Writer/Directors Neveldine/Taylor Exclusive Interview – CRANK HIGH VOLTAGE

     April 16, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

I’ve interviewed a lot of people. So you can trust me when I say that interviewing writer/directors Mark Nevedline and Brian Taylor is sort of a challenge. While you’ll always get straight answers out of them eventually, a lot of your time is spent waiting for them to stop joking around. That’s what it was like when I visited them on the set of “Crank High Voltage”, and it seems like nothing has changed.

Even though it’s sort of a challenge, that’s also one of the reasons why I like these guys so much. There are not pretentious. They don’t think their movies are some sort of high art. They are in it to have a good time and make films that reflect their sensibilities. So while I might have to deal with someR rated humor and a lot of joking around, it’s definitely worth it.

Yesterday I got to speak with the filmmakers on the phone and below you’ll find our conversation. We talked about a lot of stuff but here are some of the highlights:

· They shot 300 hours of footage on “Crank High Voltage” in 30 days of filming

· They are open to using any film format on their future projects – film, digital, RED, even super 8

· Brian Taylor will be at the Arclight tonight for the midnight show…so if you want to meet him go there

· Right now there are no plans for “Crank 3” but they would make it if “Crank High Voltage” does well. They still like the idea of doing it in 3D

·“Game” has not been renamed “Citizen Game”. That was an April Fool’s joke. But the film is being renamed, but they haven’t announced it yet. Film is set for release September 4th.

· They haven’t started working on the “Crank High Voltage” Blu-ray/DVD yet

· They are not bitter about what happened with “Jonah Hex”. They say they would’ve made a very hard R movie and the studio didn’t want that kind of film. But since the studio is still using the script they wrote, they’ve happy.

· They are writing two movies right now. According to Mark, “we’re writing one crazy stunt film. Sort of stuntman film for a buddy of ours to direct that Lakeshore hired us to do. And then we’re writing another one and that one is the one that we will be directing next probably later this year and it’s top secret action.”

· They say that Jason Statham asked them about “The Expendables” and they really pushed him to take the role.

· Finally, Mark says that people will be “surprised by several cameos that nobody knows about, that have not been listed or leaked or any of that stuff so we’re excited for people to take a look at some of the new faces in the film.”

Here’s the full conversation. Be warned, it’s definitely a rated R conversation….And if you’d like to watch some movie clips from the new “Crank”, click here. And here’s a cool video on the digital cameras of “Crank High Voltage”.

Collider: So what’s going on? You too aren’t sitting there together?

Mark: Ah, no Brian’s up at his house. I’m just walking back into my place as we speak.

Brian: Hey,guys.

What’s going on, sir?

Brian: What’s up dude?

Well let’s jump into the actual talking about the film for a second. It’s been a long process for you guys. You guys have been working on movies for a long time now. So how does it feel for both of you to finally have one of your films coming out this Friday?

Brian: Kind of surreal. I kind of forgot that’s what we were in this for, you know? It’s been so long.

Mark: We just got paid to go sit in the editing room 9-5 for like a year. We’re a part of the editor’s guild now.

Are you guys in the editing guild now?

Mark: No, no we’re not. Absolutely not. We couldn’t do what Fernando does.

Brian: But actually yeah that’s an interesting question. It is a little strange. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that one of these things is actually going to get released and not only that, but it’s such a strange movie. I mean Crank II is probably like one of the most unusual movies ever to hit like a wide-screen release. It’s nuts. It’s just completely nuts. And it’s easy to get lost in like a weird place and you’re just working on the movie and you forget that this thing you created is actually going to be released on a wide audience and the whole thing is surreal. I just can’t wait to see it in a room with a bunch of normal human beings and see how they react.

Well, are you guys planning on doing anything special on Friday night? Are you both here in L.A.? Are you going to go to one of the theatres?

Brian: Well, Mark you’re out of town right?

Mark: Yeah, I’m out of town.

Brian: I’m going to be in town. I’m actually going to see the movie Thursday at midnight.

I’m going to plug this so where are you going?

Brian: I’m going to go to the Arclight Hollywood.

Right on.

Brian: And then on Friday we may go try to see it in some other places. I kind of want to go see it in like Long Beach and some different kind of neighborhoods. I think “Crank II” is the kind of movie that’s really going to be…you want to be in a room with a lot of people to see it because it’s just an interactive movie. It’s not a movie that you just sit and watch. It’s a movie that people are going to be jumping up and throwing stuff at the screen and hopefully a lot more.

