Project Superman: My 30 Movie Meditation on Nicolas Cage by Chris Eaves [Exclusive] – Brought to you by Super Geeky Play Date

 

Editor’s Note: So, our dear friend and resident film historian who should need no introduction, the great Christopher Eaves, is absolutely KILLING the quarantine. With “Project Superman”, Chris has ventured into a world that no man has ventured to before, I’m sure of it. He is a brave soul, and I am so excited to share this with you all. It’s a great read! But, hey, if reading isn’t quite your thing, our friends over at SUPER GEEKY PLAYDATE had the man himself break down the entirety of the project on their wonderful show. So check that out as well! Long live the Cage!

 

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BACKGROUND

I began this journey with a desire to better understand Nicolas Cage through his work as an actor – the roles he chooses, the choices he made with those characters and the people he collaborated with on these 30 films. Between 2011 and 2020 Cage released 30 movies through Limited Release, VOD and Direct to Disk platforms. I experienced these films in chronological order starting with Trespass (2011) and ending with Color out of Space (2020).

How did Nicholas Cage change over this 10-year period?

WHAT I LEARNED

Cage is drawn to flawed characters. There are very few heroes to be found, but characters who rise to be heroic for a moment. Cage is okay with being a villain. Cage has developed his own acting style referred to as – Nouveau Shamanic. This is a style which calls back to ancient human Shaman Culture where the tribes’ Shaman would wear a mask and through ritual attempt to reach deeper human truths. For Cage, this appears to be his approach with acting, by wearing the mask of his character to seek out those deeper truths. Cage being a method actor approaches his work in a way which forces him to find relatable experiences to bring out those deeper truths in the people he portrays.

While not every one of these thirty movies were great or even good, the Professional Actor and auteur Nicolas Cage was AMAZING in every single film.

 

THE FOUR GENERAL PILLARS OF CAGE

A CHILD MOTIVATION – Cage is saving a child. Typically, his own child but occasionally a child he has imprinted onto as being one of his own (Joe 214, Pay the Ghost 2015, The Humanity Bureau 2018). There are also a few examples of a Cage character being motivated by the death of his child or the death of a friend’s child (Kill Chain 2019).

CAGE IS A CRIMINAL – Cage is okay with being the villain. While this is not representative of many of these films, the data does show a good number of examples (Arsenal 2017, Dog Eat Dog 2016). In some cases (Running with the Devil 2019) Cage will play the protagonist but he is still playing a villain’s character. To which Cage’s villains’ actions carry story consequences.

CAGE IS A CRIMINAL BUT WITH A HEART OF GOLD – This directly ties into Cage’s searching for flawed characters – Criminals, outlaws, loners, people wronged by the world. They start off bad and are typically left still being bad, but by the end they have been made just a little bit better by their journey.

REVENGE – Cage is drawn to characters seeking Revenge and characters needing to avenge. The previous described pillars typically, but not always, result in a Cage character seeking out revenge to right the wrong either directly to or indirectly to someone else (Vengeance: A Love Story 2017, Dying of the Light 2015).

Revenge represents the largest segment of data followed by a Child Motivation.

COLLABORATION

Cage does not work with the same people. There are only two examples of Cage working with a director twice – Nick Powell (Outcast 2015, Primal 2019) and Paul Schrader (Dying of the Light 2015, Dog Eat Dog 2016). Most of the writers, directors and cinematographers are younger, being only their first or second films.

There is one wonderful anomaly to this – Elijah Wood. Cage acted with Wood in The Trust (2016). Cage would later star in Mandy (2018) and Color out of Space (2020) produced by Elijah Wood. This would be the greatest outcome in these three movies. The Trust, Mandy, and Color out of Space representative of three of the BEST CONSTRUCTED films as well as the MOST ENJOYABLE films to watch.

DISTRIBUTION

Many of these films do not have official budget numbers available. For the ones that do I took their average resulting in 10 million. I then applied that number to the missing date sets in order to obtain an estimated total budget for all 30 films of 448 MILLION. Using Box-office Mojo Worldwide Box-office date, these 30 films took via theaters – 68 MILLION GLOBALLY. This leaves a delta of 380 MILLION to be made up through Disk Sales, VOD Sales, and other distribution deals.

Top 5 Cage Distributors
RLJE Films – 6 Films
Lionsgate – 5 Films
Sabee – 3 Films
Momentum – 3 Films
Millennium Entertainment – 2 Films

ROTTEN TOMATO SCORE

The Critics Average RT Score – 32 Percent.
The Audience Average RT Score – 36 Percent.

CONCLUSION

Nick Cage is an auteur character actor.

Cage did not make 30 movies over 10 years for a paycheck. Although Cage does have eccentric taste – T-Rex skull, a castle, rare comics. Cage made 30 movies because he loves the craft of acting. Most of these 30 films have great concepts and moments of top-level film making. Cage typically lifts the material beyond what it is deserving. But this is a compliment to Cage’s ability as an actor. Paul Schrader reveals in an interview on Dog Eat Dog that the production was having difficulty landing William Dafoe due to a lack of money to pay him. Cage would pay 100,000 out of his fee directly to Dafoe to acquire that actor. This is not an action of a man who is only working for a paycheck.

Cage has continued to improve his craft managing incredibly manic characters to very serious characters.

RECOMMENDED FILMS

JOE (2014) – 9.5 (Best Film)
Outcast (2015) – 6.7
The Trust (2016) – 9.0 (My Favorite)
Army of One (2016) – 8.0
Mom and Dad (2018) – 8.0
Mandy (2018) – 9.2
Color out of Space (2020) – 8.2

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2011

 

Trespass 2011 (October 14) – 35m/10m BO

Movie – 3.5

Cage – 7.0 (50m/50s)

RT – Critics 10% – Audience 22%

  • Why is everything so tight when shot wide?
  • Ben Mendelsohn is a standout with an interesting second level motivation.
  • Setup is very much setup – pole.
  • Dir. – Joel Schumacher. Odd choices in structure. 
  • Location – New Orleans – Never feels like.
  • Distributed by – Millennium Entertainment.

 

2012

Stolen 2012 (September 14) – 35m/18m BO

Movie – 6.0

Cage – 7.0 (40m/60s)

RT – Critics 20% – Audience 34%

  • Josh Lucas is fun, but his motivation is dumb (stupid criminal who caused his own problem).
  • Plays more to thriller (The Game) then Heist (Thief). 
  • FBI vs Cage vs Lucas is fun.
  • Nick Cage loses his daughter
  • Setup for daughter is about 10 seconds – didn’t care outside of the trope.
  • Flat Direct to DVD look.
  • Dir. Simon West – Con Air, The Mechanic, The General’s Daughter – lacks personality.
  • Location – New Orleans – never feels like.
  • Distributed by – Millennium Films.

 

 

Seeking Justice 2012 (March 16) – 30m/12.3m BO

Movie – 6.0

Cage – 7.0 (40m/60s)

RT – Critics 28% – Audience 39%

  • Opens strong. Act 2 is bogged down.
  • Guy Pearce is a standout with some meat to his motivations.
  • Good action sequences.
  • Flat Direct to DVD look.
  • Fun with Secret Society but never goes deep enough like (John Wick)
  • Dir. Roger Donaldson – Dante’s Peak, The Bounty, Cadillac Man, The November Man – much less character then previous films.
  • Location – New Orleans – Never Feels like.
  • Distributed by – Anchor Bay Films.

 

2013

Frozen Ground 2013 (August 23) – 19.2m/5.6m BO

Movie – 7.0

Cage – 8.5 (20m/80s)

RT – Critics 61% – Audience 50%

  • Very serious film. No antics. 8mmesque
  • Nick Cage losing his adoptive daughter
  • True story.
  • Cage is outstanding with good support
  • Cinematography callout.
  • Dir. Scott Walker – Only Film
  • Location – Anchorage Alaska – Feels Like.
  • Distributed by – Lionsgate.

