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Interview / Updates Keoni Waxman!

DiDa

Super Moderator
Staff member
#1
Keoni Waxman answered the questions we had for him.

Here is the interview:



1.Can you tell something about yourself? How did you become involved in the movie business?




I started out making short films in film school and operating camera for Stan Brakhage on some of his experimental films at the University of Colorado back in the later 80’s early 90’s. While there I wrote and directed a jazz film with Michael Madsen based on the life of Chet Baker called ‘Almost Blue’. Michael had just finishing shooting Reservoir Dogs (it was still in post) and wanted to play something different than Mr. Blonde, I was 21 and making my first film – it was a blast. After that I moved to LA and started making action movies and TV movies in LA and Canada – eventually I met Steven and started making films and television with him.



2.You made a lot of movies with Steven Seagal. How is it to work with him on the set? Rumors are he works only 4 hours a day. Could you shed some light upon his persona/attitude on set, that may squash some of the negativity written about Seagal?




Steven is involved with every aspect of making the films – casting, wardrobe, locations and of course script and fight choreography. He knows a lot about making movies and likes to improvise – both with dialogue and fight choreography – which means he and I are allowed a lot of creative freedom while making the films. With Steven it’s a lot like playing music – and we all know that Steven is a good musician – so we have a lot of fun.



3.Do you have any say in the casting of your films?

Every movie is different but we always look for the best actors as well as the ones who can fight – depending on the role. Steven obviously knows more about the skill level of fighters than most everyone on set so we rely on his knowledge for a lot of that casting. Some actors come as part of the financing (as with any movie) and some we find while on location – which is always cool.



4.You have made a lot of movies with Steven Seagal. Is he a close friend of yours or is it just business?




Steven and I met years ago when we worked together on ‘The Keeper’ and have been friends ever since. Steven is always traveling but we speak often (especially while working on the movies and on True Justice).



5.What is Force of Execution about? Is Steven Seagal the main lead? Because you also have Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo and Bren Foster in the movie.




‘Force of Execution’ is about Mr. Alexander (Steven Seagal), a mob boss who wants to retire but cannot. Iceman (Ving Rhames) sees this and tries to take over by killing Alexander and his associates. Hurst (Bren Foster) is an injured hitman who used to work for Alexander and is asled by Alexander to help battle against Iceman and his crew. Oso (Danny Trejo) is Alexander’s friend who helps to heal Hurst so he can aid Alexander in the final battle. The movie is a different tone than the previous films – a crazy, violent ‘grindhouse’ style.



6.How many fight scenes does Steven Seagal have on Force of Execution?




We laughed on set about how many fights there are in FOE – we jokingly called it “Force of Execution: EVERYONE FIGHTS”. Steven has a kick ass opening fight and a number of cool fights throughout the film – then some awesome gun fighting and a climax fight that kicks ass. Hurst has an opening hit that he does in a prison that shows what Bren Foster can do – the guy can fly – and even Ving and Danny have some fight scenes. There isn’t as much gun play as Max Con but we wanted to go old school and make a sort of ‘western kung fu movie’ on this one – let me know if it works.



7.How long does it take to shoot a fight-scene?



It depends on the scene really – if it’s a two hander (Steven verses one guy) usually about 2 hours to choreograph, 2- hours to shoot Steven’s side, 2 hours to complete the scene – but remember – all the fights are sketched out in prep (for costume, EFX, VFX, set design, etc) so we kinda know going in what we are going to do. But like I said earlier – we try to leave as much open to change as possible so Steven and choreograph his moves and keep it fresh and hopefully unexpected. Add in more people and gun play and EFX and the time goes up.





8.Given that Seagal is such a skilled martial arts master, is there any chance that future fight scenes, could be shot from a distance, and in less takes? (in order to showcase Seagals 'craft') What do you think about the trend in Hollywood, concerning 'quick edits' during fight scenes?



