September 11, 2013

Ethan Flower Interview

Ethan Flower, star of upcoming action thriller Dragon Day stopped by to chat about the movie.


Thanks for joining us.


A: Thanks you guys, it’s really great to talk to you! I think what you guys do for action and film is very cool.


Q: Dragon Day deals with some very pertinent issues and is a pretty scary & controversial subject matter. Is that what drew you to the movie?


A: Yeah, I love controversy. It is after all what drives intense conversation and volatility of thought. It’s really fun as an actor to convey that type of story matter.

I am absolutely intrigued and somewhat delighted for Dragon Day in terms of it’s relevance as a film that since I read the script the national debt has continued to skyrocket, The US congress has continued to battle over raising the debt limit, Edward Snowden has leaked an unbelievable knowledge breakthrough to the world about the NSA and how it is accessing all of our digital information and that China continues to hack into our technological infrastructure daily and exponentially. I mean it’s downright frightening how little knowledge we get allotted by our government and corporations. Do people really understand how much of our data, our banking and financial services, our electrical grid, our transportation systems, our water works, our health and human services systems are at risk by a cyber attack? If you think about it and break it down to a very simple process, absolutely everything we depend on is connected to a server and the www. There are people who thrive on breaking that system down and testing it’s boundaries. These people wake up in the morning dreaming about how to break it down. Thankfully the US government is getting stronger in our defence and our offenses. But that still does not take away from the fact that we are extremely vulnerable.


Q: Can you tell us about your character, Duke Evans?


A:  Sure. Duke is a strong willed family man who has his heart in the right place and wants to defend what he loves at all costs. He is a guy who was working part time for the NSA. I mean he’s a contractor like Edward Snowden was a contractor. He for reasons unknown to him loses his job at the NSA. He does not take retribution but processes he started at The NSA continue to unravel after he is let go and then all hell breaks lose. He makes mistakes like any person who is faced with making huge decisions for the survival of those they love and he tries very hard to be a man of character and do the right thing. Eventually he does. He is a traditional hero in every sense of the word.


Q: Did you have to do any physical training for the role?


A: I work out a fair amount myself anyway so when it came time to shoot I just made sure that I ran every morning to keep my heart rate up even though we were at high elevations and made sure that I ate well, stayed away from as much sugar as possible and could not drink alcohol with the long hours I was working. I was in almost every scene.


Q: What were the challenges of creating such a large-scale idea on a smaller budget?


A: Well, yes it was a challenge. But money wise and technically for the filmmakers. Where it was difficult for me was telling the story and making it believable with the use of dialogue and situation rather than relying on advanced visual effects and green screen. The concentration that it took to keep a through line of reality, shooting out of sequence in a situation like this was enormous.  It’s like a big physical and emotional puzzle. As for financial constraints, filmmakers can do more with more money but I don’t mind getting paid small amounts of money when it’s for a project that I care about or a story that I really want to tell. My agent will kill me for saying that. Ha! We were well taken care of and we also kind of lived out of the locations we were shooting in. But that’s par for the course when shooting low budget.  I also intrinsically love independent filmmaking and the hearts and souls that go into bringing a­ dream alive on to the screen. It literally makes me cry when I go to Sundance or other festivals and hear the filmmakers speak about their dreams and what it took to get them to that place. It’s magic and I will bend over backwards for a filmmaker who thinks like that. So what were the challenges? It’s all relative really; I am living my dream so all I really need is a story, good people to work with and cameras to record. So do I need to make sure the green M&M’s are picked out of my bowl, no I don’t think so. A film’s style and set dictate actors’ surroundings. Francis Ford Coppola used to use as much of his set as possible for his actors to relax in and use as a reality point. That means where you shoot, you also eat, you rest, that’s your home base. That adds to the flavor of my acting rather than detracting from it. If I could live where I shoot in the atmosphere of the story I am telling then my ability to tell it more truthfully gets even better for me. One of my friends in this film and co-actors Scoot McNairy made a great film a few years ago called Monsters on no budget as well. I believe that it informed the final quality of the film. That film was amazing.

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Q: If something like this happened in reality, how do you think you would react?


