July 30, 2012

Brandon Nutt Interview

Craig Fairbrass loved that Southern Culture and was just desperate to get as much of that good Gulf seafood in him as possible

Eoin: I’m joined by Brandon Nutt, the Director of the new Randy Couture actioner Hijacked, which also stars Vinnie Jones and Dominic Purcell. Thanks for joining us Brandon. How are you?

Brandon: You’re quite welcome; I’m doing just fine. I’m excited to have a chance to speak with you.

Eoin: Can you tell us a bit about how you got the directing job for Hijacked?

Brandon: We had gone out to meet with Anchor Bay with a couple of our producer partners on the executive side and pitched a few projects to Anchor Bay. They were looking for something that would appease a specific audience and we tried a target but none of our scripts really cut the mustard with them.  They had this one that had been sitting there which had been commissioned by another group of producers including Declan O’Brian (from Cabin in the Woods) and put together. Anchor Bay said “We’d really like to see you guys make a go of this.” So my producers and I went back to the table and thought about it and after seeing if we could do it within the parameters of our budget, we thought it would be a good challenge and a fun project. So we took the decision along with Anchor Bay and took it from there.

Eoin: Considering the low budget, what was the hardest scene to film?

Brandon: The biggest challenge and, well not just the scope, but also some production complexities was the shoot-out with Vinnie and Randy in the opening as we had only a very limited amount of time to do it. We had planned it very, very precisely with everyone on the crew and had it down to a science. Unfortunately we had the table upset on us; the night before we were meant to shoot, I got a call at 4am saying that the location had been compromised and we were no longer able to shoot there. We had to make a switch over to a new location with only a few hours’ notice and try and map our way through it.That was definitely the toughest day. We also had timing issues for how long we had Vinnie for because his schedule is always quite packed, as you know. He’s a busy working actor so, that most of all was the most challenging of all the scenes.

Eoin: Surely working with Vinnie Jones, Craig Fairbrass and Randy Couture you must have some entertaining stories from the set?

Brandon: Absolutely, all of those guys have such different personalities and are larger than life in person. When we went out to start casting Hijacked we really wanted to try and have an all-star cast in a similar fashion to The Expendables, obviously with our limited resources. The first time Randy and I got together in Baton Rouge, we got ourselves together and I went to pick him up from the airport. When we got to his hotel there was a police escort waiting to take him from Baton Rouge into New Orleans for the night and meet some friends with some resources of their own. So I had a great time with him and then Craig Fairbrass loved that Southern Culture and was just desperate to get as much of that good Gulf seafood in him as possible. He wanted nothing but the realistic food that New Orleans is so famous for.

There was a big cast meal one night and Craig ordered pretty much everything on the menu and had way more than we were offering and went well into his credit card and had a great time. We also had a great time with Vinnie Jones; again he was only there for a very short period of time and when he arrived it was kind of slap dash but we had a few moments we really enjoyed. He is a character and will talk football with anyone who can handle the conversation and most can’t, especially down in New Orleans. He and Randy got on like a house on fire and it was a lot of fun, especially on that one shoot-out scene I was talking about. To have that kind of pressure even on the actors calmed me down; having these guys on the set as a young director you don’t want them to think we might look a little amateurish and it wasn’t the case. Thankfully, Vinnie was fantastic and he and Randy got together with me and we came up with a really creative method of making it happen and quite frankly I think it looks fantastic.

Eoin: Is it true that Scott Adkins was originally cast before filming started but scheduling conflicts caused him to drop out?

Brandon: Yeah he was, actually we had a false start as we attempted to start making this film back in February of 2011 and unfortunately had to push it and switch locations from a Los Angeles shoot to New Orleans and in-between those times unfortunately Scott’s schedule filled up and was replaced by Holt McCallany in the role of the hijacker.

Eoin: Adkins would have been great as he’s always a good villain.

Brandon: Yeah, he’s very capable with his fighting and he and Randy knew each other as they share some of their management team. It would have been fantastic; I’m a big fan of Scott. He’s very brooding and always plays a good villain and in this case it would have been a great opportunity, which we’re now going to see Holt do, to really turn the character into one of the great action type villains.

Eoin: The Newton Brothers provide the music score for the film; how involved do you like to be in creating the music for your films? Do you like to work with the composers or leave them to it?

