Matt Eskandari opens up about working with Bruce Willis on violent thriller Survive The Night...
Most films, even ones with limited budgets, take months to shoot. It's not uncommon for the bigger blockbusters to run to more than a year, especially by the time you factor in re-shoots.
So, for director Matt Eskandari to capture his new thriller Survive The Night in just 10 days? That's hard work.
The film stars Bruce Willis and one-time teen heartthrob Chad Michael Murray, with Shea Buckner and Tyler Jon Olson in supporting roles.
Survive The Night follows Buckner and Olson's Jamie and Mathias, a pair of brothers who screw up their attempt to rob a petrol station and only walk away with Mathias needed urgent medical treatment.
Desperate, they invade the home of Murray's disgraced doctor Rich Clark, kidnap his family and force him to perform life-saving surgery.
Sadly for the pair, they haven't counted on Clark's father being Willis' retired sheriff Frank...
With the film now on DVD shelves, we spoke to Eskandari about working with Willis and how he managed to shoot the thriller in just 10 days...
It’s a very strange time to be releasing a movie, have you managed to enjoy the process at all?
"Yes, it has been quite an unprecedented time to be distributing a film. In some ways it's been better for smaller films like ours because all the giant tentpole releases have disappeared, so we have no big-budget movie competition. People are at home and looking for a way to consume content and keep themselves entertained."
When did this project first come across your desk and what attracted you to it?
"I've always wanted to do a home invasion thriller, so when I came across the script from a writer my agent introduced me to, I jumped at the chance to tell this story. The idea of this strange Of Mice & Men tale about two brothers intersecting with a tense and suspenseful thriller really appealed to my filmmaking sensibilities."
How was casting? When did Bruce Willis come into the picture? You’d just shot Trauma Center with him...
"Bruce was attached to the script as soon as it was optioned by the studio. I had worked with him previously on Trauma Center so we already had a strong working relationship together. We beefed up the role he has in the film because I knew the type of characters and scenes Bruce likes playing."
"He really enjoys doing intimate character-driven scenes with emotional stakes. I made sure we had enough meat on the bone for him to dive in and help elevate it."
How was he to work with?
"Bruce is incredible. I love working with an absolute legend like him. He's always elevating the scenes and gives the role real gravitas and weight by his mere presence."
How was filling out the supporting cast? Was it an easy process?
"For the supporting cast, I was really impressed and blown away by the performances of Shea Buckner and Tyler Olson as the brothers. They really had great chemistry together and added a ton of nuance and richness to every scene together. I wish I could do a prequel about their stories that lead them to this tragic place."
You shot the film in only 10 days, was that by necessity or by design?
"By necessity and it was a very, very challenging shoot. I always wish we had more days, but you have to tell the best story you can within the parameters you're given. I challenge anyone to find me a film shot in 10 days with more production value and a name A-list star like Bruce in over 40 minutes of screen time. It can't be done."
"Hopefully, this is the type of film that once the bias is gone people can review more objectively and appreciate the feat we pulled off."
That must have made for quite an intense shot, did you have time to breathe at all?
"Not really, you just have to prepare the best you can and hope you and your team can handle the pressure. There is no time to improvise or make things up. You have to be nimble and make decisions on the fly and trust your instincts. Ultimately, I'm proud of the story we were able to tell."
Next up is Hard Kill, which is you and Bruce again, what can you tell us about that?
“Hard Kill was the last in what I now call the Eskandari/Willis trilogy. It was a blast, it was interesting doing a more old school action heist thriller after coming off of Survive."
Do you have your next project lined up for after Hard Kill or is everything on hold?
"Nothing yet, which is kind of scary, but sometimes that is the most exciting times in your career. When I had just finished my breakout film, 12 Feet Deep, I never would have guessed I'd be on set working with an icon like Bruce Willis a year later. It's been a wild ride and I'm grateful for the opportunities."