After I saw MILLENNIUM BUG I wanted to speak with John Charles Meyer who plays the funny and terrifying Billa Crawford, who is kind of the leader of his clan and is not afraid of the giant MILENNIUM BUG. I reached out to John who was good enough to answer some questions for us.
IgorsLab: Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to get into the film business?
John Charles Meyer: What inspired me to get into film? My life falling apart...
I spent my childhood on a community theater stage, where my father also regularly performed. Despite loving acting, I decided at age 18 that one needed to be certifiably insane to pursue it as a career, so I spent my twenties working on political campaigns and touring the US with a rock band. When a single span of six months witnessed my third campaign loss to George W. Bush, the dissolution of my band, and the end of my marriage...I decided to start over. In 2006, I moved to Los Angeles with only the possessions that fit in my Honda, and with zero film/TV acting experience to speak of. I got a bartending job, started auditioning for student films and music videos, and worked my way up to where I’m at now. At this point, I book just enough acting work to put food on my table without the need for a bartending gig. No complaints, so far. It’s been a good five years.
IL: Tell us about your film MILLENNIUM BUG and about your character Billa?
JCM: THE MILLENNIUM BUG managed to be awesome and arduous at the same time. We shot on weekends only, which meant that principal photography stretched out over nearly six months. My teeth had to be painted multiple times per day. The set was a modified garage with no air conditioning, and my costume consisted of heavy pants, shitkicker boots, and a flannel shirt. And it was summer in southern California. You get the picture.
That said, it was an amazing experience. The level of detail and passion brought to the project by director Ken Cran and his dedicated team was evident from day one, and his focus kept everyone else motivated. Plus, I got to shoot, stab, punch, tackle, beat or attack someone or something just about every single day. I don’t know of too many jobs that can top that.
IL: I thought the character was great, were you influenced by a person / movie or is that all script and your interpretation of a redneck?
JCM: Thanks. I had no specific character references in mind. Director Ken likes to say that my audition reminded him of a Looney Tunes character. I just tried to bring some humor and a bit of a smirk to a character who was otherwise basically just an evil prick.
IL: There is no CGI in the film, how was it working with a creature on set instead of pretending there is one there?
JCM: Awesome. I’ve done several green-screen shoots, and the results are usually stunning because the filmmakers work magic with their computers. But having a 300-pound block of fiberglass and styrofoam shaped into a gigantic monster head and swung at your body is an experience I’ll never forget. It is also worth noting that the core film crew spent a full year working on miniatures, creature effects, and action sequences before a single actor was cast in the movie.
IL: It is said that you filmed the movie in a really tight spot, any incidents on set with the creature funny/not that you can share with us?
JCM: Yep. Six hundred square feet (roughly 60 square meters). Ridiculous. In that room (which also had a concrete floor and a ten-foot ceiling), we filmed people falling into a well, running through a forest, sitting around a campfire, climbing a tree, and beating each other senseless. Meanwhile, a rickety tarp shelter outside the garage housed set pieces, monster parts, napping cast members, the SFX department’s prosthetics factory, and lunch. It was madness.
IL: You are also an associate producer on the film, what duties did you have on the film in that capacity?
JCM: I came on board as a producer after the film wrapped production. My primary duties are shepherding the film through the festival process, handling social media and press, and securing distribution. It is an enormous job, but it has also been an incredible learning experience. I’m enjoying it.
IL: Did you guys run into any issues that you thought, yeah this film is not getting done, if so what were those issues?
JCM: Despite having a completely redundant back-up of all footage, both of the production’s external drives crashed. It required a month at a data rescue company to retrieve everything. I was out of the loop at that time, but I have to assume that Ken and (producer) Jim were suffering some serious heart palpitations during that month.
IL: Being a horror site, what other creature feature would you recommend to our fans to double bill with the MILLENIUM BUG?
JCM: Here at NO CGI FILMS (noCGIfilms.com), we are big fans of any film that uses practical effects instead of relying solely on computers. Think Godzilla (1954), Jaws, and Alien.
IL: What’s next for John Charles Meyers?
JCM: I did the Actor/Producer split on a drama called El Tio Sam earlier this year; that film is still in the editing room. I’m also excited to see the release of Dr. Glamour, my second short film under director Andrew W. Jones, whose bizarre comedy Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer screened at 37 film festivals worldwide. Finally, I’ve been training all summer at a boxing gym in hopes of landing the lead role in a fantasy feature film akin toPrincess Bride or Big Fish. Fingers crossed.
IL: Where and when can we see MILLENIUM BUG?
JCM: So far, the Bug is headed to nine film festivals in four countries: France, England, Canada and the US. Within the US, we’ll be hitting Georgia, Indiana, New York, and California. I’m hopeful that by the time you publish this interview, we’ll have added three more.
Horror/Monster/Kaiju fans can also get their own copy of THE MILLENNIUM BUG on DVD from our web site, for only $15:
IL: Any advice for those trying to get into the film business?
JCM: Don’t get naked on camera, don’t do too many drugs, and don’t do stunts without a stunt coordinator. Otherwise, say YES to every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where it’s going to take you.
Thanks again to John Charles Meyer for the interview and go to the link above and purchase your copy of MILLENIUM BUG and support indie films.
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