Jay Cynik Packs a Punch!

PunchI think most of us have a love/hate relationship with technology. While we enjoy the playground technological enhancements have created (amazingly detailed video games, the internet, social websites), we also miss the sense of privacy we once had.

All of us are now merely one phone call or text message away no matter where we are or what we’re doing. And how often do you find yourself drawn to checking the “status updates” of “friends”, or your e-mail, when you should/could be doing something else such as, oh, I don’t know – working? I myself have to admit that I feel as though I was far more creative and productive before the internet. My mind wandering for hours in The Sea of Rumination… adrift… nothing to distract me such as a signal from my “CrackBerry” announcing the arrival of a text message or an e-mail.

It’s in this same Sea of Rumination that, over ten years ago, writer/director Jay Cynik first came up with the idea for what would become his directorial debut, Punch, a film about fast cars, faster women, drugs, rock & roll, and the fate of mankind.

Small town life in the early 90’s,” Cynik recalls. “It was crazy time before everyone had cells and internet. We grew up learning about cars. We cruised the strip, played in bands, got drunk, and were proud to be All-American-Fuck-Ups simply because there was nothing better to do.

Punch writer/director Jay CynikAnd it’s those “All-American-Fuck-Ups” Cynik grew up with which populate Punch and on whose shoulders the fate of mankind resides. Namely, anti-hero “Brand” (played by Nate Jensen), who runs a motorcycle gang known as The Teenage MOD Murder Squad, must square off with “Punch” (played by Marcio Catalano), who runs The Four Barrel Felons, a rival gang. Both men live well beyond the edge and seems hell-bent on delivering as much destruction and chaos before gleefully diving head-first into their early graves.

Hastening the head-on collision between the two is a mysterious stranger who dresses like a Rhinestone Cowboy, speaks like a preacher on meth, and promises the world but obviously has his own agenda, using the two rivals as pawns in a much broader, spiritual scheme. “I intended the film to be ‘read’ as if it was the first story from the third testament of the bible. With a very prophetic, profound, and sometimes over-exaggerated ‘fairy tale’ spiritualism to it. At heart it’s a punk-based cult film, filled with muscle cars, bikers, nudity, sex, drugs, nerds, hookers, and extreme violence, but under all that pumps the bloody veins of social and religious commentary.

As to the “end of the world” aspects of the film, this certainly isn’t your typical Will Smith or Roland Emmerich apocalyptic flick. “I really liked the idea of setting up a story where the apocalypse was never publicized; there were no mass riots, religious uprisings, or government involvement. Essentially, while the ‘parents’ slept, the ‘kids’ were battling for the fate of humanity itself. It’s a story that takes place in a subculture of society deemed ‘losers’ that unknowingly have the power to ultimately decide the future and fate of all mankind.

Punch writer/director Jay CynikInterestingly, Punch didn’t start off as a film concept. “I initially wrote the script with the intention of it being solely a comic book and enlisted one of my best friends, Simon Young (who would do the storyboards for the film), to illustrate it,” recalls Cynik. “I’d have friends and fellow film industry people read the comic script, and they loved it. It got passed around, and eventually we got offered a small budget to produce it as a film.” But the offer came with a string attached. “All the interested producers wanted to dumb down a lot of the exploitative, violent, and sexual content. I said no and then decided to use my own money to produce the film the way I wanted it to be produced.

And this is where the “love” part of our love/hate relationship with technology comes in. Because, due to technological advances with digital cinematography (they shot with two HVX’s with Redrock 35mm Adapters and Zeiss Lens), Cynik was able to take a mere $50,000.00 (which would have to last through pre & post production, leaving little room for error ) and make his film over the course of eighteen days in Moses Lake, Washington. “With that 50K we built 3 muscle cars, 5 motorcycles, picked up 35mm lenses, paid the cast and crew, put them up in RVs, and brought a 1313FX from LA up to Washington.” An amazing accomplishment on a budget that is the catering bill for one day on a typical Hollywood production.

And what of the comic? “The comic will be out in December. It’s something Simon Young and I have been working on for a long time and is close to our hearts, and I’m really looking forward to promoting it and touring along with the film at conventions.

As for the finished film, Cynik is still seeking distribution. “As of now we are self-distributing and having a great deal of success with it. We’re hitting conventions, festivals, and indie video, comic, and music stores. It’s a slow process, but insanely rewarding.

Check out a teaser below, read my review here, and visit Punch‘s official website for info on how to order the DVD.

Erik W. Van Der Wolf

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