11th Dec2020

Exclusive Interview: Joe Hallett talks ‘Paintball Massacre’

by Phil Wheat

In Paintball Massacre, old school friends go on a paintball trip, miles away from civilization. Things go horribly wrong when they discover a cold-blooded masked killer is among them. Now they must fight to survive their school reunion. We spoke to star and producer Joe Hallett about the film, which releases December 15th on DVD and Digital.

Congrats! How long of a journey has this been for you?

Thank you, well “Paintball Massacre” has been 4 years of my life in total. I have lived, breathed and dreamt this film for so long, it has become a part of me. It will be strange to finally be closing the door on such a passionate project, however you always have to let go in the end. I can’t wait now to move on to new exciting projects.

And what was the initial appeal for you?

I have always been a huge fan of Dark Comedy Horror, I have never been a huge fan of full on scare fests, however something with a little bit of humour to take the edge off is great fun. There hasn’t been a good true British Comedy Horror in years and we set out with “Paintball Massacre” to change that. What this film has compared to some many indies is the fact that we really focus on the character development and in essence it is an ensemble cast, not one character leading the way.

And what prep work was involved? A lot of action choreography I imagine?

We started pre-production in mid 2018 and rolled cameras in September 2018. Personally looking back now we should have given ourselves more time in preparation. We did rush the process which is an amateur move, at the time I just wanted to make a film. Most of the prep work ended up being spent at our main location, the used quarry. We had no fort or real set pieces. Being such a low budget film, myself and even the executive producers pulled up our sleeves and got dirty building everything. As for action choreography, there is one major fight scene which is the finale of the film. This sadly was a rushed scene due to one of the actors needing to be back on London that afternoon. With my background in fight action, I decide to keep it basic but brutal, which works really well as neither character had any Martial Arts background whatsoever. Funnily enough after rehearsal we shot the fight in under 30 minutes, which was record time on the shoot.

It’s a hard one to categorise – there’s a little bit of everything in here – how did you pitch it to everyone, initially?

That was one thing we were struggling with when writing the script, what genre this film is Horror, Comedy or Action? In the end I say it is unique, it’s own genre a mixture of all three. Why try and pocket a film in one category when it is much bigger than that. When I was pitching the film I advertised it as a Horror with tongue in cheek comedy, going back to the old 80’s slasher movies where you aren’t meant to take everything seriously. After reviewing the final mastered version, I came to the conclusion it is Hot Fuzz meets Dog Soldiers.

When you’re playing in this genre – you’re also acting in it, in addition to producing – is it hard not to play things too over-the-top?

It was always the plan to give myself one of the smaller roles, I knew I wouldn’t be able to take on a major role whilst producing it too, that is just career suicide for your first feature film as a producer. It definitely had its challenges and often sleepless nights ensuring we had everything ready for the next day and I knew my lines. Luckily there was a last minute change which was a god send to me. Roughly 2 weeks before we rolled cameras a decision was made to switch my original character Ben Hayes the estate agent with Aiden Jones and the fantastic Nathan Clough would play Ben instead. This meant cutting my acting days in half which allowed me much more time for my producing tasks, which became a lot more than I ever anticipated. The plus side also was that we had the amazing Nathan Clough who is so talented on screen for much longer than planned. Overall the experience was an emotional roller coaster, however I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

How empowering is it getting about with one of those paintball guns, and dressed in that attire?

Haha. I did enjoy my role as Aiden Jones purely for the fact he stood out from the rest of the main cast. He loves paintballing, it is his thing and he comes prepared with the body armour, his own mask and gun. Running around the quarry shooting paintball guns at each other is so much fun, you are just like a big kid. However sometimes you had to stop and look at the beautiful surroundings we were fortunate to use as the backdrop to our film in the heart of the Somerset countryside, we were blessed. I will say this, shooting the gun at someone and hitting them where it hurts is very satisfying indeed.

Ultimately, I imagine the plan is to get this out around the globe? Where has it been so far?

Yes that is the ultimate goal for “Paintball Massacre” to reach every person around the globe, I want everyone to enjoy this film. It will be released in the USA and Canada on 15th December on DVD and Digitally via our amazing distributor Uncork’d Entertainment. Followed by an early 2021 release in UK. In the meantime we have made the official selection at the prestigious Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre Film Festival, in Argentina and the film will be screened online over there from 3rd December for 72 hours. We have a fantastic sales agent on board in the form of Devilworks who are securing more territories as I type. We are aiming for more European and Asian countries, so watch this space the “Paintball Massacre” invasion is upon us.

Favorite film and series of 2020?

That’s a tough one indeed. Obviously with the Worldwide pandemic and lockdown it gave me plenty of time to binge watch films and shows. I really did enjoy Amazon Prime’s “Hunters” I know it took some flack and brought controversy due to the subject matter, however I fully enjoyed the experience and am looking forward to season 2. I have to mention Warrior season 2, Gangs Of London and Mandolorian season 2, being a Martial Artist and action fanatic those series just do it for me. Film wise there are three that come to mind Old Guard, The Gentlemen and Extraction all three are cinematic geniuses in their own right.

Least favorite?

I really switched off on David Ayer’s “The Debt Collector” I really wanted to enjoy it, I saw David in action whilst working on “Fury” so I had high hopes for it however it just didn’t hit the mark, such a shame.

What kind of changes do you expect within the industry for 2021?

Firstly more and more films will go straight to digital and VOD platforms without blinking an eyelid to cinema, which is a very sad affair indeed. Nothing beats the cinema experience however with more restrictions being placed on businesses you can understand. Also I feel until a vaccine has been rolled out and we can resume normal life, independent films will struggle to get made as it is hard enough raising a budget for the film normally, let alone all the extra safeguards to ensure safety of all cast and crew members. One thing is for certain the big budget studios films won’t be effected as much and will keep knocking them out for all of us to enjoy.

Do you have a dream project? If Tinkerbell could sprinkle fairy dust upon you and bring any project to you, what would it be?

My dream project would have to be an epic action film with my top role models Jackie Chan, Robert Downey Junior, Christoph Waltz and Gary Oldman directed by either Martin Scorsese or Tarantino. If that magic fairy dust can bring Alec Rickman back too for a cameo that would be a huge bonus. Not sure what the storyline could be with that actor lineup haha. I would love to play the bad guy and get my ass kicked by Jackie. I could sleep easily at night knowing I met my idols and worked with some of the best in the business.
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Paintball Massacre releases in the US on December 15th on DVD and Digital, courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.

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