Chad Law on his explosive thriller, Shrapnel and more!

Chad Law, congratulations on your action thriller film “Shrapnel”! Can you share with us some of the inspirations behind the intense action sequences and the development of the main character?

Thanks so much, man. For me the action is always just another component of the story. I mean it’s important of course, but for me it’s dictated by what the story is and what’s happening in it and its characters. And the main character here, in SHRAPNEL, Sean Beckwith, that all started when I saw a real story on the news several years ago that played out of course in a very different way. A different way than I wished it had gone and it just got me thinking — what if this happened but they actually fucked with the wrong dad, you know? Bit off more than they could chew? And that’s where it all started. And then of course I think we’d all like to think we’d go to the distances that Sean, the character, goes to protect our family or loved ones. That’s sacred ground. You don’t fuck with family. And that’s not new to movies of course, it’s nothing revolutionary. We’ve seen it in everything from COMMANDO to TAKEN. But I think we’ve made a good addition to the genre and paid homage to a lot of my favorite movies sort of outside that niche along the way too, like DIE HARD and ROLLING THUNDER.

“The Flood” sounds like a thrilling alligator-focused action thriller. How did you approach the unique challenge of creating tension and excitement while dealing with such a formidable antagonist like alligators?

Thanks, it was a lot of fun to do. I’ve always loved creature features, not so much like the SHARKNADO’s of the world but stuff like ALLIGATOR and ANACONDA, and have always wanted to do one. The idea with THE FLOOD was always that it was just ALLIGATOR meets ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. That was it, that was the actual pitch. Or CRAWL meets CON AIR. So the idea was that there was a whole other action movie going on before and aside from just the attacking alligators. That helped for me and Josh, my co-writer on it, as far as creating tension and excitement because you have this already combustible situation taking place, a jail break during a hurricane, and then here come these man-eating alligators. And also, for me, alligators are just scary. It’s not something I have to pretend to be afraid of. I mean, I spend a lot of time in Florida around them and they’re basically the dinosaurs of today so, in that sense, it’s not hard for me to create tension and excitement around them. They’re the monsters in a monster movie. Although, that’s debatable here I think too because we’ve also got some monsters of the human kind in it. Really, those are the worst kind of monsters I guess. Humans can be horrific.

In your action ensemble film “Section Eight,” there are multiple characters with their own arcs and storylines. What was the most challenging aspect of balancing the action and character development in this project?

That’s always a trick, but that was something that its producer, Brandon Burrows, and I worked closely on together with the cast once they started coming on board. For example, Dolph Lundgren was first and he had his own ideas for who he wanted to play and how he wanted to play him and so we all worked together with him on that and so on and so forth. Scott Adkins, his role, wasn’t even in the initial script but Brandon had this great idea to include him and so we set about doing that and I think he’s a great addition to the movie. It’s Scott Adkins as The Terminator by way of James Bond and I love Scott in it. Initially the script was much more just centered around the Ryan Kwanten character, and it still is, but we just branched it out from there. A script for me is always a growing changing thing. Until it’s finally filmed anyway and then you just have no choice but to stop working on it. Until then it can always change and grow, hopefully for the better. That’s always the goal anyway. It usually depends on who you’re working with on the movie.

Working with action maestro William Kaufman must have been an incredible experience. Could you tell us about the collaborative process between you two and how it influenced the final product of your films?

First off, it’s always great to work with a director like William Kaufman, who is of course a great action director, a great director in general, but also one of my best friends in this life. The moment he and I met, years ago now, we just instantly hit it off and I hoped then we’d get the chance to work together. Luckily, we have of course, multiple times now, and I’m hoping we get to do many more together too after this one. We just have such a short hand, having grown up being fans of many of the same movies, that it’s easy for us to just throw references out at each other and we get it. We know what the other is talking about or where we’re trying to go. And I think we both think the other knows what he’s talking about or has a good reason for what he’s saying or suggesting, not just talking just to talk as so many oddly do, so we really value one another’s opinions. I can’t speak for Will of course, but I value his anyway. If he wasn’t one of my closest friends, I’d still be consistently trying to work with him.

“Shrapnel” and “The Flood” both fall under the action thriller genre, but they offer different settings and challenges. How do you keep the action fresh and unique in each film while staying true to the genre’s expectations?

I just approach both as two very different things, which they are. Like you said. I mean, they’re very different movies, even tonaly. And I always just look at each movie as its own thing. Both as a writer and a viewer. I like all genres and all types of things. Mixing it up with gators or sharks or whatever, can help keep the writing fresh for me from time to time. I like to mix it up. And I hope to do more creature features in the future as well as of course more down and dirty actioniers like SHRAPNEL. I don’t see myself ever sticking to one type of thing storywise, not entirely.

What do you enjoy most about writing action-packed scripts, and what specific elements do you prioritize to ensure that the audience is fully engaged throughout the film?

I just write the type of movies I want to watch. First and foremost I’m writing for myself. And I happen to really like action. But I like all kinds of other movies and genres too. Ultimately I always feel that if I like a script I’ve finished, if I’m happy with it, then someone else will probably like it too. That’s my main gauge. My gauge is my gut. It’s not an exact science of course but not much is.

As a film writer, what are some of the key factors you consider when developing a compelling antagonist in action thrillers? How do you create a memorable and formidable foe for the protagonist?

Antagonists can be tough but usually I just let the story drive them. And try not to make them be what I describe as “mustache twirling villains” who only exist to be villains. I mean, most people aren’t good or evil, we’re all really pretty gray, at least at some point in our stories. And I think it’s important to look at antagonists this way. Who are they really? Why are they doing what they’re doing? Who are they at home? Most villains aren’t strictly villainous. They should have lives outside of that. And most shouldn’t know they’re villains. They wouldn’t necessarily see themselves that way.

Your films often showcase intense and adrenaline-fueled action sequences. Can you share with us one of your favorite action scenes that you’ve written and why it stands out for you?

That’s tough. I mean, I loved a fight sequence in my first movie, HERO WANTED, between Cuba Gooding Jr and Kim Coates characters in a bathroom. Mostly because I had it all written out in the script and we shot it almost beat for beat. That rarely happens. And I’m rarely so specific with action anymore in a script because you realize that stuff usually changes the most and that there are a lot of people on a set that are far more capable of coming up with a cool action scene in reality than anything I can put on a page. I just usually want to get the gist now, set the stage.

What can we expect from your future projects? Are there any new genres or themes you would like to explore as a writer?

Well, it’s hard to know exactly what the future holds with all of the strikes going on right now. I’m ready for all of that to be over. I’ve had two movies pause this summer because of them, but I’ve still got LIGHTS OUT coming out with director Christian Sesma and producer Brandon Burrows, the same team I did SECTION EIGHT with. I’ve got another movie with Cam Gigandet and Jason Patric from SHRAPNEL coming out on August 4th too called TIL DEATH DO US PART. As I said I’m open to all genres really. I just want to try to tell good stories, have fun, and make more movies that I want to see. That’s my guide. And in doing that I generally lean more genre movie, action or horror. But we’ll see. Never say never.

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