November 7, 2014

Shane Weisfeld Interview

Shane Weisfeld is the Canadian based screenwriter of the thriller Freezer starring Dylan McDermott, Andrey Ivchenko and Yuliya Snigir.

It hit DVD/Blu-ray a few months ago and is a hugely entertaining thriller.

Shane stopped by The Action Elite to talk about the road to bringing the film to the screen and the various challenges faced.





Q: You wrote the script for the Dylan McDermott thriller “Freezer” but writing the script was only a small part of your journey to bring this movie to the screen. Can you tell us about the challenges you faced in getting Freezer made? 

A: The challenges were similar to all challenges in getting a film made in today’s marketplace – mainly financing and distribution. However, the journey of getting the script into the right hands and industry people taking it on was a long and challenging one, because it’s not enough for them to just ‘like’ it – they have to love it and feel confident enough to put their time and energy into it, because you then have to convince other people to take it on, and so on and so forth up the chain. Before the first person said “yes” to it, there were many who said “no”.


Q: Talk us through your writing process and how did you initially come up with the concept of Freezer? 

A: It was something I had wanted to do for a while (contained/one-location crime thriller) and just keeping up with the marketplace and business of film, I knew of certain people that would be interested in this, both from a representation standpoint and a producing/financing/distribution level. The writing process was challenging because the location and concept was simple, but story-wise it was very hard to maintain drama and conflict in this one location. However, during the rewriting process is when most of the story really unfolded and characters became more three-dimensional.


Q: Did the final film turn out the way you planned? 

A: In general, it stuck to our original vision, and I was really impressed with the direction and production overall. I was able to watch some of the scenes being filmed on set, but not everything, so when I saw the finished product it was even better than I imagined. Everyone did an amazing job.



Q: What did you think of the casting? Did you have Dylan in mind when writing? 

A: I have to admit Dylan McDermott didn’t even come to mind when writing this. He’s a great actor, but the character was supposed to be around 40-years-old. McDermott I think was 51-years-old when he shot this, but the guy looks like he’s in his early 40s easily, so it worked out! The casting in general was great and casting directors don’t get enough recognition; they’re one of many components and collaboration needed in a film coming together.


Q: Following on from that, how did the script evolve and was the finished script very different from your initial concept? 

A: The finished script was extremely different from the initial draft, as it evolved a lot during the rewriting and drafts process. Originally, this was a straight mistaken identity thriller with a pretty bare story, and there wasn’t much action to it. Only when it became a crime thriller with real story elements added to it did it really evolve and more action and narrative was injected into it. Part of the script evolving was because of the notes and feedback received from the producers, and previous notes from my manager in L.A. at the time just before he took it out to the marketplace.


Q: Has Freezer helped open more doors in Hollywood and would you say that the long struggle has been worth it? 

A: Freezer has opened more doors in both Canada and with Hollywood people, but those doors have opened only because I banged on them, picked the lock and turned the handle myself. The long struggle has definitely been worth it because I can look back at everything I’ve been through, especially the rejection, and that alone made any success so far all the worthwhile. However, I never stop the hustle and grind. I’m still trying to make a name for myself, still facing rejection, still finding ways to improve and be better than the last time. Nobody owes me anything. I have to earn it one struggle after another.

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Q: How hard was it to maintain the discipline and keep persevering to get the script out there? 

A: It’s something I had been doing for so many years, so it’s like clockwork for me. The discipline isn’t too hard, it’s the perseverance that’s the hard part because you really never know when it’s going to happen. I’ve had to be so patient, but at the same time, always taking initiative, being relentless in my pursuit and continuing with that hardcore tenacity and persistence. I expect nothing less of myself.


Q: Are action thrillers your favourite genre to write? What is it that appeals to you about the genre?

A: I’m 40-years-old and as a child of the 80s, I grew up on this genre, and I was introduced to a lot of the action-thriller classics when I was in film school. I’m very comfortable writing in this genre and what appeals to me about it is all the conflict and action that’s thrown in the way of the protagonist, and then all the narrative possibilities and twists and turns on top of that from the thriller side of things. A lot to work with, but when done well, some amazing films have come out of it.


Q: How long does it take you to write a complete script? 

A: It has varied over the years. I always outline first, but don’t get too bogged down with it, as it’s all about banging out that first, crappy draft and then spending the time needed on rewrites and polishes. “Freezer” was written in three weeks, but the rewrite process was months. That’s usually the case with most of my material.


Q: Do you always write with a specific budget in mind or do you just want to come up with the best story possible? 

A: A writer should really never be thinking about budget, certainly not with spec scripts. The overriding factor with any kind of writing should always be story first, and I always try and write the best story possible regardless of budget or any production-type factors.


Q: What are you working on next? 

A: I’m currently writing an action thriller with a hip hop angle that takes place in the Dominican Republic. I’m also writing something I had actually outlined a few years ago and decided it’s way overdue for me to write this thing; the logline and genre is under wraps though.


Thanks very much for taking the time to chat with The Action Elite and good luck with your future projects!

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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