AR: Congratulations on your latest release ‘Hollow Point’ it has been a huge success for you. Can we expect a sequel?
DZ: I would love to do a sequel, that core group of Vigilantes are not finished cleaning up the city! Chad Law and I have not started writing a sequel, but if the core team is game to come back, I’m in. I really enjoyed worked with that ensemble cast.
AR: If not a movie, it would make a good series, right? It’s like a modern more balls to the wall A-Team!
DZ: Yessssss! I’m working on a couple films that explore that team put in action for justice, payback or just to set their city straight again.
AR: You have worked with some great stars in your career, Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal, Gary Daniels, Luke Goss, Michael Jai White, what’s it like working with these guys?
DZ: I love working with Actors who work hard in service of the film and story itself. Most of them really care, and want to do their best work. I don’t mind if we clash sometimes, and that does happen, but I don’t back down from a good idea, whether it’s theirs or mine as long as we use our time on set wisely. I have stories of course, but all of these actors are in my future plans and more. Even one I had a big issue with on a previous film because he wouldn’t come out of the trailer, so I did not work with him for years. But he came back, correct, a changed man, and we had an amazing working relationship on another film. As long as I feel the actors or actresses are fighting for the best of the film and their character, I give them space to work and respect. But it must be mutual. Some interesting announcements soon on films with most or all of the above for 2020, 2021. We shall see. I also directed public service announcements with Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Newton-John and Mark Hamill. I hope to work with them on films someday. They are great people in real life. Also working with James Franco on the Grapes Of Wrath documentary and Mick Jagger & The Rolling Stones on Voodoo Lounge were highlights.
AR: Speaking of Dolph, you recently worked alongside him in ‘Acceleration’, I believe you co-directed? Were you busy with ‘Invincible’ to take on the project alone?
DZ: When I was approached to direct Acceleration I was booked on a film in Thailand and the dates conflicted, but it eventually worked out that Michael Merino and I directed together. It actually worked out well, no ego clashes, just working for the good of the film itself. I had a bad experience 15 years prior with another co-director on a film and avoided that until Acceleration, but now I would be open to collaborate again with other directors when that works. Back in the music video days I was cranking out about 30 videos a year, so had to sign and nurture other directors. I’m happy to support and work with other directors and am friends with many. So it’s cool and it worked out with Michael, who is a gentleman and good guy.
AR: Natalie Burn done an amazing job, it’s good to see females getting kick ass roles these days, right?
DZ: I absolutely love making films with female leads, and want to do more. Other films that I directed such as Fast Girl & Black Beauty had female leads and Scorched Earth that I Exec Produced starred Gina Carano. I want to do more, first on my list is a film I co-wrote and will direct called COMBAT MEDIC… about a female medic on a helicopter shot down on a tropical island, and most of her team is killed. She has to both fight her way out through enemy territory (Think- a female version of Stallone in First Blood) but also maintain her Hippocratic Oath as a Doctor, which means caring for wounded on both sides of the conflict, and still make it out alive. It’s an interesting moral dilemma wrapped in an exotic military action setting. I’d love to hear from your readers on whom I should cast in the lead.
AR: While ‘Invincible’ was mentioned is there any update on its status?
DZ: Yes, we have been picked up by a major film studio/distributor, but I just can not say who yet! But the wait will be worth it.
AR: It looks to be quite badass, would I be jumping the gun by saying possibly your best movie to date? The story, action scenes and choreography all look brilliant from the released footage.
DZ: It’s probably my best action film, though for other reasons I also like Hollow Point and especially Crossing Point. Small budgets, 13 day shoots, but I’m pretty proud of what was accomplished…. As noted I love the film Man On Fire, and Crossing Point is my mini- version of a story like that, always on the move, and well acted for the most part. I want to do a director’s cut of that someday, but many times actors site that one as a reason they want to work with me. It’s wildly shot on purpose, in Tijuana and other places, which gives it a cool energy. But Invincible has some amazing action and extensive fight sequences (with T.A.G. stunt team) and high stakes drama and a cool cast.
AR: What was it like working with Johnny Strong and Marko Zaror?
DZ: Johnny Strong is an amazing actor, who should be a super-star, always fighting for the best in every scene and even in post. He also scored it. He chooses not to play the Hollywood game and I respect him for that and his dedication to his art. Marko Zaror, great martial artist, otherwise, no Comment.
