Your new movie Double
Threat - in a few words, what is it about?
all about a straight-laced guy making a trip across the US who runs into a
mysterious girl working in a convenience store and gets caught up in her
wild situation where sheís being chased by the mob.
Threat being about a road trip gone somewhat sideways, what were
some of your own worst road trip experiences, and did they in any way
inform your movie?
once did a road trip all the way up and down the United Kingdom in just 48
hours; London to John o' Groats to Land's End and back to London non-stop.
If that wasnít tough enough, it was in a 1960ís Triumph Spitifire!
What I hoped would be like my own Cannonball Run turned into a two day
nightmare as the clutch seized, the fold down roof constantly flapped, the
heaters spewed oil vapour into the cabin, and a gas station egg mayo
sandwich played havoc with my intestines. To top it all off, the trophy I
got at the end of it had my name spelled wrong. That experience really
taught me about keeping going against the odds and maintaining a
friendship with your companions along the way. My co-driver and I never
let the exhaustion and moments of futility get between us and, while there
were points where I would have happily had us breakdown and taken home on
a recovery truck, there were also some of the best driving moments of my
life when we got to the backroads of Wales in the early hours of the
morning and had to keep up with a much faster Triumph GT6 through the
(Other) sources of inspiration when
writing Double Threat?
basic premise of the film is inspired by a time my director and producing
partner Shane Stanley visited a small convenience store in some remote
area of Mexico while filming a TV pilot. The girl that served him seemed
completely out of place for the location and he couldnít help but wonder
what put her there; was she part of a drugs racket, was she working
for the authorities, was the whole store a front for something more
can you tell us about Double
Threat's approach to the action genre?
a stickler for real stunts in film and even more passionate about actors
doing everything they can on camera to help make things feel even more
realistic. The action scenes in Double Threat
huge in scope like youíd see in a modern day blockbuster, but they are
gritty and 100% executed for real by the lead actress herself, Danielle C.
Ryan. Thatís incredibly rare to see and harks back to older martial arts
movies that would put your heart in your throat. I was very much inspired
by the stunt work of Cynthia Rothrock during the writing stage, and a lot
of that tonality made it into the action.
a writer, I also wanted there to be some meat to the story and say
something meaningful through it rather than contrive a load of situations
where a fight would take place. This all said, Double Threat
is inherently a satirical take on vapid
action movies (particularly female-led action movies) at its core. The
tropes it seems to default to are very much deliberate and, if you take
some time to digest whatís being said between the lines, youíll see
the critiques being made.
did the project fall together in the first place, and how did you end up
on the producing side of things as well?
being in the midst of the pandemic, Shane and I were determined to make
something happen by the end of 2020. Iíd written (and re-written) a few
scripts after Break Even that
we felt stood a good chance of getting made but seemed to hit a cruel
roadblock as soon as they hit their stride. Double
Threat itself started as a thirty page dump of
consciousness by Shane under the title of ďGypsy RoadĒ that he sent to
me in the hope it would inspire me to jump in and develop it further.
Admittedly, I was hesitant at first due to mental exhaustion, but a
micro-investor came along and my faith in something actually going into
production was rekindled.
Iíve never chased the role of producer or aspired to become one, Iíve
wanted to help out and learn about every aspect of film-financing,
production, and distribution since Iíve had the chance to. Although I
was just the writer on Break Even, I wore every
hat I could from casting, to bringing cast members their food and
condiments, to sitting with Shane through the post-production process.
From the day we started looking at making another movie together, he
wanted me to be a co-producer which was a wonderful, unexpected surprise.
In the case of Double
Threat, Iím actually a
producing partner as it simply made sense from a budgetary point of view.
We potentially had less money to play with than the average WGA writer
gets to write a studio feature, so it was clear to me that, while Shane
desperately wanted to compensate me with something, taking a fee was going
to take vital dollars away from the production and thus I suggested I
participate. He was going to suggest the same anyway, so that was that - I
went from writer on my first ever feature film to partner on my second!
really did fall together too. It was remarkable and we felt blessed.
Following a conversation we had about wanting to work with Danielle C.
Ryan specifically, we contacted her manager the next day to find out
theyíd been having the exact same conversation about us. Then, despite
our original investor going AWOL on us, we secured funding just a week
later, and I turned around the script in six days. From soup-to-nuts, we
went from initial concept meeting to wrapping principal photography in
only three months!
What were the
challenges of bringing Double
Threat to the screen from a producer's point of view?
biggest challenge by far was Covid and how that was impacting life on set.
The unions were doing their best to manage the situation but, due to the
rapidly changing landscape, couldnít project very far ahead at all. The
greatest fear was a shutdown, as you canít really survive that with a
small indie production - even so much as getting an extra shooting day
with your leads can be next to impossible. Then there was learning about
all the safety policies and making sure we implemented them correctly. It
was a bit of a wild west at that time. Many testing companies, PPE
providers, and certified safety officers were milking producers dry by
capitalising on the situation, just like civilians were hoarding and
reselling toilet paper. Doing everything by the book brought about
logistical constraints at even the writing stage, as we had to use a
minimal cast and skeleton crew in locations where we could ensure suitable
talk about Double Threat's
director Shane Stanley, and what was your collaboration like?
and I are like a left and right hand at this point, weíre on exactly the
same wavelength and often know what each otherís thinking before we say
it. That said, weíre very different people with him the eternal optimist
and myself the pessimist - imagine Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore making films
together. Heís learned from going all the way to the top (Shane
executive produced global box office #1 Gridiron Gang starring
The Rock) that he has to be careful who he lets into his life, but those
who do make the cut are treated like family.
a script for Shane is perhaps even easier than writing a script for
myself. We brainstorm the basics and I rapidly deliver something that
requires little more than typos and fits in with our logistics. He does
his best to honour the script too and rarely deviates unless itís
impossible to deliver exactly whatís on the page. That makes the process
fun and respectful.
only had one little bit of friction with Double
Threat, and that was over what I personally wanted
out of the fight scenes. I was really worried they would feel (as they
often do) like the female lead was being fed one assailant at a time in an
unrealistic manner so she could easily win. I was really struggling to put
across the tonality and Shane was growing frustrated over how to
communicate all this to the stunt team led by the legendary Doc Duhame.
