Scott Martin’s “Big Kill” Western Entertains and Brings a bit of Nostalgia
By Liz Lopez
Almost a month after attending a film festival featuring horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and other great films, I was offered the opportunity to view a film in time for the release this weekend. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, it is an Indie Western by former Austinite, writer/director/producer Scott Martin (“Battle Force”), who also stars in his film “Big Kill” as Jake Logan. I am a fan of this genre, having watched many Western films and television series with my family since childhood. I know what I have found entertaining all these years, so I continue to watch Westerns that are currently being created. The independent film created with a limited budget, “Big Kill,” should definitely be on the list of films to watch this weekend if you are a fan and don’t mind giving “independent” films a try. The story, cast/performances and costume design are all good reasons to catch this flick.
Jim Andrews (Christoph Sanders, “Last Man Standing”) is an accountant from the East Coast heading West to find his brother who once wrote and said business is great. Along the way, he meets two out of luck gamblers, Jake (Martin) and Travis (Clint Hummel), who are in a spot of trouble after crossing into Mexico and getting on the wrong side of General Morales (Danny Trejo) and an army of men. The pair in trouble are more than willing to escort the accountant to Big Kill, Arizona – even if they never heard of the place. “Saloon” is the key word that sways them in seconds.
Once they arrive, the trio finds there is a vast difference in this town than what his brother, The Mayor (K. C. Clyde) described in the letter. Times are hard now and the town has self-declared enforcement, The Preacher (Jason Patric, “Entourage” TV Series) and the notorious outlaw Johnny Kane (Lou Diamond Phillips, “Blue Bloods” and “Longmire” TV Series, “La Bamba”). Does the trio stay or leave? “Get outta town,” or rise to the challenges? That is what you will discover when you see the film!
The film also stars supporting actors Elizabeth McLaughlin (“Pretty Little Liars” TV Series); Stephanie Beran as Felicia Stiletto, Texan native, Audrey Walters as The Madam; David Manzanares (“Sicario: Day of the Soldado”) and many others.
The film is rated R (for the many saloon and bedroom scenes, as well as gun violence) and is 128 minutes long. The film will open in Austin at Regal Gateway 16 and Regal Metropolitan 14 on October 19th. The 7pm feature film at Regal Gateway 16 on Friday, opening night, will feature a Q&A with the filmmaker while he is in town.
Big Kill Interview with filmmaker Scott Martin
Born in Texas, raised in Austin and now an LA resident, filmmaker Scott Martin was in his former hometown for the release of his film, “Big Kill.” He shared that his parents and grandmother attended the Los Angeles premiere this past Monday.
Q –Why a Western and why now?
SM – I wrote the script 12 years ago and the film didn’t happen then, which was for the betterment of the movie. I have grown since then as an actor/producer. Westerns have had a comeback in general in the US, and it is a good time to do it. I have been dying to make this movie. I am a huge fan of Westerns. They are all different, but I want to make one to entertain and be enjoyed. When I see a Western I want to watch on TV, I sit, no distractions – that is it! “Tombstone,” “Silverado” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” are favorites.
Also, as a fan of Westerns, I wanted to make one with an older feel, but with modern techniques. I want to take people back to those Westerns. I have memories of watching movies with my Dad, especially “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (his father’s favorite). We’d watch it together. It is good to have people have those memories (from watching films).
Q – So how did you score Danny Trejo for this film?
SM – I was looking for someone to fill the role. I could have used a local actor (New Mexico where they filmed), but we really wanted to bring personality to the role. We were not sure if we could, but are very happy to get him. He is super nice and a great guy to work with.
Q – Can you share any experience that was a challenge for you with this film?
SM – Yes, there are definitely a couple. One -wearing the different hats to make the film. I have an amazing cast and crew that supported me. They had the same vision and believed in it. I enjoyed being on set. It was challenging but extremely rewarding.
Also, we were filming in New Mexico and were not aware how cold it got in November and December. Down to single digits (cold)! The propane tanks on set were freezing. The wardrobe was not made for cold weather. The buildings were not insulated. The saloon had cold air coming up through the wood (on the floor).
Q- Can you talk about the writing process for the script?
SM – I am a writer. I can do it and enjoy it, especially when I am passionate about it. When it came time to do the film, there a few re-writes, but not too much. Two months before pre-production, I also did a little clean up on the dialogue.
Q – What about the casting of the other actors?
We are really fortunate to have people like Jason Patric and Lou Diamond Phillips. Lou was great as Johnny Kane. His is an interesting character – a sociopathic gun – killer, but very charismatic. It is tough to play that. He is the nicest guy to ever meet and we got on the same page. We dressed him (for the character) “peacock” – like (in a red suit) and when he said he wanted to have a pencil thin moustache, we said yes!
In the other roles, Travis has been (a part) of the movie since the first day. We’ve known each other for a long time and now we’re older. We have a better fit (for the roles in the film). I’ve known many of the other actors too, some as far back as acting school. Christoph and Clyde – we’ve known each other so well, the chemistry is real – no faking. With Clint, we’ve been friends a long time and it is easy to be buddies (in the film).
Q – I noticed Clint’s hair and wardrobe is very nice, especially the black and red.
SM – Not having a big budget, we did pay a lot of attention to detail. We wanted to see everything was right. In the scene where we share the flask, it has a bullet in it. People may not see it, but we hope to give the audience a better experience.
Q – Viewing it on the smaller screen, the color looks good.
SM – It was a very big point of mine (color) before going to New Mexico and had meetings with the cinematographer, the costume designer and the production designer where I stressed color. I had lots of reference photos and some were spot on, but some of (costume designer) Toby’s ideas were a little crazy. Toby and Lou knock on my door, with Lou dressed in the red suit. I said “yes” as the suit goes with the character’s “peacock” (attitude).
Cord (Newman) showed up with a big red beard with white in it. As I was working on a very dramatic scene, Toby stopped me to show what he did with him. (Cord) looked like a 6’6” leprechaun – wearing a big plaid green (period correct outfit). He looked Irish, so Toby dressed him that way. We then changed the character to an Irishman, Patrick O’Malley, and created new dialogue in the script for his scenes.
The filmmaker also stated that he hopes people go see the film to be entertained. There is no message; just take a few hours to forget their/world problems. He hopes they leave (the theater) in a happier mood – that would make him happy. He also really hopes people follow the characters, with the goal that they become their friends.
Source: Archstone Distribution