×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Joe Penna on ‘Arctic’: ‘You Can Say So Much Without Dialogue’

More than 11 years ago, Joe Penna chose his “MysteryGuitarMan” YouTube username at 3:45 a.m. all because he wanted to post a video of himself playing guitar. Now in 2018, his “Guitar Impossible” video has over 16 million views, he’s directed a music video for Avicii, and the world premiere of his new film “Arctic” is freezing over the Croisette.

You’re originally from Brazil. You live in L.A. now. Did you miss the warm weather while you were shooting up in the Arctic

Absolutely. “Arctic” was originally set on Mars, but then we heard about “The Martian.” Shooting in Iceland was good for the film, but not for me as a Brazilian man.

Your leading man, Mads Mikkelsen, told Variety last year it was the most difficult shoot he’s ever done. Why do you think that is?

He’s in every frame of the film and understood the character so well. There’s even a shot where he’s a mile away from camera. He’s 35 pixels tall. I counted.

Mads is a famous James Bond villain. Would you ever want to direct a Bond movie? 

This was a low-budget indie. Mads called it “rock and roll filmmaking.” I’d love to do a mid-tier film. My “Arctic” writing partner and I have a script that’s a spiritual sequel.

How so?

It’s a lifeboat scenario but on a spaceship headed to Mars. Those constraints of being in a spaceship and the weight don’t allow for many characters like in “Arctic.”

So you do get to go to Mars after all.

My partner and I initially wrote a trilogy — one about the last people on Earth, and the other about a spaceship heading to Mars. The third one was on Mars.

As “Arctic” is a survivalist tale, what are the best survivalist movies that you’ve seen? What other films inspired you? 

“All Is Lost.” “The Red Turtle.” “Wall-E” proved to me you can say so much without dialogue, yet always know what he’s feeling. I knew immediately Mads could achieve that.

What was the most challenging thing for you about moving into features, as you’ve done YouTube, commercials, shorts, a TV series and music videos?

It was a continuation of what I had been doing, but the 19-day shoot was taxing. The most difficult part was pacing myself to make sure I’d come out alive.

What was it like for you to direct Avicii’s “You Make Me” music video in 2014, considering his recent passing?

That was the biggest thing I’d done at the time. It’s really sad that he’s passed away. He’s kind of the reason why I was able to do “Arctic” eventually.

Your “MysteryGuitarMan” YouTube channel has been up for over 11 years now. What made you want to post videos on the platform?

It’s like I have a public record of my film career, of my film school, really. YouTube is amazing because there’s instant feedback. It’s kept me on my toes.

POPULAR ON VARIETY: 

More Film

  • Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for

    Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for North America

    Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the Romanian crime thriller “The Whistlers” following its premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, the film stars Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi and George Pisterneanu. Magnolia is eyeing a theatrical [...]

  • Naomi Scott Talks Rebooting Princess Jasmine

    'Aladdin': Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad's New Character

    Call Naomi Scott the queen of the reboot – or at least, the princess. The 26-year-old actress is taking on the role of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s live-action remake of “Aladdin,” but it’s not her first time jumping into a role that’s already been well-established. Audiences may recognize Scott from 2017’s “Power Rangers” update, where [...]

  • Moby Natalie Portman

    Moby Accuses Natalie Portman of Lying as the Two Spar Over Dating Claims

    In what’s become a he said/she said spat in multiple mediums, Moby, the elder statesman of electronic music, is now accusing actress Natalie Portman of lying and pleading to those on social media for his safety as “physical threats from complete strangers” emerge. To recap: this month, Moby released a new book, “Then It All [...]

  • A QUIET PLACE Emily Blunt

    'A Quiet Place' Sequel Moves Ahead Two Months to March 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved its sequel to “A Quiet Place” ahead by two months from May 15 to March 20, 2020. John Krasinski is returning to direct the still-untitled movie with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe reprising their roles. Cillian Murphy is joining the cast. “A Quiet Place” grossed $340 million at the [...]

  • Sony Pictures Classics Buys Michael Covino's

    Cannes: Sony Pictures Classics Buys Michael Covino's 'The Climb'

    Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all worldwide rights, excluding France and German-speaking Europe, to Michael Angelo Covino’s buddy comedy “The Climb.” The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Un Certain Regard Heart Prize alongside “A Brother’s Love” on Friday. Covino directed, co-wrote (with Kyle Marvin) [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Heads for Magical $100 Million Opening in North America

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” is heading for at least $100 million in North America during the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, early estimates showed Friday. “Aladdin” will likely finish Friday with around $30 million, including $7 million in Thursday night previews. Sony’s launch of horror-thriller “Brightburn” should pull in about $10 million for the holiday weekend and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content