Eventually I used the term ďcat likeĒ to describe her fighting and it
all clicked into place. We were on the same page and I think it shows in
can you tell us about Double
Threat's cast, and as a producer, how much of a say did you have
or demand when it came to casting?
only a cast of five, we didnít have high demands but Covid was making
this one of the hardest areas to move forward. Many actors chose to bunker
down at home and didnít want to come out and play, especially for a
small indie. Others were itching to do what theyíre passionate about
doing so it was a case of finding them and reaching out. We had Danielle
C. Ryan, so the most critical role (from a stunts point of view) was
fulfilled. Shane had wanted a Patrick Bateman type actor for the male lead
and Matthew Lawrence turned out to be the perfect pairing, especially
since heís an indie producer himself and thus ready to run-and-gun as
needed. We attached Kevin Joy as one of our antagonistic duo on the
strength of a read he sent in that just blew us away, and we also brought
back Mo Gallini for our mob boss after working with him on Break Even
was such a pleasure.
tough part was the other half of that antagonistic duo, our surly henchman
named ďAskĒ. We couldnít find the right guy and, at the eleventh
hour, threw a hail Mary. Shane loved Dawn Olivieri after seeing her in House
of Lies, and it turned out she was eager to come out
and play ASAP. We threw her the script with the male role unchanged and
she accepted it! Thatís Dawn in a nutshell and why sheís such a good
get. One quick re-write later and I tweaked all the dialogue to better
match her tone of delivery.
a producer, Iím not demanding when it comes to casting. The process is
typically a logical business decision over all else as you want the most
recognisable star power you can afford within your budget. Thatís what
low budget movies sell on and thus Iíd rather rewrite a role to suit
desirable talent than miss the opportunity to work with them. The only
time Iíll put my foot down is if I feel weíre in danger of what I call
ďtaking the jam out the donutĒ. There was a time we had the offer of
funding on a fun female led action comedy about a couple of co-eds where
the potential investor wanted to replace one of the best young adult
characters Iíve ever written with his middle-aged wife. That was no
bueno for me as it would have inevitably taken a lot of market appeal out
of the core concept.
A few words about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
perhaps cruelly, I wasnít there as a guest on set this time. The travel
ban put in place from Europe to the US ensured I had to watch production
take place from the confines of my bedroom in the depths of winter here in
England. That said, Shane would call me every morning as he drove the box
truck in full of joy for what was the easiest shoot heís ever had.
Everyone brought their A-game and I think many were just so happy to be
out working on set during such tough times of uncertainty.
pride ourselves on running a kind set where individuals have a lot of
autonomy that empowers them so all our productions are fun and rewarding
to be a part of. Sure, the masks and distancing certainly took the edge
off and the daily testing each morning eventually became tedious, but
spirits were high from start to finish with not a single positive test for
$64-question of course, where can Double
Threat be seen?
to the ongoing situation with movie theatres, Double
Threat is going out
on VOD from Fri June 3rd and will be available in the US and Canada
initially on iTunes, iNDEMAND, Vudu/FandangoNOW, Vubiquity,
Microsoft Store | Xbox, Google Play, DirecTV, and Redbox.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Double
loves the action scenes and are blown away by the stunts Danielle C. Ryan
can perform on top of putting in a brilliant job of playing our female lead. They love the comedy too and describe the whole movie as tremendous
fun. However, it is a low budget film made during the pandemic, and you
have to be prepared for a lot of superficial criticism that comes with
that. What we were aiming for here is something more edgy than a Lifetime
movie but still family friendly enough to play on mainstream television,
and I think we hit the mark with that. One reviewer describes it as
ďgrindhouse liteĒ which Iíll take as a badge of honour as we really
wanted to pay homage to those old exploitation movies we love while also
making a movie which can secure distribution in todayís tough
marketplace. What Iím particularly looking forward to is watching people
pick up on the more satirical elements and core message behind the story.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
next feature film collaboration with Shane has just come back from Cannes
where it was swarmed with screening requests. Itís called Night
Train and itís about a single mom struggling to
make ends meet as a Hollywood teamster who evades capture by a ruthless
FBI agent while running black market medical supplies in her legendary
souped-up pickup truck. We went straight back to collaborating with
Danielle, who does all her own stunt driving in this one and was pretty
much born to play her character. Itís all based on a script I wanted to
write that actually got the greenlight at the synopsis stage, so itís
very close to my spec portfolio and the closest thing weíve made to my
own personal brand. I really got to flex my petrolhead muscles with this
one, and itís remarkably rich in terms of message. Production was tough
out there in the heat of the palm desert and Covid still stalking everyone,
but the results have blown me away.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
best place to keep track of me is via my personal site
links to everything else.
Threat can be followed on both Facebook
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
ever, if you are reading this as an aspiring screenwriter yourself then
please donít forget that I created and run one of the biggest script
hosting platforms out there Script Revolution
as a place for you to get free exposure on your work and also have a well
reviewed book on craft you can check out called Turn & Burn: The
Scriptwriter's Guide to Writing Better Screenplays Faster
for the interview!