 

2014

 

Joe 2014 (April 11) – 4M/2.3M BO

Movie – 9.2

Cage – 10.0 (10m/90s)

RT – Critics 85% CF – Audience 68%

  • Beautiful cinematography.
  • Nick Cage loses his adoptive son
  • Rounded flawed characters – real.
  • Character driven.
  • Acting is fantastic from everyone.
  • Mud and Joe would be a great double feature.
  • Dir. David Gordon Green – Mud, George Washington, Halloween (2018) – Same auteurism.
  • Location – Rural Texas – Feels like.
  • Distributed by – Roadside Attractions.

 

 

Rage 2014 (August 12) – 25m/0m BO

Movie 8.4 Before Ending – Movie 6.8 After Ending.

Cage 8.0 (60m/40s)

RT – Critics 12% – Audience 28%

  • Flat Direct to DVD cinematography.
  • Nick Cage Loses his daughter
  • Cage is a gangster who got out to get back in.
  • The action gun sequences have style.
  • The Driving sequence is a fast cutting mess.
  • The ending reveal is cliché leaning into dumb given setup.
  • Dir. Paco Cabezas – Mostly TV
  • Location – Mobile Alabama – Never feels like
  • Distributed by – Image Entertainment

 

2015

 

Outcast 2015 (February 06) – 25m/4.8m BO

Supporting Cage

Movie – 7.0

Cage – 9.0 (85m/15s)

RT – Critics 5% – Audience 22%

  • Action is fast cutting chaos. What’s happening?
  • Pee Peeing on Hayden Christensen.
  • Setup is tired (Gladiator still has best use from movies I have seen)
  • Cage’s accent is… something?
  • “I am the White Ghost” – Cage
  • Does Christensen and Cage speak Chinese or does China speak English?
  • Dir. Nick Powell – Primal (Cage) – Stunts, Second Unit Director Background – Fight Master on Gladiator.
  • Location – Yunnan province of China – kind of feels like
  • Distributed by – Entertainment One

 

 

The Runner 2015 (August 25) – 6m?/750t BO

Movie – 6.5

Cage – 7.0 (10m/90s)

RT – Critics 24% – Audience 23%

  • No over the top accent (Outcast).
  • Political thriller
  • Best capturing of New Orleans so far.
  • Story is allowed to breath with character moments
  • Dir. Austin Stark – Feature Directorial Debut.
  • Location – New Orleans – Feels Like
  • Distributed by – Alchemy

 

 

Pay the Ghost 2015 (September 25) – /2.9m BO

Movie – 7.2

Cage – 7.0 (50m/50s)

RT – Critics 10% – Audience 25%

  • Nick Cage loses his daughter? – trend developing in characters.
  • Some good spooky elements to horror
  • Good dynamic cinematography
  • That bird is bad CGI
  • Huge end act 2 exposition dump flashback. 
  • Dir. Uli Edel – TV Background
  • Location – New York
  • Distributed by – RLJ Entertainment

 

 

Dying of the Light 2015 (February 17) – 5m/698t BO.

Movie – 5.0

Cage – 7.0 (65m/35s)

RT – Critics 08% – Audience 15%

  • Act 1 structure is odd with time jumps
  • Good cinematography lighting but coverage is very standard.
  • Action is singles edited together – terrible.
  • Cage grows more manic as metal disease progresses.
  • Cage build sympathy for a rough character
  • Is Cage trustworth with mind failing – yes.
  • Anton Yelchin is middle of the road, straight face serious.
  • Great ending idea but boring build up – opposing men with different diseases.
  • Score is a cookie cutter paid for.
  • Dir. Paul Schrader – Taxi Driver, Transcendental Style, – not here?
  • Location – Virginia/Romania/Africa but shot in Romania/Australia – felt Romaniun only.
  • Distributed by – Lionsgate

Dark 2017 (same movie)

 

2016

 

The Trust 2016 (May 13) – 9m/322t BO

Movie – 9.2

Cage – 9.0 (80m/20s)

RT – Critics 63% – Audience 29% 

  • Cage has a marvelous Mustache.
  • Not every movie needs to be a floating moving camera.
  • Cage has a tone of energy after a few more serious films.
  • “Are you refinancing your home to pay for a heist?”
  • Performances are outstanding
  • Cinematography is great looking.
  • Story is character driven. I understand what’s driving them even though this is a hyper real world.
  • Elijah Wood – Amazon. 
  • Dir. Alex Brewer/Ben Brewer – Young directors who have a voice
  • Location – Las Vegas 
  • Distributed by – Saban Films

 

 

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage 2016 (Oct 14) 40m/1.6m BO

Supporting Cage

Movie – 3.5

Cage – 6.0 (20m/80s) – very little screen time

RT – Critics 17% – Audience 30%

  • Narration from Journal written in a way no one from 1945 would write it from that time “it’s 1945”
  • ‘It’s a fight” – sailers run to watch – stupid.
  • Cage Narration – On what a Heavy Cruiser’s role is as a ship – weirdly placed. Who is Cage talking to?
  • Trying to build feelings for the crew before the ship sinks – standar crew doing crew stuff – imitating the officers, two crew members don’t like each other, Hardass XO, sailor needs to get back to his new fiance, ect.
  • Captain Cage is isolated from the rest of the crew in his own boat. Limited days with Cage to shoot?
  • In the water conversation about black people fighting for a country that doesn’t care for them.
  • I have no understanding of where these survive groups are in relation to each other.
  • Guy starts to throw up then is killed by a shark – not supposed to be funny I think.
  • Cage has very little screen time.
  • Dir. Mario Van Peebles – TV Background and Acting – 
  • Location – South Pacific Ocean
  • Distributed by – Saban Films

 

 

Dog Eat Dog 2016 (November 4)

Movie –

Cage –

RT – Critics 

  • WTF is this movie?
  • Paul Schrader second team up – very different.
  • Style everywhere (natural Born Killers esk?)
  • Cage is Bogarte 

 

 

Army of One 2016 (November 15) ?m/353t BO

Movie – 7.1

Cage – 8.0 (95m/05s)

RT – Critics 25% – Audience 25%

  • WTF is this – good?!
  • Most manic Cage I have seen over such a long run time.
  • The released version of the film was recut by Bob Weinstein without Charles’s permission.
  • I am Gary Faulkner and I am the Donkey King. 
  • Dir. Larry Charles – Borat, Brüno, Religulous – has style and bizarreness.
  • Location – colorado/pakistan
  • Distributed by – TWC-Dimension

 

2017

 

Arsenal 2017 (January 07) ?m/41t BO

Supporting Cage

Movie – 3.0

Cage – 7.0 (65m/35s)

RT – Critics 03% – Audience 17%

  • John Cussace and Nick Cage return together
  • Why is everything so tight?
  • Not all shots need to be handheld shaky
  • Bonding antics feel forced and clishi
  • The framing is off – everyone’s head extends past top but the movie is in the right aspect ratio 2:35:1
  • 33 minutes in Cage returns – 23 years later in the story but looks the same as the first scene.
  • Terrible writing – Buy me a shot line, no, was funny.
  • Cage is doing the best he can with dialogue.
  • Cussace is a cop? I missed something.
  • Cage returns at 49 min for 20 seconds
  • Fun reveal – but how does Cage keep his men’s loayate if he is such a bitch?
  • Slow motion style in a few sequences but doesn’t carry over overall – done to be cool. 
  • Dir. Steven C. Miller – many VOD films I don’t know – 
  • Location – Mississippi?/south – no one has an accent?
  • Distributed by – Lionsgate Premiere

 

 

Inconceivable 2017 (June 30) 13m/218t BO

Supporting Cage

Movie – 3.5

Cage – 6.0 (05m/95s)

RT – Critics 31% – Audience 63%

  • Not all shots need to be handheld shaky
  • Gorgeous new woman in the main characters’ lives hates to have her photo taken – she is hiding – Yes – clishie yes.
  • Cage is a DR. MD.
  • 4 miscarriages – got an egg downer – new person in life is the doner? – Yes – shocking.
  • Flashbacks to woman and her kid and her killing of her husband 4 years ago.
  • “No, silly me” line delivery – rough.
  • Soap Opera Level Drama Twists
  • Is the mom the audience – asking the audience questions of why main characters are making their choices?
  • MD Cage’s Guest House is nicer than my real house. 
  • MD Cage’s child is in risk setup.
  • Film sets up mom had a drug issue in the past as why she might not be believable now but the audience knows friend is responsible – no doubt.
  • What happened to the bad lady?
  • Dir. Jonathan Baker – First Feature – 
  • Location – Cincinnati? – 
  • Distributed by – Lionsgate Premiere

