Action director, Mark Neveldine talks about his latest action-thriller Panama. We also talk about the future of the very popular, Crank franchise.
Your debut action movie was Crank which you wrote and directed, what gave you the idea for the script?
We wanted to find a character that would benefit from the crazy style of filmmaking. We thought we should follow a character that dies if he stops moving so that we could keep the camera moving. We also were picking on action films at the time because they were becoming so over the top, so we leaned into all of that.
Did you write the character of Chev with Jason Statham in mind?
No, Johnny Knoxville.
It was totally nuts and it worked!! What was even better is you managed to do a sequel that completely upped the ante! I am going to assume it was a blast working on these movies?
From what I remember, it surely was.
With the Crank movies being your baby, can we expect a third movie?
You can definitely expect more from the Crank Cinematic Universe. Brian and I are working on something as we speak.
Can you give us any indication of the direction you would like to see the next entry go?
It will be the one “project” that will outshine the madness of what is happening in the world today, which is why we desperately need it.
The Crank movies were essentially like running a video game and you made a movie which was about that, one of the strongest Gerard Butler movies to date, Gamer. What was it like working on that movie and with Gerry?
It was a great moment for Brian and I to experiment with a bigger budget on a concept that we felt was coming true. And it is. We were talking about the singularity before it was a buzz word. Yes, Gerry was just coming into himself as an action star and it was fun to watch. It was a great experience. Every bit.
You also wrote the movie, going by Crank and this, it is safe to assume you love gaming and lots of carnage?!
I’m not a gamer. It really was a warning wrapped up in a fun futuristic action packed visual. I think we can use it as a power point presentation today.
You have directed some great actors, Jason Statham, Gerard Butler, Nic Cage and now action legend Mel Gibson….what is it like to meet these legends in person? Do you ever get starstruck or think “Woah, I thought he would be taller”?
I think “I” should be taller. Look, these are legends and there is a certain respect that is hard to deny. I’m a little nervous at first and then there is always so much work to do that I forget. Then when then movies are done I’m like holy shit, WTF did I just do. It’s all a trip. I grew up on a farm and played hockey most of my life. It’s always a shock. I love these guys because they are real dudes and hard to find in the business today.
Moving onto your latest release, Panama, what drew you to this script?
Where was the movie shot and what was the shooting schedule for Panama? These locations looked too good to be done in a studio!
Puerto Rico. We shot it in 14days. The shooting schedule was INSANE. That was the schedule. We all loved the challenge which made it fun. We were all in it together.
I had read Frank Grillo was attached at one some stage, what role was he due to play?
Morgan Freeman and Frank Grillo were originally attached. Frank was going to play Becker. Movies are awesome because they are always changing. I’m sure I’ll cross paths with Frank & Morgan soon.
Did you manage to get Mel for a good duration of the shoot?
Mel injured his shoulder in a paddle boarding incident and still came for 3days and did all of his action scenes without a stunt double. Mel is a pro. Again, it was a short shoot and he was there when we needed him.
The character of the colonel was based upon a real-life person, was the characters of Becker and Stark based upon real people?
Yes, and as fun as this movie is, some of this is still classified. What I can tell you is that an American operator bought a helicopter from a drug dealer to help promote democracy.
Would you like to revisit Becker and Stark again?
I would love to have more time and a bigger budget to do anything with these men.
Cole Hauser has made a name for himself in various action movies and Yellowstone, what was it like working with and directing Cole?
Cole is a serious dude who was able to let his guard down a bit for this movie. We had a lot of fun for those weeks.
What was the most fun sequence to film?
I had fun everyday, but putting my rollerblades on for a talking-heads scene while they were all sitting at the table so that we could finish on time was inspiring.
After Panama, what can we expect next from you?
More dadding, hunting, fishing and hockey. I’m mostly a chauffeur for my three kids. The rest is gravy.
Thanks again for your time, Mark! Congratulations on the release of Panama it was a blast!