Following on from my chat yesterday with Scott Adkins, I also got to speak with with George and Harry Kirby (The Real Target) who directed Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday.
So we’re going to be talking about your latest film Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday. First of all, what appealed about it and what made you want to direct?
Well, we’ve been kind of directing shorts for the last five years. We tend to lean towards action, fast-paced, visual kind of films and when we looked at the script for Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday we saw that potential, basically. It’s got a lot of action, a lot of fun, with that kind of comedy element to it as well. We thought it was going to be a fun movie to make. This is our first feature film so obviously it’s a big opportunity for us as well. We’re Scott fans as well so we were excited to work with Scott; then just a whole bunch of cool martial artists and action performers. So yeah, there wasn’t much not to be interested in from our point of view.
Is it daunting to come on board the second movie in a franchise?
Yes. I mean, obviously having watched the first one and people really love the first one. So Scott was keen to maintain a continuity from the first one, but with every sequel there’s that kind of need to up the ante especially with the action. Scott was very keen to up the comedy on this one as well, and still bring a bit of a lighter tone to it, which we were really on board with. We wanted to have fun with it and hopefully that’s what we did.
Yeah, hopefully there’s enough from the first one with the characters that we have come over like obviously Scott and then Fred played by Perry Benson and Big Ray played by Ray Stevenson. We tried to maintain the characters going forward into this, but also give them their relationships, have more interaction and stuff, and rebuild their relationships throughout so that Scott’s character Mike learns the value of friendship throughout, which I think that gives it a life of its own. It makes you root for those characters a bit more.
Absolutely, yeah. So what is the process like for having two directors? How does that work?
Well, it’s just always kind of how we’ve done it. So that’s the only way we know, really. I think we’re at an advantage. There is pressure anyway as a director, but when we appreciate a director that’s on their own, that pressure is most squarely on them. Whereas with me and George, if one of us is a bit tired or having a bit of an off day then the other one is there to back them up. We’re also just brothers; we’ve spent every day together for our lives (laughs). We don’t really argue. We kind of bicker with each other, but we don’t really have huge arguments and luckily we kind of think similarly where we’re never too far off each other. Having two people makes it easier to sound out ideas very quickly, like “I was thinking this” or “that sounds rubbish” or whatever. You can quickly iterate on ideas without having to seem stupid or anything (laughs). You can just put an idea out and then get feedback straight away. So it’s definitely beneficial now.
It seems like it’d be advantageous just having someone else to share the load.
100%! Like we had a 22-day schedule on this, so it’s pretty full on. Put that in perspective on the last James Bond movie which was like 125 days when we’ve got 22. So being able to get home at the end of the day and just talk about what we’ll do tomorrow, bounce some ideas off each other and push each other on is a big, big advantage.
I was actually saying to Scott earlier that it’s funny you mentioned James Bond because this almost felt like an R-rated James Bond because Fred is just like a crazy Q with all those inventions. Then you’ve got Ray Stevenson playing a terrifying M.
(laughs) I mean, this as no offense because it’s just how the film is; we referred to Fred as a crappy Q like he hasn’t got the tools at his disposal but he’s still able to create those cool accidents and stuff like that.
Yeah, definitely. If you look back to even the original comics, he was kind of the more aggressive Bond, the kind of no rules Bond type of thing. Yeah I didn’t even think of Ray as M (laughs).
I loved seeing Malta on screen. Why was that the right choice for the location for this film?
Well, to be honest, when we came into the film, it had actually been through a couple of versions, so it was London then it was briefly Thailand. Then we came into the script and it was going to be filmed in Malta. From our point of view, we were like, Great! Again big advantage because we just get these great backdrops. We immediately went a little bit Indiana Jones where we have Fallon this time in a brown jacket that kind of stuck with you because I love the sand backdrops and that comes down to colours so it just gives it a completely different feel.
Yeah there are also really good tax breaks (laughs), you know, Malta had a really good tax rate at the time. At times it helps especially on smaller budget films like this. It just helps that budget go a little bit further. At the same time, you’re getting so much back from Malta, not only locations and stuff, but a great crew and it was a really great place to show, it was really nice.
Had COVID affected the shoot at all or was it coming to the end of it?
We were just coming out of it. We had to be very, very cautious and Malta had a rule at a time where you had to be vaccinated to come in. So that was how the crew seemed to be protected. It didn’t really affect us too much. We just had regular testing. All the same procedures were in place, but we just got on with it and that was that. Didn’t slow us down or anything.
The one unexpected thing that we did have in Malta is we got the most rain Malta’s had in 24 years and we got like 85% of the yearly rain in two of the weeks we were there filming. Obviously a lot of our stuff is mostly exteriors, but we also got lucky and that didn’t really affect us except for one day, but it was just like, “Yeah, we’re going to Malta with all the beautiful sunshine” but then there was so much rain the cars were being swept down the street and stuff. So that was interesting but we did get lucky.
One of my favourite sets on the film was The Shambles. Where was that filmed?
That was an amazing location! It was basically an old power station that’s built inside a cliff, from World War Two. It was like a way of saving your bombs. It couldn’t be seen from above so it’s just like this massive, cavernous type thing with 65 foot ceilings. Just massive and really cool but it was a really good find from our locations team. It’s perfect where we were able to kind of build our own sets to test the accidents. Just kind of a bit of a rubbish Batcave (laughs).
What is the process you go through with working with the composer to create the right sound for the movie?
We were lucky to have John Koutselinis on this film and we’ve worked with John in the past on short films. He would also support us on those. Obviously there was a composer on the first film; we’re changing composers, so we brought over some of the themes like the Accident Man theme from the first film. John kind of put his own spin on it. He had an interesting job because we’ve got this balance of comedy, silly moments, serious drama moments and action. So he’s got so many genres to weave through the film. There is some trial and error where John comes up with a suggestion, a piece of music and we’ll say “can we go lighthearted?” or “can go darker and serious?”, which we kept tweaking a lot until we found something. Then we also had some original tracks created for the film like the Bromance Song with Perry and Scott. It was an original song that was written and sent to us. We just loved it, you know? Made us laugh. So he had a couple of original tracks in there, which I think will really help, especially like when you’ve got lyrics and stuff that can help raise the comedy, which obviously John is doing more the score stuff. To have that slight difference there and to mix things up was a was a real help, I think.
Finally, what would you like audiences to take from the film?
I feel like this word is overused a bit at the moment but just generally to have fun. The stuff we love in films especially with like action/martial arts is where you sit there with your mates and it makes you go like, “whoa! Look at that kick”. So we just want people to have that experience of just lots of cool moments they could talk about with their mates afterwards and just have a laugh.
I think definitely enjoy the comedy and it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a kind of slightly heightened reality so you can sit back and enjoy the ride and just have fun with it really. That’s what we’d want people to take away from it.
Samuel Goldwyn Films will release ACCIDENT MAN: HITMAN’S HOLIDAY in theaters and on VOD and Digital October 14, 2022.