*Interview* Josh Sternfeld talks Fortress: Snipers Eye

Fortress: Snipers Eye marks your first action movie, how did it feel to delve into the genre?

It was truly exciting. I had wanted for a long time to do an action film; it was always a matter of finding the right script – one that maintained balance between the action sequences as well as strong character drama. When I read the Sniper’s Eye screenplay, I felt for sure ‘this is it. This is my first action film.’

What were your favourite action movies growing up?

My favorites were always ones which balanced the exciting set-piece sequences with really strong character work, that really connected you to their emotional journey. Obviously the first DIE HARD film was huge for me; I also love Stallone’s FIRST BLOOD. John Woo’s A BETTER TOMORROW
1 and 2 as well.

I am sure that getting your first action movie with Bruce Willis was quite surreal?

Yes it was – I’ve been such a huge fan of his for as long as I can remember. I remember telling my wife, the night before I left for the production, that I still couldn’t believe this was happening. But perhaps the greatest thing about it was what a friendly, easygoing and down-to-earth guy he is. He was so giving and welcoming to me, that it really set my mind at ease.

How long did you have Bruce onset for?

We had him for two days of shooting, as I recall.

The opening with Bruce was reminiscent of his older movies, with Bruce’s diagnosis was it harder to build scenes around him?

I honestly did not find it very difficult. He was totally present with me, focused, and I conversed freely with him throughout the shooting day. I did give him minor adjustments at times, and he always responded very well. He also makes little jokes between takes.

Regardless, seeing him in action must have made you fan girl a little, right?

Yes when we shot Bruce’s opening scene of the film – that was the first scene I shot with him on Day One lol. And when he came bursting through the door, it was like a total shock to me –  felt just like a kid fan again!

It must have been fun working with stars Jesse and Chad they seem like really cool guys!

They are both incredibly talented professionals and great guys. Both are intense in their own ways, and they are committed to making the scenes very organic and alive – which I completely respect as a director. It
was wonderful working with such true pros. I’d absolutely work with either of them again.

Snipers Eye has plenty for action fans, the ATV segment was fun, was it challenging to shoot?

Yes it was very challenging, because we were in a rain forest area in Puerto Rico, and it kept raining one and off all day! So there was much ‘start-and-stop’ shooting throughout the day, which can be frustrating. We also had to strategize the timing of the shots, because we only had one day to shoot the entire sequence! But overall I think it turned out very well. I do wish we had more time to shoot it, but alas that’s the challenge of filmmaking.

Do you have an overall favourite action sequence from the movie?

Personally I love the conference room fight at the end, with Jesse Metcalfe and Kelly Greyson fighting the mercenaries in the back room.
That was also done in one day and was an intense fight night. I think Vern Nobles, the cinematographer, did great camera work there.

How does directing action differ from other genres you have been involved in?

My biggest ‘learning lesson’ with the action genre was realizing how long it can take to get the fight sequences to look truly real – even when everyone is well-rehearsed and knows the fight moves. There is still an amount of time needed to get the performers to almost forget the ‘proper’ choreography and just fight from their visceral gut instincts. So as a director, you have to remain patient for that moment. And you sometimes have to coax the actors to go Beyond the choreography and dive deep into their survival instincts, in order for it to look real. So that is something I look forward to continuing to improve – as I definitely hope to do more action films in the future.

Can we rest assured you will stick around and direct a few more action movies?

Oh absolutely! I loved making this action film more than any other film of my career for sure. It was such fun going to set every day. You know, the entire film was shot in ten days, and I believe we had a major fight sequence in SEVEN of the ten days, lol. So it was a real education for me as a filmmaker!

What’s your next movie after Fortress: Snipers Eye?

I’m working now with a producing team on another action film, which combines with the science-fiction genre. So hopefully we will be announcing that production shortly this summer.

Thank you so much for your time, Josh. Fortress: Snipers Eye was a
blast! I look forward to your next movie and our next chat!

You got it man! No problem….