AR: After ‘Invincible’ what projects lie ahead of you?
DZ: I’m directing INTERCEPT next, but also developed or am attached to several cool projects- always hard to know which Goes first, especially with the Covid-19 situation… but two movies with Shogun Films RENEGADES and ASSAULT ON HAZARD ROCK that are close, as well PopArts development slate/under option WOLFSBANE, COMBAT MEDIC, TRIGGERFISH (and another film I can’t announce yet with S.G.P.).
My films GUNRUNNER, BLACK WARRANT and THE BEST MAN are signed to other Studios so when the world opens up again after valid Covid-19 concerns, we will need to figure out scheduling — but goal to make most of these over 2020, 2021… and lastly — my “pet project” is a film I’ve been shooting for years on my iPhone, documenting generations of my gangster stray dog pack, that I’m calling DOGFELLAS for now. They really are like Goodfellas, and I’ll have my actor and actress friends voice them someday. It’s personally fascinating and I want to help stray dog organizations do their important work.
AR: Congratulations on your partnership with Shogun Films. How did this dream collaboration come your way?
DZ: Thank you. So this is random, BUT writer Tom Jolliffe wrote a review on Acceleration that Micheal Merno and I directed together. It was mostly a positive review but had some fair criticisms. So I sent Tom a thank you and that I agreed with what he wrote, flaws and all. That lead me to an article on Jonathan Sothcott and I sent him a message, just in April of this year and its insane how much we have developed together with the Shogun team, including Tom Jolie who is an amazing feature film writer now as well as a film critic. Jonathan and I clicked right away. He founded Shogun with his partner actress Jeanine Nerissa Sothcott to make old school action movies we all love, alongside entrepreneurs Danny Bear and Andrew Green (who look after the funding and the business). Danny’s also a very promising actor, very natural, and Jeanine is a solid actress who will appear in the films along with some classic UK stars, and other international actors. So we are all creatives who love to make movies.
AR: Renegades will bring you to London. This be your first time shooting a movie in the UK?
DZ: YES. I have many friends in London that I want to work with as well, so very much looking forward to the Shogun slate.
AR: When you’re looking to fill an evening, what’s your favourite go to movie?
DZ: Aside from the films I listed above, I actually watch Comedy specials on Netflix, current favourites are Jimmy Carr, Dave Chappell, Ricky Gervais, and more. I have a great hook for a comedy/action film, but that will need to wait.
AR: What advice would you give to anyone interested in getting into the directing industry?
DZ: 100% do what I did — and WRITE and just START SHOOTING! It was harder in many ways back in the day because we shot on film and it cost more with bigger crew, processing film and Telecine. Plus there are so many places’ to post your work on the internet such as YouTube and more. So there is NO excuse whatsoever any more for up and coming filmmakers not to pursue this and I’m serious. You can shoot something on your iPhone like I have been doing for Dogfellas or get a group of like-minded friends together and create together, Even if production value is not all there yet- TALENT SHINES THROUGH… I’ve hired many up and coming directors BUT you Must show me something on your Reel. Not talk, PROVE IT ON YOUR REEL. Also- be a good person and don’t step on people on the way up. Return favours, and be there for friends who have been there for you.
AR: Out of the movies you have directed, what your favourite and why?
DZ: I addressed that previously, but as far as making a movie for sure it was the time I spent with my daughter making Black Beauty. It was a small film, and she was in only 4-5 scenes, but we stayed in a big house on the beach with some cast and crew, and it had a beautiful family feeling. Someday I’ll go back and watch most of my films again now that I’m more objective, with as distance, but I’ll say this. It’s never been easy and almost all of my films have restrictive budgets, so I have not even been close yet to being able to make the types of films I am capable of, so what the script, cast, budget to align, so I can truly show my vision as a director. In some ways I’m just starting to do that, and some of my films above can pull that off with the right people backing me. I’ve earned it.
AR: Who would be your dream actor/actress to work with?
DZ: That’s always hard to answer, because later another actor might refer to this article if I don’t mention them. If I had to pick one of each, it’s Denzel Washington and Natalie Portman. There are many others of course, but those are two on my mind as I write.
AR: Thank you so much for your time Daniel. I look forward to your upcoming projects!!
DZ: THANKS- i very much appreciate your site, and encourage interaction on with your readers via my Instagram #DanielZirilli as I’m just starting to use that more. Please make recommendations of actors and actresses I should look at for my films!