Movies & TV / Columns

Matt Eskandari On Directing the New Bruce Willis FilmHard Kill

September 11, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Hard Kill - Natalie Eva Marie and Bruce Willis

The 411 Interview: Matt Eskandari

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Matt Eskandari is a director, writer, and producer who has been making movies, according to imdb, since the early 2000’s. Eskandari has directed such movies as Game of Assassins, 12 Feet Deep, and Survive the Night. Eskandari’s latest movie is the action flick Hard Kill, starring Jesse Metcalfe, Bruce Willis, and Natalie Eva Marie. In this interview, Eskandari talks with this writer about making Hard Kill, working with action icon Bruce Willis for the third time, and more.

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Bryan Kristopowitz: Why did you want Hard Kill to be your next movie as a director?

Matt Eskandari: It was a fun script that gave me chance to do something different as a filmmaker. I had shot several thrillers, a home invasion story, a chase film, and this was an opportunity to do an old school 90’s action smash and grab homage film. Shootouts, big fights, and some cheesy evil bad guy scene chewing was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

BK: Was Hard Kill the movie’s original title?

ME: No it was called Open Source. The title fit a bit more as it was about the techno thriller aspects of the film but I get why the distributor changed the title to appeal directly to the action crowd.

BK: Where was Hard Kill made? Is the abandoned building that we see an actual abandoned building? Was it as cold as it looks in the movie?

ME: It was shot in only 10 days in an abandoned Bicycle Card factory in Cincinnati, Ohio during the blistering winter. It was an incredible location with tons of visual variety that added tons of production value to the look of the film.

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BK: How did you cast Hard Kill? How did Natalie Eva Marie get involved?

ME: When I was hired to direct most of the cast was already set in place, Natalie had been attached for a long time. The character of Sasha was actually written specifically for her.

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BK: You’ve worked with Bruce Willis now three times. How did he get involved in Hard Kill? Explain your working relationship.

ME: I consider Hard Kill as the bittersweet end of the Eskandari/Willis trilogy. It was definitely an honor to get a chance to work with a legend like him. I got a chance to see him do three completely different characters and be in three completely different kinds of films. I’ve spoken a few other times at length about our relationship. Let’s just say it was an understanding of his process and working closely to win his trust and build a strong actor/director relationship.

BK: What sort of weapons training did the cast get?

ME: Most of the cast was already pretty well versed in tactical weapons use. A good portion of working actors put the time in to learn basic gun work and martial arts so they can do as many stunts as possible themselves. Natalie Marie and Jesse were the most experienced and seemed to jump right into the complex choreography pretty easily.

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BK: How long did it take to make Hard Kill, from finishing the script to completing post-production?

ME: The script was apparently in development for many years. It went through several iterations until the draft I read. We ended up prepping for 4 weeks, shooting for two, and then 10 weeks in post-production.

BK: What was the hardest aspect of making Hard Kill for you as a director?

ME: The grueling 10 day shooting schedule. It’s so hard to shoot action in such tight time constraints. Most people don’t realize some bigger budget movies spend 10 days shooting one single action scene.

BK: How was the soundtrack out together for Hard Kill? Explain your working relationship with composer Rhyan D’Errico. The end titles theme is fantastic.

ME: It was my first time working with Rhyan and I was really impressed with his work ethic and style. He really was able to elevate the film with his score and give it a unique sound. I loved the fast paced electronic score he used.

BK: You’ve made a number of genre films in your career as a director. Do you enjoy making action movies? What’s your favorite genre to work in?

ME: I love genre films. I make the kind of movies I want to watch. Entertaining stories that don’t beat the audience over the head with overt messaging or divisive politics. People watch movies to escape reality for a couple hours and have fun. They’ve always served that important cultural impact on society.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

ME: James Cameron, John McTiernan and Tony Scott.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

ME: Nothing right now which is kind of scary but this whole pandemic has thrown a lot of productions a curve ball. We’re all adjusting to the new normal. I’m hopeful I’ll have a new project to shoot soon.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Hard Kill?

ME: Turn off their brains, watch a fun action flick, and be entertained. This is supposed to be an homage to those fun old school 80s – 90s action films like Cobra, Behind Enemy Lines, The Delta Force, etc. Loved those flicks as a kid.

BK: Is something like “Project 725” a good idea in real life?

ME: I don’t believe so. I think it would lead to a very dangerous road. Basically, it’s Skynet.

BK: Did you get to ride in that mega SUV limo?

ME: The actual limo, sadly, never drove anywhere. We did “poor man’s process” for it so the windows are all green screened while the actors shot inside it.

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A very special thanks to Matt Eskandari for agreeing to participate in this interview and to Judy Merrick for setting it up.

Hard Kill is available on Digital and Video On Demand starting August 28th, 2020.

Check out the Hard Kill Facebook page here.

Check out my review of Hard Kill here.

Check out Matt Eskandari’s Facebook page here.

All images courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.