Juan Carlos Medina is a Miami-based filmmaker who started with a few short films before making his feature film directorial debut with 2012’s Painless, which starred Alex Brendemühl and Tómas Lemarquis. His second feature film, the murder mystery The Limehouse Golem, will be released in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on September 8 from RLJ Entertaimment.
World Film Geek got the chance to talk with Medina about his filmmaking experience and the film itself.
Thank you Juan for talking about The Limehouse Golem. Seeing the film, this was one that builds up and then really punches you in the gut and I really enjoyed it.
Thank you very much! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Before we talk about the film, can you describe how you got into filmmaking?
When I was seventeen, I was a big film buff. I went to the movies all the time and I had a bunch of friends with whom we discovered all the crazy films of that time. It was at the time where VHS was everywhere so we discovered all these films like Blade Runner, Alien, and Star Wars when I was a kid and later, I discovered Polanski and Asian cinema.
I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker, so I learned photography and wrote scripts. I went to film school in France at the Sorbonne and studied there. I started with short films that I directed myself and I also did screenwriting, cinematography, and I directed my first feature film Painless in 2011. And that’s how it all began.
This film is only your second feature film as director after 2012’s Painless. How were you approached to direct this film?
When I get a script that touches a special nerve in me, I immediately know that this is a story that I can project my vision with, and to talk about things that interest me. The aspects of human condition pick my interest. What really fascinated me about The Limehouse Golem was that I am a fan of Peter Ackroyd’s work. I had read several of his books and the story also reminded me of From Hell by Alan Moore.
Basically, I was interested in the story that functions on many levels. There was the metaphysical level. There was the total dramatic level, and the possibility of telling that story, in particular. The story of a character who sees humanity without a mask. Where the “mask” is pulled off. The characters can have many masks and when the mask is off, there is a monstrosity. One that when all the pieces are put together, reveals a monster. The birth of a monster and that was also seen in Painless and that really fascinates me.
So first, I have to have a potent theme that really touches me personally and really makes me interested. And then I construct the visuals. In this case, the film is about London and London itself is a character and that period of time in London is very important to the film. We had to think about how to depict London by subjectivity as to how one would be when they are inside the mind of the Golem. So it was inspired by paintings of that era and also the use of subjectivity and not so much a documentary-look to it.
You got to work with Bill Nighy, who many will know from his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter as well as some great talents like Olivia Cooke and Douglas Booth. They gave such powerful performances, so what were they like on the set?
All actors are different in their approach, in their methods. How they get to the results and how you build the characters together with them. Bill was very elegant and he’s a very great actor. I think I pushed him quite hard and he really seemed to enjoy it in the role. He was willing to take the role and being something excessive and he brings it with in a sense, high voltage, and he did a great job on the film, so it was a pleasure working with him.
Douglas is a very hard-working and ambitious actor. He’s quite unique and brings a lot of presence. He needs someone who will take advantage of his frame. He needs a mirror because he does get roles because of his physique. What we wanted was for him to help bring a sense of authenticity to the role because he’s seen as a big beauty or someone who is not exactly normal, but Douglas really brought it to the role. He’s got an interesting physique and plays someone who is in fact real. He’s quite haunting yet quite intelligent.
Olivia is quite the trooper. She’s quite a disciplined actress. She is always impressive when you see her and she is quite young. She’s only 21, 22 years old and she is incredibly precise in what she brings on the set. She is precise and creative. It was really hard for her at times to shoot because she is ambitious in her role and not many actresses can pull that off. I’m quite proud of her because on two occasions, she ended up feeling ill, but she didn’t let that stop her. She would be ill and still want the cameras rolling on her. She’s an incredible actress.
Finally, are there any new projects on the horizon for you?
I’m actually prepping something that I can’t talk about yet, but there will be an announcement soon on it. I also have a couple of personal film projects and TV series that I will be working on.
The Limehouse Golem is coming to select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on September 8. Anyone who loves murder mysteries definitely will like this film. Thank you again Juan for talking about the film.
Thank you so much! Take care!
A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Juan Carlos Medina for making this interview possible. For more on Juan, check out his official Twitter page.