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April 12, 2013, 12:00 AM | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
Joel Potrykus “just started writing one day and, six months later, had an ‘Ape’ script.”
“Ape” is his ultra-low budget film—a “nightmarish, nihilistic tale …[it] has all the qualities to become a standard for a generation that has no future,” according to the film’s website.
Potrykus, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, not only wrote, but directed and photographed the film. “Ape” is autobiographical, based on his experience as a struggling stand-up comic who lived in New York City. He cast Joshua Burge as the film’s main character, Trevor Newandyke.
Potrykus started doing open mic at a comedy club in town “just to mess with everyone,” Potrykus says. “I told intentionally unfunny jokes,” while a friend in the back worked with a sound system that would trigger fake laughter.
“After a few months, the crowd really got into it,” he continues. “And they just ended up laughing at the bad jokes.” The laughter now was real. So he moved to New York, without the fake laugh tracks, where he was “mildly successful, but bored with it.”
A few years later, it was this life that inspired his movie.
He is proud of the fact that he could “make a feature film with a crew of three or four.” Somedays, though, he was going solo … doing everything. “That’s how I like to keep it,” Potrykus says. “Stripped down.”
Don’t expect to see this filmmaker sitting next to you in the theater. He’s only seen the film onscreen once, and that was during its premiere. He likens watching your own film to listening to your own voice on a tape recorder.
“I prefer to sit in the lobby while it plays,” he says.
—Anne M. DiTeodoro
Photo by Janet Macoska.
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