Brandon: I have to say that was one of the more rewarding aspects of the film; the Newton Brothers have so much to bring to the table and have made the film sound and feel so big. I think they were pleased by how collaborative I wanted to be. I think sometimes they work with some directors where they don’t get much input from them. They were fantastic and we had a chance to plot through all of the feelings I was looking for in the different scenes, talk about how I wanted to identify some of the characters and again really try and build up some of the experience for the audience, so it doesn’t just feel like a low budget film. Like I said, I think they accomplished that.

Eoin: As a Sudbury native, do you have any specific Canadian influences? What inspired you to get into movies?

Brandon: I had a grandfather a long time ago who handed me an old video camera which allowed me to start making little films and stories and I continued on into High School. I had the opportunity to work within a media program at High School and that gave me a little more exposure. My parents would make sure I had everything from a computer to an editing system or a new camera to work with. I had a lot of friends who were willing and ready to help me with any of my endeavors. My short films were never small pieces but I always wanted to do action films with car chases and I had a community that contributed to all of the stories that I wanted to tell.

Eoin: Do you have a particular part of the film making process that you really enjoy?

Brandon: Yeah, I used to really enjoy the editing process just to watch the fruits of your labours coming together. Now I’ve really grown to appreciate the collaborative process in the early stages of prep. Having collaborators and editors was something I was never really able to have whenever I was making short films. Having a production designer and a costume designer and cinematographer who are all there, wanting to help with the vision. They all have great capabilities themselves and are able to put a brushstroke on the film that maybe I couldn’t conceive. In this case we’ve had great supporters and I’ve become a real prep hound and that’s something that I really pride myself on now.

Eoin: Have you noticed how a lot of straight to DVD action movies today are better than some big-budget theatrical releases? With the lower budgets, film makers are arguably forced to be more innovative.

Brandon: I think that’s true. You look at your influences and what the bigger guys are doing and try to tip your hat to them. You look at their approach and try and find a way of skirting between the lines and making something work. Just doing that brings out a whole other layer of access to creative elements that you can put your own spin on how things work and I think that’s when you’re going to find that some of these smaller films have some really great things. I think we’ve got a couple in Hijacked that people are going to like. The one thing which I always feel cheated on with a lot of these films is the filmmakers tend to talk down to the audience. I wanted to make sure with this film knowing that guys like you will be watching it; we wanted to be a little bit smarter, have a bit a higher twist that people don’t see coming and also not spoon feed the plot. I think people are going to find that we’ve taken kind of a higher education approach to low budget film making.

Eoin: It’s funny so many bigger films will speak to the audience like they’re less intelligent.

Brandon: That’s why we did a lot of research to make sure the physics of what we’re doing was accurate. Like the technical side of what would happen on the plane with all of these action elements taking place. We wanted it to be right; whether or not it’s the landing sequence, where the first time on film ever you can actually hear the automated cockpit voice guiding the pilots down. We wanted to have those technical aspects that elevated the film a little bit more than bullets flying for 90 minutes+.

Eoin: Is there a dream project you’d like to work on some day and can you tell us what you’re working on next?

Brandon: On the action side of things, I’d love to do something like what Neill Blomkamp is doing with the sci-fi elements and being able to just get really creative. I’ve got a ton of stories that I would love to develop and when things get better to be able to have that 80-100 million dollar budget of course, that you want to be able to push on to. My next film is an action comedy which I’m very much looking forward to.  Looking forward to seeing how the two can play off one another. We’ve had a few R-Rated comedies recently but not the kind of balls to the wall action that we used to get. I’m very eager to get started on that which will be in October of this year.

Eoin: It’s funny that there hadn’t been an R rated action comedy recently, but since The Expendables came out and was a hit, more of the adult oriented action movies are making a resurgence.

Brandon: I totally agree; some of the more regurgitated elements are starting to get passed over and again the audience is starting to look for a new trend and that’s certainly what we want to do. The most interesting part of filmmaking for me is being able to get the stories out to people. I always understand that there’s going to be detractors and there’ll always be people who won’t be happy with the end product but at least they’re seeing and experiencing the content. Even if it’s a negative experience, at least they’re out there experiencing it. That’s just what I love about the process is getting out there and having audiences consume the stories that we’re putting out. I would love to set trends and I do believe this next film will do that for us and I think it’s going to be a hell of a rewarding experience for everybody.

Eoin: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. And remember everyone: Hijacked will be released by Anchor Bay on DVD& Blu Ray on July 31st.

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About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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