August 28, 2012

Chad Law Interview

Today we’re joined by Chad Law, writer of the upcoming Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner 6 Bullets.

EOIN: Where did you come up with the idea for 6 Bullets?

CHAD: Well, it’s interesting, because it kind of started as something else. Literally. I had become good friends with one of the producers, Mike Callaghan, he and I had done a couple of things together, and he had just finished reading this other script I had. But he and his partners were looking for something to do with Van Damme and that script, which they liked, just wasn’t right. For a number of reasons. So, we kind of took what was right about the other script for the scenario and came up with a totally new script based on a few other different scenarios we had come up with and there it just sort of became. I just thought it was very cool and exploitation-y, very throwback, or whatever you want to call it, very martial arts driven, to have this guy, this MMA fighter (Joe Flanigan), whose daughter is kidnapped and then has to team up with this bad ass butcher (Van Damme) of all things to try and get her back. I thought, well, if I heard that premise, I would definitely watch that. I’m in! From there it went through several different incarnations, of course, as most things do, but that was pretty much the gist of it.

EOIN:  Did you have Van Damme in mind when you wrote it?

CHAD: I did, yeah. As I said, it pretty much started as something else entirely but was then changed drastically from the ground up for Van Damme. The idea of sort of crafting something with him in mind…I was sold immediately. I mean, I grew up on Van Damme, I love Van Damme, watching all of his stuff. I was a huge fan of John Woo’s HARD TARGET, the first UNIVERSAL SOLDIER and  JCVD was great too and he was so great in it. Everybody I recommend that movie too, action fan or not, Van Damme fan or not, they all love that movie.  So, just the idea of working with Van Damme…that alone was enough for me to get the ball rolling and I hope to do so again sometime. Russell Mulcahy, who did the original HIGHLANDER, and I recently talked with him about doing something…we’ll see.

EOIN: Have you seen the finished film and is it the same as the story you originally came up with?

CHAD: I’ve seen the director’s cut but haven’t seen the finished movie yet, no. It’s the same story from what I’ve seen, but things have changed along the way also as they usually do. The director and Van Damme came up with their own ideas and changes, etc. But for example, Van Damme’s character had a back story at one point that involved him being shot six times and living. It’s because of this that he was so feared in the underworld or whatever. They thought he couldn’t be killed or had come back from the dead. That’s where the title, SIX BULLETS, originally came from, but that’s gone now. Not the title, obviously, but that plot point. Filmmaking, it’s a collaboration and I love that about it. Well…most of the time anyway. This time, without question though, it was a great experience all around. It all just sort of came together very quickly.

EOIN: How long did it take to write a draft?

CHAD: About three weeks, not counting the treatment and all of that good stuff that was put together beforehand on this one once the idea was presented.

EOIN: Your first produced film “Hero Wanted” has an amazing cast including Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ray Liotta, Norman Reedus, Kim Coates, and Jean Smart. When you were writing it, did you have any idea you would get such a quality cast?

CHAD: Not in my wildest dreams, no. At the time I was just writing. And hoping. That was my first movie and the first thing I had ever even sold, so I didn’t have any idea I could actually even make a movie yet let alone get that cast. I mean, an Oscar winner, Henry Hill, a Boondock Saint, the guy Bruce Willis killed in LAST BOY SCOUT because he touched him again? You couldn’t imagine a better cast than that for your first movie. Shit, you couldn’t imagine a better cast than that for your twentieth movie, in my opinion. Steven Kozlowski, who was shot by Tom Cruise in the alleyway in COLLATERAL, he was great in it too I thought. So was my friend Gary Cairns, who I look forward to working with again. Sammi Hanratty. It was a great cast all around. I was very lucky as far as the cast for that movie went and I’ve realized that even more as time has gone on.

EOIN: Do you ever get emotionally attached to any of the characters you create? Like when you finish a script, do you miss the characters at all?

CHAD: I do, sometimes, yeah. I think it just kind of depends on the material or the situation or whatever. But it’s usually when I’m writing that I get attached to the characters, if I do, during that process, not after. Because I tend to write twelve to fourteen hours a day, so when I’m writing, whatever the characters are doing that day, that’s pretty much what I’m doing that day. In between texts or calls or whatever. But if they’re fucked up, sometimes I feel fucked up, they’re sad and sometimes I’m sad, if they’re in a gunfight, I might feel like I was actually in a gunfight. It’s kind of awesome at times but it’s also a little pathetic sometimes too. I mean, people will ask you what’s wrong with you one day because you’re acting all down or whatever and then you’ll have to snap out of it because you’ll realize there’s nothing wrong in your world, you’re fine, it’s all on the page, or in the computer or wherever. But I almost always have trouble detaching myself from the characters during the writing process. Like, if I’m really into something, I can hardly focus on anything else, I don’t want to eat, sleep or do anything until the story’s finished because both me and the characters are in some sort of weird limbo. They don’t know what’s going to happen in their lives and neither do I, so I have to just get it out there. For them and for me. I don’t usually miss them when I’m finished though because I know I can always just go back and revisit the script or, hopefully, better yet, just watch the movie. I could even write a new story with the same characters if it was wanted or if I just wanted to stubbornly write it for myself. There are endless possibilities, really, as a writer in that way. It’s your world, you just have to create it and get it out there.

