|Chad Law and Farah White on the set of DAYLIGHT’S END|
I still actually have a ways to go in catching up with certain titles that fell off the radar for me in the last several years. William Kaufman’s small scale 2010 film Sinners And Saints is one of them, especially after managing to snag a few viewings of his 2005 killer thriller, The Prodigy, which absolutely impressed me.
Assuredly, I’m not the last one to gush about Kaufman’s work. Leave it to screenwriter Chad Law who knows a lot better and more having gotten in as many as four projects with the director while they now prepare for their fifth pairing, Sinners And Saints: Vengeance, which goes before cameras very soon with Johnny Strong and Scott Adkins first to front the casting.
It’s early in the process for the film but the goal is reportedly to furbish it as an ample reboot with franchise potential which Law envisions our latest interview. Gladly, he also shares personal thoughts and ruminations on his own origins, film, the trade and his camaraderie with fellow film professionals, as well as emphatic expressions on ideals and philosophies reflecting between today’s real-world turmoil and hopeful film concepts.
For this, I saw fit to lend this article a Latin theme to brainstorm over for readers in the course of assembling this article. It’s one of two that I found but bearing the content and context in mind, the aforementioned stood out just a little more, so I’m happy I chose it.
Sadly he doesn’t get too heavily into the nitty gritty details with his work, although he does delve into enough for the average fan to mull over. The interview comes in the wake of a phone chat we shared which finally broke the ice a little more as we’d been connected on social media for about a few years, which makes sharing this exchange a personal treat.
Film Combat Syndicate: Greetings Chad and thank you for taking the time with us. How has the year been for you so far?
Chad Law: Thank you, man, for taking the time with me. As I said, I’m a fan of the site and always following you and your stuff. The year has been…interesting but, for me, so far so good in so many ways. I mean, I started the year off helping make a Van Damme-Dolph Lundgren reunion happen in a movie called BLACK WATER so how bad could it really be, right?
CL: I don’t know. I’m a guy whose loved movies for as long as I can remember. I made movies with all my friends when we were kids growing up in the cornfields of Indiana. With a VHS camcorder. That’s what we did. Then we’d “edit” them so to speak with two VCR’s. They weren’t really good per se but we had a blast doing them and they’re hilarious to watch now. Movies have always been a major part of my life though and, luckily, they’re what I’m able to do for a living now.
As far as how I got my foot in the door, it was really just a lot of hard work and persistence and luck. A combo of all three really. My friend Gary Cairns is an actor and was in my first movie HERO WANTED (as well as DAYLIGHT’S END later) and he was really instrumental in helping me at the start. First of all he made it tangible and touchable to me. Because he was the first person I met in LA and in the industry, me being from Indiana. I literally didn’t know anybody else at the time, had no rich relatives, nothing like that, and he was doing all of these commercials back then and had been in a couple of little movies at the time. So he made it real to me. We actually met on some IMDB message boards crazy enough. But yeah he used to “play” my manager and would just blindly help me email and call producers about my scripts. Everything those “how to be a screenwriter” books and film schools tell you not to do, yeah we pretty much did that. And eventually that led to my first movie HERO WANTED getting bought and made by Avi Lerner’s Millinnium Films. Gary’s a great actor but I still think his “role” as my manager was his best performance yet. And it got him in the movie so it worked out well for both of us.
CL: I wish I knew and it really depends, I guess. I tend to just follow my gut as opposed to any specific rules if that makes sense. Just whether or not something feels “right”. To me. I usually don’t use outlines, although I have, but when I do use them, ones I’ve made for myself anyway, I find that I can bore myself or become too robotic…
Like I can find myself not pushing myself enough and can feel the need to break from it. With the hopes of making the story better of course. I’m not sure I know what my process is. I think it depends on the situation or story and I think it often varies. I like to handwrite, I know that, and then type it into the old computer. That’s often when I edit myself.
CL: Well, of course to me script is one of the most important pieces to ANY movie. But seriously, I love a good script whether written by me or not and I have NO IDEA how anyone really makes a movie without one. That’s the blueprint, you know, the foudation, or it’s supposed to be. How does anyone know what they’re doing without a script? How do the money people know what they’re paying for? I can’t think of a film I’ve enjoyed, that I know of anyway, that didn’t use an actual screenplay and if there is one I happen not to know about then I think it’s a very rare case. Script is the start to me. It’s the first time the movie is made as they say, then there’s the filming and then there’s post. But, yeah, script first. I don’t know what a movie is without a script.
|Johnny Strong in DAYLIGHT’S END|
CL: Well, I often write action scripts as we know and, in doing so, I try to avoid what I like to call “action overload”. When there’s too much of a good thing and not enough of the other good things. I think action can become monotonous and even boring if there’s “too much”. So yeah, it’s a balancing act really. I try to avoid that overload. But as far as pet peeves about the process, Final Draft itself, the screenwriting program, is a pet peeve of mine. It doesn’t work nearly as well as this other, Movie Magic Screenwriter, yet the brunt of the industry uses Final Draft still because it’s all they really know. That’s the industry for you as a whole, in a nutshell. Afraid to break from what they know. But Movie Magic is a much better program in my opinion. It just works better and has less glitches yet I often have to use Final Draft because the majority of others in Hollywood do.
