Passing the Torch to a New Generation: A Conversation with Steven C. Miller
When a terrorist group kidnaps retired CIA field operative Leonard Turner (Bruce Willis, GI Joe: Retaliation, Die Hard, Armageddon) his son Harry Turner (Kellan Lutz, The Legend of Hercules, The Twilight Saga, The Expendables 3) a government analyst who has been repeatedly turned down for field service, launches his own unsanctioned rescue operation. While evading highly skilled operatives, deadly assassins, and international terrorists, Harry finally puts his combat training to the test in a high stakes mission to find his father and to stop a terrorist plot.
The Fan Carpet’s Denisa Niculescu, in association with The Realistic Optimist spoke to filmmaker Steven C. Miller, he tells us how he chose this career path, the genesis of Extraction and how he went about casting…
Can you tell me; to begin with, why you choose this career path in directing?
I guess it just goes back to when I was a kid, my dad was an avid movie lover, pretty much a cinephile, so he would watch movies religiously and I think one of the movies I remember watching very early on was The Exorcist with my dad, I was probably like 10 or 11 years old and I remember watching his reaction, my dad is a hard ass, he doesn’t flinch, but seeing my dad react to a movie like that, I really don’t think I remember watching the movie, as much as I remember watching my dad react to the movie, and it was pretty close around that time that I decided ‘Hey, that’s what I want to do’.
I want to make people feel, I want to make my dad feel like, you know, he had some sort of emotions going on and he’s connecting, so I think that’s something that attracted me very early on, to get a rise, make the audience feel something and have a good time. So that’s what got me going.
How did this project come to actually happen, who came up with the idea for it?
You know it was Lionsgate, they had a script, they came to me, you know they had Bruce Willis on board already and Bruce was looking for a young director that he could work with, that could bring some action to it, bring some fun to it and so they brought it to me, through my manager who had worked with them before, and said ‘You know check out Steven’s work’ you know it’s just one of those things, right place at the right time, right script and that’s what was happening.
Timing, yeah it’s all about timing isn’t it?
All about timing.
Was it hard to cast Gina on the project? Did you have the cast in mind from the beginning, how did that go as a process?
Oh you know it wasn’t hard because Bruce was on, and Kellan Lutz who was someone I had actually had breakfast with a few weeks earlier about another movie and so when they where casting this I thought perfect timing she should come over and try to do this, and so she did.
Gina Carano was already good friends with the Producer so she called me and said this was something she would love to do and I met with Gina and I thought she was super sweet and we all get along. So its fun on a movie when you all get along, and that’s something we did.
This was a lot of fun, you know Bruce is very particular he likes his action a certain way, and I like my action a certain way. So it’s a lot of fun to try and mix those together and I think at first any major actor is sort of vetting you out and seeing what you’re about and see if you know what the hell you’re doing.
You know I just got in there and showed him I could do it was really good, we got along, we had a lot of fun and you know we made a movie right after that together, which was great.
So it developed quite a relationship there. When it comes to the story, For Kellan and on Gina, if we think about it, would you say that this would be a baptism by fire for the new generation of actors on this sort of project?
Yeah, it was sort of a little bit like passing the torch. You have Bruce in the movie sort of passing the torch to Kellan and saying ‘Hey you know take over the reins and come save me for once’ I like that aspect it’s sort of like saying ‘Hey guys there’s a new group of people coming up, that know what their doing and know how to fight, they know how to be on screen and give you a great performance as far as action goes’ and I think that’s sort of like something that drew me to the project, because it wasn’t just the same old, same old guys we’d seen. You know we give Bruce something different to do, we give Kellan who we haven’t seen a lot of, something to do and Gina was the same way.
Gina seems to fit this kind of role, I’ve seen her recently in another, well sort of a fighter role; do think it’s something she would look more into, do you know?
Yeah I think she is, I think she definitely should, I mean this kind of stuff is where she did great, you know, given the opportunity to show some acting but most of it is her kicking some ass, she’s really great at it.
You know, we talked about it plenty of times where it’s like ‘use your assets’, exploit those assets, take things to the next level and if she keeps working in that sort of space and really perfects that I think she can be a really cool action icon I really do.
When it comes to directing, what would you say would be the key thing that a director should pay attention to in this type of genre, or what was it for you on this movie?
I think, you know, this kind of genre with the kind of time that you have to make the movie, I think you have to be really prepared. I think it’s all about pre-production, it’s all about having the movie, luckily I’m also an editor, so I come into the movie with the film edited before I even start shooting.
I think that’s sort of how you make the movies, through a lot of preparation, all of it being very attention to detail and what people have seen, one of the things with this kind of genre is trying to figure out how to make it work.
Would you say that this is the biggest challenge as well with this type of film?
I was interviewing someone else and one of the actors said in this type of film it’s all about the momentum and keeping things in the fighting scenes, keeping things moving really fast. Was it hard to get everyone into that vibe and make them do things as fast as they should or was it quite easy and simple?
You know what, I have major ADD, my energy level is always skyrocketed, I never sit, I’m always bouncing around, on set, everyone is all ‘Ok Steven’s hyper, we’re hyper’.
Ok, so you’re setting the pace, that’s actually quite helpful isn’t it?
Yeah I think so, I think when you’re doing it yourself, everybody is like ‘Oh we get it, he wants to make this move, OK let’s move’.
Would you like to keep directing this type of film or would you try to leap into something else?
No I love this genre, I would love to sort of mix what I’ve done in the past which is horror and do some horror-action stuff. But I love action, it’s sort of like my niché where I’ll stay, but if I can mix genre’s great. But I love the sort of pace these kind of movies.
You mentioned another project with Bruce, what else do you have coming up next?
We finished, I’m in post on a movie called Marauders which is a bank heist film, it’s a bank heist movie with Bruce Willis, Chris Meloni, Dave Bautista, Adrian Grenier and Jonathan Schaech, and it’s a really dark sort of take on bank heists and cop corruption. It’s a really fun. It’s a good cast and they do great in the movie, I’m really excited about the movie.
Ok, last but not least, if you have to convince someone to go see it, why would you say they have to go see Extraction?
I think you have to go see it for the sheer amount of fight sequences that we get in this movie, I think you’re going to have a lot of fun watching the film, I think it’s something that you don’t have to think about too much, which I like sometimes, I think it’s one of those things where you kind of shut your brain off, eat some popcorn and have a blast, I think.
It’s like rom-coms for women isn’t it? (laughs)
Yeah you’re right, like one of those things to just have some fun and tune everything in your life out and have some fun at a movie.
EXTRACTION IS OUT NOW DIGITALLY AND ON BLU-RAY AND DVD FROM KALEIDOSCOPE HOME ENTERTAINMENT