Legendary Assistant Director, Producer, and Director of Dirty Lies talks to The Movie Sleuth about his new release and where film is headed. Jamie Marshall has had a long career working on such modern classics as Cliffhanger, Starship Troopers, Face Off, SWAT, and more. We had a chance to speak with him as he finally kicks off his career as a director.
TMS: You just had Dirty Lies come out this summer. Before this you did a lot of producer work. What was your favorite to work on?
JM: That's a good one. I've got a few. But I would say one of my favorites was Cliffhanger which I did in 1992. I was a young young kid. I say it was probably my favorite cause it was my first and I had an amazing experience. Working in Italy. Working with Stallone. Big budget movie and of course being one of my first big movies to work on I thought everyone was going to be like this. I look back to Cliffhanger and think 'Wow, what an amazing experience!', working with a fantastic international crew. From my personal experience I think of Cliffhanger like there will never be another one like it. I think at the end of the day it turned out to be a pretty great pop cult film.
TMS: That was one of the greatest villains that John Lithgow EVER played. So, what would you say is your best recent project?
JM: I would say the greatest film that I've worked on recently was The Foreigner. It's a serious Jackie Chan movie. I was a producer on it because I've worked for Martin Campbell for about 20 years now. I've worked with him on 8 movies. I started as his second assistant director and then went to his first assistant director. I've recently produced and directed second unit. Why that would be a favorite for me is because of my involvement. Being a producer. Getting to direct Jackie Chan in an action film, a serious Jackie Chan film I might add. I worked with Jackie a little bit on Rush Hour 2. I was an assistant director on the second unit. To be directing him in an action scene was like a dream come true. He's an amazing man. You have to bring your 'A' game to work.
TMS: We just released a list of The Top 5 Legit Bad Ass Action Stars and Jackie was on there.
JM: Of course Well, he really is. When you get to talk to him first hand, he's very entertaining. There's so many stories behind him. He does have good stunt doubles cause he's not a young man. but he's still very involved in the choreography and exactly what each punch would do or why his character would do that. We had 14 members of his stunt team in London. These guys work 7 days a week and it's all about bringing in a fresh take. This would be one of my best moments of my career.
TMS: So, explain to our readers the difference between a producer and a director.
TMS: Martin directed Goldeneye and then he did Casino Royale, correct? The two best Bond movies.
JM: Yes sir. Martin introduced Pierce and then he introduced Daniel Craig. And I've always said to him if they're going to do another new Bond, would you do it? The Bond films take a lot out of you. They're a year and a half of work. They're exhausting. But I think if there was a new Bond and the story was great, Martin would do another one. I loved Casino Royale. It's my favorite Bond film and I'm a big Bond fan. I've learned a lot from Martin and he's the reason I started directing. I've worked with directors like Martin who have said you 'have to do this'.
TMS: This movie you just did is Dirty Lies. What do you want to tell people about the movie and what genre is the film?
JM: The genre is a thriller. I'd say it's a crime, type of heist thriller. What I'd like to say is this was a passion project for me. I've wanted to direct. Actually, I sold a house. I financed the film myself. I really wanted to direct a feature. I'd been in development on some films after doing some successful second units. I just had the bug. I had to do it. Because it's so difficult to get films made and to get people to trust you, I decided I would finance my own film. I had to conceive a project I could pull off. That's how the story started.
I wanted it to be a personal story. Dirty Lies is a story about greed. It's about 4 roommates who are really happy in their relationships and how it can all change in one night. I like crime thrillers myself and I like to be taken on a ride. I try to do that in my film by taking the audience through twists and turns and different directions.
TMS: What other movies influenced this?
JM: I wouldn't actually name any particular films. I'm always scared to do that. I'm a big Tarantino fan. I like lots of Guy Ritchie films. I respond to the thrillers that they've done. I love Snatch. I can watch that once a month. I watch his movies and think 'I got to try this'. They move so great! The characters are fantastic. You can talk about those films and you can repeat the lines.