Writing itself can even be a pet peeve though in many ways. Just sitting down to do it. It’s such a discipline because it’s just you and the words and you have to kind of force yourself into it and-or get to a point where you’re just really feeling it. I love making movies and telling stories but writing is a lonely job more often than not and I’m kind of an extrovert I think so the two things kind of butt heads at times for me. I mean, unless it’s a work for hire job from the start then there’s nobody telling you to get that story done but you and we often times disagree with ourselves I think.
CL: First off, I love Will Kaufman. He’s absolutley one of my best friends both in the business and outside of it. I’d pretty much write anything he called me about or asked me to. I just love his work and working with him and just know that if he’s not bound by some studio overlord or something too much then it’s gonna be a good movie at the very least. I mean, I met Will after the original SINNERS and because of it, right after I did my first movie HERO WANTED, when a mutual friend of ours, Jay Stamper, a producer on SINNERS, connected the two of us. He thought we should work together and would click and now what, like five movies or something later, I guess he was right. But going into the original SINNERS I had no idea what to expect and honestly had low expectations.
Needless to say I was surprised and loved the movie and was even more impressed when I found out what they’d actually done it for budget wise. It was way better to me than the much more expensive movie I’d just made! After that I knew I had to get involved. But the sequel has been a long time coming. I think we started it back in 2013 or something like that. But that’s movies, man. We’re here now and here we go. I cant wait. It’s evolved a lot in that time as things often do and it needed to honestly. The timing was a good thing.
|Scott Adkins in JARHEAD: THE SIEGE|
CL: Well, I met Will and then Johnny, at a film festival SINNERS AND SAINTS was playing at way back when in North Carolina, then we all went and made DAYLIGHT’S END together and then I went off and made a movie called CLOSE RANGE with Scott and then Will and I were doing a JARHEAD movie for Universal together and Scott’s name came up and then he cast him in that and now here we are. It’s like a some big demented family tree. Haha.
CL: Well, I don’t wanna say much but I will say that Scott’s character used to be in the same unit as Johnny’s when they were both still soldiers. The same unit Sean Patrick Flannery’s character from the first movie was also in so they go way back. They’re still close but there’s also some bad blood between ’em a little maybe as there can be between two friends who’ve done a lot of dirt together and haven’t seen each other for a long time. Scott’s character’s turned into a sort of blackmarket arms dealer also in that time, so…
CL: Just awful. Haha! It couldn’t be worse. After this I think we’re all through with each other. No really, we all work together well because we all want the same things I think and that’s good. We’re all always striving for more. For greatness, you know? To be better than the last and as good as we can be at the present. But this will be a first though, yeah, where it’s Will, Scott, Johnny and me all together on the same one.
CL: Not much but I’ll say this one is on steroids compared to the first movie as Will likes to say. It’s bigger, stronger, faster. Everything is amped up times ten. I’m very happy with the script honestly, especially since the last rewrite I did, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever worked on yet. It harkens back to those sort of fish out of water revenge movies like Ridley Scott’s BLACK RAIN with Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia that I always loved.
FCSyndicate: How do you feel about remakes and reboots with respect to the current prospects for Sinners And Saints: Vengeance? Can you offer some ideas on where this potential franchise could go after the Moscow mission?
CL: I’m okay with reboots and remakes honestly as long as they’re good movies. That’s seriously all that matters to me. If it’s good who cares? Like, John Carpenter’s THE THING is a remake and it’s a classic so how could anybody not be okay with remakes or reboots. Plus, one doesn’t x out the other to me. I mean, both movies still exist as they are. Do I wish there was more original material being made? Sure, but if I see a remake and hate it or whatever, fine, I just never watch it again and go back to the original. But FRIGHT NIGHT was a remake I surprisingly liked and tI thought I would hate because I’m such a fan of the original. But I didn’t and now I have them both, you know? Then there’s the POINT BREAK remake which is…another story all together but it wasn’t no POINT BREAK.
And as for whats next for SINNERS. I can see it expanding much like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise has despite being in its own gritty-indie way, you know? Johnny might not love me saying that him having been in the original FAST but I just mean in terms of scope and story. Broadening it’s horizons. It’s no longer “just” a New Orleans cop story if that makes sense. Not to sound belittling at all. I loved the first. But I just mean in the same way that the FAST movies are really no longer “just” street racing movies.
CL: Oh there’s so much, man. So much. Especially with the world as it is today. Look though, I love doing action movies and thrillers in general but one reason is for that very reason. I think there’s a lot of ways to tie in current events and social climates into an action movie. I mean, I tried to do as much as I could of it in the JARHEAD movie I did with Will. I mean, even Rambo’s fought for civil rights really, hasn’t he? The westerns where the hero would save an oppressed town from tyranny or whatever. It’s been happening really as long as action movies have existed.