EOIN: Is there a particular type of scene that you enjoy writing? A lot people say action scenes are difficult…

CHAD: I like drama actually, trying to be truthful, regardless of what kind of story I’m telling. Dialog stuff where there’s something really moving the story along or where some major plot point is revealed. But I love action too obviously and action scenes can be very difficult, yeah. Because you’re basically trying to craft an action scene that’s shootable, yet also cool and fun to read for a location that isn’t even there. I mean, it’s only in your head at that point and here you are trying to put it on the page. In some ways that’s very freeing of course because you can literally do anything you want but, in other ways, that’s also sort of the problem. There are no limitations, you can do anything. You’re trying to picture every move, every gun, every nook and cranny for someone to hide behind, and there’s nothing really there. And here you are trying to paint that picture for someone. Well, to me, if you’re a good writer, that’s what you’re trying to do anyway. I know some people try to skip past all of that and will just write “fight ensues” or something but I just can’t make myself do that. Then I don’t even know what I’m selling or how anyone else could. Part of the fun to me is figuring it all out to the best of your ability, that’s what helps make it yours, I feel. I mean, I’d be pissed if I was reading a book and it just said, here so and so fights, imagine the fight in your head and that’s what it is. So, yeah, I can’t do that. Quentin Tarantino, during an interview for KILL BILL, I’ll always remember, he said something like he’d always considered action directors the greatest directors in the world. If you can direct action, then you’re the greatest. I feel similarly about writing action. It’s a blueprint, sure, that’s what a script is, like the blueprint for building a house, but try to at least give everyone something solid to work with.

EOIN: Do you ever listen to music while writing to create the right vibe/atmosphere?

CHAD: A lot of times, yeah. To me, music and movies are essential to one another. Always have been. And I’m very musical in general. I mean, I love music, all kinds. My favorite parts of my favorite movies often times are when the story and the soundtrack come together perfectly to me. Tarantino, obviously, is great at this, Michael Mann, I feel is great at this, Cameron Crowe, of course. I’ll even write certain songs into a script many times if I feel strongly enough about it while I’m writing it. Even though that’s often frowned upon in the industry and regardless of if it’s ultimately used or not, that’s out of my control. But I’m trying to paint a picture and, if I think a certain song helps to try and paint it, then I’ll just go ahead and put it in there and hope that the director feels similarly and/or that it makes it into the finished movie.  I do that a lot of times. There’s this movie I’m doing called JOHNNY TWO-GUNS about an enforcer for a gangster owned country music label and it practically comes with a soundtrack listing of indie country songs and rockabilly music that I like and think fit well with it. 

EOIN: Your horror screenplay “Abominations” was a finalist in the 2010 Shriekfest Horror/Sci-Fi Film Festival. Do you think competitions/festivals help in getting recognition from Hollywood? I’ve heard mixed reports about competitions…

CHAD: Some might, maybe, yeah, I don’t know. But I tend to go more with no. I mean, there’s nothing wrong whatsoever with getting any kind of recognition for you work, it can’t hurt whatsoever, it can only be positive. But I think the main thing competition’s do is kind of help you more personally as a writer. I think they can help boost your self esteem in your work or help solidify that what you thought you might have is what others seem to think you might have too. I think they’re good for that. But I honestly don’t think I can tell you of anyone that I know of who has really been “helped” by a screenwriting competition.  Other than helping themselves, that is. And that’s important. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, like I said. You’ll get beat up a lot as a writer for what you do so take what you can when you can, by all means.

EOIN: You worked on One in the Chamber (Dolph Lundgren & Cuba Gooding Jr.) which was a real old-school action film and I was a huge fan. How did you become involved with the picture?

CHAD: Mike Callaghan, who I mentioned before, was also a producer on 6 BULLETS, he called and asked me to rewrite the script they had for it a while back. I couldn’t do it at the time because it was right before the Fourth of July holiday and I was going away and just didn’t have the time to do it for when they needed it done by. Anyway, time passed and another writer was brought onto to do the rewrite and then when Will Kauffman, the director, and Cuba, both of who I’d worked with before, came on board, it ultimately just came back around. I liked it and it was another chance for me to work with those guys. I did some stuff on it during pre-production and then just kind of stayed with all the way through shooting. Will would call me up from the set in Romania at two in the morning and tell me what they thought was needed and I’d just try to figure out a way to get it done. But I’m glad you liked it, man, thanks. And thanks for the good review. A lot of talented people put a lot of time and hard work into that to that movie to make it what I feel it became. Like you said, it’s kind of just a wham bam thank you mam old school action flick and I dig that about it.

EOIN: Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

CHAD: Yeah, I’m doing a couple of others with Will, who did CHAMBER. One’s called BURNING SUN with Cole Hauser and Terrence Howard that’s pretty epic as far as scope goes and how we’re going to do it. And then I literally just finished the follow-up to Will’s movie SINNERS AND SAINTS with Johnny Strong. What they did, for that budget, that’s not easy to do. It came out great too, we’re all pretty excited. It was interesting trying to work with characters I didn’t create who had already been put on the screen before I was involved. Our goal is to make it a stand alone movie, where you don’t necessarily have to have seen the first to get it, but, at the same time, give the fans of the first some cool stuff for sticking around and supporting it, and I think we’ve succeeded so far. I also recently finished the script for this historical adventure about William Tell with Brendan Fraser intended to star if it goes, and I’m getting closer, hopefully, on this one called NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH with my good friend Geo Santini. He did this short, OCTOBER 31. It’s on Youtube, I think. It’s great, if you haven’t seen it, you should check it. There’s a couple of other things brewing too, one with a pretty prolific filmmaker and one a remake of a movie I’m a huge fan of, but I don’t think I can actually talk about them yet. You know, that old thing.

EOIN: Thanks very much for taking the time to chat and all the very best with your future endeavours.

CHAD: Thanks, man, and thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Keep up the good work on the site. I’m a fan. Let’s hope LAST STAND gives us a cool updated version of the Schwarzenegger we all know and love…


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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