 

 

Vengeance: A Love Story 2017 (September 15)

Support Cage

?/73t BO

Movie – 6.3

Cage – 6.0 (50m/50s)

RT – Critics N/A – Audience 28%

  • First 10 min – good stunt/mini shootout – terrible dialogue.
  • Villain Men – “I Spit on Your Grave”esk – played tragically in tone as one of the worst crimes but the Villain dudes are acting like it comical – A Clockwork Orange. 
  • Not all shots need to be handheld shaky
  • The Lighting has been very good
  • A daughter is in danger of motivation. 
  • Action is better then a lot of prior – Dir. STUNT BACKGROUND?
  • A Catholic Priest recommended a Lawyer to the Mom of the Boys who rapped this woman. He says “this man helped the Vandican with 18 cases”
  • I get what trial scene is going for but does it hit you on the bead with it.
  • Woman jumps but Cage standing off screen saves her.
  • The editing makes it look like Cage saw a dead cat but kept driving.
  • Not a lot of stunts.
  • The Cage/Don end conversation would have been a better movie: the Lawyer who defends Villains and the Cop who kills.  
  • Dir. Johnny Martin – Stunt Coordinator background – 
  • Location –
  • Distributed by – FilmRise

 

2018

 

Mom and Dad 2018 (January 19)

Movie – 8.0

Cage – 8.5 (80m/20s)

RT – Critics 

  • Style and personality and Self Aware
  • Boobs in young Nic Cage face
  • Zombies!
  • Not all shots need to be handheld shaky
  • Fun premise spin
  • Fun Cage!

 

 

Looking Glass 2018 (February 16) ?/80k BO

Movie – 6.5

Cage – 6.5 (20m/80s)

RT – Critics 17% – Audience 11%

  • Good setup with photo without exposition on family background – kid is dead
  • Good creation of atmosphere around the motel – a mystery unfolding.
  • Film has style and interesting character actors. 
  • Takes it time but doesn’t meander – always feels like progress.
  • Cage deals with a dead daughter.
  • What’s the deal with Shelf – interesting.
  • Have you heard from Ben – so many times.
  • “You got a new microwave” Ben Shot Dead – what is going on? In a good way.
  • Bad line – “So that’s how Ben knew” – Scooby doesk.
  • Dir. Tim Hunter – TV background, Twin Peaks,
  • Location – California Desert – 
  • Momentum Pictures

 

 

The Humanity Bureau 2018 (April 6) 22m/0 BO

Movie –

Cage –

RT – Critics 

  • Bad CGI Starting Off – Backgrounds!
  • Cage drives a El Camino as a government car?
  • Is this satire?
  • Exposition dump in boss office. Talking for the audience not for each other. These characters would already know all about their world.
  • Kid is annoying.
  • Dialogue is very very very direct. 
  • Kis is fucking annoying.
  • Kid is a reason for Cage’s motivation. 
  • Too clean and nonviolent to be exploitive but this is what this film genre is trying for.
  • If they stopped making cars 30 years ago, and coffee and stuff, what do people do in order to be considered productive?
  • How does the government work? Canada government?
  • How are there no lakes if there is still snow, therefore runoff and rain, therefor streams and pooled water – AKA Lakes
  • Why does everyone hellp the?
  • The kid is really fucking annoying. 
  • The Kid is Cages lost son – kill him!
  • Ending Revolution Means – something?
  • Dir. Rob W. King – lots of TV
  • Location – Nevada to Canada –
  • Distributed by – Minds Eye Entertainment

 

 

211 2018 (June 8)

Mandy 2018 (September 13)

Between Worlds 2018 (December 21) ?/0 BO

Movie – 6.8

Cage – 8.0 (80m/20s)

RT – Critics 29% – Audience 86%

  • Angelo badalamenti dit theme – also did music on Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive. 
  • Jim Agnew – ex producer on this and Rage (2014)
  • Aaron Collins an associate Producer – Production Manager on Dog Eat dog 2016
  • Written Produced directed by Maria Pulera
  • Cag is a very grease truck driver out of money.
  • “We dont hurt people down south” – Cameron Poe (Con Air) cousin?
  • “Wrestle a man gator”
  • Holding a photo “wife and daughter. Opps, they’re dead”
  • “What the hell, does that have to do, with being strangled?”
  • Not a shaky handheld camera – thank you!
  • Cage is strangling women so she can project her consciousness – woman needs to wear a turtleneck to hide hand prints.
  • Cage lost family. New family is motivation
  • Main acting is rough outside of Cage.
  • Sex Scene tjrow back to “The Rock” (1997).
  • Cage’s reactions to awkwardness of what daughter is up to – from the afterlife? 
  • Should Cage be shocked by the revelation given he buys into mom being able to throw her consciousness?
  • A third Nick Cage Sex Sceane?
  • Waterhouse scene while mom watches – sure…
  • “What do you expect, me to kill my wife”
  • Cage once again makes me feel through his acting. 
  • Dir. Maria Pulera –
  • Location – Mobile Alabama – 
  • Distributed by – Lionsgate/Saban Films

 

2019

 

A Score to Settle 2019 (august 02) ?/85t BO

Movie – 6.5

Cage – 6 5 (15m/85s)

RT – Critics 15% – Audience 21%

  • While straightforward – Decent movie so far
  • “I’m going to make it up to you” – Cliche Cage out of jail after 19 years. 
  • Benjamin Bratt is always charming and professional. 
  • “Nobody is ever really out’ clishi
  • The Insomnia angle is interesting.
  • Awkward shootout at the parlor
  • Said he was doing it for his son. CGe bieves action but his character is selfish.
  • Like the tension with the bellhop in the room. 
  • I was really hoping the kid would just be gone due to Cage’s choice. Half cliche to have him pulled back in as he ODs.
  • I actually didn’t see that reveal. Half take back.
  • The dragon guy is an annoying villain. 
  • Dir. Shawn Ku – Movies I have not seen –
  • Location – Salem Or Area – Filmed in Bc 
  • Distributed by – RLJE Films

 

 

Running with the Devil 2019 (September 20)

?/60t BO

Supporting esk cage

Movie – 6.5

Cage – 6.5 (15m/85s)

RT – Critics

  • Long shot through club serves what purposes other arriving at cocaine?
  • Text descriptions over lauded character frames
  • Fishburne really likes cocaine and pegging. 
  • So many characters!
  • Traffic cloan. 
  • I’m so confused by what is happening.
  • Cage is following a cocaine shipment looking for where it is getting cut/short?
  • This mexican whit suited middleman is fun. 
  • What happened to the Goldberg/Fishburne storyline?
  • I really like the drug smuggling route story but everything else has been fat.
  • The Agent outering the snitch off the books for info really isn’t got to hold up cort?
  • Really forced moment to get rid of Cage – fall off cliff – sure?
  • Cage is back – shocking.
  • Agent’s fingerprints all over close. The boss is still around. What point?
  • Barry Pepper and Laurence Fishburne costar.
  • Adam Goldberg is always fun.
  • Dir. Jason Cabell – actor background. First solo directing and writer – 
  • Location – Albuquerque ? Filmed but showed space needle for location
  • Distributed by – Quiver Distribution

 

 

Kill Chain 2019 (October 18) UHD

Movie – 6.0

Cage – 6.8 (22m/78s)

RT – N/A

  • Titles are a TV show
  • Enrico Colantoni is wonderful.
  • Colantoni got the hooker killed still.
  • Some shaky camera
  • A lot of shaky cam now. All tight too. Motion sickness. 
  • Where’s Cage – I’m 40 minutes in and he has had 2 minutes of screen time but is on the poster 
  • Turned subtitles on for so much mubaling. 
  • What is happening – why is there a shootout between kids yelling “I love you”
  • Cage is back at the 47 min mark.
  • Lots of Cage sex scense at the back end of this marathon
  • “He’s not a killer” “your right” – but Cage killed the guy downstairs with pills?
  • Loops back around but doesn’t play any differently, different angle.
  • “An organization” movie.
  • So much single cut to a different single.
  • No way this “plan” works out being set in motion. So many variables out of Cages control. 
  • Distributed by – Amazon Studios
  • Location – Columbia –
  • Dir. Ken Sanzel – The replacement Killers writer and other tv stuff