Mark: I believe you can interact with yourself if you drink enough. I’ve heard that’s true.

Brian: Especially if you have a popcorn box. It’s a real good dick-in-a-box movie.

And I’d expect nothing less out of you two. So I definitely want to talk about the digital filmmaking aspect…

Brian: Before you get to digital filmmaking, which is really great, hey Neveldine, we should really try to push people to have sex in the movie theatre.

Mark: I think they should.

Brian: Could you start pushing that for us right now? Let’s let Collider be the first one to put it out there that people should definitely start banging in the movie theatre.

Mark: Consensual of-age sex is what we’re pushing for.

Brian: Well, it’s rated R so hopefully….well no actually we could still have a problem.

Mark: 18 and over.

Well, I’ll say you’ll be at the theatre – at the Arclight – with the infrared glasses looking for couples that want to hook up in the theatre.

Brian: I love that.

I’ll write this. But I definitely want to ask the both of you about, you guys pushed the boundaries on this film with shooting this with digital cameras – essentially store bought cameras. When you decided to do this I’m sure there were some challenges to overcome. When you finally got in the editing room with all this footage, how challenging was the editing room with these digital cameras?

Mark: Ah ha, well fortunately for us that challenge wasn’t really present because we had a whole team of editors who were slogging through the footage and we had to go through and pick our selects off of dailies but we didn’t really have to deal with the hours of labor to input the footage, acquire the footage and then transfer the footage and do all that good stuff. I’ll tell you it was a blast. When we actually did look through the dailies because we had a couple of beers during the shoot, we forgot whole weeks and I’ll tell you, we had a great time watching the dailies. Sometime last week I put the dailies on and just watched through them and try to remember certain days and weeks and it’s a lot of fun.

Brian: The only complication of it in terms of the medium that we used it that it enabled us to shoot so fast and so efficiently that we generated just a tremendous amount of footage. We shot almost 300 hours of footage in thirty days, which is unprecedented. It’s more footage than they shot for “Titanic”. I mean we were really burning a lot of tape and having a lot of fun, so just having that much stuff to sift though made it complicated. But in terms of the actual quality of the footage, we think it looks better than the first movie. It looks amazing and we wouldn’t have used these cameras unless we thought we could do something that looked better than everybody else’s movie.

Mark: The strength and the power of these cameras, and it’s true HD, these tiny little cameras, you know? They look as good as the HD cameras of three-four year ago. Those big giant ENG looking things that people were putting on their shoulders and everybody was bragging about the HD image, you know three-four years ago. These tiny Canon cameras that we used have the same power, it’s just more ease of use for us because we’re on roller blades and we’re hanging out of helicopters and literally hanging out of cars going 50 mph. It’s a lot easier and safer to use something that fits in the palm of your hand. Something that’s not tethered to a hard deck like the original “Crank”. We were carrying around as you know 62-pound backpacks with hard decks tethered to our cameras, so this one was a lot more fun. We could play a lot more and at the end of the day it’s going to look a lot like “Crank” but just better.

I definitely want to know, is this a permanent switch for the two of you as filmmakers that it’s digital all the way from now on?

Brian: Well we always approach every project fresh. We see what’s out there. What are all the tools? We don’t have any prejudice or bias towards any kind of tool. We’ve shot with 35. We’ve shot with DV. We’ve shot with everything. RED, whatever. So we’re always going to look at the script, look at the project, look at the way we want the movie to look and we’re going to choose the best tool. And I think a lot of choices on what things are shot on are based on prejudice and based on habit and just what people are used to shooting on instead of based on what’s the tool? What’s the look? How can you get the movie that you want captured? So we don’t commit to anything. When the next movie comes along, we’re going to look at that and we might shoot it on Super 8. We have no idea.

Mark: There’s a guy who, I’m sure you read about this guy, who is implanting a camera into his eye because he’s missing an eye. It’s like shit, pretty soon we’ll be doing that. We’ll be wearing glasses that are going to sort of biometrically read off our eyes and we’ll be shooting that way. We’ll do whatever is easier and better for the project and if we have to go back to film, by the way because we want something that looks like that, we’ll do it. We’ll grab the 60 pound cameras and get the mags and jump back out and work again.

Brian: If there was like a 4-K camera that could be implanted in our balls, you know, we’d love to try that out.

Mark: Especially if it’s 4-K, yeah.

