Mod Sun and Machine Gun Kelly latest project, Downfalls High, saw the pair turn MGK’s album Tickets To My Downfall into a pop-punk musical, but the pair’s creative relationship started long before.
The pair have been friends for the best part of a decade, collaborating on music, videos and now their first feature-length release.
Speaking about where it all began, Mod, 33, revealed that the pair had shot the video for MGK’s track Sail for just $250 (£181) six years ago, with the visuals he directed having since racked up over 136million views.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘People have asked me to pinpoint where my mine and Kells’ creativity kind of started, that’s Sail.
‘If I can spread anything out there to people, it is that the vision exceeds the budget, every time.’
Downfalls High itself was a far larger project, turned around in just four days of shooting which took place against the odds in the middle of the current coronavirus pandemic, with heavy precautions in place for the cast and crew.
Mod explains: ‘The word around Hollywood is that there hasn’t been another set up, that has started and wrapped during this time right now, and so it’s pretty amazing that we actually did pull it off.
‘I think that was like the greatest like “opening the door” to what me and Machine Gun Kelly have planned to really do in this town and, as far as like film is concerned, I haven’t been able to read anything about what anyone thinks of Downfalls High, which is very funny. I just haven’t got to tap in or sit and do any nerd s**t where I just nerd out on the phone finding articles and stuff, but I like to think that we totally brought something really f**king different to the table.
‘Our whole thing is best friends taking over the world together, is like the coolest f**king thing of all time. I think a lot of the success of that film is just based on the fact that two kids got together wrote a script.’
The pair wanted to prove that with a vision they could make anything happen despite the snobbery often found in Hollywood that puts people off trying new things.
He adds: ‘I mean they tell you all these things are so hard when you’re growing up, they tell you: “Writing a movie? No f**king way, get the f**k out!” It’s like no. you just sit down with your friend, write down a bunch of ideas…
‘They kind of make it seem like it’s such a degree of separation between the people that are writing scripts and making movies, and then the people that watch movies.
‘I’ve laughed my whole life when someone says you can’t do something and so it’s just this vindication for me personally, because I’ve been telling people, I’ve been saying movie 100 times a day for the last decade, I’ve been telling people that I’m going to direct films.’
Downfalls High went down a storm with fans of the album, and Mod says he hopes they can one day make a series out of the tragic romantic tale.
The storyline is played out by Lil Huddy (aka Chase Hudson) who stars as Fenix, the emo kid who loses the love of his life, Scarlett (Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney) and never manages to get over the heartbreak of living without her.
Casting Lil Huddy in the lead role was largely thanks to Mod, who championed the TikTok star for the role despite Machine Gun Kelly’s initial reservations.
‘[MGK’s] very specific about everything – I learned so much from him because he’s so critical on everything,’ Mod says.
‘I like to give people the benefit of the doubt right off the top and he kind of teaches me that you have to dig deeper. He’s an actor at heart, whereas that’s not my forte, it’s not what I love the most and he does.
‘So he was very concerned about the acting level that [Lil Huddy] could bring because he’s never acted and he’s going to be playing a counterpart of Sydney Sweeney who’s been acting her entire life. So it’s like “You’re putting this person in the ring with this person, Mod are you sure we can do that?”
‘We definitely went back and forth, and the decision was amazing – where it landed, I’m so happy that it was [Lil Huddy]. I actually can’t really picture it being anyone else.’
A large part of the casting choice came down to the fact Mod intrinsically knew he could make Lil Huddy look the part through the styling, which was a key factor for him working on the movie.
He explains: ‘My first stipulation to working on any project within the last three years was that I can style it. I can’t tell you how f**king much I hate style when I look at TV and I see people literally dressing horribly.’
It was important for Mod to carry the emotion and feeling of each scene cohesively through the clothing: ‘When it comes to styling like I am specifically f**king insane about it and everything that you see on screen was taken out of mine and Machine Gun Kelly’s closet.
‘A lot of times I would wear an outfit to set, and it would get taken off my body and put on to an actor.
‘Part of the reason we cast Lil Huddy into the film was because I could dress him. I looked at him I was like “I can dress him to be this character, and that’s a very big deal that might be overlooked is making the character look like he’s living that character, and I take pride in that s**t.’
As well as turning around a whole movie in lockdown, Mod also completed his new album, Internet Killed The Rockstar, which drops on Friday.
The record also features the track Flames, for which he enlisted Avril Lavigne, who also serves as the only feature on the album.
He said of the collaboration: ‘[It was] magic, pure magic. We linked up through talking and just talking about music – she’s such a music lover, she keeps her ear to what’s happening now and she caught wind of my music through my brother Machine Gun Kelly.
‘[Avril] came into the studio and that was pretty much her first take vocal, was what you hear – she’s that good.’
Mod Sun’s new album Internet Killed The Rockstar is out on February 12 and available for pre-order now.