 

 

Primal 2019 (November 8) 31m/40k BO

Movie –

Cage –

RT – Critics 38% – Audience 28%

  • That’s one bad CGI Cat!
  • The Pocher with a heart of gold.
  • Kevin Serge Durand is amazing! – Lost the Strain.
  • Kevin is in a Cage. I bet he’s primal?
  • Famke Janssen – of Golden Eye and Jean in X Men
  • This boat is more of a wearhouse. 
  • Kevin is amazing!
  • Monster locked in the house with people.
  • Why would the U.S. not send a military jet or ship or plane? Why is the world’s most dangerous man traveling on a mexican fighter? Such a convoluted explanation of why Kevin has to be on this boat.
  • What a stupid escape plan – faking his seger – which was a convaluted setup to begin with. 
  • “I’m not going anymore until I feed my animals”
  • Bad CGI monkeys – kills the cook
  • Cage was 82 Mechanic. Cage and Kevin both hate authority. But will one be a lovable asshole?
  • How does a movie filmed inside a closed indoor set cost 31 million?
  • Of course the kid interrupts Cage capturing Kevin. 
  • Always the NSA. What a dumb agent. 
  • Dir. Nick Powell – Outcast – Team up us back
  • Distributed by – Lionsgate
  • Location – Puerto Rico 

 

 

Grand Isle 2019 (Dec 06)

Movie

Cage

RT

  • Dr. Fraser Kran. 
  • I hate when beautiful women in movies say they’re ugly. 
  • That 8s some amazing hair Cage
  • Key Largo (1948) with a Supernatural tone8

 

Titus Paar [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today we have a wonderful interview to share with you all with the brilliant Swedish born filmmaker Titus Paar. Titus has created some wonderful work, especially in the world of action and adventure films. He has directed the likes of Steven Seagal, documented the living world of ancient tribes that most of us probably didn’t even know existed, and re-invented the idea of filming the era of the Vikings, as well as so much more. He is a powerhouse of a filmmaker and a visual mastermind in the world of cinema. We are so excited to have him grace our digital pages to provide a much needed relief from the insane times and events that re surrounding us lately.

So, Folks, please enjoy this wonderful interview with the great Titus Paar!

 

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When did you first realize that you wanted to work in the world of entertainment? Was it something you have wanted to do since your youth, or was it something that you just sort of fell into?

I was born with a very strong visual mind and have always seen everything in angles and cuts with big storys. Can’t shut it off. Started in the playground with me directing my friends to go out on my big adventures that could stretch weeks.

Then I started acting around the age of 6 and found my passion for theater. At the age of 12 I realized I wanted to star in movies and become the next Arnold (didn’t happen) but I also realised I lived out in the Swedish wilderness with no connections so…

I started making my own movies where I was the leading man and it grew from there. It lead me into making my feature debut at the age of only 15 and became the youngest filmmaker in Scandinavian history to make a theatrical feature.

So I’ve been doing this since before I can remember, natural born filmmaker. I try to stay true to that kid as much as a I can and remember the magic of seeing moves at that young age.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

I was 8 and played Mowgli in The Jungle Book in a play (there were not a huge amount of Indian boys in Sweden, hence the white washing casting of me). It was great, we where on a tour and I made the money that I was able to fund my first film with.

 

You were recently kind enough to make me privy to a truly wonderful short film entitled Legend of Dark Rider that I absolutely LOVED. Can you tell our readers a bit about this project? And can we expect to hear more about the Dark Rider in the future?

Thanks, Man. Yeah that one is dear to me. I wanted to make a grand old tale based on a world I spent 8 years creating. A mix of everything I loved and I didn’t care if anyone else liked it, just needed to make something I got a kick out of. So I funded this short that also works as a pilot of the first 20 min of a feature .

I wanted to make a bloody barbarian movie in snow landscape, with a elements of Black Metal, Japanese story telling, Viking Folklore and with a story that is thoughtful and not just a guy with muscles trying to save the world/sexy woman.

We actually made this short for only 8k and it was the film that took me to Hollywood. Won 16 best film awards that year and was praised by people like John Carpenter, Anthony Hopkins and Dolph Lundgren.

Check it out HERE for free.

I’m currently working on the feature, got some very cool A-list cast attached that you will love in this type of film… can’t say who. Working on closing that now and hopefully film next winter, we’ll see if the movie gods are with us.

 

 

In 2016 you directed and co-wrote the action-packed film The Perfect Weapon, starring the legendary Steven Seagal. I am curious to know what inspired you to bring this story to life? And how was your experience bringing this story to the world. Was there anything that set itself apart from your other projects?

Yeah that was the craziest thing I have ever been through.

This film opened at No. 1 on Netflix in the US, was released world wide by SONY and made over 4M the first year.

This was the first story/script that I directed that wasn’t made by me. I got the script and was like “what is this B action shit?”. I saw that Seagal was attached and they wanted me to direct it because they could not find anyone in the states that could pull off this big sc-fi action move on this tiny budget.

So I thought, if I´m going to do a B-action movie with Seagal, let’s make it a homage to the 15 year old me and the best damn B-movie I can, I said “I’ll do it if I can do whatever I want”.

So I hired as many action stars from the 80-90s and crammed in as many pop culture references as I could. I didn’t want to make an obvious Kung Fury type homage, but an ironic one that felt like it was made in the 80-90s, when movies took themselves way too seriously but also not at all. They where charming.

I didn’t tell the actors it was a homage because then they would have over done it, but I think they thought the directions where strange at times 🙂

I mean just working with Seagal was nuts, what a guy. But I was very prepared that this was going to be a very hard movie to make with difficult actors. We had 260 VFX shots, 19 days filming and everything that could have gone wrong did.

But it turned out the way I wanted and I delivered that film on a 1.2M budget, It looks much more expensive than that.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liIOOTI4-oI&t=72s

My hope for this film was to have it become a cult classic and not an instant critical success (which I knew was never going to happen). And actually it has. People have really found this film and made so many homage videos and things about it, the film buffs and students love it.

 

 

Scrolling through your IMDb credits, I was intrigued by a documentary you created entitled Living with the Secret Kogi Tribe. It sounds fascinating, and I would love to hear more about it. Can you tell us a bit about the project, and what made you want to tell the tale of the Kogi tribe?

That was a truly amazing experience. We lived with this secret native tribe out in the jungle for weeks. The tribe never lets anyone in normally and they live the same way they did 2000 years ago. It was like time travel, to meet a saberthouth tiger.

My favorite word is “ADVENTURE”  and this was the biggest adventure of my life. I almost died 3 times, but hey, adventures come at a risk.

This film made the world a nicer place for an hour and a half I think and those are the kind of stories you feel good about telling.

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity to create the biopic of any legendary figure in world history, who would it be?

It´s not what I usually do, I´m more into creating my own world with my own set of rules. If you do a bio pic you are very locked in to the real world and real events that you have to respect.

BUT after my experience with the Kogi tribe and my love for a good western. I´m really keen to do a good movie or limited series about Sitting Bull.

There hasen’t been a good one, a true portrayal of the man. Done with real natives in their own language told through his conversations when he had become a circus act to his only friend Annie Oakley as he is reminiscing of his life. That’s a good foundation.

I think it has to be done by an outsider, there is to much pride and things at stake for a native director to tell that story and too much stigma and bad blood for a US director. I think I could make an interesting objective portrayal and find the man behind the legend and sprinkle it with some movie magic and poetry.

I’d like that. I just make movie I want to see that doesn’t exist, always as a fan of film.

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I´m in post on Fear of the Woods, a film about bear hunters in Alaska set in the 90s. A monster movie in the sprit on Spielberg. You know when there is a story and characters that are so interesting the film would be good even if you take out the beast crashing the party.

I’ve been wanting to make this film since I saw the anime Silver Fang for the first time when I was like 6. So 30 year later here we are, staying true to the kid.

