What processes do you both share when making the film? And what was Edward Payson's involvement, whom you also worked with previously on THE COHASSET SNUFF FILM?
Along with my brother, Ted was my right hand man during pre-production and for our first 17 day Tampa shoot in February of 2012. Because of the hectic schedule, and many times the necessary use of two crews at the same time, Ted even helped direct a few scenes (for which he is listed as special Guest director). His wealth of knowledge and contacts in LA helped enormously during the entire pre-production, and FURY wouldn't be the same film without Ted. However, after February of 2012 we had three additional large production shoots (every scene with Lazarus & Lukas Lodder to name a few) for which Ted wasn't able to join us. Additionally, all post production work was done in Rhode Island, and Ted works full time in LA. Thus, we certainly kept in touch, and Ted gave me his valuable opinion many times during post. However, ultimately I served only as cinematographer on The Cohasset Snuff Film, and Ted was certainly a huge asset for a large portion of FURY. But, truth be told, My brother and I we're the driving force behind FURY during all three years of production.
The pacing is frantic, but you also let the scenes ‘breathe’ – the extended showdown between Lazarus and Ronan; the monologue-ing that Lukas does when discovered by Rex. It pushes the running time out to 114 minutes, which is long for this kind of film, but also creates some great singular moments. What had to be conveyed during these long setpieces?
In the world of FURY, we wanted to ensure that each of our dark, demented characters were developed fully enough to evoke some serious hatred from the audience, which in turn, would make their deaths that much more epic and satisfying. A commonality between many of Pierce’s adversaries is a kill crafted by their own “poison”. This gave us an opportunity to highlight each villain’s unique brand of evil, while also showcasing Ronan’s manic fury when provoked.
While the build-up and break-down of those particular scenes were carefully constructed, having great actors portraying Lazarus and Lukas demanded that we stretch out these awesome moments; it certainly wasn’t easy leaving any of them on the cutting room floor. Because there are so many interlocking elements within FURY’S plot, there needed to be somewhat expository moments that could serve as a quick recap or new piece of the puzzle; but these also balance the crazy, fast paced, heavy bass feel of the rest of FURY.
There are some beautiful CGI cityscapes in the film, as well as scenes that look as though the negative was dragged through an oily puddle on the road (which I mean to be a glowing compliment). What artists or illustrators inspired the look of the film?
When we first started creating the concept of our film, it was clear to us that we wanted FURY to be driven largely by its style. We wanted to depict our own dark, graphic world, fully equipped with heroes, villains and rock n’ roll who would all be driven by an exaggerated madness and a noir-inspired intensity. We felt that in order to create a world that felt original, we would need to incorporate some fantastical animated elements; this came in the form of our CGI transitions- a great collaboration with the awesome Treanor Brothers Animation and CG artist Gia Nguyen Hoang who helped bring our original concepts and rough sketches to life.
Among the many graphic novel-styled films that we love, our biggest inspirations include Frank Miller’s Sin City, Batman, Blade, The Punisher, The Crow, Blade Runner, Dark City, Fight Club, Kill Bill, The Matrix, Escape from New York and of course, Mad Max. Since we were two young boys playing video games in the basement, we’ve always been fascinated by the ability to suspend yourself in a world separate from reality and totally submerge into each city or character or weapon’s inner workings. Any true action, horror or sci-fi enthusiast would agree that there is nothing more entertaining than true escapism. We wanted to create that same kind of larger than life feel for FURY viewers that we’ve always loved. What can we say- we just made the movie we would want to watch.
As for the actual color of the film, there is no doubt I wanted the film to come across as full of color, ultra gritty and making it seem as though it were dragged through the many dirty alley ways of Harbor City. I felt this would perfectly convey the many colorful characters caught the the craziest of situations throughout the film. The final coloring was a fun "cocktail" to make, using highly saturated colors immersed in a green and dark yellow base (using noirish sensibilities throughout). Ultimately, I felt that an over the top dark style should reaffirm that otherworldly graphic novel feel of escapism found in FURY's fictional Harbor City.
The yin/yang of the film – Michael McCarthy’s ‘Ronan’ and Wade Gallagher’s ‘Damien’ – are pitched at such insane performance levels, it is as if they are daring the film and everyone involved to keep up with them. Is that how they were written or did both actors bring vivid and idiosyncratic strengths?
In keeping with that comic book-styled inspiration, we wanted to keep our characters completely over the top. Writing the main protagonist and antagonist for FURY meant writing what seems more like two caricatures and culmination of outrageous qualities. As far as Ronan is concerned, the circumstance was unique- having the writer also serve as the actor. Ronan was written with a constant unshakeable darkness, volatility and edge, but as soon as the camera was rolling and all of the actors got in the zone, there was even more intensity than we counted on.