A: Well I would freak out and probably get run over by a car or something. But I would like to think otherwise. No, I’m joking. I am already prepped for something like this. I mean I don’t have a bunker filled with weapons but I am fully aware that when the shit hits the fan, the only thing that will make me and the ones I love safe are my preparations and primal knowledge and my instinct to survive. I am pretty much a mountain man anyway at heart. I have escape routes planned and meeting points picked as well as ways for communications other than the normal ones we have in place. Call me crazy, but at least I am somewhat ready. What is really scary is thinking how society might break down in a situation like this, which is not really something you can prepare for so much as get away from.


Q: Writer/Director Jeffrey Travis recently stated that he was under pressure from Hollywood not to name China as the villains and he didn’t want to have to make the same edits that the recent Red Dawn remake had to endure. Did this cause a lot of problems during shooting at all or were these behind the scenes issues?


A: I mean, I didn’t have to deal with any of that in a way that they did. I had enough on my plate with the character. But I was fully aware of the situation of the story line. I was also fully aware that Hollywood was increasingly expanding its bottom line by selling its product into China. Although the studios are getting their asses handed to them by China because it’s such a corrupt system that the only ones who will ever benefit from sales there are the Chinese government and those who run distribution. Hollywood is getting hardly any profit from China in relation to what they have to give up creatively. So all this worry about what China thinks about Hollywood portraying China badly in film or press, well the Chinese sensors are all going to be portrayed in my next movie called “China does Dallas” about a Chinese government official who buys a whore house in Texas and invites his whole family over to run it. I mean, really I wish that the Chinese population would pirate the hell out of Dragon Day, cause it ain’t gonna show there in any conventional way. Oh and I hope your website has good security and strong servers cause running this particular section might get you some denial of service attacks…

Of course, I understand the need to sell to as many territories as possible but when a creative team can be lead to think that the floor will collapse because of entertaining a fear derived from one single point of view then one leaves ones ethics open for being trampled on. Lets just forget about Tienanmen Square in 1989 and sell movies in China should we? God help us; let us not allow money to rule our world at the expense of creativity and the human spirit.


Q: What was the atmosphere like on the set?


A: Awesome! It was a family and that’s one of the reasons why I love my profession so much. I get to expand my family. Really great bunch of people who knew exactly what they were doing in their craft. Everyone was very supportive and was a pleasure to be around. We shot mostly in a really wonderful small town called Wrightwood in the middle of the mountains in California. There was not a lot of time that I myself had for play but a really great time was had. It was a thorough and joyful experience.  One really fun place to shoot was in the jail cells and underneath a police station in this deep basement in the middle of the desert in a town called Boron. It looks great on screen. They also shot Erin Brokovich at that location.


Q: There had been an Indiegogo campaign to fund the post-production of the film; how did it assist with the final stages of the movie?


A: That was to raise money for post, special effects, color correction and sound design for the final print. It’s hard to make a good action movie these days with out putting money into those things unless you know how to do it yourself.

Q: You have several other projects in development including a role alongside Spider-Man himself Tobey Maguire in “Spoils of Babylon”. Can you tell us about it and your other projects?


A: Yeah, what a hoot. I just got to work with an amazing star studded cast on this whacky take on the history of the world rewritten through the fictional character of Eric Jonrosh played by the one and only Will Ferrell. Kristen Wiig, Tim Robins, Val Kilmer, Haley Joel Osment, Michael Sheen were also in it. Brilliantly written, directed and produced by old SNL writer Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele. These are great great film actors who know how to take the severity of a situation and bring the comedy out of it. I primarily worked with Tobey Maguire and Matt the director on a really fun scene where we set up the scenario of the bombing of Japan that ended WWII and finding the right man for the job. It sounds like a serious subject but believe me when I tell you, it could not have been dealt with in a more insane and robustly comedic way. I can’t wait to see this project! I want to see what ends up on the cutting room floor as well because we came up with some golden nuggets filming this project. I came in on a day off and watched Jessica Alba and Tobey shoot a long and verbose scene that ended with them doing a huge kiss. Well Tobey and Jessica were absolutely hilarious rolling around on top of each other knocking stuff off the tables, kicking in the air and slobbering all over each other. Last year when I met Kristen at the SAG awards I said to her, she was the funniest woman alive and that I wanted to work with her. This year I did. When I told her this story, she started singing “Dreams can come true”……


Q: Thanks very much for taking time to chat and all the best with the movie.


A: Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate your time, interest and great questions. Please keep in the loop with what I am doing and visit my official website where you can also see a link to my Facebook page. Take it easy.

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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