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After that I got a slate of 5 films I´m planing to do over 10 years.
I was going to direct my biggest one ever with some of the best actors alive today now in April/June but then Corona came and fucked it up so we are trying to find a new date to start. When the world order returns we´ll be ready.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Hearing from you today actually is the most recent one. And doing this interview gave me fond memories. Movies are my life, talking about them fills me with so much joy. Thank you for having me guys.

Nick Powell [Interview]

 

Hello, Folks! And welcome back to another week of wonderful showcases here at Trainwreck’d Society. We kicked off the weekend last Friday with a great interview from an absolute legend in the world of stunts. And, well, we enjoyed it so much, I thought why not have at it again? That’s right Folks, we have yet another legendary figure from the world of stunts, and a cat who happens to be a filmmaker in his own right, as the evolution seems to happen. It’s Nick Powell, Everyone!

There has been quite a bit of talk over the years about the fact that stunt work is not celebrated at all in regards to the film world’s highest “honor”, which would be the Oscars. The art of creating realistic and appealing stunts is just that – an art. And it’s absolutely criminal that it is not showcasing to those outside of the world itself as to show just how important of an art it truly is. And it is suffice to say that should the Academy retroactively celebrate one pioneer of the industry, it would be Nick Powell. Not only has Nick worked on some of the finest action/adventure films of all time, he has worked on some of the finest FILMS of all time. This includes Best Picture winners like Braveheart and Gladiator. These films were celebrated for their cinematic achievement. Well, what was one of the most compelling aspects of these films? That’s right, the stunt work. So what is the deal?

Beyond the world of stunts, Powell is also an accomplished filmmaker. As we discuss below, thanks to some incredible research by our friend Chris Eaves which we will be sharing soon, Powell holds the distinction of being only 1 of 2 filmmakers who have worked with screen legend Nicolas Cage on more than one occasion. Check out his wonderful responses below for more details.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the legendary Nick Powell!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something that you had yearned to do since your youth, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I was actually more into sports as a kid and played for a couple of 1st division schoolboy sides so I was very interested in becoming a footballer upon leaving school (soccer if you’re not from England) but was persuaded by careers teachers that I should get a ’solid career’ to fall back on in case it didn’t work out. As a naive 16 year old and maybe not being quite as skilled as I’d like to think I was, I  went to engineering college for two years where I trained and qualified as a design engineer.

At 18, engineering qualification in hand and not really having been active enough as a footballer to get scouted for a pro team, I had a place lined up to study for a masters in engineering at Sheffield University but really couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life. One of the things I’d always loved the idea of was acting but where I came from it wasn’t really something you’d ever tell anyone about, at least not without risking being called a lot of very unflattering names. Anyway, having my university place already guaranteed I took the risk and, without telling anyone at home, I went down to London and auditioned at a couple of Drama Schools hoping that I could learn to be an actor. Maybe I could do well enough to get roles that would pay the bills whilst at the same time inspiring people or at least moving them emotionally the same way I was moved whilst watching a lot of movies as a kid. As I write this I realize just how naive it all sounds and what a long shot it really was.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to get accepted at a Drama school and studied acting for a couple of years. I did everything I could to get work after graduating and whilst I was actually one of the lucky ones and managed to find enough work in theatre and TV to pay the bills, just, it was always a hard slog. Whilst I was doing a theatre job I met a guy who was training to become a stunt man and he explained the requirements to get accepted on the British Stunt Register, it sounded like a lot of fun and even if I didn’t succeed I figured I’d learn a lot of things that might help in my acting career. After a couple of years of hard training I qualified as a probationary stunt man and what was intended to be the extra string to the acting bow gradually, over the next 6 or 7 years became the main string.

Stunt work was exciting and well paid, at least in comparison to a lot of the small theatre jobs I’d been doing so I’d take the stunt work over the acting and after being asked to choreograph all the fights and sword work on Braveheart, I figured I’d found what I was meant to do.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

To be completely honest, I can’t recall the first few extremely minor jobs I had as an actor after graduation, I think they were in profit share theatre but the first real acting job I do remember was a small role in a BBC TV show The Diary of Anne Frank where I played ‘NSB Man’ with a few lines of dialogue (I think it was a year after I graduated) and I was extremely excited and happy to have gotten the role. I also played the role of Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island in theatre at the Edinburgh Playhouse around the same time and recall one of the actors in the show was a friend from the same drama school I went to and who I and everyone else thought was probably the most likely to succeed, he was a standout at the school and I followed his career which didn’t go very far which was a real shame as he was so talented. I learned from that that it’s not always the most talented people that are successful.

Early in your career, you worked on the stunts for one of my favorite films of all time, which would be the incredible Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I am such a fan boy of this film, and I have to ask how your experience was working on this project. And while you were making it, did you have any idea that you were making the finest depiction of Robin Hood that would ever exist?

When I was working on it, Robin Hood was just another job that I really enjoyed doing when I was starting out. I only had a few weeks work on it as a general stunt man, running around, climbing trees, sword fighting, shooting arrows, that kind of thing. So, no, I didn’t really know what we were making at that point but it was a real pleasure to be working in close proximity to Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman and it was around that time that I began thinking I was becoming a real stunt man. I’d done some work on the Tim Burton Batman movie a year or so before and I was doing a lot of television so things were starting to work out nicely for me at this point. Having the acting background was really helpful as I got a lot of work where directors wanted a stuntman that could act or an actor that could do his own stunts. It kind of kept the dream of one day going back to the theatre alive but unfortunately I never did get back there.

Whilst scrolling through your IMDb credits, I noticed that your first “credit” as a director is with the Nicolas Cage fronted action film Outcast, although you did quite a bit of work beyond the world of stunts prior to it. I am curious to know how this project changed things for you? How was your experience in taking on a project like this as your first role in the director’s chair?

Prior to Outcast I’d been approached to direct a few things – features and TV – but I’d had a lot of bad luck, either because of financing, timing or casting, none of them happened, although they had taken up a lot of time that I could have spent doing other jobs. That’s one of the things about directing, especially in the smaller independent world, you need to commit a lot of time prior to the movie actually happening so that takes you out of the running for things in the field you are already in, at least in my case anyhow. In fact, Outcast took over a year from when I agreed to direct it to actually going into pre production and lot’s of things changed dramatically from the time I said yes to when we started shooting including producer changes, script being rewritten, cast changes etc., etc., etc.

It was not exactly the experience I had hoped it would be as we started out making a movie for the world market and ended up making what was essentially a Chinese movie. I worked as hard as I could to maintain the initial vision that myself and the western producers had but it was essentially taken out of our hands. The main benefit I got from the project was that I realized I worked well with all the cast and I learned how to produce, direct and do a lot of other people’s jobs on the most insanely pressurized project I’ve ever been involved with.

 

 

Our dear friend, and resident film historian Chris Eaves, has noted that very few filmmakers have worked with Nicolas Cage more than once. You actually have, you did Outcast, more recently the film Primal. In fact, you are one of two. I am curious to know what you feel as though it is about your working relationship that led to a second outing? And what was it like meeting up with Cage for a second project as a director?

Continuing on from the response to your previous question, none of the western cast and crew had too great an experience on Outcast (for a variety of reasons) but I had developed relationships with the actors and crew whereby they all realized they could trust me and that given the right project and circumstances wanted to work with me again. Nick was especially supportive, and after we had finished on Outcast and realized it was not what we had hoped for he said he’d love to do something with me again under better circumstances. I was sent the script to Primal and immediately thought that Nick would be great for the lead. I reached out to him and within a few days he was onboard. As seems normal from my experience on these sort of projects, depending on producers I’m sure, once again it took a long time to get the project realized. From when Nick said yes it took almost a year before we started shooting. The benefit of working together for a second time is that the sense of trust between us has grown and Nick and I get on even better than before, he is a consummate professional and we have chatted about doing something else together at some point in the future.

If you were handed the opportunity to create the biopic of any legendary figure in world history, in any period, who would it be?