Hollywood likes fast cuts because there aren’t really any more “real” martial artists (except the obvious guys) making action movies. Most of the guys now are actors who are doubled by stunt guys or are super heros who fight in costumes via CGI. It’s hard to compete with that when a lot of the audience has grown used to the fast cutting and massive VFX. That said – Steven still choreographs all his own action and (unless too dangerous) does his own fight sequences. Because it is the movies after all – we do use doubles for dangerous or more technical shots – but if you see a Seagal fight believe that he choreographed it and put a beat down on all the bad guys himself. One of the other reasons for a double (and therefor fast cutting) is because we have to move so fast on the shooting schedules these days. We used have about 25 days to make the films but it is now down to 20 to 18 days – it costs more to shoot so we don’t have enough time. As such we sometimes need to fill in the sequences on 2nd unit days – that’s why I work with Lauro Chartrand as my stunt coordinator. He’s a director as well so I can tell him what I need to finish a sequence and he can pick up the shot and I know it will cut in. In all we have been using my team from Canada for the past 6 years – we all know Steven’s style and know how to make the movies. I brought the entire team down for FOE which we shot in New Mexico instead of Vancouver this time.

9.Is there a lot of action in FOE? Does it have mostly fight scenes or also other action scenes like car chases, explosions…?



Like I said before… Everybody fights. Tons of hand to hand and a lot of gunplay but no real car chases or explosions (although we do roll a car). Again, we wanted to make an old school fight film (a western king fu movie) so we did it in a grindhouse style this time. It’s different but cool.



10.FOE is filmed in New Mexico. Your movie "The Keeper" did have some great locations. Will we see in FOE some great locations too, or will the movie have limited locations like in "Maximum Conviction" ?




Locations in FOE are off the hook. We shot in New Mexico for a number of reasons, but I really wanted to go back there to shoot since I liked the look of ‘The Keeper’ so much and was growing tired of moody, rainy Vancouver. Plus the film has a crazy Western/Mexican tone to it which we could only find in NM. It’s like a darker ‘The Keeper’.







11.Do you know when a trailer will be out and when the movie will be released?





No – that’s up to Voltage.

12.During your time working with Seagal has there been an actor that you wanted in one of his films, but then he turned the part down?




Casting is always a roll of the dice – conflicts with other movies, salaries, agents, etc – all make it seem impossible to close a deal sometimes even when all the actors are friends and want to do the film. Joe Taslim (The Raid) was almost in FOE but we couldn’t make it work.





13.Is there anything, looking back on your movies that you would have done differently? 




Making a film is the same as writing – you’re never finished they just tell you that your time is up. I’d keep working on each one if I had the chance. In fact one of my biggest complaints about making movies these days is that the post schedule is too short. The more time you have to make a film, the better it will be – you only get a chance to make a first impression once.



14.What triggers you the most to obtain the highest quality possible and from which can you grow/learn professionally the most?




Not sure I completely understand the question – sorry – but I can tell you this: You need a reason to make the film every time you start another one. It can be big (I want to work with Seagal!) or it can be personal (I’m bored with my life!) or exciting (I want to live to Colombia!) or even mundane (I wonder if I can shoot this all hand held?) – but you need a reason. Because that is what you end up looking at and infusing into the film over the 3-4 months you are working on it. And it becomes important to you and it becomes important (hopefully) to the audience because they just spent 90 minutes of their lives letting you tell them a story and you better not fuck it up or they won’t want you to tell them another one.



15.Can you tell an anecdote about something that happened on set?




