I am delighted to feature a guest post from my friend actor Brian Plaideau who not only interviewed Joe Baden but also has a role in the film (Brian plays Death) they talk about – The Wheel of Heaven in an attempt to raise awareness about the Kickstarter they are running over the next few weeks to secure funding for the project.
BP: Hi, Joe. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
JB: Thank you so much for having me!
I am an illustrator and musician from New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve written and directed two feature films: Sister Tempest (2020) and The God Inside My Ear (2018). I’ve illustrated storyboards for a number of films, including Keanu (2016) and Desiree (2015). I’ve also written and illustrated a number of comic books including Terra Kaiju and The Man with Ten Thousand Eyes.
My latest film, The Wheel of Heaven, is currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.
BP: I loved your first two movies, The God inside my Ear and Sister Tempest. How would you describe them for those who haven’t seen them yet?
JB: Funeral Comedies is probably the quickest way to summate what I’ve done so far. I’m making absurdist arthouse tragicomedies that also have a message of hope and love (in their own weird way.) Basically, if Andy Kaufman did his stand-up routine at your relative’s funeral. That’s a close explanation.
BP: Your new movie, The Wheel of Heaven, takes inspiration from the classic ‘choose your own adventure’ books. How did they inspire you? What were your favourites back then? Did you commit to your choice when reading or, like me, did you turn to your first choice, decide if you liked the outcome, and go check out the other choice in story direction?
JB: I read a shit ton of CYOA books growing up. I’m obsessed with these kinds of books. I actually REALLY love the Fighting Fantasy books that Steve Jackson Games came out with back in the day. Those books have more role-playing mechanics to it. My favourite CYOA style books are the Lone Wolf series. They made over 30 books, and they are truly the best.
BP: Anything else from your youth that went into this script?
JB: My love for The Twilight Zone (original series). Those old episodes are some of the best television ever made. True art.
BP: You’ve described this movie as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets the Hour of the Wolf.” (I had to go find HotF just to get the reference.) Can you elaborate on that? What about those movies struck you enough to inspire you?
JB: They are both about people stuck at a fork in the road (so to speak), who get invited to go in a different direction. That direction might not be a better direction, but it is a choice to be made. That choosing the path of the unknown is what both stories are ultimately about.
BP: I believe you’ve said you “genre mash” or that’s your goal in film making. Have you had a mash up that you wanted to do, but couldn’t fit together?
JB: All the time. When writing, when filming, when editing… We (cast and crew) are always trying to do something new, and if it doesn’t work then we’ll try something else until we figure out what works! Many times, I’ll have an idea that looks good on paper but when it comes time to shoot, it doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right. That’s when you have to back up and be creative in the moment. It’s exciting and frightening but that’s how the best and worst art is made (by trying something new.)
BP: After 12 years as a preacher, you changed the direction of your life to become a filmmaker. Why? What happened? Was there an inciting incident?
JB: I just realized that religion (in the form that it’s in now) doesn’t work and is more harmful than helpful. So instead of trying to turn the Titanic, I decided to start on a new path that I felt was right for me. Basically, this is the premise for The Wheel of Heaven, lol.
BP: Some feel directing, acting, or any life in the arts is a calling just as much as a vocation as a life in religious service. Do you feel that way? Or were you just bored and wanted to play with some cameras?
JB: Completely feel that way. The arts are absolutely a higher calling and that’s how I take it. I just can’t go back to a regular job. I honestly wish I could, but it’s not for me. It would make my life simpler though, lol.
BP: What are some of your other artistic influences? Whether that be movies, books, art, life experiences, or anything that made an impact to get you to this point in your life.
JB: Composer John Zorn is a huge influence (mainly due to his mashing up of genres.)
I love director Alejandro Jodorowsky. He’s not only a filmmaker but a mystic and philosopher. Same with filmmakers like Lynch and Bergman. They definitely see films as spiritual oracles. That’s what I’m aiming for.
BP: Tell us about the Kickstarter for The Wheel of Heaven please. How can people help? Why should they give you money? What can they do if they can’t afford to pull out their wallets?
JB: The Wheel of Heaven is a psychedelic science fiction, arthouse mystery. This is the story of a young woman named Purity (played by Kali Russell) whose car breaks down on a dark empty street in the middle of the night. After a chance encounter with a mysterious party host (played by Jeff Pearson) and his myriad of strange party guests, Purity is left with the existential decision to either break free of her meaningless existence OR simply just succumb to its meaninglessness. That’s the basic story in a nutshell.
If someone believes that cinema is more than an Avengers movie and if they can afford it, then please consider giving to the project 🙂
If they can’t afford it but still want to help out, then they can share it with their friends and family on social media! That would help out tremendously!
BP: Would you call this interview a near-death experience?
For you, my friend, it’s a near-life experience 🙂 Thank you so much for connecting up with me and supporting the project!
You can donate using the following link
The film page on Facebook