Shoot 'Em Up
Most artists share stories about fighting with studio executives for their artistic vision. For Michael Davis, his first studio experience actually encouraged him to fulfill his vision. Shoot 'Em Up is a loving homage to the great bullet ballet films, and New Line Cinema execs provided the resources to make it happen. Davis calls Bob Shaye the godfather of the film, and Toby Emmerich gave him day to day support.
Michael Davis on New Line and Shoot 'Em Up
"Even recently, Toby Emmerich said, 'You know, why don't you just have a little bit more money for music,'" Davis shared. "Like the opening sequence with the oil slick, we had a band called Spider Baby in there and now we're going to end up putting a Nirvana song, Breed, under there. That cost us more money but the studio said, 'Hey, here's some more money. Spend it.' Which was awesome."
Just getting Clive Owen to star could have been a major battle, but Emmerich didn't waver. "What happened was, we got Clive to say yes and we had wanted to shoot the movie during the summer. At one point, was he going to do Inside Man or was he going to do Shoot 'Em Up? It looked like he was leaning towards doing Shoot 'Em Up. Then Toby Emmerich said, 'Well, Michael Davis is a first time studio director. Maybe we should give him six months to prep. Let's do it later.' But what happened was then Universal made a two picture deal with him on Inside Man and Children of Men, and his rate went up and up and up so by the time it was us, we had to beat that rate. And Cale Boyter my executive said, 'Well, I don't know if they're going to step to the plate. That's too rich for us. We're not going to do that.' And Toby said, 'All right, we'll do it. This is his price, we're going to pay.'"
With money spent on Owen, Davis never dreamed of landing an actor like Paul Giamatti for the villain role. "Jeff Katz was the one who suggested Paul Giamatti. Great idea for the movie but Paul was just doing Lady in the Water and his rate has gone up and we were scratching our heads, is Toby going to spring for the Giamatti money? We ended up coming up with a different cast list and not even talking about Giamatti because we didn't want to piss him off going after this super expensive guy for the bad guy part. And Toby said, 'What happened to the Giamatti idea?' And then we said, 'Well, this is his quote.' 'Okay, let's do it.'"
Gathering up the crew, Don Murphy pushed Davis to think outside of his own box. "He is the guy that when I was meeting with DPs, I was thinking, 'Who am I going to get?' He said, 'Push for more, ask for more.' And I ended up talking to Peter Pau, the guy who did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And if Don hadn't had pushed, I wouldn't have looked as hard or fought to get this Academy Award winning cinematographer to do my movie. Peter Pau was one of the best things I ever did because one day we had 39 setups before lunchtime. It was so blazing fast and he took care of me and knew every shot, every angle, analyzed the animation. He prelit 80% of the set and so I could walk in, and Don was pushing me every category. He talked to Guillermo Del Toro, which editor should you get? Oh, Peter Amundson, he did>Hellboy and Blade 2. Boom, I got Peter. He kept pushing me and he never got angry but he kept saying, 'You should demand more.' He kind of guided me and not to be greedy but that now it's your job to push the envelope to try to get them to spend more money or getting the Rolls Royce of crew members."
Come on, how often do you hear such happy stories about studio execs? "I have to say, the experience with the studio, making a movie with a heroine who's a lactating hooker and a baby in jeopardy and violence and blood splattering, they've been pretty darn super. And I know that sounds a little kiss ass or whatever but it's actually the truth. I've had a dream experience. I'd love to be the maverick guy, the Terry Gilliam arm wrestling, 'I wanted my cut of Brazil and those bastards…' Probably makes me seem cooler and tougher but they've been really good."
Shoot 'Em Up comes to theaters on September 7.
For the trailer and more movie info, go to the Shoot 'Em Up Movie Page.
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