Your upcoming movie Soldiers of Fire - in a few words, what
is it about?
Soldiers of Fire is about an American firefighter who goes to Baghdad
to aid in the relief efforts after a series of bombings, but soon finds
himself caught in the middle of a war.
With Soldiers of Fire being about
the Iraq-war, how much research on that subject went into writing the
script, and is any of the movie based on an actual true story?
2010, there was an attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Cathedral. The attack left at least 58 people dead, after more than
100 had been taken hostage. Now, what I have done is, I have woven a
fictional story thread through the true events in the story, and gave our
firefighter a reason for being in the Middle East during that time,
under the protection of a counter-terrorism task force. All the events in
the film are real, but the characters that we follow are fictional.
read somewhere that you graduated from the Firefighter Academy at Pueblo
Community College - how much of your experience as a firefighter were you
able to work into your script?
Quite a bit actually. In the
fire academy, while everyone else was acquiring the knowledge and skills
for a promising career, I was there as a filmmaker, taking A LOT of notes,
observing how REAL firefighters overcome extreme obstacles in the face of
overwhelming odds. So, if you can imagine a fireman running into a burning
building while everyone else is running out... Now, imagine that building
is a Catholic Church... in an active warzone... I basically took a real
life hero out of his home town in the United States, and put him into
hell, where he will use the same strategy and tactics of the fire service
to survive the Middle East.
Other sources of
inspiration for Soldiers of Fire, and how did the film get from
being a mere script to being an actual project?
Our soldiers overseas were really what motivated me to write this story. The
feedback we got from our Facebook fanbase was that "this is a story
that needs to be told." It has became a passion project for everyone
involved. Honestly, the sole reason why the film has gone from being a
mere script to being an actual project is because of the long, dedicated
hours that our producers Jack Skyyler [Jack
Skyyler interview - click here] and Glenn Brannan have put into the
project so far.
you plan to approach Soldiers of Fire from a director's point of
I plan to
approach Soldiers of Fire with more or less a well-defined sense of its
meaning. A "Soldier of Fire" by my definition is a soldier who
breaks free from the bureaucratic restraints that bind him in order to
save a life that would have become a casualty if he would've obeyed his
orders. With such a powerful message, the only way to shoot
this is to put the audience in the middle of the action, and keep them on
the edge of their seat from the beginning to the end, with dynamic camera
angles, stunning visuals, and the plot of a high-octane, global-spanning
Chalet Lizette Brannan
What can you tell us about your projected cast,
and why exactly these people?
The first time I sat down to
write the story back in 2011, I immediately thought of Rick Ravanello (The
Cave, True Justice) and Holt Boggs (Sin City 2, Hostage). I have been a
huge fan of both actors for a very long time. The day I completed the
first draft of the script, I reached out to Rick to see if he would be
interested in playing the character of Jack Nolan in our film. With much
surprise, he was very interested, and soon after, I got in touch with Holt
about the role of Derek Snow... It wasn't long after we attached Holt
that a wave of headshots and resumes came pouring in from other actors and
actresses who wanted to be a part of the project. But one headshot stuck
out above all the rest, and it was that of a rising star, Chalet Lizette
Brannan. I never thought that ONE person could change the course of
history, until I met Chalet and her Dad Glenn.
Making a film about the
Iraq war, I think finding convincing locations is of the utmost
importance. So what can you tell us about that aspect of the movie?
it's obvious we can't fly to Baghdad to shoot a war movie safely. So we
were scouting for locations long before we even had a script. Finding
existing locations in the U.S. that resemble the war-bustling streets of
Baghdad is very difficult, but so far, Texas appears to be the most
logical place to shoot.
far as I know, as we speak you're still raising funds for your movie - so
what can you tell us about your fundraising efforts?