Every Seagal film has a million great stories when we shoot – that’s half the reason we do them – as far as something recent..? When we were shooting Max Con in Vancouver, we took over an old juvenile detention center as our military prison. The ENTIRE MOVIE takes place at the military prison. We were so stoked – no company moves! – we should be able to shoot an extra two days because of this. That is until SUPERMAN came to town. Their craft service budget was probably bigger than our entire shooting budget (that’s not an exaggeration – they spent BANK on that movie). Anyway – they saw our location, said they wanted it and promptly bought it out from under us. We had to break down and move to an old asylum and probably lost 2 days of shooting because of it (a fun game to play when watching Max Con – are they in asylum or in the prison – we switch locations sometimes in the middle of scene). And the best (worst) part? SUPERMAN tore down our perfect location and used it as a place to build a set – they didn’t even shoot what was there. On the flip side when we shot seasons 1 & 2 of True Justice we used the back lot that Zack Snyder built for WATCHMEN – so I guess we kinda owed him…



16.What was the most difficult movie to shoot?




The last movie you shot is always the most difficult movie you shot.





17.After having put so much effort into True Justice, and even having a second season commissioned, were you disappointed with the way that the series has been treated on the home markets - i.e. released as separate 'movies' rather than as a TV series? Do you think that this may have potentially confused / put off a broader fanbase, particularly when the 'movies' were released out of episode order, and particularly since not all episodes were released?



Yes – the DVD release of TJ confused the audience (and myself as well). I will tell you this though – True Justice season 1 & 2 aired (in order) on the Reelz Channel in the states and was their highest rated show in their network history. It is still their #1 show and they are doing everything they can to make a 3rd season happen. Not sure if it will – but Seagal is the biggest star on their network because of True Justice. So that worked out I guess.



18.Will there be another season of True Justice?




See above



19.You worked with Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal and Steve Austin. Which action star or actor would you like to work with in the future?



That’s a hard one because some of the guys are technically action guys – they do action movies. But of the action guys out there - Statham kicks ass. Scott Adkins is the real deal. Love working with Bren and would love to find a black martial artist to work with. Joe Taslim is bad ass. There are others… Of the non-action action starts – hell we could just go through some of the big Hollywood action movies and write down names… I would love to do a big combo movie (like Expendables) with all the real deal guys. And of course Seagal would be the main man.



20.Would you like to do other genres or just specialize in action films?




I love doing action but yes… my daughter always asks me when I’m going to make a film she can watch.



21.Do you have some new projects on the horizon? Can you tell us something about them?



Can’t say specifically but we have a number of action films we are scouting for right now. Two for Seagal. Check in when you hear a buzz and I’ll tell you if you’re on the right track…



22.Do you have full control over your movies / Can you shoot your movies the way you want it? Can you till a bit about dtv filmmaking and how you experience the short shooting periods.

I kinda touched on this in the other answers… Control on a movie is always debatable because there are so many people who have a dog in the fight (so to speak). But when you work with Steven you are making movies with and for Steven so that is a breath of fresh air. Making DTV movies are the same as making big budget movies – just depends on the amount of money spent and that depends on the stars and the studio – you make the best movie you can and tell the best story you can and then you try to make it as kick ass as you can and you let the audience decide.






Thanks for the question guys – and thanks for contacting me Marco. Hope this was fun and informative and THANKS FOR WATCHING THE MOVIES!



-- K

 

lee nicholson

Well-Known Member
#3
Nice work Dida (you da' man) Thanks

Thanks also to Mr Waxman for taking time out to answer questions. It was quite a buzz to read that True Justice was filmed on the same back-lot as WATCHMEN (one of my favourite movies)
Force Of Execution sounds great!
 
#4
That's got to be one of the best forum-driven interviews that the site has ever had.

Well done Dida, excellent job, and it sounds like he's a really nice guy.

Just a shame about those short shooting and post schedules, eh? Looks like, with that still tying his hands, the quality of the movies is unlikely to change drastically. Ah well, perhaps it's not Steven's fault after all, although you have to wonder why somebody - whether Seagal, Waxman, Chartrand or anybody - doesn't suggest that maybe a little more post-production work could result in a movie which will look a lot better.
 

DiDa

Super Moderator
Staff member
#5
That's got to be one of the best forum-driven interviews that the site has ever had.

Well done Dida, excellent job, and it sounds like he's a really nice guy.

