Many directors get jaded from being in the business. Not so Jay Martin – perhaps because he isn’t looking to the fame side but rather simply to the joy of the work. Martin sat down with Moviehole to talk about the challenges of directing the Paramount Studios film “Maximum Ride,” based on the best-selling young adult book series by James Patterson.
Moviehole: How did you get started in directing?
Jay Martin: I started out as a storyboard artist doing commercials. Then I moved on to doing feature films, working on “I Am Legend,” “The Hunger Games” and “Constantine” — that became my sort of film school. I started directing commercials and music videos; I did my first directing job with “7 minutes.”
Moviehole: How did you get involved with this project?
JM: Amee Dolleman (producer) had seen “7 Minutes” and knew about my background and brought me in to see the script. I had never read the books and I was like “Omigod, this is really good, very exciting.” There is Japanese manga, a whole world of manga with “Maximum Ride,” the comic books are fairly new.
Moviehole: Did you get to work with James Patterson?
JM: He would definitely give feedback but it was mostly about keeping it going and “keep it moving” kind of thing. We were trying to be truthful to the story and capture the world of the characters.
Moviehole: What were the challenges working on this film?
JM: I think the biggest challenge, it’s a big scope and we were doing this in the digital phase. The producers saw me as a good fit for the project because of my music videos, because of my planning it out and figuring out creative solutions to achieving this kind of world in this digital movie. Digital is like making a movie for a digital audience, where the film is coming out on iTunes and on the computer — it’s a new way to distribute content, like Netflix and Amazon. It has little barriers but also it’s a place to be creative that wasn’t around before.
Moviehole: What were the toughest times of your career?
JM: I was doing music videos and commercials and I had the opportunity to do a feature film based on a comic strip I had done — we were developing it for two years and then the movie ended up never getting made. I had to start over. It was a good time, because it was a rebuilding time and I ended up writing and directing “7 Minutes.”
That’s the tough thing about directing, you have to have a lot of projects going on because you don’t know what’s going to happen – that’s good advice, you have to have a lot of irons in the fire. I think I really enjoy and love getting up and going to work and doing the job, that drives me, being on set and directing and making things and putting them out there, it’s a process.
Moviehole: Who are your directing idols?
JM: I think it changes, like the movies I love are “Star Wars” kind of epics and comic book movies. I think the scope that Marvel is doing is amazing. Also Netflix shows, it’s a new bar for superhero comic book movies and I think it will keep getting better and better
Moviehole: What is your directing style?
JM: My style is to plan it out and to have really everything done — in this digital movie you don’t have the luxury of time so you have to move very quickly. I have to plan things out really well and have everyone know what the plan is, going through action and stunts so that going into to shooting it everyone knows what to do. This comes from doing music videos and commercials. I think it took 15 total days to do “Maximum Ride,” which for an independent movie, that’s not a crazy short time.
Moviehole: What would you advise beginning directors?
JM: I would say to have a voice, have your work and people can look at your work and say that guy did all that stuff, or if you have a script it’s distinctly your script, that’s my number one advice.
Moviehole: These books are a big franchise. Is that a bit intimidating? What is planned in the future for sequels?
JM: To my knowledge we will see how it will be in the future and about making any others. The movie opened on Digital HD and VOD August 30th and hit select theaters on September 30th
I hope people will really like “Maximum Ride” and that we get a chance to make movies like that. I just like to keep working and have interesting projects, I can’t ask for more than that.
Moviehole: Upcoming projects?
JM: I’m casting and working on another project with the “Maximum Ride” producers for a thriller. It’s based on an original script called “Run.”