Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Brad Watson, Director and Composer of The Siege (2023), which is available on DVD and all major Digital platforms, including Apple iTunes / Google Play in Australia & New Zealand from March 8th.
Are you a lover of action films? If so, what are some of your all-time favourite titles or action heroes from the big screen?
I absolutely love action films! But I am definitely what you would call an old-school kind of guy. If I was to say what my favourite action movie is, by default, it would be Raiders of The Lost Ark as it is in the bucket of my favourite films of all time. But it kind of transcends genre, and I often don’t think of it as an action film. I often say my favourite balls-to-the-wall, pure-octane ‘action’ action movie is True Lies. The sequences in that movie are mind-boggling even to this day!
What was your inspiration while making this film? Am I right to say this film has clearly been inspired by a few brainless action flicks from the 80s?
You are absolutely right to think that. And I’m glad that comes across. When the opportunity came about to make an action film in this way, I leapt at the chance to reference classics like First Blood and Escape From New York. (My movie Hallows Eve was a love letter to John Carpenter too!). But I also enjoyed Edgar Wright’s take on the final act of Hot Fuzz, making it like a platform game, and you graduate from level to level. I wanted the whole film to feel like that.
How long did it take to make the film?
We shot it in 18 days, which is totally mad for an action film. But we shot fast and furious (but I never use that as an excuse to be sloppy). I locked the picture cut two months later.
What was the biggest challenge you had making this film?
Definitely the schedule and budget. We had to make the movie very economically, but experience has taught me where you can be economical.
Which one do you love more, and why – Directing or Composing?
Directing for sure (but ask me that when I have just wrapped a production, and the answer may be different). Directing was always my aim and career path (since I was 8). But I am such a musical nut, especially movie scores, and I’ve loved composing since an early age, so sometimes, for schedule and budget reasons, I’ll take that job on. (Another John Carpenter nod me thinks) It definitely gives me a buzz when people have commented on the score feeling old school and contributing to that vibe of the film. Totally what I was going for.
Tell me more about the lead in this film? What was it like working with the legendary action star and former bodybuilding champion Daniel Stisen?
Daniel is a total professional. In fact, he’s much more than that. He puts in so much effort and demands so much of himself that it’s a sight to behold. We hit it off immediately, and I think he responded to my geeky love of the genre. He knows his ‘brand’ and he has strong ideas about certain things, but I was so surprised at how much trust he put in me and believed that we could push him into a slightly more fun kind of film. That was new territory for him, but I think he really wanted that to work as it would show a different edge to him. And my favourite thing on set would be to say something stupid that would make him smile. I loved it. And loved working with him.
The visuals and action sequences here are tremendous. Can you tell me more about the filming style and the locations you chose, particularly the area which is made to look like a facility where our lead Walker is attempting to lay low and obtain a new identity?
Well, we made the decision very early on to shoot the whole movie at Highfield Grange Studios near York. And that’s what you see. The exteriors are all around the accommodation blocks and car parks. And then a couple of sets we built on the stages. But that was the only way we could achieve this in such a small amount of time. The crew obviously hated me because it was 90 per cent night shoots… in December… in the North of England! But I’m glad you felt we achieved a look and style that worked. We worked very hard to create that.
What’s the best advice you would give someone who wants to direct a feature film one day?
Well, the first thing to say is get directing! Start shooting stuff and cutting it together to hone your technique. There is no excuse nowadays to not do that. And get yourself onto productions in any way you can. Experiencing a working set and meeting people has no substitute. But the most important thing to say is when you start making things, you’re going to be calling in favours and collaborating. Good will is your number one currency at that stage, so don’t be a dick!
Why should the people of Australia and New Zealand rent/buy The Siege (2022) when it comes out from March 8th?
Most action movies made at this level take themselves very seriously, so if you want to see something that, while keeping the stakes real and investing you in the characters, there is also some charm and fun to be had, then check it out. Just sit back and enjoy the ride!
A big thank you to Brad Watson for making himself available to chat about his new action film! For more information on The Siege (2023), check out the link from Defiant Screen Entertainment: https://www.defiant-ent.com/product/siege-the/
Contact Details for Brad Watson