Tuesday 13 August 2019

Interview with Joseph Mbah – Director of EXPO

EXPO, explains writer/director Joseph Mbah, is a tribute to the action movie classics of the ‘80s.

Is this your love letter to the action films of the ‘80s, Joseph?
In a way yes it is. I was for sure influenced by those action films.

Tell us about the films that influenced you and your career. Were many of them action films like EXPO?
Growing up I watched pretty much anything with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger,  and Jackie Chan in it. But the one movie that made me realize what a movie is and how it can make you feel is Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight. I was already fascinated with filmmking before I saw the film, but after I seen Dark Knight, I understood the power of cinema. 

What does the title, EXPO, refer to?
The title was created by me and producer Amber Thompson. It comes from the word exposition. One of the definitions of exposition is a large public exhibition of art or trade goods. Which is what takes place in the film, but it is people instead of art that is put on display.

Can you talk about your directing choices here on the film - - there’s shots that are reminiscent of early McTiernan and even Besson. 
My directing choices were made in service of the story. Throughout the film I did my best to think of what is taking place in the story and in the character’s lives and make decisions based on that. So my shot choices were not necessarily trying to imitate McTiernan and Besson, it was more trying to figure out how to best pull people into the story and into what the characters are feeling.
I was also thinking a lot about symbolism and subtext, for example when the main character was making a choice on either to get help or do things his own way, which meant him digging back into his past. I decided to put him between an open door to his closet and behind him is a box containing his past.  Not sure if anyone noticed but I think it helps in pushing the story forward visually.

Did the script change much before you shot the film?
The script changed for sure while I was writing and getting feedback, but eventually we all landed on the version of the script we liked and ran with it.

How would you describe Derek Davenport?
Derek Davenport is an amazing human being. I worked with him prior to Expo and I was drawn to his work ethic and dedication to his craft. He shows up, does his job, and puts a smile on the faces of people around him.

Was it important to you that the movie be as grounded as possible?
Yes it was very important for many reasons.

It’s an entertaining movie, but would you say there’s also a message within it?
There are two messages behind it for me. The first is that no one person can do it alone, we all need help, and the second was to show that human trafficking happens not just on a big scale, but also right in your backyard, and it goes unnoticed.

EXPO is now available on Amazon Prime