Ara Paiaya has directed and produced Hollywood star driven feature films for the mainstream market. Directing, producing and acting in films starring Oscar nominated actors, Golden Globe Winners and BAFTA winners. He is best known for the film Skin Traffik starring Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Gary Daniels, Dominique Swain, Alan Ford and Jeff Fahey. Ara is a Director of Photography (Cinematographer) and operates A-Camera on features and is also the Editor allowing him to keep creative control of his vision.
Ara chats exclusively with The Action Elite about the film.
First of all, can you tell us about the story of Skin Traffik and how you got involved?
I had recently formed a new production company Raging Pictures that I am co-chairman of. When I was thinking about the types of films that I would want to produce and direct under that new banner ‘Raging Pictures’ the idea for Skin Traffik was developed. The synopsis is as follows. Traumatised by the death of an innocent. Killer for hire Bradley drops out of society, seeking meaning roaming the dangerous streets of a tough inner city ghetto.
When he encounters a savage pimp and a desperate woman under his control Bradley finds the means to give battle to the inner demons that have eluded him. He embarks on a quest to save a young girl from the clutches of the brutal gangsters that trade human beings as currency. Drawn deeper into a sickening world in which age is no bar to exploitation and pursued by police, gangland villains and a mysterious agency known only as The Executive. Bradley discovers an ever deepening web of corruption and vice, and a dangerous game in which nothing is what it seems and no one can be trusted.
What was it that made you want to direct?
I wanted to do something that had never been done before in the UK. A British independent action film with an all-star Hollywood ensemble cast. The story was to be set in the UK, Amsterdam and USA. The film would feature my particular flavour of action and fight scenes as well as an interesting array of characters and dialogue.
How long did it take to film and what kind of challenges did you face?
There was 40 shooting days. Thankfully it was all smooth sailing.
Skin Traffik reunites Kill Bill co-stars Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen; was that a coincidence or a deliberate move?
Yes deliberate. I cast each and every star for very particular reasons. Too many to go into. All of which are known around the world. I specifically cast every single one of my favourite actors and actresses that have all been lead stars in various classic films, some of my favourite films in fact.
It’s great to see Gary Daniels in the movie and this looks it could be one of his best. Can you tell us a little about how Gary got involved?
I had always planned for a lot of action and fight scenes in this film, so when casting the lead there were a number of criteria that had to be fulfilled. For example, the lead had to be British and be like a martial arts / anti-hero James Bond kind of guy. Between a 45 – 55 age range, Caucasian and be able to perform all the physically demanding fight and stunt scenes without the aid of a double. I had been aware of Gary Daniels for some time via Jackie Chan’s ‘City Hunter’. I looked him up after he had been brought to my attention by a friend of mine Toby Russell and he was a perfect fit for my detailed requirements.
I knew if he was good enough for Jackie Chan, he was good enough for me. I’m very particular on how I choreograph and shoot the fight scenes, so in other words, I’m very demanding, which means lots of takes until I’m happy. This is the biggest film that he has been the lead in with such a stellar cast. Gary gave me 110% on doing whatever it took to get the shots whether it was for fight scenes, stunts or precision driving. I don’t think there is another Caucasian action star at that age range that can perform action to that level for so many takes in such harsh environments.
When you first read the script was he who you had in mind?
The script was based on my story so I knew what I wanted from the start but didn’t have anyone in mind. I was open to suggestions. I hadn’t really seen Gary Daniels since City Hunter. One of my favorite films as a teen. I’m a huge fan of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung growing up as a kid. Gary’s performance in the action and his acting was superb and I am very pleased with my casting choice.
What can we expect in terms of action and what are you most excited about for this movie?
I put as much of my trademark action in it as I could and with a lot of variety in the locations and scenarios. Most importantly fitting it in with the story. Actually there a 100 plus movie references to spot for the serious film buffs. I was particularly excited with all the casting as I got everyone I wanted. Plus having an A list actor in the mix and one of my favourite Hollywood stars ever, Mickey Rourke!
Any word on a release date yet?
I’m leaving that for the distributors to announce. Stay tuned.
Are there any directors or actors that you consider an inspiration?
Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, John Woo
You also act as well as direct; do you prefer in front of or behind the camera?
I enjoy all aspects of filmmaking. If you look at my IMDb credits you’ll see I do everything.
Thanks once again for taking the time to answer our questions and all the best with the movie; can’t wait to see it.
Thank you. To find out more about me and what’s new you can visit http://www.arapaiaya.com