One Ranger is the latest picture from writer/director Jesse V. Johnson and it stars Thomas Jane as a Texas Ranger who is recruited by British intelligence to track down and stop a dangerous terrorist from attacking London.
Jesse stopped by to chat with us about the film.
Where did the idea for One Ranger come from?
One Ranger was gestating for some time; I’ve made a lot of films where the lead characters are driven by a hateful revenge to murder someone for say greed, money, or ill gotten goods. I wanted to do something where the guy is on a mission, but it’s based on honour or morals, or the law or on a higher virtue. It’s very, very difficult. It’s terribly easy to come up with an action performance based on someone whose family is killed or their children are kidnapped, or they want money, or they want to rob a bank or make the most money out of conning someone. I just wanted a return to form; I didn’t feel I’d ever made a film where the protagonist, the lead character in your production, is simply doing his job. He is walking a grey line on either side of it, but he’s doing his job. He’s doing something that he’s paid to do that’s based upon a book of law of some type or an honour system and I knew I wanted to do that. I had watched these pictures growing up with my grandfather, where you had things like Brannigan, which was John Wayne as a Chicago cop in London, or Coogan’s Bluff which is a wonderful Don Siegel picture where Clint was an Arizona Ranger who’s brought to San Francisco in the 60s. Then there was the TV show called McLeod, I used to watch with him, which was, again a cowboy who was brought to New York, but he also went to London.
I think our family may have done some of the stunts on one of those. I don’t remember exactly but my grandfather supplied horses to various different TV and movies, so I’m sure he had a finger in it somehow; we watched that with great interest. But there’s something about the rangy, black and white of a cowboy, doing justice being brought to a very complex modern world, but then, seemingly being able to overcome it. I liked that; there’s an innocence to it, there’s a loveliness to it, which really appealed to me. At the core of One Ranger, I wanted there to be that innocence, that loveliness, that sort of black and white sense of morality, which I just haven’t had (laughs); my films are very dark on the whole. There’s humour in them and I was trying to make them as humorous as possible but there’s always something grim that’s at the centre of that ticking clock. I wanted to give it a shot this time and do something that was just a little different. The film was scored really well in certain parts of the country where I’ve often had a little bit more trouble with my films, whereas in the parts of the country and the crowd that have normally loved my films have been less turned on by this one. It’s interesting and I don’t know if it’s to do with the moral ambiguity of the characters I’ve worked with in the past and they find this one too obvious, or vice versa. But it’s been a fascinating thing to watch. I’m very, very proud of the film and I like it. I think also hearkening back to your first question, the moral approach of the Old West, transplanting itself in the modern day has been something that I found fascinating and still find fascinating.
I worked on a TV show in Texas called Walker: Texas Ranger; I did quite a few episodes of that where I learned about these guys, the Texas Rangers and went to the museum there and we had guys on set that had been Texas Rangers, who are technical advisors. This is a law enforcement outfit, which is absolutely world class. It’s like an elite group that people have to work very, very hard to get into; the attrition rate getting in it’s like a special forces unit. The guys that are in it are far from riding horses and looking at footprints in the sand. They can do all that but their specialty is actually in technical tracking and surveillance and criminal profiling of the very, very highest level. So, yeah, they wear the uniform of an 1870s/1880s cowboy, the pants and cowboy hat have to be a particular way, the Stetson shirt has to be particular way and the cut leather belt and the way the holster is worn. But in actual fact, what’s hidden below the surface of this apparently 100-year-old anachronism is the special forces unit of law enforcement that you go to when regular law enforcement is simply incapable of covering something. But then you mix with that these fantastic legends of the past and the wonderful sort of cool characters that were in the rangers where we get our title from – One Ranger and you have something really exciting in it.
By the way, as it says at the beginning of the film, this was taken from an illegal fight that was taking place in a town somewhere, and they call for the rangers to come in because of this riot that was going to take place. The townsfolk headed by the mayor turn up waiting for this train load of police to turn up and one ranger gets off the train. They say, “What about the riot?” Well, there’s one riot so one ranger should be plenty sufficient. Those kinds of legends and there are many of them perforate the landscape of the story of the Texas Rangers and I found that all very interesting. They have a similar outfit in Canada, funnily enough, the Mounties as well, which is similar but as you know, we don’t have that in the UK. We don’t have that in LA. We live in a very modern world where cell phones and the Internet has taken over everything for instant gratification. I find it sort of fun when you hearken back to these particular worlds where it seems anachronistic at first glance, but then you realize they know more about what they’re doing, than we could ever find out on a phone.
