Renegade Interview: John Adams, ‘The Shoot’

John AdamsOctober Coast
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Renegade: Let’s get the big stuff out of the way first, did you see the Star Wars : The Force Awakens trailer? Did you wait up for it’s debut on iTunes like the rest of the country?

John Adams: I saw the satirical trailer first, and not knowing it was a joke, was astounded at how silly the movie looked.  I called in my 11-year-old to show her the trailer and she looked at me and said, “that’s the joke trailer dad.”  Maybe her generation can regain the trust in the force.

Filmmakers of a specific era say Star Wars was one of the films that inspired them to take up making movies. Was it one of yours?

John Adams: I loved the first two Star Wars movies.  However, their genius would only have scared me away from making movies.  After I saw The Proposition I knew I wanted to make movies.

And what a lot of people likely don’t realise is that it was originally an independent movie. What’s your take on why George Lucas gets flack these days?

John Adams: George Lucas had a huge set of nuts to do what he did.  Out of the gates he nailed it.  In my opinion, as time went on, he focused on the less interesting parts of what made the first two films so exhilarating.  Obviously, I don’t know George Lucas, but I don’t think he gives a crap what anyone thinks and I respect that.  THAT is independent.

Who are some of your favorite independent filmmakers?  Looking at The Shoot, I’m guessing Quentin Tarantino is one?

John Adams: I don’t have favorite directors as much as I have favorite films.  I love films that play real.  Films that are both funny and brutal because that’s how I see life.  Films like Goodfellas on one end of the spectrum over to Bad News Bears on the other.  I also enjoy tv shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad that do such a great job delivering us characters that can be so mundane and then shock us with total depravity.

Was Reservoir Dogs an influence on The Shoot? Did you watch anything in preparation for the – excuse – Shoot? 

John Adams: Toby and I watched as many crime thrillers as we could before making The Shoot.  After each one, we’d talk about how they succeeded and how they came up short and then tried to apply those lessons to our film.  The most difficult thing about making The Shoot was that we wanted to show the absurdity of violent crime.  How do the front page articles of mayhem and murder begin.  We wanted to be very careful that our protagonists were likable but also hateable.  To make a comment on how these sick crimes that we see happening especially here in America are often the result of hollow, misguided dreams and the lazy attempts we make to achieve those dreams.

You’re pulling double duty as an actor on the movie, too. Was it always the plan to star in your own films? Better than waiting around for someone to cast you in a role you really want?

John Adams: The plan is to NOT star in our movies.  However, it is a lot easier to explain to ourselves how we want a scene done.  We work for dirt.  We don’t have agents that are always breaking our balls.  We don’t mind reshooting.  We don’t need much food.  We’ll shoot day or night or straight through the day into the night and back into the day.  You get the idea.  Until we establish ourselves in the film world and begin to attract “known” but down to earth actors we’re gonna keep kickin’ our own butts down this road.

You must get along blissfully with the wife and kids – they also work with you on the movies. Who would win a potato sack race : The Adams Family or The Apatow family?

John Adams: The Apatow family would win as I am sure their sack would be filled with sweeter potatoes.  The Adams family would win the spitting contest.

Are you encouraging your kids to become actors? Or do you think it’ll just be a hobby for them? 

John Adams: We encourage our kids to whatever the hell they want to do which right now seems to be playing soccer and drums.

You and your wife have both done a lot of good work over the years, does it make it easier then to sell a film like The Shoot to a distributor – or does Hollywood have too short a memory?

John Adams: The most beautiful thing about the film business right now is that there are so many outlets and networks to sell truly independent work.  Our movies are made on such a small budget that earning our money back is not as difficult as we originally thought.  So far we have had very good luck finding terrific people to work with that have scored terrific distribution deals for us.  Companies like October Coast, Shooting Creek Films and Traverse Media have made this a beautiful experience and we can’t thank them enough

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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