I put our entire fundraising campaign in the hands of our producers Jack
Skyyler [Jack Skyyler
interview - click here] and Glenn Brannan. With them in control of our campaign, our fan
base has almost doubled overnight! In my experience, raising funds is the
most intimidating aspect of filmmaking, because when you go to a producer
with an "one-of-a-kind" idea for a Hollywood movie, and you send
in the script, then you work together to break down the script into a
budget. So quickly your amazing concept becomes harder and harder to
create, but as an artist, it is my job to make the BEST movie we possibly
can, with the budget we have. And even though this phase of development is
the most intimidating, to me, it's the most exciting.
the funds are raised, how do you plan to proceed from there, and any idea
when and where the film wil be released onto the general public yet
(though I realize this might be waaay too early to ask)?
we raise our funds, our next course of action will be to establish a
well-rounded cast and crew. From there, we work on scheduling, and
executing the principle photography of the film. As far as release goes,
there is talk about a theatrical release, and word about the film is
spreading like wildfire, so it isn't impossible, but we will know soon
go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into filmmaking in
the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
took a traditional animation workshop in 5th grade, and I wanted to be an
animator for Disney. All through middle school, I kept drawing. When I
reached high school, I took several art and animation classes, but slowly
that dream evolved as I got my hands on my first computer animation
software, and immediately fell in love. So, I spent many years
studying the world of 3D, establishing a solid ground to walk on through
the evolving realm of computer generated imagery (CGI). From CGI, I turned
to photography, and began telling stories through the power of the still
image, and that is what really geared my focus toward directing my first
film project. I attended the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, CA
where I acquired the skills necessary to write, direct, and produce a
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Soldiers of Fire?
before Soldiers of Fire, I was an extreme photographer. I
free-climbed an 80 ft cliff to capture a shot of a rock climber as he
jumped a 30 foot gap to catch a ledge. My experience in extreme
photography will definitely cross over into film. But the thrill of doing
something that most people would cringe at the thought of is most exciting
future projects beyond Soldiers of Fire you'd like to talk about?
am currently working on the second installment to the Soldiers of Fire-series titled,
Soldiers of Fire: Harbor of the Saints. It
takes our fans from the sandbox of the Middle East to the frozen tundra of
the Alaskan wilderness as a former soldier now in the employ
of the United States Coast Guard, and a SEAL team under the command of a
CIA agent, have been sent in to investigate a reported shipwreck off the
coast of Alaska.
read somewhere that you're known for your "low-angle roller
dolly" technique and "run-and-gun shooting" - would you at
all like to elaborate?
When I was doing special effects, I
designed a camera system that allows the camera operator to move smoothly
from third person to first-person using a low-angle rolling method
combined with a dolly rig to give the effect that the camera is flying,
eliminating jitters, and through Special Visual FX, we can move from
third-person to first-person without the audience getting dizzy. In order
to safely and successfully put the audience in the middle of the action,
it requires fast reflexes, alot of strategic planning and choreography,
but the "run-and-gun shooting" method has been used in ALOT of
today's action films, but by shooting a gunfight from the outside, it
gives the audience a sense of "speculation", like they are
watching a football game on TV. But when you are able to put the audience
in the middle of the firefight, it gives them the sense of "being in
the character's shoes" and experiencing the fear, the excitement,
the danger, and the thrill - it is very rare that this technique is done
with credibility, and we are going to utilize both techniques heavily
within the film.
How would you describe yourself
as a director?
be my first time in the director's chair, but the way I direct will
reflect my attention to detail as an effects artist and as a photographer.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Wiseman would have to be the ONE filmmaker who inspires me, because when
he was pitching Underworld around Hollywood, several producers offered to
buy his script, but no one would invest in a first-time director of a
feature-film. But he stuck to his guns as the director, and Underworld
favorite films are the Indiana Jones-series. Because as a kid, I always
knew that no matter how shitty I thought my life was, Indiana Jones always
had it worse.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
would have to say Zero Dark Thirty! As controversial as this may be,
Dark Thirty glorifies illegal actions taken by our government, and the
film portrays the killing of Bin Laden as anything but heroic. In my
opinion, when a filmmaker says it's "based on real accounts," it
sets the audience's expectation that it is going to be accurate history of
what happened during the war on terror, but all it did was distort the
history by leaving out the COMPLETE MORAL and political context in which
this torture program took place!
Your/your film's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo,
hoping to have an IMDb page up for Soldiers of Fire very soon!
of course http://www.indiegogo.com/soldiersoffire?c=home
Anything else you are dying to mention
that I have merely forgotten to ask?
would like to point out the fact that without the help of Jack Skyyler [Jack
Skyyler interview - click here] and
Glenn Brannan, and our entire cast and crew, we would be no farther today
than we were yesterday. Jack and Glenn have dedicated uncompensated hours
to our campaign, and it has been because of their belief in myself and
this project that everything is coming together!
Thanks for the