Traynor first came to filmmaking at age 18 when he got his hands on a video camera and recruited a bare-bones production roster. “The first film was just me, a friend and my cousin,” he recalls. “After a few movies they lost interest, so for four years it was just me in my basement playing all the parts.”

Traynor adds that he never had formal film school training. “I taught myself. Actually, my high school started a video course right after a graduated, so I missed out. But experience is your best teacher.”

Working with admittedly low-tech equipment (editing was initially achieved by pushing “play” and “pause” on a VCR), Traynor began producing film after film with breakneck speed and equally astonishing versatility. Comedies, thrillers, horror flicks, stop-action animation, action/adventure, romantic dramas and music videos were created, initially as shorts but soon as features.

“Comedies are hard because what you think is funny, doesn’t always get a laugh,” he remarks. “It’s the most honest type of filmmaking. People can’t lie: if they don’t laugh they didn’t like it. Horror is the easiest to make: throw some blood on someone and you have a movie.”

As his own producer, Traynor keeps an intelligent eye on the budget and relies heavily on himself to get crucial jobs done. Production costs on his short films are restricted to, according to Traynor, “a pack of video tapes and filming between one to two days.” Feature films require more time and a little more money. “If I build the sets, the most it ever cost me was $200,” he says. “My sets might be cheesy but I build them from scratch. Each fake brick glued one at a time.”

The cheese element of Traynor’s no-budget production is often spun into a special brand of cinematic caviar. Not unlike the early John Waters, Traynor takes the most obviously absurd anachronism and turns it into a small treasure of nudge-in-the-ribs fun. In “Billy Saves Christmas,” a small black dog is placed on the table and identified as a “baby reindeer” without any comment of contradiction; compare this to Waters’ “Multiple Maniacs” with the timid child in extravagant robes who abruptly wanders on screen and is hailed as the Infant of Prague. For his sci-fi jolter “The Weird Thing,” an omnivorous alien bears more than a passing resemblance to a large black garbage bag; compare that to “Multiple Maniacs” again when the blatantly mechanical and virtually inert giant lobster is pushed on screen to ravage Divine.

This brand of filmmaking doesn’t always have the intended results, of course. Traynor’s latest, the prison feature Money Bound, is sadly among his weaker efforts as the film’s intense storyline of a bank robber’s harrowing ordeal behind bars is consistently undercut by such odd distractions as having the exterior of a warehouse substituting as a penitentiary while various punches to the jaw bring vomiting of strawberry syrup pretending to be blood.

Even in the rare cases when the finished results are not up par, Traynor’s films have the good fortune of the filmmaker on screen in the center of action. While the lean and muscular Traynor clearly meets the physical requirements for movie stardom, he also offers a subtle skill in a wide variety of roles. In his feature “What it Takes,” he is cast as an incarcerated serial killer being evaluated by a court-appointed psychologist. While confined in handcuffs and leg irons, Traynor overcomes the metallic limitations placed on his character to weave a physically sinister, unapologetic character whose soliloquies on his criminal universe are dotted with Pinteresque pauses which are heavy in menace. Through the squint of his eyes and the snarl of his mouth, Traynor presents a chilling demeanor who can cut people down with only a peripheral glance and a sneer.

Get the rest of the interview in part three of JIMMY TRAYNOR: THE GREATEST FILMMAKER YOU NEVER HEARD OF>>>

Posted on May 6, 2004 in Interviews by


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