Jokes Yanes has been making movies since he was a teenager. His latest film – unarguably a lot more polished a movie than those he started making as a kid – is the Miami-set drama #EM3.
Jokes. I love the name. Is there a story behind it?
There’s definitely a story….Its was the last graffiti tag name I had growing up, all my close friends called me that, so when i started messing around with film I just kept it going.
Before we get onto the movie, how did you get involved in filmmaking initially?
I started as an actor and writer, when i was 14 with a group of kids making movies for fun. We only did it for a few years but it stayed an interest of mine, while i was playing around with making hip hop music and still doing graffiti. Later, I took a writing class in college and it just clicked and I became a filmmaker. Eventually, I was shooting music videos and doing TV and just kept doing what i felt was working always with the goal to make narrative features.
Do you still moonlight as a graffiti artist. Does that interest still exist?
It was more a thing I did when i was a kid I quickly got tired of getting in trouble, My parents are old school Cuban they encouraged me to make art, but the getting arrested and kicked out of school parts never went over to well. I have a script about some of the graffiti adventures it’ called LOCAL CREW. I am actually developing that project to shoot soon. That subculture is something I love with all my heart, its a part of me and who I am.
How did #EM3 come about?
J.bishop (Vladimir) and I came up with the idea for it about 5 or 6 years ago. We wanted to create a street movie in the way we saw it kind of, a dark pulpy night life world that was more authentic to Miami yet slightly surreal. We knew and met guys like the main character that were cool as hell, had blue collar jobs but would do all kinds of sketchy crimes. They would easily justify it by targeting the other criminals but it would always end badly for them.
We wrote the script, and eventually made a short film called “Vladimir’s Vodka” about that Valet character with a similar tone to #em3. The short film got us some really positive attention and became sort of a demo for the film.
What is the message behind the movie? It’s somewhat of a cautionary tale, wouldn’t you say?
It’s definitely is a cautionary tale, the message was always when you treat life like a game even the most random choice could be your last. I’ve seen drugs and excess destroy so many people in my life that I wanted a film that would make you think twice about making the right choices.
You’ve done a lot of television and music video work. Was it different helming a movie? What’s the main differences?
For me, there is way more freedom making narrative films. It’s when you get to use the medium to grab people more by the heart using all the available tools. That challenge to suck people in is intense and rewarding when you know you have the audience. That reminds of the rush you get when put a piece up on a wall that you know everyone is going to see.
How much of a say did you have in casting the film?
I had a lot of say in it and casting was a big challenge to find the right people. We were looking for actors that had that Miami voice and attitude that was more authentic to my hometown.
Where can audiences find the movie?
Its available right now at RedBox.