I really like movies that have a lot going on. The audience is smart these days and can consume 10 hours of Netflix in one sitting while juggling multiple stores in their head.

I give them the benefit of the doubt that they can keep up with multiple chapters and storylines in a film. Especially something like Inhumanity-- it continues to move forward at every turn revealing a little more about what it is and keeping the audiences guessing where it will go.

Movies, projects, and advice

MM: What was the whole casting process like?

JM: I was the director. Diana Rose did a lot of the casting for the film, but she showed me, everyone, she wanted to use. Some I agreed with, some I didn’t, but in the end, we made the best decisions with who we chose. Diana did an amazing job with the casting.

MM: What is the most awesome thing about working in the movie industry and where do you see your career in ten years?

JM: Well I don’t really work in the industry, and in Texas, there isn’t a really big movie industry. As far as working in the independent film community in Austin Texas, well that’s been great. There are a lot of amazing people in Austin who are very talented and who want to work. We just don’t have a large film industry in Austin and could benefit from more projects and some innovative producers.

In ten years, I see myself having completed more projects that will get better each time and allow me to work in an environment where I have the freedom to explore new ideas as a filmmaker while making enough money to support my family.

MM: Do you have any upcoming projects--and advice for newcomers--that you want to mention?

JM: I am working on a psychological horror film right now that is going to be the opposite of Inhumanity. It will be centered around one central character and a family he’s obsessed with. I don’t really want to talk too much about it. It will hopefully star Ford Austin if I can persuade him to play the role…

I would tell newcomers to start making films and be bold and go with their instincts. There will always be criticism for what you do, especially in filmmaking, so do what you want to do and learn each time. Just keep pushing forward and try to find a flexible job to pay your bills along the way. Having family help can really be beneficial. My kids are in this film. We have a great relationship as does my soon-to-be-wife Margaret Marchant.

She has been a strong foundation of support and patience as I worked on this project. My kids now want to know more about my filmmaking, and I hope I can be an inspiration to them to pursue their dreams and passions. I can never give up. I will never allow my kids to see me quit. Quitting is not an option. My kids are amazing, and so is my fiancé. I am a lucky man!