Emmy nominated Director Mike Mayhall seems to have done it all when it comes to show business. The New Orleans native started out doing live shows for Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, which involved stunts, comedic performances and tons of improv. It wasnt long before he was writing and directing original works for those same companies which set him on his current path.
The stunt actor was able to parlay his diverse industry skill set into film and television, where he’s worked with Bruce Willis, Mark Wahlberg, Emily Blunt, Peter Berg and many other well-known talents.
Mayhall has worked as a stunt double for some of the industry’s top leading men, including Joseph Gordon Levitt in the film Looper and Dylan O’Brien in Deepwater Horizon
Mike has always had a talent for helping make others look good. When he wasn’t doing it through stunt work, he was writing, producing and directing, plays, films and TV projects. And he’s always doing those things in such a way his actors have a chance to really showcase their talents.
However, even with all of the titles listed on his IMDb, Mayhall sees himself as a one thing: a STORYTELLER. And the industry has certainly taken notice of Mayhall’s ability to tell good stories. Bronx SIU, earned him his first an Emmy nomination for best director, as well as winning BEST ENSEMBLE at the Indie Series Awards. And most recently, his show A House Divided has received a second Emmy nomination for Best Drama.
And despite all of the recognition, Mayhall remains humble and has a much easier time with crediting those around him, than he does himself.
Mike, what was it like when you and your team found out A House Divided was nominated for an Emmy again?
It was wonderful … my first thought was for the team behind me, and my producing partner Dan Garcia. I see how hard everyone works and just thought, ‘yeah … these guys deserve it.’ All the hours, all the effort, all the hard work … it’s nice to have this acknowledgement for the cast and crew. That’s how I see this nomination … its totally theirs.
How many episodes have you directed?
In one way or another I have directed all the episodes. There are three directors on the show and we each touch each episode in one way or the other. Challenging each other, pushing each other and helping each other to get the best moment, shot, performance.
Plus, I get to do a directors pass in the editing room.
As a director on this show, what kind of atmosphere do you try and create on a set?
I try to create an open, creative atmosphere. I like my sets to be fun, easy going and a place where we all are trying to create the best show we can. We are all family … there to support each other.
What do most people not realize about directing?
I am not sure … there are so many micro decisions that happen every minute. That great directing doesn’t happen in a vacuum … you are only as good as the team you surround yourself with.
How much creative freedom do you have as a director, on this production in particular?
I get a lot of freedom … which is great. If there is an issue or a decision that needs to be made, I don’t have to run my choice through a committee … I can do what’s best for the show in real time and then move on. For a show or story to be hit its mark it needs a clear vision and sometimes too many chefs in the kitchen can muddle that …
Give us an example in a particular episode, where you added something really special.
I add something special every episode. Sometimes that’s in the moment; sometimes plotted out in advance and sometimes it’s in the editing room.
You come from the stunt and live action world. Do you want to continue that line of work?
I love those two worlds, stunt and live show. But, I think I have moved away from them as a performer. However, I always look back on those experiences and pull it forward into what I am doing now.
Although there is a side of me that really misses the stunts and live shows. Live shows are just a blast to perform and extremely challenging … living interaction with an audience, knowing if you hit the joke or moment right away, it keeps you sharp.
And stunts, well … what can I say, there isn’t a harder working group that I know of … but, I am a little bias.
You’ve also acted quite a bit. Do you prefer work in front of or behind the camera?
I love both and will, hopefully, continue to do both.
Where would you like to see your career in the next few years?
Big blockbusters … Marvel … are they looking for directors and storytellers?
How has film and television changed since you first stepped foot onto a set?
There is so much more to do and watch and create. It’s all around us and I love it.
What’s next for you?
I am developing a small film and putting to finishing touches on a mini-series. The future is wide open!