Yadhu Krishnan is the writer/director of the new action picture Crossfire starring Louis Mandylor and Kevin Gage. It’s a tale of redemption with Mandylor playing Agent Mark Patson.
Plot: After a former agent’s wife is killed by a member of a crime syndicate, he learns that the final member has targeted his daughter, stopping at nothing to get to her, and they must team together to prepare for the final showdown.
Yadhu stopped by to chat with me about the film.
You worked with Roger Ellis Frazier on Escape From Blackwater, which I believe he also co-wrote. How did that come about?
Yes, we did the initial principal photography back in 2019. So, right now we are finished with the photography, and we are into post-production, and hopefully it’s going to be out by the end of this year. It’s called Escape from Blackwater which is another action genre film. Roger Ellis has directed that movie, and I have written the screenplay. Roger and I had to work on that screenplay and we came up with Escape from Blackwater. We completely restructured it and we based it on a prison back in India. So, that’s how I got to meet Roger. That’s how I proposed another feature coming up, which is called Crossfire. It’s in the action genre and we have Louis Mandylor, Kevin Gage, Samm Wiechec, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, Victor Chen and Lucia Vilmo for it. I went to do that with Baja Studios, which is led by Roger Ellis Frazier. So that’s how we got in touch. They were currently into production of another film, with Michael Jai White (As Good as Dead). Then that production just finished and we just started Crossfire production right after that.
One of my favorite things about Roger’s movies is his visual style. Even if he has a small budget, the movies never look low budget. What did you take away from working with him?
I figured out something when I was on the sets and I figured out the safest way to approach a film, when you don’t have enough time and you don’t have the luxury of time or the budget. How to safely execute a film, how that reflected on me, and, where we had 12 days of production, we had a lot of issues with various production facilities and permits which we had to do like any other independent film. That eventually gave me an aspect of thinking that okay, this is something I should go to safely cover that area, and this is something I should adapt to the situation, so that I can finish off and cover all the production.
On to Crossfire, how did you come up with the initial story for that?
With Crossfire I had this logline back when I was doing Escape from Blackwater and then I shared it with the actors. They liked the idea so much that I had to elaborate and then execute the full screenplay. Then I, again, went back to the actors and I told them “This is a finished screenplay and I would like you to portray the characters in it”. They said they liked the screenplay, and they liked the project, and then we went from there. I went from Louis, then Kevin Gage and then Sam, then I met Lori Pelenise, who played the mother of Dwayne Johnson in Hobbs & Shaw. I was trying to figure out the cast where I feel like the antagonist has to be something like six feet four inches, so Kevin Gage was the right antagonist for that. Maria is a soft spoken character who could bind the family and that’s what Lori was about. She had the character very close to the screenplay and what it required. We cast Lori and Samm Wiechec; Sam is a martial arts student, and she has been around martial arts for years so it was easy to work with her when related to action.
How did you find working on the action scenes? I know you famously crashed a car…
Yes (laughs), so working on action was again another good learning experience for me. I was associating with action movies, and eventually directed an action feature which is what I have learned through the past few years and experimented a few things of my own. I never thought that I would end up doing a stunt myself but yes, I had that scenario myself where we had to reschedule the shots to finish up to wind up with the stunt team and the actors. That pushed me into such a situation that I had to finish the scene on the same day. Then we took some safety protocols with the LA team who were supposed to come to do the crash. Then I eventually took the call myself, and I did what I could do – the best for that scenario.
Was that the toughest thing to put together for the film?
It was one of them. But yes, it’s not the toughest scene, there were a few other times where we didn’t have a lot of resources and then we had to find the best resources and what’s available on the set. One such scenario was where I was being too pushed to such an extent that I had to finish the stunt (laughs). That was something really interesting and that gave me the opportunity to get the assurance from my actors and the production where they were like “if this guy knows what he’s doing then we just need to support him”.