A long time ago we all talked—before you filmed “Crank II”—about doing assuming you guys made a “Crank 3”, you talked about doing it in 3-D. Assuming that the film does well this weekend, world-wide box office is good, and you guys do make a “Crank 3”, are you still thinking about the 3-D aspect of it?

Mark: Here’s the thing. We’ve gone so far we’re actually talking about doing it 5-D. We’re even pushing past 4-D.

Brian: We’re going to skip “Crank 3” and “Crank 4” and just go straight to “Crank 5” in 5-D.

Okay. But I’m being serious for a second, I am curious about your plans if you were to make…

Brian: We will jump off the screen and fry and egg right in your lap.

But that might be only for exclusive shows at the Arclight. You know you can only do that for a small…

Brian: 5-D baby. That is 5-D. We’re going to do a double-D.

No okay, I’m being serious with you right now. What are your plans for…assuming you were able to do a “Crank 3”, are you thinking about 3-D still or is it sort of if you were to make it then figure it out?

Mark: 3-D would be kick ass.

Brian: If there was a “Crank 3” how could it not be 3-D?

Mark: It would have to be.

That’s what I’d like to see.

Brian: What sense would it make to do it any other way than 3-D?

Mark: But the truth is, Mr. Collider, we are researching. We are talking to a lot of people across the board, whether it’s RED or Canon. All the people we’ve been in business with we’re talking to them or researching and we’re looking and we would love to hit that thing hard going 3-D. It would be a lot of fun. It would be so in your face. I don’t even know if we can handle it. People would probably have heart attacks in the theatre. It would be great.

Brian: And then the good thing is that for all the critics who think that our characters aren’t three dimensional, well they couldn’t say that this time.

Mark: Yeah, that’s right. They’re not cut-outs anymore. They’re literally in 3-D.

Okay, so I’m going to move onto another question which a lot of people are wondering, is “Game” now re-titled “Citizen Game”?

Brian: A great April Fool’s Day joke that everybody bought into.

I’m looking on the always accurate IMDB and it lists “Citizen Game”.

Mark: Ah, we fooled even them.

Brian: We sent out an announcement on April 1st that the movie was now called “Citizen Game” and until we decide to change that announcement then that’s just going to have to live.

So you’re saying the movie is going to be changing titles yet again?

Mark: Yes, sir.

I know you guys did some test screenings, at least one of them, but I think two of the film. What were people’s reactions to the screenings and was it cool to finally show the movie to an audience?

Mark: It was amazing. The focus groups were unbelievable. The focus groups were so excited and they got so much from the movie that we weren’t sure they were going to get and this movie is a sci-fi future fantasy fucked up movie. And the response again from the focus group was awesome. But you know what’s better than that? The cast, who pretty much all the cast has now seen the movie—almost—and they absolutely love it and that’s just what warms our hearts.

So what’s the plan for the film right now? It’s coming out later this year.

Mark: You got it.

When is it?

Brian: September 4th. It’s the same weekend that “Crank” came out.

Are you guys going to go do anything at Comic-Con this summer to promote it?

Brian: Absolutely.

Any plans yet? Anything you figured out?

Brian: Absolutely. I mean we’ve already said we want to do like a gay cage match with me and Jerry Butler and Jason Statham.

I’m sure that would go over very well with a select group in the audience.

Brian: Yeah, very well. A very select group. We’re going to do Comic-Con right this year. It’s going to be a blow out. It’ll be fun.

Mark: A big tent. A little campfire. 6 pack of beer.

Now this probably seems like it’s an exclusive audience, are you doing to…

Brian: We’re going to launch John Leguizamo out of a cannon.

Yes and for people who are listening to this at some point in the future, this is what you deal with Neveldine-Taylor, even on a movie set or in an interview. Would you guys agree with me?

Mark: Who’s Neveldine-Taylor?

Exactly. Who are these masked men? But I actually again I want to ask a serious question. For fans of “Crank” you guys mentioned already that you shot like 300 hours for “Crank High Voltage”, what can people look forward to on the DVD/Blu-ray?

Mark: Very good question.

Brian: We haven’t even started thinking of Blu-ray yet. There’s going to be a ton of special features. I mean, “Crank” was a pretty awesome Blu-ray. We have to top that.

Mark: We’re going to have this whole feature in there though about how to boost your income and how to boost the economy. It’s going to be great. This whole 3-hour little blurb.

Brian: It’s like a symposium or like a lecture series. It’ll be so exciting.

Neveldine-Taylor take on the economy with Jason Statham?

Mark: That’s right.

So basically you guys haven’t put it together yet as far as what’s going to be on it?