Of course, in the vein of Gladiator and Braveheart etc I’d love to helm a large scale battle pic such as a Genghis Khan movie. Especially since, having done quite a bit of study on the man, there are so many fascinating aspects to his general life story besides the battle elements. I think there are great stories to be told from some of the rock and roll legends such as Mick Jagger, David Bowie and the like whilst I’d love to take on more cerebral characters such as Freud or Jung as well.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’m in the process of putting together a vampire love story very much influenced by Shakespeare with a lot of anachronistic steampunk type visual references that I’m hoping to shoot in Cuba later this year. Things are coming together as I write and if all goes well I hope we will have a complete picture ready for festivals next spring. I’ve also been approached to shoot a strong female led action project early next year that I’m really looking forward to as well.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My daughter a few minutes ago who is having trouble with her braces, now, in the middle of the coronavirus shut down I can’t get her an appointment and might have to have a go at adjusting her braces myself, not something I have a clue how to do. you’ve got to laugh!

Sunday Matinee: Red Rover [Film]

 

“Damon spends his waking hours searching for that elusive something. Whether it’s for deeper meaning, love, or just “treasure” on the beach with his metal detector, but to no avail. So when Damon meets an offbeat musician named Phoebe handing out flyers for a one way trip to Mars, a bond quickly forms. She’s going to help him find that thing he is looking for by sending him 33.9 million miles away, even though what he needs might be right in front of him.” – October Coast PR

 

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I can’t even begin to lie to you, Folks. This one got to me. While I don’t have any specific experiences like the events that occur in Red Rover, I can relate to the feeling of wanting to get away from the real world so badly that I would, hypothetically speaking, rather move to Mars. Well, what if that was a reality? What if you were offered the opportunity to start fresh in a literal whole new planet. What if you feel like your life is in shambles and their are no repairable qualities about yourself? But more importantly, when such an opportunity becomes a reality….what could keep you back? These are the very personal questions that Red Rover presents, and I am here to say that they present it extremely well. Filmmaker Shane Belcourt has directed his way directly into my heart with this film, which is easily one of my favorite films of 2020. I wouldn’t be so bold as to guarantee a placement, but with 8 months left in the year, and a whole lot of time on my hands, I know that when we are talking end of year favorites, Red Rover will be nearing the top.

 

 

The previously mentioned filmmaker and co-writer Shane Belcourt and writing partner Duane Murray have a truly unique story to tell with Red Rover. And that story is merely amplified by some incredible performances. Kristian Brunn and Cara Gee absolutely light up the screen with obvious chemistry and that actually made he yell at my screen, when no one was awake, something along the lines of “What are you DOING man?”. You’ll get it when you see it. Or you won’t, and I am just an insane person. Either way, the latter mentioned performer, Cara Gee, may have just moved into my mental line up as one of the most wonderful performers of the modern age. And I’ve honestly never watched any of her other work, but I certainly will now! If she does half as amazing of a job as she does with Red Rover, I know I will enjoy all that she gives. Simply phenomenal.

So Folks, if you are looking for a film to pull on your heartstrings a bit, and make you feel something for once in your god damned life, I highly suggest Red Rover. It’s funny and poignant at times, down right upsetting with sadness at others, and is an overall delightful film that I can not recommend enough.

 

Red Rover will be available on VOD on May 12th, 2020 from IndieCan Entertainment.

 

 

Saturday Special: Getaway [Film]

 

 

 

“Tamara Miller has planned a weekend lake getaway with her two best friends. When she gets kidnapped by a backwoods cult, eerie and unexplained occurrences arise. Will she make it out alive or become the treasure of these deranged lunatics?” – October Coast PR

 

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Now this was fun, Folks! I just have to say that right out of the gate. As somebody who has ingested quite a ton of horror films in their time, I instantly have to say that I approve of Getaway, just so much. The premise is simple get engaging, the build up is just enough to get you comfortable, the intensity rides like lightening on a scary spring night, and the pay out is ultimately bloody and satisfying. Getaway brings all of the elements you want in a horror film, and maybe some that you didn’t realize you wanted. With amazing performances, a compelling faith-based set of bad guys, and brilliantly simple effects, this is an all around gem of a horror film if I have ever seen one. When you simply want to turn your brain off for 90 minutes and let yourself be scared as hell, Getaway is the perfect film for you.

 

 

As previously mentioned, the film has some absolutely amazing performances. As expected, horror screen legends Scout Taylor-Compton and Landry Allbright deliver in their roles, no question. But, the biggest shoutout is obviously the film’s lead, Jaclyn Betham, who is just so damn convincing yet confusing as a character throughout the entire viewing. Which I couldn’t have loved more. And as far as performances go, director and co-writer (the other writer being Jaclyn herself!) Lane Tolan absolutely nails it as well. And fun fact, for those who aren’t aware or possibly not in your mid-30’s, Tolan is the legendary voice behind King Bob of the animated series Recess, as well as Wolfgang in the classic series Hey Arnold! Isn’t that something? King Bob out here capturing women for the Lord? I love it.

Seriously Folks, I can’t say enough good things about Getaway, and I would highly recommend to everyone, but especially those looking for a well made horror film in this day and age were details and storylines sometimes get substituted for gore and jump scares. This is not one of this film. Getaway is a very stylized suspense-filled horror film that you simply must see. Enjoy!

 

Getaway is available now on DVD and VOD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

 

 

Lauro David Chartrand-DelValle [Interview]

 

Hello Everyone! And a happy Friday to you all. For those who are still looking forward to it…it’s the weekend! So, that can be exciting. Speaking of exciting, today’s guest is an absolute legend in the world of excitement in the world of cinema. It’s Lauro David Chartland-DelValle! Lauro is a filmmaker and legendary stuntman. And when I say legendary, I really mean it. He has worked on some of the biggest projects that you know and love. We get into many of them in the questions below, as well has in a truly fascinating photo gallery that Lauro was kind enough to share with us.

But, some of the projects that aren’t mentioned happen to also involved some close friends of ours here at TWS. For example: 2018’s Predator (co-written by Fred Dekker), I’ll Be Home For Christmas (co-written by Harris Goldberg), Mr. Magoo (co-written by Pat Proft), and Masterminds (directed by Roger Christian). And that is just me scrolling through IMDb taking mental note! Seriously Folks, from Jackie Chan flicks to the Indiana Jones franchise, to horror/thriller films from the greats like Tobe Hooper or Christopher Nolan, there is hardly a genre that Lauro hasn’t performed his magic in. He became a full on director a couple of years ago, which he will discuss below, and has some wonderful stuff in the works that we are all very excited about.

And as I alluded to earlier, Lauro was so kind to let us showcase and wonderful collection of behind the scenes shots he has done over the years. And we are oh so grateful that he did. Check them out at the end of the interview! Enjoy!

