If Max Landis isn't familiar to you then at the very least his surname should be. His father is none other than legendary director, John Landis. Growing up surrounded by showbiz, Max's career was practically set in stone from the get go and by his mid teens he already had dozens of scripts under his belt. He sold his first one (Deer Woman) at the age of 18, which was directed by his father as an episode of the Masters of Horror anthology series. From then on his rise has been unmistakable. His sci-fi thriller Chronicle dazzled audiences with it's unique take on the super-power genre and the last couple of years have seen several more of his scripts being snapped up by major studios. In addition to his writing Max has had a strong online presence with contributions to Trailers From Hell as well as many of his own YouTube videos. Scroll to the bottom of this article to watch his short film “The Death & Return of Superman”… it is truly awesome!Father & Son - John & Max Landis.
Max Landis has stepped out from the shadow of his father and paved his own road. His passion for cinema and pop culture overflows and listening to him talk about his influences is infectious. He might already have 100+ scripts to his name but this is only the beginning of a long and prolific career. Somehow, amongst his commitments, Max took the time to answer some of my questions.
You grew up with Hollywood all around you. What's an everlasting impression you have from that world as a child?
Well, I was a very misbehaved kid, so the amount I was actually able to experience the whole "John Landis' Son" thing was fairly limited. And even when I was on set, I'd just run straight to the prop truck and play with toy guns.
Was a career in film inevitable or did you ever eye off a different career?
I always knew that I was either going to be a film-maker or an astronaut. Then I found out you had to be smart to be an astronaut.
What was the first screenplay you ever wrote?
Battlefield. Concerned the trials and tribulations of one lone Earth soldier, lost in the No Man's Land of a planet consumed by a three way alien war.
DEER WOMAN. Written by Max, Directed by John.
I believe you have written more than 50 screenplays. Which is your favourite of those least likely to be made?
Of those least likely to be made? God, there are a lot. A lot of those old ones are really terrible, too. I don't dwell on them; I always try to move forward. I'd say the best IDEAS are probably Moth Magic, Dysphoria and Hell and The Policeman, but they're not great scripts.
Where does the inspiration for your stories come from?
Spontaneously. Songs, sometimes. Stuff just kinda pops into my head.
Who have been some of your biggest influences, creatively?
Stephen King, RL Stine, Shane Black, David Fincher, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Garth Ennis, Martin Scorsese, W.S. Van Dyke, Richard Matheson, Grant Morrison...I mean, the list goes on and on.
Do you ever turn to your old man for creative input or advice?
I try sometimes, mainly for advice. He always keeps it pretty simple.
You worked with him on Masters of Horror. Was it a good working relationship?
NOPE. But I was a terrifically immature writer, so I managed to make it even more fraught than it had to be.
Chronicle impressed the hell out of me. At a time when super power movies were boring me to death, yours came along and changed the game. How did this movie change things for you professionally?
It validated what had been going on behind the scenes in my career. I was already on a "streak" so to speak, but now suddenly all of these projects I'd sold were being taken a lot more seriously, and that felt really good.
As the characters learn to control their powers, so too does the film evolve from a shaky hand-held camera to being highly stylised and controlled. Was this written in the script or conceived afterwards?
It's written into the script. I definitely describe it happening in there, and then Josh executed it fucking flawlessly and inventively. Josh always said "Why are found footage movies shakey? Youtube videos aren't always shakey. People can hold cameras straight." And I really agree with him.
There have been mixed reports about the possible sequel. Can you clear anything up about that?
Haha, yeah, I'm off it. Mine was a super fun, kind of really dark psychological action thriller concerning the rise of the world's first "super-villain." Chronicle was about dangers of friendship and love, this one was about the dangers of fame and hate.
I am based in Melbourne, Australia and ask most of my guests if they have any favourite Aussie movies? Most of them answer The Road Warrior... so aside from that one, do you have any favs?
LAKE. FUCKING. MUNGO. Best horror film ever made.
What's your take on remakes?
Every single one is different. Usually the more cash grabby the motive behind them is, the worse they are.
Do you have a favourite film?
I have many favorite films.
Do you have a guilty pleasure movie you're game enough to admit to liking?
I would never be ashamed of admitting I like anything that I genuinely like.
Why do you think I am strangely besotted with The Stupids?
Because it's fucking dope and contains my greatest film performance to date, getting paint bukakke'd.
What's a question you've never been asked in an interview?
What's it all about, really? What's the true meaning of life? Why are we here? I mean, in the end, is there a purpose to life, the universe, and everything?
Would you care to answer it now?
What are some upcoming projects for us to look out for?
Haha, I don't kiss and tell. You'll know soon enough. Besides, I'm sick of hyping my own stuff without being able to guarantee to fans that it'll actually happen, you know?
Follow Max's weird & wonderful exploits on Youtube as he gets in it up to his knees.