That was a long answer there (laughs). I’m writing the sequel at the moment because of the interest that was piqued up by the first and finishing up on that.
Thomas Jane is one of my favourite actors where I will watch a movie simply because he is in it. Now, I probably imagined this but was he channelling Nick Nolte in Extreme Prejudice here?
We opened this film in Texas and it’s nerve wracking because you’re there at the source of the rangers and the outfits and everything. Fully packed house, it was a big, big theater as well; we opened at the Dallas International Film Festival and they loved him, they thought it was great. It was a lot of talk about the accent. When I took the script to him initially, I knew him because I’ve been developing other scripts and I’ve been to his house, and he built most of his house himself. He’s a carpenter and it’s beautiful. It’s very, very nice. It’s beautifully finished, lots of framed pictures from comic books and old westerns and I knew he had a similar appreciation for the past where something like this, with an anachronism coming into the future and being able to make it work was gonna have some appeal to him.
We had talked about this for quite some time. When he read the script, we talked about pictures; you’re always in quicksand creatively, if you’re basing your film on films that are from the recent history, it’s very dangerous.
I go to movies and I see a film based on John Wick, hundreds of pictures that are copying it, or a copy of The Matrix or pictures that are copying other extraordinarily successful films in the zeitgeist and you’ve got to be very careful of that. We both like this because there’s nothing particularly similar but then there are a couple of films from the past, as I’ve mentioned to you now, and of course, Extreme Prejudice, which we loved.
To analyze it and work out how to do it without copying we found out the technical adviser on both Hell and High Water which I worked on with Jeff Bridges character, and also, Extreme Prejudice was Joaquim Jackson, who was one of the most iconic of all Texas Rangers; we found this out after we’d started shooting, but he was the guy that influenced the way that both Nick Nolte and Jeff Bridges dressed, the way they talk, the way they carry the gun, even the hat band was copied. You can see in a photo Joaquim and Nick Nolte standing next to each other on the set of Extreme Prejudice, you realize that Nolte copied everything from this real-life character. We had found books on that guy, and other real-life characters so, the source material was very mixed. But I knew that I loved that character. I sat in the first meeting, I said, “take a look at Extreme Prejudice. Nolte does a fantastic job of it”. The holster is great, it was a woven leather hand tool belt, and that hat is great. It’s got the horsehair braided hat band on it, little things like that. Instead of wearing the issue Texas Ranger star, they wear an actual silver five-peso piece that has been hammered, which is traditionally what it’s made from. I knew that I loved it but it wasn’t till later on, we realized it was all the same technical adviser and we’re like “Oh, shit (laughs)”. We’re all going to the same apple tree for the source material but I think Thomas did a great job with making it his own as well. But yes, there’s certainly a lot of Nick Nolte in that.
I love the various fight scenes between Alex and Oleg; how did you go create the fight style for Alex?
I said upfront, “please don’t make the Texas Ranger a martial artist. I don’t want to see anything that is even remotely close to John Wick. If he does one piece of wushu or Silat or anything like that, I will be furious. I don’t want that”. I said “all the bad guys around him can do whatever they want. If it feels real, give them give them that but not Thomas’s character. There are a couple of books on law enforcement and hand-to-hand combat and I said, “that’s where it’s got to come from”.
It’s like the Marine Corps hand-to-hand combat. Maybe a little bit of jujitsu in there, just a tiny, tiny little bit of technique if he’s got to get out of a hole. But I don’t want it to look like he’s a martial artist. He’s one of those cats that’s been in a lot of fights. He’s probably boxed a little bit and he has a very good knowledge of his own ability to get out of this. In the real world, I’ve seen this over and over in street fights or bar fights not that I’ve been in a lot of bar fights, but watching that stuff for research as a younger man. They would take a martial artist from a school, a black belt, and just knock him out flat because it was a sheer ferocity to the way they fought and intestinal fortitude, that it’s so sudden, and so aggressive, and so determined that no matter how much you try and put fancy flying kicks into them, that they’ve always got a response to it. There’s some form of schooling to it, but it’s also just this dogged determination. We talked for a long time about it.