So without any further babbling on, please enjoy some wonderful words from legendary stunt man and filmmaker Lauro David Charland-DelValle!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you have dreamt of doing since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I believe I was born to be a stuntman, literally. When I was 8 years old I decided that’s what I wanted to be. I was watching a Chuck Norris movie with my Mother and said, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up!” She said, “Oh, you want to be a movie star like Chuck Norris?” I said, “No, I want to be like the guy he just kicked through the window!” She’s like, “Oh, you want to be a stuntman.”
From that moment on it was all I could dream of and always told people every where I went that I would become a stuntman one day. I’ve always been physical, tough, athletic and can pick up new skills pretty quickly, which translated perfectly into the world of stunts.
So I always had my eye on the ball and hung on to my dream. There were definitely detours and bumps in the road along the way and it wasn’t easy, but well worth it once I arrived.
I’ve been living my dream for 30 years now!
What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this project that still affects your work to date?
My first gigs in a sense were doing live karate demonstration with my instructors, Cameron Steuart and Master Fumio Demura. I would get beat up and tossed around fairly regularly and loved every minute of it during different live shows or events that we would demonstrate at.
As far as film and TV go, I started at the very bottom as an extra, or background performer as they are called today. I can’t even remember the name of the first TV show I ever worked on as I tried hard to forget that experience. I was a young father, married at the time and we had one boy and a baby girl on the way. I would work construction during the day and go look for work on film sets in the evening and at night. When I got a call to go to work finally, I had no idea how things worked on a set or especially prior to getting to the set.
So keep in mind I was being paid $5/hour. I parked in the wrong spot since I didn’t know what crew park was. I worked 6 hours that day and made a whopping $30!! When I returned to my truck I had a $40 parking ticket!! Pretty hard to feed your family on those kinds of wages. But I knew it would get better and I quickly learned the lay of the land on set and especially how I could track down and approach the stunt coordinators in order to get my dream job as a stuntman. My take away from that first job was to always practice the the 3 “L’s”, LOOK, LISTEN and LEARN!
But my first actual union stunt job was on the original TV series, MacGyver.  A fun show to get started on and I’m super thankful that Vince Deadrick Jr. gave me a shot and started my career.
You have done stunt work in some of the biggest films of the last 30 years. Whilst doing this you have worked with some pretty amazing filmmakers, including some friends of ours like Dwight H. Little and Roger Christian. I am curious to know in your opinion, and obvious experience, what sort of relationship should a filmmaker have with their stunt coordinators? What are the levels of trust that need to exist in order for a project to be successful, in regards to stunt work?
As far as filmmakers and their relationship with their stunt coordinators it’s very important to have a very clear and open communication with them on how you see the action in your film. If you have a vision of the action, lay it out clearly. Stunt coordinators are the action artist specialists and know how to make your action scenes cool and exciting, fresh and different, but most importantly “SAFE”!
Listen to them and their opinions on how to achieve your vision as they are the ones who know how to achieve it. There are always cost factors and time factors involved, so be willing and open to new ideas that may be a whole other way to shoot and achieve your action as they are also the ones with the most experience on cost and time that it takes to pull off any stunt sequence.
Many filmmakers have no idea and rely very heavily on their stunt coordinators to create the action, right down to re-writing some of the action scenes. Others are very clear and have envisioned their action sequences from their first read on the script.
The key points always come down to “COMMUNICATION”. Everything else falls in line after that.
In 2010 you moved into the director’s chair yourself on the action packed thriller film Born to Raise Hell, starring the legendary Steven Seagal. What made you want to make this move? How did this come about? And what was it about this story that made you want to make this shift?
My transition into the directors chair was a big surprise and an opportunity that came out of left field! I already had a lot of second unit directing experience, so this certainly helped me to be prepared. Second Unit directing is when you’re hired to direct a sequence or sequences in a production that shoot anything that does not require the lead actors of the project. In my case it was usually always action scenes since my background was in stunts.
I had just finished a film called A Dangerous Man with director Keoni Waxman. We really clicked and had a great short hand, similar styles and best of all, great communication. He and the producers asked me come on board their next film Born To Raise Hell in the same capacity, Second Unit director/Stunt Coordinator.
The film was originally going to be shot in Detroit and a week prior to starting prep, we were all informed that it would now be shot in Romania. Keoni had to drop out of the film. So I said, “I guess we’re not doing this film.” He quickly replied, “Ya, you are!”
He rallied the producers and sold them on the fact that I was the man for the job to direct this film. I already had a great working relationship with all the producers and had actually shot several scenes with the main actors on my second unit during A Dangerous Man.
So, the next thing you know, I was on a plane to Bucharest, Romania to direct my first film back in 2009.
It was a great opportunity for me. A lot of work, but I felt ready, prepared and knew I could do it. The Producers were great and allowed me a lot of creative control for a first time director. It was a fairly action heavy film, so that part was second nature. My main focus was working with the actors to get the best performance as possible.
Since my lead actor was one of the most notorious in the business for being difficult, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the experience, it really had nothing to do with the script or story I was given, it was all about the opportunity to learn and create.
When the film was done, the main Producer was very happy with the finished product and said, “You did it! You directed a film with Steven Seagal! You can direct anything!”
When you look back on your career spanning over 30 years, what would you say that you are the most proud of? Not necessarily one particular project per say, although it could be, but maybe as a whole?
A few of the projects that stand out and that I’m the most proud of are:
1. Rumble in the Bronx
2. Jade
3. The Last Samurai
4. End of the Spear
5. Insomnia
6. Nacho Libre
and most recently:
7. The Main Event (it just came out on Netflix on April, 10th, check it out!)
These are all stunt related and I’ll give you a quick breakdown as to why they are special to me. Some other films like Ballistic Ecks vs Sever and Case 39 get honourable mention because I got to do some huge gags, some of the biggest and most dangerous of my career.
I can’t really say that I’m super proud of anything I’ve directed just yet, but I have some coming up that I’m pretty sure I will be. Namely watch for Mexican Radio, a super fun Action/Comedy, and Crimson Creek, a scary Western/Thriller.
Okay, my Top 7:
1. Rumble in the Bronx – I was always a huge Jackie Chan fan, so I really, really wanted to work on that film and fortunately I was cast as a stunt actor and contracted to work for 10 days! 55 days later I finally finished! I was so happy and excited to get all those extra days since Jackie and Stanley added my character into so many more fights, etc. It was so much fun fighting and working with Jackie, it will always be one of my fondest memories in film.
(Jackie by the way is one of the nicest humans on the planet!)
2. Jade – I was asked by legendary stunt coordinator/stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker to come to San Francisco to work on this film. Buddy Joe is a true Hollywood stunt legend and I read books about him as a kid, long before I ever became a stuntman. So to work for him and get to do some great stuff was a dream come true and very special experience early on in my career.
3. The Last Samurai – The style of Martial Arts I studied for 20 years prior to doing this film were all Japanese styles, so being hired as a fight coordinator on this film was a great opportunity for me to open my tool box and do something authentic and realistic. Then the cherry on the cake was, well there were a few of them. First off the scope and size of this production was amazing and the biggest I had ever been on. I worked on it for 11 months, and worked in Los Angeles at the legendary Warner Brothers Studio as well as we filmed in New Plymouth, New Zealand for 5 months. (I love to travel by the way). I got to choreograph and design over 200 fights over the course of the film. Then add in training and working with the caliber of talented actors like Tom Cruise (also one of nicest and hardest working guys on the planet), Ken Watanabe, Hiro Sanada, Billy Connolly and many others was so amazing. At the peek of our battle sequences we had 1600 people on set! Insane!
4. End of the Spear – This production was a mind blowing, life changing experience. The film was based on an incredible true story and this is what drove me to go after this job and I’m glad I did. I was flown to Panama and we ended up casting the majority of our actors out of 3 tribal villages in the jungles of Panama. We ended up living with them for a week while we evaluated all of them and became very good friends. They have become like a second family to me and I try to go back for a visit every couple of years. I worked and stayed there initially for 4 months and have gone back numerous times. Twice more for other films, but many times just to visit the Emberá Tribe. Shameless plug for the Embera tribe, they have guided tours out into the jungle to visit their villages and learn about their culture. I highly recommend one of these tours!
You can see my training process with two of the young boys I hired to do stunts on the film on YouTube at https://youtu.be/hy5pT87rDuE
5. Insomnia – I was hired to stunt double for the great Al Pacino! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had some great gags on that film and got to rub elbows with Pacino and the late, great Robin Williams. What an incredible experience. Working with Director Christopher Nolan wasn’t bad either.
6. Nacho Libre – I mean come on! That movie was so much fun to work on, I always say, “I should have paid them what they paid me!” Jack Black is so nice and so much fun, he just cracks you up all the time. Very agile and physical too for such a hefty guy! I love Mexico, so that made it even better. Getting to play one of the wrestlers in a very acrobatic tag team match was also a huge highlight. I wasn’t cracked up about the pink wrestling outfit, but hey, that’s what director Jared Hess wanted and it added more humour I suppose. Mostly at my expense between me and the other stunt guys.
7. The Main Event – This is another hilarious wrestling based film that was so much fun to work on. From the top on down, all great people. Creative and fun. Director Jay Karas and I collaborated really well and he let me take the ball and run with it for all the action scenes and designing them. Again, great communication was the key. Young Seth Carr was a gem to work with. All the cast were great, professional, friendly and fun. It’s another one I’ll cherish for a long time.
All in all it’s about the relationships you form along the way as you expand your film family and the collaborative and creative world we are so fortunate to work in! It’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but it’s all worth when you see the smiles at the end of the day and an entertaining product on the screen.
What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?
For me the future is bright! I’ll keep doing stunts whenever I can and for as long as I can, since that is my first love. But with that being said I am actively developing, writing and will be directing some great projects coming up in the next couple of years. The two main ones that I mentioned earlier, but will mention them again to burn them into your minds are Mexican Radio, which is a hilarious Action/Comedy buddy movie. In a nutshell it’s about an East Indian kid who gets adopted by the head of the Italian mob in Las Vegas and reluctantly grows up to become their top Hitman.
The other project I’m really excited to film is a Western/Thriller I wrote called Crimson Creek, which is about a serial killer who terrorizes this small town back in 1882.
Ultimately my latest dream is to go some where tropical for the start of the year, write a new script, put it into production whereever in the world it needs to be filmed, direct the shit out of it, post it, put it out to the world, entertain audiences, take a vacation at Christmas time with my amazing lady and then do it all over again! One per year!
What was the last thing that made you smile?
So many things make me smile every day, all day. My family, especially my two grandkids. But the last thing to make me smile, was proof reading this interview as it just serves as a reminder that I am and have truly been living my dreams for the past 30 years. Hard work, perseverance and holding tight to your dreams is so worth it!
Never, ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something! If you can dream it, you can do it!
I smile every day because I believe I’m one of the most lucky and fortunate SOB’s on the planet!