Not only did you did you write the project, but you also directed. What made you want to do both? Was it always planned for you to direct?
Yes, it was always a plan, as well co-producing with my producers because I wanted to give them an assurance that this is something I wanted to produce. I wanted to see the distribution aspect of the filmmaking as well. All the people who have come on to produce didn’t have any background in filmmaking. It was all about me, they were trying to help me as a team, they were investing on my assurance and my possibilities in filmmaking so I had to give them that assurance back. I figured out a way to execute the project, I learned the distribution aspect as well, because I believe in the coming times, it’s gonna be very competitive. Even right now if you don’t know the distributional aspect of your filmmaking, you’re gonna get stuck at some point. If people like me who never had any mentors, or if you never had any industry networking, it’s gonna be really tough for you. That gave me an idea basically, to learn distribution as well. I had a few great offers from great companies, which I never thought would come. But then eventually, because I was learning about distribution, and a lot of things behind it, I figured out that Vision Films would be the right distribution team for Crossfire. Thanks to my distributors as well.
I’m a big fan of Louis Mandylor and will watch any movie he’s in. Why was he the perfect choice to play Mark in the film?
Yes, he is a pro of the pros. He knows how independent filmmaking works, especially when you have limited time, you have very limited resources and everything. He is an expert in that and we had this very good relationship even before coming into Crossfire. So, that gave me an opportunity to express what I had. I as a filmmaker, I’m very transparent and I like to keep everything transparent. If it’s between any of the team members, I tell them that we have this available and this is how we’re going to do it. If you have a better option, you let me know so I always get the feedback and try to work on it. So, I knew Louis Mandylor and his movies and since I had this personal relationship with him, that’s the reason he came on board. The character of Mark who is an FBI agent in an action film made Louis the perfect choice; I didn’t have a second thought on that.
How involved does he like to be in doing the action scenes?
I as a filmmaker, I always try to get the experience; experience is a different aspect where you have as a non-experienced filmmaker, having an experienced actor on the set, it’s always good to learn from them. Since they know how things have been and what works and what doesn’t work it’s always good. Everybody knows on the set, it’s your call but I would advise any filmmaker to have an experienced actor on the set, let him explain his point of view, let him explain what he could do the best. Then you figure out the best way to do it. Eventually, what everybody is working for is the final product, you need a better product. So whatever works out on set, if it results in a beautiful thing, let’s make use of it.
What would you like audiences to take away from Crossfire?
The Crossfire audience will love the action part of it and if people enjoy the beautiful family moments where they can relate to themselves at some point of the movie that would be great. If they thought about “what if this has happened to me?”, or “this is something we should think about” or if it even helps with family bonding that’s all I want them to take away from this movie, apart from action.
You have a couple of other projects in the pipeline, can you tell us a little about them?
Yes, and without any spoilers, I have two projects right now I’m working on; one is a complete action film and the next one is a horror genre. With the horror film we’re hoping to start filming by the end of this year. It’s a very unique subject and right now, I am not getting time to get to focus fully on the screenplay, but I have already started the work. It has very complex characters and is a very unique subject, which has never been introduced into the horror genre. I would like to start a horror franchise on that. That is something very close to my heart and I’m still working on the screenplay which is kind of challenging for me as well.
Is there anything else you want to mention about the film?
Crossfire is getting a limited theatrical release so we are planning for a cast and crew screening in Dallas as well. We will have another screening in Houston as well with Galaxy Cinemas. It’s going to come on out on May 12th with worldwide distribution on VOD as well, and the US and Canada to start with, but it’s going to be on worldwide media platforms as well including Prime and TV.
I hope everyone enjoys Crossfire and lets me know their feedback as I’m still learning the craft. This is something to start with. I’ve had a beautiful experience of working with these professionals. I have experienced so much and I have learned so much. That helps me to keep building up my career as well as the movies I make. So, let’s keep making movies and let’s keep talking about movies.