Dan Stiles was the choreographer in the UK and then Luke LaFontaine was my action choreographer in the US. They worked together with me on Avengement, Luke did and then Dan did Accident Man and Luke had done the two Debt Collector films with me and a little bit of Triple Threat as well. They know their stuff, and I trust them. If they’d shoot some Pre-viz I’d look at them and say, “no, no, it’s too much; too much martial arts or it’s too convenient, so they made it realistic. It was quite a process. But what I wanted it to look like was by the third fight that he has with Jesse both of them are like “Come on, dude! What are we doing here? We’re two adult men, and we’re throwing down, so let’s just finish this as quickly as we can get it over done with”. It just doesn’t because the other guy just doesn’t want to give up and each one is thinking the other one’s foolish for continuing and I wanted that to be almost comical because it just keeps going. I don’t think we’ve seen it in many films where two guys just keep meeting up and for one reason or another, the fights are unresolved until that last one. Everything about it was planned out and thought through and it’s my favorite part of the movie where the guys just keep going and they knock the hell out of each other each time. I hope people get that it’s amusing and fun but also a testament to both of their, as I say intestinal fortitude.
Well, I got it so if I got it then I’m sure other people will…
You see it often in MMA; there are two guys that might beat everyone else around them but when they come up against each other, it’s just a battle of attrition. All rules are thrown out the window, all politeness or culinary delights have gone and it comes down to just two guys using anything they can to get one up on each other. But when they fight other people, it’s more of a technical fight. But for some reason, every time they throw, the other guy sees it coming, and he throws, he sees it coming, it becomes a very dirty fight, and I like that.
There’s a team called 87 Eleven, that are literally painting the style of every single action movie that’s out there. There’s a wonderful training instructor called Taryn Tactical, and his gun style is in every single film you’ll see. They’re doing the best films, and then they’re being copied by the others, and I said, “Whatever you can do, just please take me in another direction; we only have a small budget, we don’t have a lot of time; give me something that’s a little different. Something even if it’s a bit basic, and not particularly flourishy; go to websites where you’re watching real gun fights, go to real fights, give me anything that we’re not seeing elsewhere and that will be our selling point.
I can’t compete with those guys, they’re taking four months, two months, they train their actors for more than a month, every day. Chad Stahelski and his team have this wonderful thing. I know through Daniel Bernhardt, who I’ve done three movies with, and they train these actors, and they give them this wonderful, grounding knowledge of what they’re doing. They spend more on their training than we’re spending on our entire movie. That’s not a whiny excuse, film doesn’t come out with a caveat emptor at the beginning saying “this was made for a low budget, this is a big budget”; we’re simply all released on the same platform now with the same kind of advertising and so you have to do something that separates you from the rest of the competition.
When you and I grew up it was Blockbuster, and you go in and say, “I feel like an indie movie today”. So, you’d go to the indie movie section then you’d be entranced by the poster on the front of the DVD or the depiction on the back and it sounds like a feisty little movie that I wouldn’t get to see otherwise, so you grab it but in streaming, you don’t have that opportunity; you just have a flood of films. Unless you’re a film buff, you’re going to go towards the ones that you recognize people on or that have the biggest names and the other ones are just getting left behind as sort of also rans; it’s a very strange time.
Even the generation before us that didn’t have any form of home entertainment when they would go to the movies, you’d have a B movie, and people would know what a B movie was, it was advertised as a B movie. A lot of time it was better or more entertaining than the A movie, but you wouldn’t know what it was. Again, we don’t have that; we have this strange inorganic man-made flood of films and you rely on people in their teens to sort of differentiate them, and they don’t have a clue.
They’re like, “what is this film that seems less good than the other films?” Well, One Ranger cost what the Starbucks budget was on John Wick, that’s why it’s slightly different (laughs). You go in there, you want it for its slightly handmade feeling. That’s why you’re there and that’s why we’re there. But, try to explain that to a new generation. That’s tricky.
How would you go about choosing the kinds of firearms you’re going to use in a movie?
In the old days, it was what I had in my personal collection, because when I first started making low budget films, I went through the line items, what are we paying for this? What are you paying for that? and I noticed that an armourer, blanks, and gun rental was one of the highest line items on an action movie. So being in America, I went out and I got my Federal Firearms License, and I got my state permit as a gun movie Wrangler. Then I started buying the guns, having them adapted to fire blanks and buying the blanks in bulk for two pennies each as opposed to $1 each, which is what the armourers were charging. Then I would have an apprentice who worked with me and I’d run the license and I have trained them up and so I had a certain amount in safes around the house. So, when I started directing consistently with the Debt Collectors movies and Triple Threat and Savage Dog and pictures like that. Triple Threat was shot in Bangkok, but the second unit was shot in the US. I provided those from my armoury and I think on Savage Dog we were shooting blanks which had been bought from Mission: Impossible III to various other big movies I’ve worked on that I’d gone in and then bought up the surplus banks at the end of the movie.
