SXSW: Brian Taylor Talks The FP, Ghost Rider 2, and Shooting 3D on the iPhone
Brian Taylor took a break from Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance duties to trek down to SXSW in support of SXFantastic entry The FP -- a film he describes as "a Jerry Bruckheimer action movie from the '80s" where said action is Dance Dance Revolution. His ties to the indie action-comedy trace back to his close circle of filmmaking friends: Director Brandon Trost is a frequent DP and collaborator to Taylor and partner Mark Neveldine, while actors from Neveldine + Taylor's Crank films also show up in The FP. Taylor rung up Movieline to share his love for The FP gang via phone along with details on Ghost Rider 2's new origin story, Crank 3, and how one might go about filming a 3D movie... on the iPhone.
The FP screens tonight at SXSW; find more info here.
You're here to support a film by the Trost brothers -- The FP, which sounds like Kickboxer-meets-Dance Dance Revolution. Does that seem about right?
Basically, yeah! It's a Jerry Bruckheimer action movie from the '80s and it's all set in Frazier Park like it's caught in a time warp, which really is Frazier Park. But all the action is Dance Dance Revolution. Brandon's brother Jason is the star of the movie. He's a pretty kick-ass action star, and he can really play Dance Dance Revolution. But they did a great job! They pulled in a lot of favors and it looks like a great movie, it really looks like an '80s action movie, and they did it for no money at all. Clifton Collins does a cameo in it; Art Hsu, who was Johnny Vang in Crank 2, plays a huge role and he's f*cking hilarious. It's pretty goddamn awesome.
You must have a great relationship with Brandon to come all the way to Austin to support his film.
Brandon's a major collaborator; he's the guy who'll work with us, probably, for our career. And I've known him forever. Actually, Jason Trost's next movie which just finished is called Versus, it's like a superhero horror movie which they also did for no money. I'm actually in that one as an actor.
How do you find time to act in your friends' films when you're busy shooting your own huge films, like Ghost Rider 2?
Well the other thing is, I'm terrible. I'm really, really bad. But if someone asks me to do it I'm never going to say no.
[Call drops; Taylor explains he just got a new iPhone.]
Unbelievable. It's got really cool camera stuff.
Could you see yourself finally shooting that cell phone movie on an iPhone, then?
Maybe. I mean, it would probably drop scenes or something. I don't know - you could shoot a cell phone movie on the iPhone. Actually, what I'd like to do is get two iPhones and bolt them together and shoot in 3D. I'm pretty sure you could make that happen. I think it would look passable, or you could find a way to make it look good.
Do you enjoy setting those kinds of challenges for yourself, tech-wise? You and Mark are gearheads when it comes to cameras.
Yeah, you know we try to do something new every time, but it's kind of funny because the whole industry's changed that way. I remember when we shot on HD on Crank, it was a big deal to convince the studio to shoot on HD. We had to break them down, get them into that idea. Everyone thought it was so strange, they couldn't get their heads around it. We had to convince the studio, we had to do tests, and it was the same thing on Red. And it was the same on Crank 2, convincing them to shoot on little prosumer cameras. Now the studios are willing to shoot on anything, they're jumping off the diving board and suggesting systems that haven't even been tested yet. "Why don't you shoot on this? Why don't you shoot on this?" And now it's the filmmakers going, "Whoa, whoa, whoa -- we don't even know if that will work!"
While doing press the other week for Drive Angry, Nic Cage really big upped Ghost Rider 2, said that it will surprise people and that it re-fashions the Ghost Rider origin story. How do you go about doing that?
We basically completely re-envisioned the whole start of the character, and actually had to re-engineer the origin of the Ghost Rider. The whole mythology behind the Ghost Rider that existed in the comic books never really made sense to me, so we sort of had to re-engineer the entire back-story of the Ghost Rider into something new.
Audiences have already seen Nic Cage become the Ghost Rider in another film, so how do you overcome the challenges of re-introducing them to an origin when they've already seen him take a different path with the character?
We're just looking at it as an evolution. The movie takes place years later. We're not disowning the first movie but this Ghost Rider is an evolved form of the previous Ghost Rider. And the mythology that went behind it is stuff that never got delved into in the first movie, anyway. Like, they don't talk about who the demon is from when Johnny Blaze becomes the Ghost Rider. We get into that and really get into who that guy is, what his story is, and what makes GR the way that he is.
While you were filming Ghost Rider 2 a number of randomly goofy photos of Nic Cage escaped out into the world. Were you aware of those pictures?
I'm not sure the ones you're talking about, but I'd love to see them if you could send me a link. [Laughs] But I've got to tell you that working with him was the absolute highlight of that experience. He's the best. Every day that Nic was on the call sheet and we were coming in to shoot him was a total rush. Shooting action is boring, shooting car crashes and all that stuff. But shooting a Nic Cage performance is a total adrenaline rush.
The other day on Twitter you posted the new Die Antwoord video...
Yeah, Die Antwoord f*cking rules. That new clip is pretty amazing.
By coincidence, they have a short here at SXSW directed by Harmony Korine. They're seeping into the film world.
Oh really? I didn't know that. Of course it is. That makes perfect sense!
You know what else would make perfect sense, now that I think of it? Die Antwoord starring in Crank 3. Thoughts?
Don't think we haven't talked about that. [Laughs]
You're still busy with Ghost Rider 2, but is Crank 3 -- or Crank 3D -- still on the horizon?
It could be. The stars have to align, you know. It was almost going to happen but the schedule wasn't right and the money wasn't right. It's kind of like that movie has to get willed into existence at some point, by enough people who want to see it. But maybe on iPhone.