I mean, I think you can go too far with it too and then you’re no longer making entertainment but something political and I try not to do that, not in an action movie anyway. That’s apparently what social media is for.* We see everybodys differeing opinions every day, right? And I fault no one for their opinions as long as theyre not hurting other fellow humans. But know your audience, right? That’s like one of the few movie rules I truly do believe in. I mean, I think you can say something in a movie without stepping on someone’s beliefs. And, at the end of the day, for me anyway, most of the time when I watch a movie, movies are an escape from the news and social media and all of the bullshit we see every day. Especially an action movie. They can shed light though, sure, and I think that’s a great thing. Help others see things differently maybe, learn something they didn’t even know. I think that can be a great thing.
I think that’s what art is or can be anyway. I think art and movies and music and all of these things are so important, you know? Because thy’re expression of some sort no matter what they are. And we should all be free to express ourselves however we wish as long as we’re not hurting others. You can have differences of opinion and differing thoughts. I remember though, for example, Trump demanding an apology via Twitter with an exclamation point, that’s a demand for me as a writer with an exclamation point from the next ruler of America, to the cast of HAMILTON on Broadway for speaking their minds, their opinions and concerns, to Vice President Pence after the show. And I remember thinking “oh shit”. Because they as entertainers, as citizens, as humans, have the right to express themselves the same as anyone else should. And they were hurting no one whether I agree with them or not.
You see what I’m saying? Some would try and argue that Vice President Pence was there to be entertained and not be addressed by the cast BUT I think the moment anyone agrees to take that office that’s sort of something they forgo. Just like a celebrity forgos anonymity really. It’s their job to listen to the people who put them in power. Plus it was AFTER the show. But the President elect, at the time, the President now, publicly demanding an apology from that cast is a dangerous thing to me. Because it wasn’t just some dude on Facebook with an opinion, it’s not just you or I saying “apologize!” but the President! I think it’s easy to see how something like that could be dangerous. Maybe he didn’t get that at the time, maybe he doesn’t get it now, but if Joe Blow demands an apology it’s “fuck you, Joe” but if it comes from the President it’s like “wait, uh oh, where do we go from here?” Freedom of speech is a very valuable thing and I think a lot of people are forgetting that today. You can say what you want but you have to be prepared for the repercussions of saying it, yes.
Still though, it’s okay to agree and disagree and agree to disagree. I disagree with many of my friends and coworkers about many things but that doesn’t change what they are to me or our ability to communicate together. I’m hoping more of us can get back to that someday here soon. I’m rambling, I know. Haha. But that’s something I would like to maybe write about or touch upon somehow in something at some point. What can we say? What can we do? What’s too much? What’s too little? And from who? Agree to disagree. Hopefully I answered your question. Anything can be incorporated into a movie really it’s just up to preference on how it’s done. Back to the movies!
|Lance Henriksen and Chad Law|
FCSyndicate: Are there any other actors and actresses you would like to work with in the near future? (Or as the Adkins fans would read it: Who would you like to see Scott fight next?) ?
CL: Damn, there’s so many really as a fan of growing up with movies all my life. But I’d have to say Gary Oldman is up there – and I’m hoping I can scratch that off the bucket list one day here soon hopefully. But yeah there’s so many. Christian Slater. Anybody who was in TRUE ROMANCE really, it’s my favorite movie. Colin Farrell I think is great, Tom Hardy.
As for who I’d like to see Scott fight next though? I’d like to see him and Jason Statham get a better rematch than I felt they had in that EXPENDABLES 2 fight, yeah. I think Scott’s pretty much fought everyone on screen now though, no? I would say Tony Jaa but I know that’s coming up in TRIPLE THREAT. He’s a busy guy. Let’s go with Scott Baio? Yes. Yes, I’d love to see him fight Scott Baio. Scott Vs. Scott. “Charles was never in charge!”.
CL: Yeah, man, you gotta get on that. But thanks for taking the time with me. I’m really looking forward to THE DISASTER ARTIST with James Franco I gotta say and THE FOREIGNER with Jackie Chan. AMERICAN MADE with Tom Cruise. I’ve actually been revisiting a lot of older movies recently and/or seeing a lot of older movies now for the first time. I just saw BONE TOMAHAWK again for the second time too and wow, that’s still an insane movie.
FCSyndicate: Going forward, are there any particular items of issue you would like to see change or improve in today’s film climate?
CL: Well, piracy I’d absolutley love to see go away in spite of me knowing the likelihood of that ever actually happening. But I’d like to see more versatility like many others I think, more original content as opposed to just so many I.P. movies as they call them. But I think slowly but surely we’re heading back that direction already. All of these things kind of go in cycles and, eventually, what’s old is new again and vice versa.
CL: Hard time. Seriously, I think. No, I don’t know and luckily I don’t have to find out. I majored in journalism once but that whole “if it bleeds it leads” thing wasn’t for me. I used to wanna be a UPS man.
CL: Let’s all just get along out there, huh? Haha. To sort of quote a favorite movie of mine — “Live now, life is short, time is luck.”
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.