david j. moore chats with Paying Mr. McGetty director Michael Baumgarten…
Director Michael Baumgarten’s second film in a row starring kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson is the quirky comedic action hybrid Paying Mr. McGetty. Their first collaboration was the hit coming of age action film The Martial Arts Kid, and it’s easy to see Baumgarten’s light touch as a filmmaker in both films. From producer James Wilson (Don’s producing partner) and Traditionz Entertainment, Baumgarten’s latest effort is a wildly unique effort with a diverse cast, and here he discusses the project in an exclusive interview with Flickering Myth.
This is your second picture in a row with the Wilsons. What’s brought you back again?
A couple years ago I did a movie called Smitty, which is a dog film with Peter Fonda and Mira Sorvino. Basically, they came to our premiere, and it was one of those things where they saw how packed it was. It was a family film. The place was just sold out. I’d written and produced it. It was well received to the point where I said to Don, “Hey, it would be neat to see you do something like a family film.” That’s how The Martial Arts Kid came about. It took a few years to get it to the point where we were filming, but it all started that day. It kept going. When we had the chance to do Paying Mr. McGetty, it’s all due to the people that we met and inspired us at the Urban Action Showcase and Expo, which is hosted by HBO and Cinemax.
Now that you’ve done two action films, do you find that you enjoy filming action itself?
I still haven’t gotten to do the action that I’d like to yet. Somebody is brought in to do the action scenes. On the first film it was James Lew who did the action fights, and on the second film it was John Kreng. While these are action films, I do get to help come up with what we’re going to do in terms of the action, but there’s still a whole degree of action that I haven’t gotten to do yet. I have a vampire film I want to do that is action packed. The film is basically the apocalypse! That’s what I would like to do.
Paying Mr. McGetty is a very quirky film. Say something about how unique it is. It’s a very difficult movie to categorize.
Yeah, and that’s part of the charm. We kept thinking of that movie After Hours and the one with Jeff Goldblum Into the Night. The one where he’s running around all night. The weird shit that keeps happening to him. What we wanted to do was set up Marcos’ humor. He has some great faces. We wanted to utilize that. We wanted to throw surprises at him to make him think that his day is about to get worse! There is no happiness! We wanted to throw everything at him to where everything is going wrong, but then something finally goes right. By the time he turns the corner and it ends well, we’re applauding this guy because we’ve been invested in his experience. At the end of the day, if you thought your day was bad, look at this guy’s day. Look what he has to deal with. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that he’s in love. That woman is everything to him.
Who do you think the audience for this movie is?
Anyone who likes romance and action! And also martial arts. That’s what we were after. We wanted a diverse cast, first of all. That was one thing that we achieved. There’s not a bunch of films that looks like ours. That was intentional. As long as we find the right distributor that can plug into that, and then bring it out in the right markets … this is the type of movie that can be a fun little cult film for a lot of audiences. Washington DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco… We can go around and play these markets. We want a diverse crowd. We want to plug into those markets and give them a film that they don’t get every week.
What’s next for you Michael? Are you going to work with the Wilson’s again?
We’re talking about The Martial Arts Kid 2. We’ve talked about me being the writer. I’m also looking at a bunch of things to make as well. There’s a vampire film as well that I’d like to do. I’m looking at a really cool action film that’s about a female assassin. That’s one of the things I’m drafting now. I can pull off some really interesting stuff…
Many thanks to Michael Baumgarten for taking for the time for this interview.
david j. moore