Having a badass as our protagonist is all well and good, but we believe that even the craziest coke-snorting vigilante loses his cool factor if not for an equally awesome (and totally merciless) bad guy. We’ve all seen films where a boring bad guy basically costs the movie its edge and causes its entire plotline to implode. So when it came to writing, casting and even dressing Damien Logan, we kept this in mind and were very selective. We worked with Wade Gallagher prior to FURY and were completely blown away by his abilities and instantly we knew he was our guy.
Once Wade was officially cast, we definitely created new scenes and tweaked others to fit him personally and perfectly. However, Wade would never get to act out many of these scenes, as he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and passed away shortly thereafter, all of which occurred mid-production. Wade was responsible for so many great nuances and possessed a presence that was unmatched on screen. We planned on having Wade as an OcularStorm cornerstone, an actor we would utilize in all our films and a friend and colleague we will never be able to replace. With that being said, with Ronan and with Damien, there was a pretty good balance between what was written/planned and what was delivered by improv and character chemistry.
The introduction of Jordan Elizabeth and her character ‘Karina’ is crucial to the film. She is no less tough or intense than Ronan or Damien, but the very presence of a female figure adds a more human element to the madness. Tell me how the actress handled what I assume was a very male-centric set and also the importance of ‘Karina’ to the film’s tone?
Even though she was definitely outnumbered, Jordan Elizabeth (Karina) was perfectly comfortable on set. She handled our testosterone fest very professionally and was among various other female actresses and a couple of crew members. Jordan brought complete focus and a true understanding of her character to set and to the screen.
Karina's character was created when we realized a certain human element was missing from our story. She is a lost soul, left behind by circumstance; we knew that this would jive well with Ronan's character, who is also somewhat abandoned and alone in his world. Together, their puzzle pieces were designed to align as Karina fills the gap of Ronan's late daughter and Ronan serves as a guardian to Karina. They both manage to rise above their dismal pasts and move forward as a team. Making Karina's character a strong female also reaffirms one of the major themes within FURY, which is putting an end to the abuse (be it physical or psychological) often inflicted on women in the real world. Plus, having a badass bombshell who doubles as a vengeful killer clown is just pretty awesome.
When someone with the genre reputation and standing of Kane Hodder is involved, their must be a very special on-set vibe. Tell us what the experience of directing the great man was like?
The day we shot with Kane Hodder was certainly one for the books. We had eight hours (3am-11am) to set up and shoot four scenes, so it was pertinent that we come prepared and remain focused. This proved difficult when we put fifteen fan-boy crew members in a room with Jason Vorhees and a bunch of strippers. However, Kane was totally professional, easy going and nailed his scenes effortlessly in only a few takes. We managed to finish just in time, scrambling to break down our equipment while the morning strip club patrons filed in. This was certainly one of our most memorable days of production; there were smiles on a lot of faces for sure.
The slave-girl subplot is bound to draw the ire of some, who will frame it as a misogynistic element, typical of how the graphic-novel/video-game generation of young men view women. How would you respond to that?
While FURY takes place in a fictional city in a fantastical world, human trafficking (and organ trafficking) is real and occurs all over the globe on any given day. At the risk of seeming too politically charged, we are trying to shed some light on this issue, not make light of it. It is true that the line between "shedding light" and "exploiting" is extremely thin, and each viewer may draw that line in a different spot. However, the slave girl subplot was never intended to appear misogynistic.
We included this aspect in FURY because we know (or hope) that such visceral imagery and archaic actions are completely universally rage-invoking; everyone should see the evil in that. While there are certainly some horrific moments featuring the FURY females, our film showcases not just the enslavement, but the ultimate empowerment of women (...you'll see).
Which gets us to the violence… Do you have some deeply philosophical take regarding onscreen violence and how you wanted it portrayed in …Ronan Pierce, or is this a film that embraces the purely animalistic urges associated with revenge-themed violence?
When it came to configuring the amount of on-screen violence FURY would feature, we utilized both philosophy and physicality. We didn't dig too deep into the psyche, but we knew that in order for our gore to seem serving, the means needed to justify the ends. We knew in order to justify our bloody, disgusting kills we would need to truly develop our villains, expose their evil and with that, punish them accordingly. Some of these punishments are over-the-top and Ronan's actions most definitely represent a certain animalistic urge we all feel but rarely act upon (we hope). Ultra-violence always seems excessive (and often-times offensive) when it is brought upon someone who doesn't seemingly deserve it, so we wanted to ensure that by the time our bad guys were served up, the viewer would be looking for that cathartic revenge that all horror fans live for. But it goes without saying, we can’t deny we wanted creative and insane kills to thrill our target audience.