Mark: No, we’re just trying to hey through this weekend.

Brian: Yeah, when we have big Blu-ray news you’ll be the first to know.

Well, that would be very cool. I have two questions I definitely have to ask and then I’m sure I’ll be out of time. But do you guys want to talk at all about what the fuck happened with Jonah Hex?

Mark: It’s pretty simple.

Brian: Yeah, there’s not a lot to that story. I mean, look if we made the movie we would have made a super-hard R gnarly movie and I don’t think they wanted to go that hard. However, they loved the script. They’re using our script. They’ve got a great cast. The movie’s going to be hopefully awesome and we’re looking forward to it. I mean there’s definitely no bad blood between us and those guys. We’re pumped.

Mark: We’re like literally fans and we’re excited that Jim Hayward’s on board to direct, but we couldn’t be happier. There’s another movie out there that is plagued with our names.

Okay, well then I definitely have to ask, I know you guys have been busy in post-production with “Crank” and “Game” and everything else, but have you been writing other things and what can people look forward to that you’re getting ready to start or thinking about starting.

Mark: We’re writing two movies right now. We’re writing one crazy stunt film. Sort of stuntman film for a buddy of ours to direct that Lakeshore hired us to do. And then we’re writing another one and that one is the one that we will be directing next probably later this year and…

Brian: And that one is action.

Mark: Top secret action.

Well, if that one is top secret, let’s get into this stunt movie. What can you tell me about it?

Mark: It’s awesome.

Besides it’s awesome. Obviously there must be a protagonist in this thing? Or is the film designed just to do the gnarliest stunts?

Mark: No it is actually this one’s got a great story. I don’t know how much we can really go into it but…

Brian: Yeah, I mean like come on isn’t discussing five movies enough?

This is what I’m good at—discussing five movies at once.

Mark: Well if you want to go really far ahead, let’s skip 10 years ahead and Brian and I are going to be diving into writing children’s animations.

But will it be R-rated children’s animation?

Brian: It’s only for R-rated children.

Okay. I don’t know how to respond to this one. I am curious about this stunt movie though.

Brian: We want to do something that’s like a combination of the 80’s action movies that we loved. It’s a genre that you just don’t see much anymore but just take it into the next level, you know? The movie is like 3008 and everything else is just 2000 and late, you know how that goes?

I do. So I have to ask you then, what’s your take on “The Expendables” and Stallone bringing back these guys and he’s calling it an 80’s action film.

Mark: We’ll be the first guys in the theatre and we’ll probably go 4 nights in a row. Seriously.

Brian: We’re so excited.

Mark: Every choice that he’s made is amazing.

Brian: Jason talks to us a little bit about the things that he’s thinking about doing and runs stuff by us sometimes and when he said that one we were like, yup! Do you think I should think about….Yes. I mean I was like do it. That’s definitely our kind of thing.

Mark: If you get a chance to work with Stallone, there’s no other answer but yes.

I would agree with you 100%. So is there anything else you want to tell like fans about “Crank: High Voltage”? Anything I haven’t asked that you really want to get out there?

Brian: If they’re not going to see it by now then…I mean you just got to see it man. I mean there’s really nothing like this movie and it’ll…I think anybody who liked the first movie is going to love this one. Anyone who loved the first movie is going to have serious mental problems after this one and we’re also just hoping to bring in a whole bunch of new people that never saw it before and have no idea what they’re in for.

Mark: It’s important that people who watch this movie that they have fun with it. They don’t take it seriously and they just go for the ride. They’re also going to be surprised by several cameos that nobody knows about, that have not been listed or leaked or any of that stuff so we’re excited for people to take a look at some of the new faces in the film.

Okay, my last question for you guys. Assuming this film does well, would you definitely do a “Crank 3” or is it like you’re thinking about it? I’m just trying to gauge your interest in making another Chev Chelios film.

Mark: If people want us to make another one and we’ll know by box office and then by DVD of course. If people want us to make another one, we would love to make one for them. That’s the best answer we can give you.

I think that’s also as honest as you’ve said all day.

Brian: Jason is…Chev Chelios is harder to kill than fucking Michael Myers so.

I would agree. I definitely think so. Listen I know you guys have to talk to other people and you’ve given me like a ton of your time, so obviously sincerely I’ll be there this weekend. I might even try to hit the Arclight Thursday night. We’ll see. But I wish the both of you nothing but the best. I hope this thing makes a ton of money.

Mark: Steve, thanks man.

Brian: Thanks a lot.

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