I would buy guns which shoot that huge number of surplus blanks that I bought. Many people who watch my films think it’s very interesting because you’re seeing 1940s or 1950s guns, showing up through the movies. And if you look closely, you see the same MP 40s and MP 44 and Thompson’s and things like that. We love the fact that it’s more idiosyncratic than say the modern films that all have the same Beretta or M4 or AK-47 that you’ve seen that they have mass produced in the US. There’s no real sort of character to them. They apply this sort of artful thoughtfulness on my films, when in actual fact I only have a few of those ones that just keep turning up (laughs).
For One Ranger the guns that we used in the US sequences all came from my armoury, so they were a little older. The ones in the UK were different. Those were ones that I rented from an armoury in the UK, I think it’s one just outside of Slough. They have worked with Guy Ritchie quite a few times and a fantastic outfit who are very, very safe. English armour is extraordinarily good and extraordinarily safe. They have to be because in the UK, the laws are so tight.
But what I did do was I rented in the UK with an eye to matching what we shot in the US with my guns, so that it was always that thought to it going through so there’ll be some kind of continuity. The US section on this was going to be covered by my producer and my company and I knew that our budget was going to be very, very tight. So on One Ranger I chose accordingly to that and hopefully made it a little interesting as well. The long-range sharps rifle, I wanted to put that in; there was a picture of Burt Lancaster where he shot one of the Sharps rifles a long way. There’s that wonderful one with Tom Selleck, Quigley Down Under where he shoots the Sharps rifle. Then I went out and visited some of those guys that shoot out here. It fires a huge slug, it’s a 4570 slug, which is a heavy lead bullet, but it’s pumped out by a flash cartridge: it’s almost three or four inches long. These guys, they’re all old cats, they’ll set these rifles up on special stands, and they’ll be shooting almost a mile, 2000 yards, 2200 yards, and they’ll shoot the rifle. They’ll be closing off and pulling an oil squib through the barrel to clean it as the lead touches the metal target.
It’s travelling very, very fast, but just the sheer distance, it’s going to take some time but you hear the ping as it’s very quiet out there. It’s quite an amazing thing, the sort of things that can be done with one of those rifles from 1873. That’s pretty amazing.
I love Sean Murray’s scores; how do you work with him to create the right musical sound for the film?
Sean and I have a fantastic relationship. I love his writing. I’ve known him since I was 19 years old when I first arrived in Los Angeles. He was writing for the Bold and the Beautiful or one of the Procter and Gamble medical soap operas they have there. He was only a little bit older than me but his father’s Don Murray, from Bus Stop and Planet of the Apes and all those kinds of things. He was a leading actor; he did Shout at the Devil with Jimmy Cagney. Just old Hollywood; he’s still alive. He’s in his 90s now, but for me, he represented that old Hollywood. So, we got on very, very well talking about those kinds of guys. My path with him is he’s written music to the greater majority of my films; we just got on very, very well together. We have a shorthand that works. But on One Ranger it was a tough one. It wasn’t getting there. Sometimes he’ll come with a piece of music. Drop in my lap. I’ll go over there and it’s like “this is next to perfect. There’s only a couple of places where it’s not quite resonating for me on this one”. It was a tough one. We went round in circles an awful lot. I’d initially used Zulu, the John Barry score as a temp score and I think that had thrown it off. To me, it sounded like Zulu; it sounded like English bands, marching bands from the 1800s. But to him, he’d gone a slightly spaghetti western route with it. I hate anything that copies Ennio Morricone. I don’t like it, it’s so trite, and again, you’ve got to be very careful where you take your inspiration on making movies. Any film fans even if they can’t put their finger on it will notice it because it sounds similar to other things that have been copied from that are lesser quality.