JT Barnett [Interview]

 

Hello Everyone! If this is your first time stopping by to check out our digital pages, welcome! And welcome back to all of you fine regular readers. Today we have a pretty incredible interview to share with you all! If you have Netflix and/or eyes, you are probably already pretty familiar with the global phenomenon that has taken the internet by storm over the last couple of months. Which would be a little documentary series entitled The Tiger King. It’s a series that certainly didn’t escape our fascination, and I was personally excited about the prospect of gaining even just a bit more insight into the events that took place during the timeframe depicted in the series. And Folks, I feel like we have been given a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Our guest today is a creator who was highly involved in all things involving Joe Exotic and the GW Zoo. It’s producer JT Barnett, Everyone!

Barnett worked for a great deal of time on the original reality series based around the wild and fascinating times of Joe Exotic, creating some of the content that was featured in the Netflix series. He has also continued to work within the Tiger King world since the series was released. JT recently worked on a TMZ/Fox Tiger King investigative special. It aired on primetime this last Monday and is available on the Fox Now app. He gave us some wonderful insight into his time working at the GW zoo, the impact of The Tiger King since its release, and of course we talk a bit about his other work outside of the TK world, which includes an almost decade long stint working in the early days of reality television on the popular series Cheaters.

So Folks, I know you are all eager to get right into these questions, so how about we just jump right into it? Please enjoy some wonderful words from producer JT Barnett!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something that you have wanted to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

From a young age I was inspired to write. I became interested in photography later in life, another passion of mine. My father is a welder and his father was a watchmaker. I think that’s where I get the appeal to the technical side of camera work. I find comparisons in our craft as in a finely tuned watch. While I dabbled as a youth, I did found myself working at the age of 18 on what was a then new concept show, Cheaters.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work to date?

My first gig was on the show Cheaters. I was introduced to Bobby Goldstein, the series EP, thru my friend Harold Helm. Back then, other than The Real World, there wasn’t any type of reality TV. Bobby Goldstein and Tommy Habeeb were the original founders of this concept. I started out as a PA, I got coffee and ran errands. I moved on to camera after awhile, then to field producing. I was trained by a great set of professionals. The lessons I learned from these men is invaluable. I learned the values of teamwork as well as how to work under pressure. The high stress, rapid production style of shooting this series would prove to be an excellent learning platform. The most valuable lesson I carry to this day is…. Filmmaking is a collaborative art, you are only as good as your team. 

You worked on Cheaters for close to a decade. I am curious to know what this experience was like? The show feels sort of dangerous in a way, so how was your experience getting this footage?

Some of the best days of my life were spent field producing this program. I will always be thankful for this time as it set me on my journey to today. While the show is reality TV, there were many instances when we were in dangerous situations. Anytime you’re dealing with people’s significant others or their emotions… it can get volatile. From busting people cheating in night clubs, to the street races and at fight nights… shooting this program was always an adventure. 

 

 

Now, I understand that you were a part of a recent phenomenon that the world can’t stop talking about, which would be The Tiger King. Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working as a producer & photographer for the GW zoo and Joe Exotic’s original reality series? And making the infamous “I Saw a Tiger” video? How did you come to land this gig? And what was your takeaway from this experience?

I left Cheaters in 2009 to explore personal projects. A few years later I would meet Joe Exotic through a friend. He was working on a reality TV concept. I helped him develop this reality show and my role from the beginning was as a producer. In 2013 Jason Carbone’s production company, Good Clean Fun, took an interest in our show. I started working with GCF producers Matt Wrablik and Nick Lee on the concept. I field produced and directed the sizzle reel to Joe Exotic – The Tiger King. At the same time Danny Cotton started working with us as a producer and in marketing. He broke dozens of viral clips with millions of views. The sizzle pushed into pilot with A&E that summer. Tragically we were filming the pilot when Saf had the accident in October of 2013. This accident coupled with pressure from radical animal rights groups caused the network to back off. I continued on for many years after this, working as a consulting producer. I worked remotely and on site for a week or so at a time. I will always cherish this time. I also shot a lot of still & motion photography over the years with The Tiger King. I’m glad I was able to be at this place, during this time in the world, to capture these moments. 

In your opinion, as somebody who has been involved in the Tiger King world, how accurate would you say the series got it? Would you say that this is an accurate depiction?

I think Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaiklin and Chris Smith did a tremendous job on the docuseries. It paints a fair picture and brings some shocking discoveries to light. Although, everything the series does get right there are some discrepancies with the truth. Joe was not an animal abuser, I do not support or condone that. If he had exhibited that type of behavior, I wouldn’t have worked with him then, nor would I support him today. One big thing the series gets right is that Joe was setup. He was led down a path by con artists, railroaded by a biased judge and convicted in a failure of justice. I applaud the producers of the series for having the courage to present the facts they did. One massive inaccuracy in the series, is the story of the internet show producer. Rick’s story is largely fabricated and highly dramatized. He takes credit for trying to do something, we successfully did years before. In the end lots of great things in the series outweigh the inconsistencies. I’m happy the two main takeaways from the docuseries are: Joe was setup and Carole did it. 

Are you at all surprised by the reactions that people are having to Tiger King? Is it surreal to you, or does it all make sense? 

It has been a little surreal with all the attention. While we knew it was a hit when we were shooting the pilot 7 years ago, I don’t think we could have ever anticipated this concept would go on to be a #1 Netflix sensation. I think the program grew into something larger than anyone expected. While The Tiger King is an entertaining hit, I also think it’s the perfect storm of the world being quarantined and this program you can’t look away from.

Whilst scrolling through IMDb, I came cross a project you have in the works entitled Bound that is very intriguing, and will feature our dear friend of the site Tina Parker. Can you tell us a bit about this project? What should we be excited to see upon its release?

I haven’t been working with this team lately, although I did work with Guillermo years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the pleasure of working with Tina Parker during this project.

Instead might I recommend the TMZ/Fox Tiger King investigative special. It aired on primetime this last Monday and is available on the Fox Now app. I was a consulting producer on this project and got the opportunity to work with Harvey Levin. (Thank you Danny Cotton for introducing me.) Harvey did an awesome job being fair and unbiased. If you liked Netflix’s Tiger King you should definitely check it out.

 

 

 

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

While I had my tenure in non-scripted, my passion lies in scripted works. I have a lot of great partners from New York to Texas. In NYC I’ve been working closely with veteran producer and partner Mark Lipsky. He’s producing my first feature film, The Scarecrow Bandits. We are also working on several other reasonably budgeted, independent films at WOF Entertainment. The Scarecrow Bandits is based loosely on actual events and written in conjunction with my longtime friend and collaborator Chris Pettie. The film currently stars Jason Mitchell as well as some other well-known talent. Back in Texas, I work with an excellent production team. I am partnered with executive producer Radio Rajeem on the Never Satisfied Studios in Dallas. Readers can follow me on all social platforms as @jtbarnett45. 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I have several dogs and love animals. While my German Shepards brought a smile to my face today. The thing that makes me smile everyday is my son. I feel truly blessed to have him in my life and to be able to chase my dreams by doing something I love.

 

 

Check out some of JT’s original content via his own YouTube channel: