Edward Drake returns, we talk Apex, American Siege & Gasoline Alley!

Welcome back to Action Reloaded, Edward!

Great to be here, Jeff, I admire the work you do with Action Reloaded.

Since we last spoke you have made three more movies with Bruce Willis. The first being, Apex. 
You wrote and directed Apex, what inspired the story?  It seemed like there was some inspiration from, Hard Target?

Three! Time flies. Apex was an experiment to see if we could even make films during COVID. The script was inspired by the reality of the world we were living in. Gladiator battles are a key part of human history, and the idea of an entire organization dedicated to satiating the repressed bloodlust of the world’s elite felt timely. The Most Dangerous Game was a touchstone story for me growing up, and I loved the interplay of themes.

In the forest, Bruce’s character wears a bright red jacket, is there an explanation for the camo choice?

The choice of the red jacket was something we talked about for days. It’s a character choice; Malone wants to be underestimated. The more comfortable the Hunters are, the better the odds are they’ll drop their guard.
The red was also a nice way to highlight Malone in the forest environment so we could always keep track of his character and the geography of the screen direction for our action scenes.

We had four jackets, I believe all four left with Bruce and his team. They were a popular item on set, I get a lot of requests by the public to see if any are still up for grabs.

The real star was Neal McDonough, what was it like working with Neal?

Neal McDonough is an icon, and when he signed on to star in Apex I was over the moon. He’s a singular, striking presence and a total professional on set. He knew we had a tight shoot window for the project and never once dropped a line. I can’t speak highly enough about the man. He had insightful, sophisticated questions about the character’s worldview. He’s an incredible asset to any production and a sensational collaborator.

He knows how to play the bad guy role with his eyes closed/right!?

The genius of Neal McDonough lies in his ability to bring a wealth of humanity to an antagonist.
There’s a version of the character that is far less sophisticated and nuanced, however, Neal and I both saw Rainsford as a man who understood his true nature and had no shame indulging his violent whims.

What was the most challenging part of making Apex? 

Apex was an eight-day shoot in two countries during a pandemic on an incredibly tight budget.

I’ve directed music videos with higher budgets than what we had for Apex, however, the constraints were a blessing and allowed us to tap into the bedrock of the premise; why do the Hunters come to a place like Apex? What drives them to kill?

Safety on set is my paramount concern, so many set pieces were reworked on the fly due to a number of COVID issues.
Do I regret making the call to keep the crew safe? Absolutely not. I’d do it again any day of the week.
We didn’t have the resources at the time to pull off certain action scenes safely, so they were scrapped without regret.
Time management is the number one challenge on any set, yet I’m so proud of the crew and cast for working under the constantly evolving conditions of the shoot.

Next we had the amazing hostage thriller, American Siege, which was filmed during the pandemic?  did that make filming the movie more complicated? 

Great question and thank you for the love for American Siege, I’m so proud of this film.

American Siege was filmed two months after Apex in Fitzgerald, Georiga.

Again, COVID and budget restrictions impacted the scope of the story, yet our cast rallied and I’m grateful for Rob Gough, Anna Hindman, Johan Urb, Mr. Willis, and of course the inimitable Timothy V. Murphy.

You managed to pull off such a great movie, I believe the shooting schedule was short also?

Correct again. American Siege was shot in eight days with a below-the-line budget of less than 350K USD.

Out of the days you had shooting the movie, how many days did you have Bruce for?

Two days.
And, truthfully, two days was all we needed.
We were rained out for the back half of his second day, and I rewrote his remaining scenes to accommodate for the weather.
It was a sign from above that I had overwritten his character, I guess?
Mr. Willis and his team are incredibly prepared for any shoot, which I’m grateful for.
I create overhead maps of the locations to indicate blocking, and each morning I work with the DoP to set markers for him before anyone arrives so we can walk straight into each scene with minimal downtime between camera setups.
It’s always a pleasure and honor to work with Mr. Willis, he’s a great man.

It must be challenging getting his characters story arc complete before he moves on?

We had a clear vision for how this shoot would go, and I believe it’s one of Mr. Willis’ finest performances.

Timothy V. Murphy was great as the corrupt mayor, how did you get him on board?

Timothy V. Murphy is one of the best actors working today.
I wrote the role of Charles Rutledge for Tim, and we’ve worked together a few times now so I believe he felt that I captured his cadence in a unique way.
After we shot Broil, Tim became a good friend and I’ll follow that man into hell.

Did you ever see Timothy V. Murphy in Criminal Minds? What a performance! 

One day Timothy V. Murphy will win an Oscar, mark my words.

Your most recent Bruce movie, Gasoline Alley, has Devon Sawa taking the reigns. Did you write the lead role with Devon in mind? 

Devon is a force of nature and I can’t speak highly enough of the man.
He brings the role of Jimmy Jayne to life, he is the heart and soul of Gasoline Alley.

Writer and producer Tom Sierchio wrote a brilliant character for Devon.

Tom is one of my favorite writers and it was an honor to be trusted with playing a part in bringing his vision to life.

It looked like Devon done most his own stunts, including some driving, would I be right? 

Devon brings a physicality to his roles which is a sight to behold.

He’s incredibly involved in the fighting choreography and stunts.
The man is incredible, I could wax lyrical about his work on Gasoline Alley all day.
Devon’s also a great human, and he connected with the cast and crew in a meaningful way which elevated the experience for all.

I mention in my review this may be the darkest movie you have wrote and directed, would you agree?

Gasoline Alley prays upon our personal demons–past sins we have yet to reckon with–in a way I’ve not seen before.

This is the story about a man accused of murder, and Devon understood the character of Jimmy Jayne would have to go to the darkest corners of his psyche to reach the truth.

Going from your previous movies which were Sci-Fi and action to such a dark gritty thriller, was it challenging going down such a dark road in writing Gasoline? 

Tom Sierchio wrote a brilliant script, I came on board to simply hone the story into a way we could shoot this epic story in 12 days.

I’ve lived in Los City for ten years and I see that this city means different things to different people: One day you can feel like you’re Ryan Gosling in La La Land, the next you can be Devon Sawa in Gasoline Alley.
Capturing the duel natures of Los Angeles was critical.

Devons character smoked atleast three decks of cigarettes through the movie, were they real or props!?  (Haha)

Brother, a lot of cigarettes were harmed during the making of this movie.

You had Bruce and Luke Wilson in supporting roles, this must have been the shortest time, you’ve had Bruce in a movie for? 

This is the story of Devon Sawa’s Jimmy Janye, and we had Mr. Willis’ character in the film for just the right amount we needed.
Could we have added scenes with Mr. Willis’ character? Sure. But to what effect? Another gun battle that doesn’t impact the plot?

I’m grateful to the distributors and to Highland Films for allowing us to cut out an action scene from the opening act which we had shot – The scene was cool but it didn’t work for the film, and I made my case, and I’m so happy they agreed.

Gasoline Alley is a great neo-noir, I’m so excited for audiences to see this character study.

Scott Kuri’s score is fantastic, I’ve been listening to it daily since he turned it in.

Brandon Cox’s cinematography is something else, he’s a master of his craft and I love seeing him in action.

Luke Wilson seems like a cool guy, what was he like to work with?

Luke was a phenomenal collaborator.

Luke was a calm and collected presence on set and came prepared with smart, intuitive ideas for the character.

I loved the way you managed to smuggle an American Siege set chair and also get the title to appear in this movie, nice touch! 

Great eye, sir!

This is all part of the bigger BW Universe.

You have wrote Paradise City starring Travolta and Willis, did you write the movie with these two in the villain and hero role? 

Yes, I knew both were keen to work together again and this was the perfect concept to pit their singular performance styles against each other.
Travolta’s character is a wily maverick kingpin and writing his dialogue was so much fun.
I hope we catch lightning in a bottle… Grease lightning, that is…

What made you decide not to proceed forward and direct this movie? 

Chuck Russell! Chuck’s a legend and a master filmmaker, the man is an iconoclast.
After producer Corey Large suggested Chuck to direct, it was full steam ahead – Paradise City shot on location in Hawaii and the film is a thing of beauty.
Chuck was the perfect choice to work with this story and cast.

Apart from what we have mentioned, do you have anymore movies with Bruce scheduled? 

Keep an eye on the horizon, my friend.

What’s next in terms of directing?

There’s a film coming up with a helluva cast, it’s wild; I’m so lucky to work with great producers and actors.

Once the studio announces the film my friends and family will know why I’ve been walking around with a smile on my face for the past two months.

Thank you for your time, Edward! 

Thank you, Jeff. Life is good!