So, we had a whole score written for this, which bless his heart he’d worked really, really hard on and it was just bugging me and bugging me and I just could not get my head around it. Finally, it was about a week, maybe two weeks before we were locking and delivering sound for the final mix and I said “I just can’t go with this, man. We’ve got to change it” and I haven’t ever done that to him before. I wrote as pleasant and as beautiful in email as I could come up with. We took the entire score and took it off. I said “look, to save time just put on anything, Debt Collectors or The Mercenary” because The Mercenary score, one of my lesser favorite movies of mine, but one of Sean’s greatest compositions. I said “just put those old ones on to this, just lay them on for me”. He made six or seven versions of the opening of the film, with everything from the Debt Collectors, the sequel, which is one of my another of my favorites of his that he wrote for me based very much on El Salvador that Oliver Stone film, from Jerry Goldsmith. So, he put these pieces of music on and that gave us the launching point to get us to where the final version of the film is that is out in theaters and on DVD now.
And he’s still talking to you. So that’s good…
He is; he’s always so polite, and so lovely. He’s very different to me; he’ll say, “you push me in that way, and you got the best out of me, it was all down to you. Thank you”. For something that was just the most incredible pain in the behind I’m sure, irritating and irksome, to think you’ve finished the score, and he was thinking about his next job that he’s got to write the music to and I suddenly require the whole thing to start from scratch again. I mean, you could react in many different ways. Sean is one of the sweetest, most generous and lovely characters and went with it. And I think the score is wonderful. The one that we’ve ended up with, I really like it an awful lot. That’s how it sometimes goes.
That score that he wrote for Boudicca, which is the film we have coming out at the end of the year; the way it came from Sean’s composition, his first draft is almost how it ends up in the final movie, just a little bit more pomp and circumstance that I added to it. It’s all different with him, sometimes it’s dead on other times, we have to tune it but it’s a wonderful process. Always. That’s the one thing that is consistent with him. It’s always great to work with him and to see what he brings. It’s like another character in the movie. It can be vague and unclear and not accentuate what I’m doing and to people watching it they can go “Eh it’s alright” and then you can have this score that’s added on that has personality and adds thrills and adds excitement adds drama and humor and you’re like, “oh my gosh, I did some great directing here (laughs)”.
I was working on Lincoln, one of the last films that I co-coordinated with Garrett Warren, who’s a genius stuntman, and we had Spielberg directing. We’d been working on the battle at Stanford Ferry for about 10 days doing pre-viz battle scenes, and Spielberg came to visit the set only the one time. We went through Adam Somner for everything else is First AD. He looked at another set that was near to the battlefield and I was standing with him watching and he said to Janusz Kaminski his DP, “they come down this way, and then over there” and Janusz said “this is kind of a long shot. A lot of movement”. He said, “Yeah, but wait till you see what John does for it”. You realize he’s talking about John Williams. God, so, so fantastic but, you see people at the very top of their game on something like Lincoln, discussing how the music is going to accentuate the filmmaking, and it makes you realize it’s okay to rely on your composer a little bit for creative. They did there, so I’ll do it with Sean and feel perfectly comfortable doing it.
I’m looking forward to seeing Boudicca and it’s about time we had a movie about her. What’s interesting is that they ended up changing the pronunciation of her name several years back, didn’t they?
It’s been mispronounced based on a Roman misspelling. You’re the same age as me. You have the same amount of grey in your beard, so I’m being presumptuous (laughs). So, when we’re at school, we were actually in the generation where the mistake was realized. It was officially changed from Boadicea, which is based on a incorrect Roman spelling of the name to Boudicca, which is the Celtic pronunciation based on the Celtic language. The Celts didn’t have a written language, it was spoken. That’s why we have no written recording of what the Celts did other than what the Romans Tacitus and the like, wrote of the Celts, which I think is wonderful. I think the fact that we were mispronouncing her name the Roman way, especially for what she did and how she hated the Romans, it was an injustice. She was really only rediscovered in the Victorian times because she was used as a propaganda figure for Queen Victoria, a very, very appropriate one as well. Boudicca brought the entire nation of England together, for the first time, it was a disparate spreading of hundreds of different Celtic tribes who spoke different languages, have different incentives, different religions, different motivations, some collaborated with the Romans, some hated the Romans, some were on the run from the Romans. Because of this awful, awful criminal act against her, she was able to use that and to unite everyone. Her standing army, at one point was said to be 250,000 men and women and children and animals, which is pretty amazing. It’s an incredible feat.
