William Kaufman [Interview]

 

 

Happy Wednesday Folks! We have a wonderful and exciting interview to share with all today. We are fortunate enough to have another damn fine writer and director to feature on the site. In fact, his work speaks for itself, and has actually been featured here at Trainwreck’d Society in the past. It’s William Kaufman, Everyone! He is a brilliant mind in the world of action films, and happens to have a close partnership with our dear friend Chad Law! And best of all, William is one hell of a nice guy!

We discuss Mr. Kaufman’s start in the business, what he loves about action films in particular, our beloved city of Spokane (which we were once calling “The City of Lost Potential”, but may have to retract that statement soon!), and so much more. We are so excited that William was willing to grace our digital pages today and we know you are going to love what he has to say. So Folks, please enjoy some great words from the brilliant artist and person, Mr. William Kaufman!

 

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What was your first introduction into the world of cinema? And what made you decide that you wanted to join this world for a living?

I grew up in London and being the only “Yank” on campus I think I always felt like a bit of an outsider at my British prep school… I think going to the movies was sort of my “escape”… most of the movies I saw were American blockbusters, heroes saving the day and as “little boy” as that sounds, it was my connection to home…  I have insanely great memories of all those Saturdays I spent in my old local theater. 

I quickly became “that kid” in the neighborhood that was always running around with a camcorder making his little movies.  To be very straightforward it was all I ever wanted to do… When I was around 13 we moved to Texas for Junior High and then moved back overseas to Bangkok Thailand where I went to an international school. While I was there I got to work (PA/extra) on a couple big US movies that were shooting there and from that moment on I was hooked. After film school in Texas I got hired on by a SFX/Armorer coordinator and that definitely served me well when I got ready to do my first indie film The Prodigy.

The majority of your credits have been in the world of action/adventure. What is it that you love the most about this genre of film? What keeps you wanting to work in this world specifically?

I think it was just a natural direction to go in as that genre is what spawned my initial love of film. I love the action genre when it’s done well, and for me in particular, I am most connect when it’s grounded in great characters, compelling storylines and and a gritty reality I can recognize. 

I’m not saying that I don’t care for fantasy or sci-fi… on the contrary, I just prefer it when crazy outlandish ideas are are taken seriously.  I just want the stakes of the storyline to matter… And in the action genre specifically, I have to be completely invested in the characters for any of the action set pieces to have any impact.  Without that, it’s simply a series of stunt shows strung together for 90 minutes.

 

 

You filmed much of 2011’s The Hit List in the eastern Washington city of Spokane. I was living in the area at the time, and I remember strolling around Riverfront when you were shooting. The film was fantastic by the way, and I’m sure local Spokanites are always happy to see their city being used. So how was your experience in the city of Spokane? Did you get to enjoy your time in eastern Washington’s largest (and frankly, only) city?

Spokane and the surrounding areas are beautiful. I had an amazing time there. It was a huge growing experience for me because up till then I’d never done a studio picture… I never had anyone in charge of the production that superseded me creatively. That was a huge adjustment… I learned a ton… I definitely learned what to do and also what to absolutely NOT do when playing at that level :).

The next year you returned to work with Cuba Gooding Jr. with One in the Chamber. This time your location was a bit more enticing, as it was set in Romania. So you spent a lot of time with the Oscar winning actor of the course of these two films. So how has your experience been working with Cuba, and what do you believe is a main factor in your partnership that has helped in  putting out such great films?

As I said on The Hit List there was quite a bit of adjusting for me. Cuba of course was great but I still think he was trying to figure out what kind of a filmmaker I was if you know what I mean. That’s just natural… I was an absolute unknown indie film maker out of Texas with one tiny little, genre festival hit under his belt and another film nobody had seen yet called Sinners And Saints in post production.  On One In The Chamber, all that was behind us. Sinners And Saints had become a run-away cult hit and Cuba had gotten great reviews from The Hit List and so his level of confidence in me was completely unwavering.  I remember he would come to set and say “OK coach let’s get to work” He was awesome to work with… Great attitude, amazing work ethic… We had a blast!

While you are definitely known to write your own brilliant stories, such as Sinners and Saints, The Prodigy, & more, you have manage to direct the works of some very fine screenwriters like our old friends Alan McElroy and Chad Law. So when you are picking up a gig as a director on a project that you didn’t write, what are you looking for a script that a guys like Alan or Chad just seem to get? What makes a solid script in your opinion?

Alan’s resume speaks for itself.  We didn’t get to collaborate very much but he’s a great guy and responsible for a lot of very cool stuff. 

My relationship with Chad is a completely different animal. We’ve been friends and collaborators for over 10 years. Chad is a straight up monster of a writer.  You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more prolific as a screenwriter and lover of genre film than Chad. And that’s what I look for… Someone who REALLY has a love of the genre… Too many aspiring writers dabble in the genre thinking it will be easy path to get to do “real movies.” They quickly find out how misinformed they are.

Chad is someone who really “gets it”.  His scripts are also a blast to read… They actually read like a good fiction novel. They’re slick, funny and oozing with attitude. So speaking as someone who is inundated with scripts all the time, Chad’s work definitely stands out.  He also invests a huge amount towards attention to detail… Always double and triple checking that everything in the script tracks… That everything moves the story along and stays true to the characters he has created. Knowing your partnered with a writer who cares that much about doing great work is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal.

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you can tell our readers about?

I did a very cool little action film in Albania and Bulgaria called The Brave that I’ve been told will be released later this year.  It was a really unique project because with the exception of Louis Mandaylor who played the protagonist and Armand Assante who played the antagonist the entire cast was either Russian, Albanian or Bulgarian.  The story is set in Albania and is about an elite Albanian strike team going after a powerful drug lord. If you’re a fan of old-school gritty action cop films I think you’ll really dig it… Louis and his costars killed it… Super proud of his performance in it.

As for upcoming work… There are lots of interesting things developing but it’s probably a bit early to share those. One project I am particularly excited about is Johnny Strong and I are shooting a follow up to Daylight’s End early this winter.  It’s a great script, again penned by Chad Law… A different kind of movie than the first one. It’s more of a survival/journey storyline than last stand action film… I promise to report back to you soon as I get the greenlight to share more. 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Ha! Probably this question… Do you mean on production?  Well then that would be my experience with Louis on The Brave… after production ended in Albania we had an bit of an adventure trying to get out of the country… I’d share the details with you but then… then I’d have too… Well you know. 1f60e.png

 

Left to right
Bes Kallaku (famous Albanian actor), Kaufman, Louis, Chad Pittman (producer)

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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