TMS: Who stars in Dirty Lies?
JM: The lead is a guy by the name of Martin Young. There are the roommates, Scout Taylor Compton, Tania Raymonde and then Beau Knapp. They're all working actors. They're all pretty successful. Tania is on an Amazon show now. She was one of the leads in the tv show Lost. Beau Knapp has been in a lot of movies. Scout was the girl from the Rob Zombie Halloween movies.
TMS: Where can people see the movie now?
JM: It's on VOD. It's on pretty much every VOD provider except Netflix. It's on Hulu, Netflix, Apple, and Amazon. I'm hoping to get a deal from Starz as well. It's being negotiated as we speak. It'll be on cable to.
TMS: What do you think of the trend that's happening where so many things are going to VOD now? Is it good or bad?
JM: Well, I think as a filmmaker that just released a film, I'd say it's a good thing. There might have been a chance that my film would never have come out. We couldn't get a theatrical release. To release a film now it costs so much money. Unless they're a big budget tentpole franchise film, it's very expensive to release a film theatrically. Because of VOD, it's a way that films can out there and get a life, get an audience, and hopefully get a fanbase so you can make other films. Those are the pros. The cons are like when I was on the Jackie Chan film in China. A couple times were riding the subway car in Shanghai and I would see people watching films on their cell phones. When you're a filmmaker and you've busted your gut to give as much scope and detail on the screen, then your film is being watched on a cell phone it's disappointing.
It's a different world. I'm getting used to it. Once upon a time if you went to VOD or straight to DVD, you'd done something wrong or you haven't achieved. But now it's a serious way of releasing content. With piracy, even the theatrical releases can suffer. So, getting it out on VOD for a small amount of money, you're probably less prone to piracy. The audience can be worldwide pretty quick. So anybody, anywhere in the world can watch your film. It's a new day. It's about adapting and giving the audience what they want.
TMS: Like this latest Mel Gibson movie, Blood Father?
JM: Yeah. Once upon on a time in the Braveheart days, if you would have said to me that a Mel Gibson movie was going to go straight to DVD, we would have both gone 'No way. Not Mel Gibson'. But nowadays, that's acceptable and practical.
TMS: What directors or creative minds have influenced you?
JM: I can say that most would be directors I've worked with that have influenced me. Antoine Fuqua, who directed Training Day, The Equalizer, and The Magnificent Seven that's coming out. He's a fantastic filmmaker, Antoine. I worked with him on a film in 2011 for six months that never went to screen. We did a lot of prep work on it. Then he jumped ship on that film we were prepping and he went to do Olympus Has Fallen. I got to direct the majority of the action on that film. I hadn't really directed much and he knew that I knew what I was talking about. I learned a lot. I spent a lot of time on his sets. I cleaned up a lot of the action on his sets. He's a master with the camera. He's a big inspiration for me.
Scott Cooper and Gavin O'Connor have given me a lot of inspiration. They have a lot of flexibility of letting the actors to work on the set without restricting them. They're writer/directors. I learned a lot from them. They give their actors the freedom to experiment. That's a huge lesson.
Scott Cooper, that was Out of the Furnace.
TMS: That was Christian Bale's first role after the Nolan Batman trilogy, correct? The man is an artist.
JM: Yes. I loved working with him. We were working 20-30 set ups a day and he was loving it. He liked that he could act and just keep going. He'd come to the set in the morning and stick around til lunch. He become like part of the crew.
He just had a shoulderbag. He showed up onset like a steelworker. He showed up in jeans, a white tshirt, and boots. That was his character and how he'd come to work.
TMS: What's coming up next for you? Are you going to produce or direct?
JM: Well, I'm doing both. The directing is the passion and the producing pays the bills but I've got a couple of projects set up as a producer. One of those is with Martin Campbell. It's a big epic action thriller. And I've got two projects set up that I'm going to direct. One is an action thriller and I've got a horror thriller that's being re-written as we speak.
We thank Jamie for taking the time to talk to us! Catch Dirty Lies on VOD.