Hello everyone, I have been in contact with director Michael Oblowitz for the last weeks. He was willing to do an exclusive interview for our website.
Thank you Michael Oblowitz for this opportunity!
Here we go:
Can you tell something about yourself? How did you become
involved in the movie business?
I studied fine art & art history & photography & then film-making—I started directing b&w art-films in the 1970’s & early 1980’s and then I started directing music videos & TV comercials---eventually I started directing commercial narrative films…
I don't know which movie was shot first, but how did you get involved in the making of The Foreigner and Out For A Kill and was this always suppose to be a 2 picture deal for you?
I was introduced to Steven Seagal by a lawyer who represented both of us to direct The Foreigner. That movie went well and then I was asked to direct Out For A Kill.
How long was the shooting schedule on both movies? Did you get enough time for preparation?
Seagal was still a pretty big international movie star when I made those two movies, and I had more than enough preparation and shooting time.. I was working in Eastern Europe for a few years on both pictures.
Did you get to choose your own filmcrew?
Well I was working in foreign countries with local production companies. So I got to chose my key crew members like Cinematographer and Editor and Production Designers
What was your experience on set during the filming of both movies? Any anekdotes?
We always had a lot of fun on the sets. Steven is a good guitar player and he played a lot of blues in Poland with some good local musicians, during The Foreigner. During Out For A Kill we were filming in Bulgaria and he didnt play much blues over there
How was it to work with Steven Seagal on set? I mean, there are the rumours that he is not easy to work with and has a big ego. Was he dedicated to the project this time?
Seagal is just like any actor. He wants his brand protected so he wants his vision of the film created. If he feels conflict with the direction that the film is taking, he can be upset. If he feels comfortable its a fun experience.
Did you have enough influence during the filming of those 2 movies? Were
you free to use your own vision?
The films were a combination of my vision with Seagal’s vision.
What everyone is always talking about is Seagal's fightscenes. Did he do them all by himself and did he choreograph them?
On the Foreigner we had a terrific Eastern European fight choreography crew, headed up by a great Second Unit Director from Scotland, Tom Delmar, who had worked on the James Bond films. On Out For A Kill we used a Shaolin fight crew from Mainland China. They were extraordinary. Seagal would design his Aikido choreography with the fight choreographers, and then they would integrate Seagal’s fight choreography into the style of their fight choreography and then the Second Unit Director and I would break the choreography up into parts and decide who was going to film which part.
What was the budget for The Foreigner and Out For A Kill and what was the most
difficult aspect of making these movies?
The Foreigner was around 20 million dollars and Out For A Kill was around ten million .
The Foreigner was filmed during the bitter Polish winter- A seemingly endless dark, grey, icy coldness, that endured for months on end. It was a war of attrition against the elements.
We were on location shooting many exteriors o take advantage of the iconic Polish countryside and locations. We froze our asses off…
Out For A Kill was different. We were shooting in South Eastern Europe. On the borders of Bulgaria and Romania and Serbia and Croatia. Summertime. We were replicating the Steppes of Mongolia and China. We constructed a few blocks of New York City’s Chinatown in an Olympic swimming pool in the Bulgarian city of Sofia. I had a terrific Production Designer from England, Michael Seymour. He Production Designed the original Alien movie for Ridley Scott. His design and execution of the Chinatown set inside the Olympic swimming pool was sheer genius.There were exterior and interior sets. Michael was also the original Production Designer on Blade Runner with Ridley Scott. So the attention to detail was extraordinary. I love the fight scene in the barber shop, where Seagal fights the Shaolin fighter doing the Chines Monkey Style choreography. All filmed with suspension wires and harnesses which were later removed digitally in Post Producton. The set Michael designed fort hat scene was spectacular. A Blade Runner style barbershop interior with break away walls that could be filmed from inside and outside the barber shop, from the streets of the fabricated Chinatown.
Were The Foreigner and Out For A Kill always suppose to go dtv or was there a theatrical release in mind by the producers?
I think both films had theatrical releases in some countries, like Italy and Asia and other markets. They had big TV releases in the United States.
Can you shine a light on the making of a dtv movie? What kind of problems are you up against when making these kind of movies?
I dont know. All movies are the same no matter what the end user distribution outlet. There are technical requirements for all the different distribution formats, but that can be accomodated in the camera framing on the set and the various finale masters.
Is there anything you would have done differently regarding the making of The Foreigner and Out For A Kill?
No… I wouldnt have left my 35 mm projection print of Out For A Kill with the projectionist in Bulgaria, after the Bulgarian premiere, thinking I would get it back!!!
Did you have some influence on the post-production of the
movies and were you happy with the final product?
I edited and audio mixed and supervised the soundtrack and total completion of both movies.
On Out For A Kill I worked with my dear friend and brilliant editor, Bobbie Ferreti, who amongst the many great action films he edited, was Under Siege, On Deadly Ground, Rocky, Tango and Cash, and many other great films…
How big is Seagal's influence during filming and postproduction?
Steven was very involved in pre-production. He basically rewrote both original scripts with me before each film started shooting, during pre-production.
I watched The Foreigner last week and I noticed that sometimes Seagal's voice was dubbed. How did that happen? Wasn't he available for post-production?
We post recorded some of his dialogue - perhaps where we had a poor recording on the set, but a good physical performance - it's Seagal doing the line- in a studio in ADR recording.
Who are your dream actors or stars you would like to work
with in the future?
What are your plans for the future? Any projects you are
I like making surfing movies
Thank you for your time and good luck with your future projects!