WHO: ROBERT KURTZMAN : DIRECTOR, FX WIZARD – NEW FILM: DEADLY IMPACT
Mike Joy: What should fans expect from ‘Deadly Impact’?
Robert Kurtzman: An energetic tense action thriller.
Mike Joy: Was it a smooth transition going from make-up and special effects into directing?
Robert Kurtzman: It was a gradual progression as I started doing sum directing on second unit before moving onto my own film and my fx background really helped in understanding how to interact with various departments and what is required to pull things off on a tight timeframe.
Mike Joy: Did you have any big challenges while directing ‘Deadly Impact’?
Robert Kurtzman: Our biggest challenge was shooting the film in 24 days. We had to be very prepared any small change in the shooting schedule would effect how you would approach a particular scene so we had to think on our feet and roll with the punches. Luckily I had a great producer David Greathouse who put a top notch crew together. The most difficult sequences to film were the nightclub and alley shoot out. We had a day and a half for the interiors and day and half for the exterior nightclub exploding building and alley shoot out. We had 75 extras, explosions, stunts, and we had to tie major set pieces together from different locations, one being the sniper position across the street. All this was within a 3 block radius of downtown Albuquerque. We had traffic control, fire dept. and emergency EMT’s on set those days. It was also a big day because we had a huge camera crane for the exterior nightclub shots which I only had several hours to utilize as we only rented it for a portion of the night. We only had 60 extras which barely filled the club so I had to stage the shots for maximum effect to fill the frame with extras. A lot of the time the same actors are moving in and out of frame and we had wardrobe constantly switching clothing on the actors in order fake it from various angles.
Mike Joy: How was it working with Sean Patrick Flanery and Joe Pantoliano?
Robert Kurtzman: Great, as I said we had a very short schedule and they both came to set with their game on. Joe really got the twisted humor and malevolence of the character and ran with it man which played well in contrast to Sean’s tortured man of action on the brink role. Sean was my first choice for the role of Tom Armstrong and Joe came to the project through Producer David Greathouse. I feel very lucky that they both had open schedules and responded to the characters. I’ve always dug their work and I’m very happy to have had the experience of working with them. They are both top notch performers.
Mike Joy: Do you have a certain method on how many takes you usually shoot?
Robert Kurtzman: It really depends on the schedule. Its always good to ease into a scene and get a rhythm going unfortunately on films with very tight schedules you have to limit how much exploration you can do and just get the shots and move on. It also depends on the camera move. We did allot of steady cam on the film as well which on a really complicated move you may have to do up to 10 takes as so many things can go wrong when you have 20 actors and everyone is moving with camera trying to stay out of the way. All it takes is one bump and the shot is killed. On a show with a 24 day schedule you try to keep it to a minimum. 4-5 takes.
Mike Joy: Do you have any cool or interesting behind the scenes memories from filming ‘Deadly Impact’?
Robert Kurtzman: Wow it went by so fast. I can only say that it was great working with David Greathouse again and the NM film crew who were all top notch. It was rough but one of the best times I’ve had making a film. I always enjoy a good explosion though so when we had the chance to blow things up and do a full body burn it took the edge of my day. I always have a big smile on my face when a plan comes together and goes off without a hitch. Boom!
Mike Joy: Now that the process is over, can you step back and pick out a favorite moment from ‘Deadly impact’?
Robert Kurtzman: I really like the opening confrontation and the nightclub and alley sequences….They were the most challenging to get in the can and the opening was very pivotal in drawing the audience into the film.
Mike Joy: Are there any horror movies that really inspire your creativity?
Robert Kurtzman: John Carpenters The Thing, The Excorcist, Hammer Films, Dawn of the Dead, Universal Horror…a little of everything, The list goes on and on.
Mike Joy: What movie would you say challenged you the most?
Robert Kurtzman: The most challenging on an fx level is the first time you attempt something so films like Gross Anatomy and Dances with Wolves for which we had to create realistic bodies and animal effects on a major scope was very challenging. And the first time doing something like Jingle all the Way or Spawn which required special suits is a huge learning experience as you find that there are a hundred ways to approach things based on the design. The key is to figure out the most effective way to proceed given budget and schedule to optimize your shooting time and for actors comfort so all this comes into play. Army of Darkness was tough because of the amount of stuff we had top produce in a short period of time as well as the amount of effects going on in a sequence. The Faculty was rough as well as we had to build things that were articulated in water. Always tough.
Mike Joy: You have a rich history of being involved in some great horror movies at the make-up and effects end, do you see a long history of directing horror movies in your future?
Robert Kurtzman: I love horror films and plan to continue directing as many as I can but I’d like to explore other genres as well. I really enjoyed making Deadly Impact and I’m as big of fan of action as I am horror.
Interview: Robert Kurtzman (Deadly Impact)