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Monday, April 19, 2010

A Q&A with Deadly Impact director Robert Kurtzman

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 1:34 AM

Out on DVD this week, Deadly Impact stars Sean Patrick Flanery as Tom Armstrong, a cop who can’t seem to catch up with a ruthless bad guy (Joey Pantoliano). Armstrong has given up, in fact, when the Feds track him down in a Mexican bar and recruit him to give it one more try. The Crestline, Ohio-based film company Precinct 13 provided all the visual effects for the action film, and Precinct 13’s Robert Kurtzman directed the movie. Here’s what he had had to say about the movie, the fifth film he’s helmed.

Tell me about the film’s genesis.
About a year before I had done Buried Alive with producer David Greathouse. We worked really well together and we started talking about doing another project. He saw The Rage, the film I shot in Ohio, and he felt it was an energetic, action packed movie and he felt I should do an action film. He had set up this script and eventually it landed at MGM and they set it up there and wanted to go into production right away. Of course, I was into it because I love action movies. I hadn’t had a chance to do a straight action film. It fell together pretty quickly after that.

What’d you like about the script?
It was a straight thriller with some dramatic arcs and had a great villain. The character of Tom Armstrong as played by Sean Patrick Flanery is a tormented hero. All that came together.

It opens with a bang, literally. Talk about that opening scene.
When I read the script, that draws you right in. That was a really big deal for me. The problem is maintaining that intensity throughout. It was an unusual scene to shoot. We did it in about half a day. It was an interior sequence. We shot it in 24 days. It was one of my faster films.

It’s not like there has never been a movie about a cop who seeks vengeance on a guy who killed his wife. What makes this movie different?
First off, the way it goes down in the beginning was unusual. It’s like take one life or ten. What do you do in that situation? It’s almost like you want to put the gun to your head and not make the decision. It’s got a lot of the elements we’re used to. Joey Pantoliano plays the bad guy with a twisted sense of humor. He has no heart at all. He doesn’t give two shits. He’s playing the game and revels in it. For him, it’s all about completing a mission that wasn’t completed because Tom Armstrong derailed him eight years earlier.

Sean Patrick Flanery is really good as the lead character, Tom Sizemore. Talk about his performance.
Of course, the biggest scene for me was the day he got the birthday present. It was heartbreaking. He not only lost everything but he lost his potential future with his family. It was another nail in his coffin. By the end of the movie, he doesn’t give a shit either whether he lives or dies.

The final shootout is pretty intense. Talk about the difficulty in setting it up.
We shot downtown Albuquerque in New Mexico. There’s an abandoned courthouse they use there. The police station was like the Barney Miller police station. I didn’t want that. I wanted a high tech police station. We had to gut it and redid the whole thing. We had to stage the whole movie around a ten-block radius of that area. We didn’t have time to move the camera equipment around. So we base camped around that area and shot the senator’s offices in there and did a lot of art direction in there. It was offices in this courthouse. It was a little difficult because they had to cheat where the guys were shooting from. We had to tie in the action down below. We couldn’t actually blow up the building. That was another issue I had to deal with. It was a matter of having time and extra fire trucks on hand. I had to pick those days carefully.

You do a lot of directing or mostly make-up?
This is my fifth movie. I did a film called Demolitionist early on and Buried Alive and The Rage. I have been producing and direction on the side. I still do the creature effects and have my studio.

Did you do post-production at Precinct 13?
Yes, we edited the whole film here. Precinct 13 provided the visual and make-up effects.

You have more projects lined up?
Not directing right now. We’re doing effects works on projects coming into Cleveland. We’re doing a movie called Gin which is shooting up in Michigan and a small independent movie called Soccer. I’m hopeful about the tax incentive package here in Ohio and it attracting people. There are so many beautiful locations here and different looks. I loved Albuquerque but I had to adapt. If it’s written for a big city, you have to know you’re not going to get the Mid-western look. It’s all adobe and stucco. If you’re looking for something like Halloween’s Haddonfield, Illinois setting, you’re not going to find it out there.

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