Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Exclusive Interview: Writer/Director Aaron Harvey Talks CATCH .44, Working With Bruce Willis And More

Writer/Director Aaron Harvey's new film CATCH .44 recently had its limited theatrical release and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray through Anchor Bay. This crime thriller that has some wild humor mixed in with it is a definite must watch with an all-star cast that includes Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, Malin Akerman, Brad Dourif, Nikki Reed, Michael Rosenbaum, P.J. Marshall, Deborah Anne Woll and more. If your a fan of shoot em up flicks with twisty stories and haven't watched this yet then don't miss out on the bloody action and its sexiness!

Check out my latest Versus with Aaron Harvey as we talk about Catch .44, the players, the action and more.

Alien Bee - First off I'd like to say I really enjoyed Catch .44!
Aaron Harvey - Thank you - glad you enjoyed it.
Alien Bee - What mind set do you have to get into to write such an original and unusual thriller like this?
Aaron Harvey - Well, truthfully I was unhappy with something else I was writing and to vent my frustration with that script, I wrote this one.  Just had a little existential moment and this film came out.  I was so frustrated writing that other script, which I was writing based on something someone else wanted to see, that I just took a couple days and wrote a film that I'd be interested in seeing - this being the byproduct of that moment.  At the time I was watching a lot of older genre films like SWITCHBLADE SISTERS and THEY CALL HER ONE EYE as well as a number of situation driven films, like GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and DOG DAY AFTERNOON - where you have these people dealing with some particular moment in time (as I was at the time), that I think I subconsciously combined some of those films and this one came out.  I'd say that's where it started.  Watch a lot of old genre films.  VIOLENT CITY and REVOLVER…frankly anything by Sergio Sollima.  Also THE KILLING by Kubrick - that got me started on the heist element.  Put it all in the blender, and there you go.
Alien Bee - This movie is being compared to Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects. I compared it to Pulp Fiction meets Reservoir Dogs tripping in my review. How's it feel to have your film compared to these cult classics?
Aaron Harvey - That's very kind of you, as Quentin is one of the greats (and USUAL SUSPECTS - Singer is hit or miss for me), but those films are just another level.  You're talking about seminal pictures for a lot of people, myself included.  It's funny because when I was writing it, I wasn't writing to draw a lot of influence from any of those ones, I was really writing what I thought would be my Roger Corman film if he had given me $200k thirty years ago - my BOXCAR BERTHA if you will.  The AIP movie that I never got to make - so I figured I'd write that film.  As I mentioned with the other films above, I was writing in this sort of exploitation vein (girls with guns, colorful characters, etc), but anytime you end up with characters talking about something inane against any sort of genre backdrop, I think you'll draw comparisons to Quentin.  I guess when the film is being compared to those kinds of movies, there's not much I can say really except thanks, as much as that was never the original intention.  I'd imagine those movies infest so much of my subconscious that it's inevitable that some of that influence will leak into the writing, but I wasn't thinking so much about those films specifically when originally putting this story on paper.  
Alien Bee - You had such a great cast for the movie. How was it directing familiar names like Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, Malin Akerman, Brad Douriff, Michael Rosenbaum and more all in this one movie?
Aaron Harvey - It was a fantastic, out of body experience.  To be honest, it was incredibly easy and an absolute joy.  When you're working with actors of this quality, or caliber, they're just so much more prepared and sensitive to the input that you're giving them, versus, I think, less experienced actors.  Besides just knowing how to respond to direction, they just brought so much to the table, and being a huge fan of them all - I felt like they elevated the material to another level.  We only had 20 days to shoot this film, so having actors who are prepared and know the characters, especially since we couldn't do any rehearsals, was paramount.  I was really fortunate to get the cast I did in this film and it's definitely an experience I won't forget.
Alien Bee - Bruce Willis always brings it in any role. He's old school and one of my favorite actors. Did you have a certain idea how his character Mel was supposed to act, did he improv and or was it a combo of both. It was great watching him in this role!
Aaron Harvey - I had a number of conversations with Bruce before we began shooting, talking about character and how we wanted to play this role.  I definitely didn't want some slick, suit wearing badass gangster for Mel, because to me that'd be boring as we've seen that a million times and frankly Bruce wanted to do the film because there was something different he could try and sink his teeth into.  So in the conversations we had, I think we settled on a character somewhere between Hunter S. Thompson and E. Emmett Walsh in STRAIGHT TIME.  This sort of washed-up criminal who's stuck in his own heyday, doesn't keep up too much on the personal hygiene and loves his big, ornate guns.  I love Bruce so much from his other films, which I grew up on - that I thought it'd be fun to go something completely counter to how most people would envision his character in this film.  He told me on set I'd never have gotten him into that red speedo ten years ago - which made me excited - being able to do something with him that was different and interesting.  Thought we'd at least try for something half-inspired, or go down swinging.  But I thought it came out well and when he's throwing all the little anecdotes around and cracking pecans…I got a kick out of it.  Mixed it up a little.  Acting wise - as far as scripted versus improv - it was a combo of both.  A surprising amount of what he says was actually scripted, but he'd throw in little lines or gestures here and there.  He definitely elevated it to another level when he really found the character and got into it during shooting.  I'd say there's a healthy little blend in that made it into the final cut.  
Alien Bee - Without spoiling too much I have to say one of my favorites from the movie was all of the gun fire. Was it a lot of fun doing these crazy scenes or does it get a little serious with a scene like this?
Aaron Harvey - I grew up in the south, where everyone had guns, so to me it wasn't that big a deal to have people swinging guns around and shooting at things.  We kept it pretty light on set - and everyone likes shooting guns, so I think all the actors had a great time doing it.  A number of the crew guys got in on the action and blasted off a few rounds as well after we'd shot the scenes - so I'd say the guns were definitely a highlight during the shoot.  There's just something about seeing guns blasting off around the set that get's people excited.  Of course, in real life I'm a total pussy and would run the second someone pulled a gun on me, so this was a chance to live vicariously through film.  Plus there's something extremely cathartic about guns for some reason.  Maybe it's the power that this little, metal lump wields… I dunno.  But yeah - it was a lot of fun doing these scenes - as serious as we tried to keep it.     
Alien Bee - If I were to say these two words, Malin Akerman! How would you respond?
Aaron Harvey - If I were to say two words about her - rock star.
Alien Bee - What's up next for you?
Aaron Harvey - I just finished a script that I'm about to start work on.  Completely opposite of CATCH .44 in that there's no talking heads, it's completely character driven (versus situation driven) and it's got a lot of scenes and locations, as opposed to this one, which was rather like a theater, or stage play performance with all dialog and very minimal locations.  The next one's got a real, 70's sort of lonely-man drive to it.  Draws a lot of influence from films like THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE and THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE and TAXI DRIVER or ROLLING THUNDER.  Much grittier, darker and serious.  A man-on-a-mission film set against the backdrop of this sort of Chicago underworld.  Should be a good one - it'll flex an entirely different part of the noodle, but I think people will enjoy it as well.  Hope to shoot that by sometime next year.
Alien Bee - Would you like to say anything to all of our readers checking this out?
Aaron Harvey - I'd say thanks to all your readers for taking the time to check this out (hopefully I didn't bore anyone to death) and thanks Brian for taking the time to chit chat.

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