Law and Order? Six Bullets AND One in the Chamber? It seems screenwriter Chad Law is well-armed and busy…
IMPACT: Can we begin with you giving us a little background information about yourself and how you first got involved with scriptwriting?
Chad Law: Well, I’ve kind of been writing in some form or another all my life. I’ve also pretty much been a film fan all my life too. Ever since I can remember. Growing up, my dad would take my brother and me to see all the latest action and horror movies every weekend. My dad, he and my mom, they eventually gave my brother and I a camcorder for Christmas one year and we just started making movies as kids with our friends. They’re hilarious to watch now too. A bunch of kids running around shooting each other and shouting cuss words they heard in Point Break or True Romance or whatever. But making movies is just something I always wanted to do. I wasn’t raised to see it as not practical but I didn’t know anybody in the industry or anything so I saw it as not practical at the time and went ahead and wasted some time in college for some other things.
After I graduated though, I couldn’t find anything else I really wanted to do aside from writing. Nothing that made sense to me anyway. And I had been writing scripts here and there all throughout college. So I talked with my brother one day, and he and I were just like 'f*ck it, let’s at least try to make this screenwriting thing work and see if it sticks…' We wrote our first “real” script, this horror script, in like two weeks and sent it into Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight competition that they used to do. Long story short, our script became a finalist of some kind and we were like, 'okay, maybe we can do this thing after all, let’s try and give it a go…' And from there we just kept writing and sending out unsolicited queries or whatever, all the things scriptwriting books tell you not to do. Not long after, we got lucky, and were in production on our first movie in Bulgaria of all places with Ray Liotta and Cuba Gooding, Jr. I’ve been at it in one way or another ever since.
How did you first get involved with/come up with the idea for 6 Bullets?
CL: I had done some uncredited work and become friendly with these producers and they had just finished reading another script I had. But they were looking for something to do with Van Damme and that script, which they liked, just didn’t work for a number of reasons. So, we took what was right about the other script and came up with a completely new script using some of the producer’s ideas and some of our own. And it just came together naturally from that. The idea was just crazy enough to work in its own way I thought… and I like how it turned out.
Was it written specifically as a Van Damme project? Were you already a fan before taking on this project..?
CL: Like I said, it pretty much started as something else entirely but was then changed drastically from the ground up for Van Damme via the producers. We all just sort of tossed around some ideas until we figured out something everybody was kind of on board with and went from there. It was a fun process. And I absolutely was a fan of Van Damme’s before taking on the project. I mean, my brother and me, when we were kids, if Van Damme had a movie come out that was the one that dad was definitely taking us to go and see. So, the idea of sort of crafting something with Van Damme in mind…I was in immediately. Like I said, I grew up on Van Damme. Hard Target, the first Universal Soldier, Sudden Death, all that stuff. Just the idea of actually working with Van Damme at the time, that alone was enough for us to get the ball rolling.
How involved were you with the project during production, were you involved in rewrites or did you hand off?
CL: I wasn’t very involved during production at all on this one – which was very different for me from the other movies I had done. It wasn’t by choice in any way but Ernie Barbarash, the director, he writes as well and it all just sort of came together very quickly. When they were shooting, my brother and I were away working on this movie with Brendan Fraser. So we didn’t hand it off per se, it all just sort of happened as it does sometimes.
How closely did you work with Evan Law (your brother) on the script? Is it easier to write alone, or to collaborate?
CL: Evan and I worked very closely on the script. He’d come up with things, I’d come up with things, and then we’d just kind of pass it back and forth. I don’t think it’s necessarily easier one way or the other. It’s always more fun to have someone to talk to about what you’re doing during the process and have them get it. It’s also good to bounce ideas around sometimes and have someone tell you whether they think they’re sh*t or not. But I think both can work and I think both can not work at times and I’ve done both and had both happen. It all just depends on the project and the shorthand you may or may not have with your collaborator. There’s a few collaborators I really enjoy working with.
Your first produced film, Hero Wanted, has an amazing cast including Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ray Liotta, Norman Reedus, Kim Coates, etc. When you were writing it, did you have any idea you would get such a quality cast?
CL: Absolutely not. We wanted that to happen and hoped it would happen, of course, but at the time we were just writing. That was my first movie and the first thing I had ever even sold, so I didn’t even have any idea I could actually make a movie yet, let alone get a cast like that. Needless to say, I was very happy and surprised with the way the cast came together. I mean, with Tommy Flanagan and Kim Coates, we had two Sons of Anarchy cast members before they were even together on that show. Cuba’s great, Norman’s great. My friend Gary Cairns was great in the movie,I thought. You couldn’t imagine a better cast than that for your first movie. I was very lucky as far as that cast went and I’ve realised that more and more as time has gone on.
When you are writing a script, do you find yourself concentrating more on the dramatic element, character development as opposed to the action sequences? Do you leave them to the director, stunt coordinator etc?
CL: I try to focus on all of it. But story comes first. If the story doesn’t work, then who cares about the action or anything else, in my opinion? But I try to be as specific with the action as possible. That’s part of a writer’s job, I think, even if it’s subject to change. Everything is subject to change. But for example, there’s a bathroom fight between Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Kim Coates in Hero Wanted and that goes down almost beat-for-beat how it was written in the script. So I always try to be as specific as possible with the action. Otherwise, how do I really know what something is or isn’t and, more importantly, how is anyone else supposed to? Part of the fun to me is figuring it all out to the best of your ability, that’s what helps make it yours. Quentin Tarantino said something once during an interview – he’d always considered action directors the greatest directors in the world. If you can direct action, then you’re the greatest. I feel similarly about writing action. The script’s a blueprint, sure, like the blueprint for building a house… but I try to at least give everyone a solid foundation to work with.
You worked on One in the Chamber (Dolph Lundgren & Cuba Gooding Jr.) which was a real throw back to the old-school action film and I was a huge fan. How did you become involved with the picture?
CL: The same producers I did Six Bullets with… one of them asked me to rewrite the script they had for '…Chamber' a while back. I couldn’t do it at the time for whatever reason. Not in the amount of time they needed it done by, anyway and another writer was brought on to do the rewrite. Then when Will Kauffman, the director, and Cuba – both of who I’d worked with before – came on board, it ultimately came back around. That was one I was involved with all through the production, by the way. They needed something and I was there kind of thing. But I’m glad you liked it, man, thanks. A lot of talented people put a lot of time and hard work into that movie to make it what I feel it became. Like you said, it’s just kind of an old school throwback action movie and I really like that about it.
What's next for Chad Law?
CL: I’m doing this comic book called The Dark Voice with a new publishing company made up solely of screenwriters. It’s me, Tom Sheppard, the creator of the show Annoying Orange, and Andrea Portes, who did this movie Hick. She’s great, I think, I’m a huge fan of hers. I’m actually hoping to collaborate with her and Chloe Moretz on a script at some point here in the near future. Then, on the movie front, there's one called Johnny Two-Guns that looks like it’s hopefully coming together for early next year with this director Shane Taylor. He did this movie Bloodworth that I thought was a really great little country drama with Kris Kristofferson and Val Kilmer. It should be cool. It’s kind of Crazy Heart with guns. I’m also doing a sequel to my buddy Will Kaufman’s movie, Sinners and Saints, which I’m really excited about. He and I will then be prepping one called Burning Sun with Cole Hauser and Terrence Howard. There may even be another with Van Damme. We’ve talked about it so…we’ll see.