Just a shame about those short shooting and post schedules, eh? Looks like, with that still tying his hands, the quality of the movies is unlikely to change drastically. Ah well, perhaps it's not Steven's fault after all, although you have to wonder why somebody - whether Seagal, Waxman, Chartrand or anybody - doesn't suggest that maybe a little more post-production work could result in a movie which will look a lot better.
Thanks for the kind words everyone....

I agree. A shooting period of 18-20 days is insane. But as Keoni Waxman mentions, he always works with the same team. Everyone of the team knows exactly what to do. Lauro Chartrand leads the 2nd unit. Because of this great collaboration, Keoni Waxman can still pull it off.

My conclusion: sometimes we are complaining about Waxman always directing Seagal's movies. But in this business we should be happy with him and his team. Because otherwise we will get very bad dtv movies....
 

DiDa

Super Moderator
Staff member
#6
Mr. Waxman seems a really nice guy. He also mentioned that if we hear rumours about his new films or his collaboration with Steven Seagal I can always ask him....Cool isn't it?

In my last e-mail I thanked him for the interview and asked him If he will tell Steven Seagal that we are happy with what he is doing now. And.....I had to do it.....I also asked him to tell Steven that he has to take the part in EX3 that Stallone offered him....:D
 

Mason

Well-Known Member
#8
The movie is a different tone than the previous films – a crazy, violent ‘grindhouse’ style.
Steven has a kick ass opening fight and a number of cool fights throughout the film – then some awesome gun fighting and a climax fight that kicks ass.

After those two lines I want to see the trailer so bad I can taste it :D

Bren Foster said at one point on Twitter that the movie would be released in November, so if this is true we might not see a trailer until October or so.
 
#9
Mr. Waxman seems a really nice guy. He also mentioned that if we hear rumours about his new films or his collaboration with Steven Seagal I can always ask him....Cool isn't it?

In my last e-mail I thanked him for the interview and asked him If he will tell Steven Seagal that we are happy with what he is doing now. And.....I had to do it.....I also asked him to tell Steven that he has to take the part in EX3 that Stallone offered him....:D
Great interview - thanks for taking the time and trouble to assemble the questions and make it happen. Also, thanks to Keoni Waxman for providing a glimpse behind the camera.
 

JoshStern

Active Member
#11
I'm not excited for FOE at all. We have experienced this before where people are getting all worked up and when they finally see the movie they think its the worst pile of crap. So until I have at least seen the trailer I'm not gonna comment on it.
 

BarbaraAnn101

Well-Known Member
#12
I'm not excited for FOE at all. We have experienced this before where people are getting all worked up and when they finally see the movie they think its the worst pile of crap. So until I have at least seen the trailer I'm not gonna comment on it.
Josh...just break up with Steven already...I have said it before, and I will say it again...You sound like a disgruntled significant other in your criticisms of Steven...either you like him, or you don't. No one is making you like him.
 

JoshStern

Active Member
#14
Josh...just break up with Steven already...I have said it before, and I will say it again...You sound like a disgruntled significant other in your criticisms of Steven...either you like him, or you don't. No one is making you like him.
First of all, don't tell people what to do, that's not up to you at all.

Second of all, mind your own business and
EDITED DUE TO INAPROPRIATE LANGUAGE.
 

rastafari

Well-Known Member
#19
Can’t say specifically but we have a number of action films we are scouting for right now. Two for Seagal. Check in when you hear a buzz and I’ll tell you if you’re on the right track…

maybe dida could contact him again about A Good Man

maybe ask him more about the plot and also who the co stars are going to be

 

DiDa

Super Moderator
Staff member
#20
Can’t say specifically but we have a number of action films we are scouting for right now. Two for Seagal. Check in when you hear a buzz and I’ll tell you if you’re on the right track…

maybe dida could contact him again about A Good Man

maybe ask him more about the plot and also who the co stars are going to be
I will try...thanks!