The reason it’s unfilmable is because of the middle act, and the crime that takes place against her was just so disgustingly awful, that it’s defied being made into a good movie, it’s defied being made into a good piece of theater, in my opinion. There’s a couple of good novels based on it, but what it took me two decades to do was to try and work out a way of telling that crime in such a way that it didn’t turn off the audience. We’re not documentarians, we’re filmmakers, we’re making entertainment; you start shooting things that are so bleak and grim, and you’re getting into Tarkovski or Ingmar Berman territory. I’m neither one of those directors; we can’t make films like that anymore. It would be undistributable where you get the one film made and then you never get another film to direct.
So, I had to work out how to do that in a way that worked for a modern audience that doesn’t want to see that kind of awfulness. But to know, going in, we had a lot of people see the film that said it was awfully violent, it’s very grim. Like you’ve no idea; we showed 1% of what the Romans actually did to the British and what they did to her and how that crime was carried off. So, I’m glad you find it grim and bleak and bloody. It’s a hell of a movie. Very, very proud of it. Olga Kurylenko is devastating and brilliant and wonderful; it’s two very different characters she plays. The Queen prior to the crime, and then the warrior leader scarred up and beat up and vicious after the crime. It’s a complete reversal, an enormous, enormous acting challenge. She was wonderful and incredible and committed every ounce of her fibre to it, as we all did, making the film but her the most. She was the one that had to be standing out there with a bronze sword and fighting with guys with razor sharp armour on and that kind of stuff, so it’s a hell of a film. I’m very, very excited to have it seen. You can’t guess what people are going to see. You just can’t, you have to trust your own instincts.
As I said before with One Ranger, I’m very proud of it. I think it’s a brilliant film. I was confounded by the response because it’s been out here for a few weeks and the reviewers who usually hate my films in the Midwest as being too violent or grim love this one. It’s a much bigger space, the breadbasket of America, the America between the two coasts. It’s a very different mentality to the two coasts, it’s almost two different artistic countries; they really adopted this, and Lionsgate were genius in releasing it at the Dallas International Film Festival where they love it. Then the usual guys who like Avengement and the Debt Collectors; the sort of edgier, darker crowds on the coasts in New York and LA were less receptive of One Ranger, I think because it’s maybe too black and white for them. I’m not sure but you can’t guess and you can never ever second guess. The moment you start to think you can the film’s truly become bad in my experience.
When I look at directors and filmmakers, I love that moment where they get too cocky where they produce their own film and go out there and say “I’m gonna do it, I can do better than the studio” and that’s the point where they fall afoul and trip over with a very few rare exceptions. But I’m proud of One Ranger, and hopefully you dig it, and hopefully the audience of action fans like it.
I really enjoyed it. I was going say what do you want audiences to take from it, but I guess you kind of just said that you hope they enjoy it (laughs).
I hope so. I hope they get behind this extraordinarily determined and resolute and just hard as nails Texas Ranger who gets his man and will be beaten, slashed, cut, shot, knocked over by a car, and left for dead… and he just keeps on coming. He’s like the Eveready Bunny that just keeps on ticking. I hope people kind of find that amusing and interesting and get behind it and have a little giggle. Enjoy the action and realize that everything in this picture was done in harm’s way; we do our best for stunt coordinators and performers and action directors to make people safe but for films like this, we don’t have the budget to have a huge effects driven sequence. So, when you see that car travelling over 100 miles an hour through the desert then that car’s travelling over 100 miles an hour through the desert. When you see a fight scene that’s the actors in there. Thomas Jane did probably 95% of his own stunts in this, really heavy stuff; just beat the hell out of himself to make this one work and look good.
I’d come on set and I’d see the stunt man sitting around on second unit and I got very mad because I’m like “you’re supposed to be shooting, guys! We’ve got a schedule; we’ve got to go” and they said that “we’re shooting. Thomas is there doing his own his own thing. It’s like “oh my God, really?”
Then the same with the guns; I’ll use CG muzzle flashes where it’s absolutely impossible to use a pyrotechnic blank. For the most part these mechanical guns are dangerous and exciting so the expression that the actors have when they shoot them, I don’t think it can be replicated by someone shaking a rubber gun. The audience is looking at the actor’s eyes and the face to take away that feeling from a scene and if the guy is faking it and he’s pretending they feel it as well and all of those little lies, those little dishonesties all mount together in a movie so that by the second act you think “this is boring. There is not really any Jeopardy here. I’m watching a video game with cartoon characters”. You don’t with this film, I hope because they’re all in there, baby and there was blood and tears and sweat spilled making the film, so hopefully people dig that.
Thanks so much as always for taking the time to chat and all the best with the film.