Mall may be Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn’s feature film directorial debut, but he’s certainly been ramping up for this since the band started. Watch an exclusive clip of Mall below:
Hahn, who co-founded Linkin Park while studying at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, has directed about 30 of the group’s music videos since debut album Hybrid Theory came out in 2000. He tells Billboard that provided invaluable experience that he was able to put to good use while making Mall with stars Vincent D’Onofrio (who also produced and co-wrote the script from an Eric Bogosian novel), Gina Gershon, Cameron Monaghan and James Frecheville.
“The music videos, they’re all experiments in themselves,” Hahn explains. “The songs themselves indicate some kind of structure that you’re able to easily follow — you can choose to construct a concrete narrative or an abstract narrative, then experiment with some visual techniques to help punctuate the emotion. So I took that attitude into the filmmaking, where the script has to be really solid, just like the way a song has to be solid for the videos to be even greater for what the song is by itself. It’s just all about building blocks and having an idea of what you want to do and mapping out a plan and how to achieve it.”
Hahn did, however, enjoy having more time and resources with Mall, which opens in theaters Oct. 17 after debuting at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. “For music videos we just have a couple of days to create the whole piece,” Hahn notes, “and it’s more performance-driven and not dialogue-driven, where features films are obviously dialogue-driven. And on this particular one I had 18 days to shoot, so that was great, too.” And, Hahn adds, his experience with the nuts and bolts of visual production mitigated any apprehension he might have felt about entering the feature realm.
“I don’t think I was intimidated by anything,” he says. “I think it’s a matter of breaking things down and dissecting how things are going to work and choosing the right crew, the right actors, having a great script — and I loved the script from the moment I read it. As a director you’re playing a leadership role in getting the team to really back you up and see your vision come to life, and also getting input from everyone else. I think the fact I get wrapped up in that kind of stuff, it doesn’t really allow room for nervousness. I just looked at it as a lot of fun, so I didn’t really get nervous. I guess it’s similar to playing gigs; people ask me about getting nervous on stage, but I have so much fun doing it that I never get nervous with any of that stuff.”
For Mall‘s music, Hahn stayed with the home team, using bandmates Mike Shinoda, Chester Bennington and Dave Farrell working alongside composer Alec Puro. “I met (Puro) on tour because he was a drummer in a band called Deadsy years ago, so it was cool to get together with him because he’s a great friend,” Hahn says. “There’s three songs on the score that fit really well with what’s going on and actually became particular themes throughout the film. A lot of them were just little song ideas that (Linkin Park) had that didn’t really quite have a home, and this was our way of finding a home for them. And then the rest were just kind of experiments that Alec and I were able to put together, but it was definitely inspired by the band’s music.” Hahn isn’t sure if there will be a Mall soundtrack album but assures that “We do have a whole album’s worth of score to put out.”
Hahn will advance the theatrical opening of Mall with an art exhibition that opens shortly before that at the Gnome Gallery in Los Angeles, with pieces “inspired by the film” by more than 50 artists. Meanwhile, Hahn and Linkin Park are on their Carnivores Tour with Thirty Seconds to Mars and AFI, which wraps up Sept. 19 in Concord, Calif. — though there’s been no sightings of 30STM frontman Jared Leto’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actor from 2013’s Dallas Buyer’s Club. “I’ll have to see if he has it,” Hahn says with a laugh. “He might just be carrying it around in his suitcase with him. You never know.”