"COMMAND PERFORMANCE is certainly a very high-profile film for Dolph."

 

Did Dolph had a particular idea of how where he wanted to make the cuts or was it open so that he could have as many editing options as possible?
We wanted to allow a lot of editing options yes, so we had a minimum of two cameras we ran all the time. Sometimes we ran three, five, sometimes we even ran seven cameras, and that was to get that documentary feel. Because let's say you're in a real world situation, and you are actually shooting a documentary, you only get one chance to shoot something, you don't get seven times to do it. That's why sometimes we ran seven cameras, if we ran three cameras, for that very reason. You don't get three takes at a lion jumping out of a bush in Africa and attacking a crocodile, that happens once! That doesn't happen three or four times, so that was the idea of how we wanted to shoot this.

And it helps giving a more organic feel to it...
Absolutely yes! We didn't want it to look staged, we really wanted to get away from that. And you know a few outsiders, personal friends of Dolph, were looking at it and going: “Wow it's almost realistic, it's not a film about Joe Reynolds, it's a film about Dolph Lundgren, that's almost what it felt like, it was that real”. And that was the earlier response we got and that's when we knew we were on the right track.

How much did you collaborate with the production designer?
Quite heavily, Carlos [Da Silva] and myself spent a lot of time working together, on the concert particularly, which was a huge set up, the military sequences which was massive as well. And also all the underground sequences were the location and the corridors of the film are set in, were quite long and narrow, we had to do a lot together to work in lighting and cameras. We worked very very closely together, I think I worked more closely with Carlos than anybody, I mean I worked very closely with the costume department as well but Carlos more particularly than anybody. And I think that for any film the person the cinematographer is working with more than anybody aside from the director is the production designer.

Especially for a movie like this one!
Yeah totally. I think Carlos did an amazing job and I feel very fortunate to have worked with him, because he was able to do what Dolph and myself wanted and we were able to work with him very closely and I think the three of us made a good team.

And he's used to work in Bulgaria with Nu Image on tight budgets and making the most out of it...
He's very good at that, I thought he was incredible with what he did. He gave us a lot of stuff which is great, a little bit unexpected but very good.

What were the most difficult scenes?
The most difficult was the concert. We had Dolph and his band CMF, which was performed by D2, we had Melissa doing her sequence, we had Piligrim and Irson from Russia and those two were big set-ups too, so we spent quite a lot of time photographing all those elements to get them on the screen. The next biggest things were the military elements, in terms of scale, so you had tanks and armored vehicles, hundred of extras and all that sort of stuff. That was quite challenging. But also I mean the intimate stuff as well was very challenging. Trying to get that documentary feel on intense dialogue is very difficult. We spent a lot of time doing that, we could play the scene, we'd look at the dailies, we'd look at the edit, we decided we needed something more, we'd go back and re-shoot, we'd look at it again, we'd get back and re-shoot. We spent a lot of time re-shooting and I think that that was a major benefit doing all those re-shoots, because we wouldn't stop until we got what we wanted, and what was to have that realistic feel about it.

And yet you didn't go over schedule?!
We didn't go over schedule, we finished two days short I think so we finished two days early, and we finished on budget so that was good!

That's what is amazing, you managed to both shoot the footage schedule and still had time for re-shoots in a 12-hours day.
We had an extremely good first assistant director Mark Roper, who just offered up that. Some days we'd even finish an hour or two early and go home, and with half page extra off script chopped. So Mark was a huge asset to the production, he was such an efficient firs assistant director. Dolph and myself could get what we wanted, plus more. That's a very very rare circumstance to get these days in filmmaking.

So you didn't have to make too many compromises?
I think it was pretty rare that we compromised. On most films, occasionally you will make a compromise some way here or there, but it was extremely rare on this film. Having a good team like that, a good director, a good 1st A.D., was really important to that.

Are you planned to do some work on the post-production like color correction?
Yes but I don't think it needs any drastic changes because the film stock I used I was very happy with, and all the Kodak stock, which is the first diffusion stock, 5279. It's 500 ASA and it's got beautiful contrast, beautiful latitude and saturation, so I'm very happy with the results of that. When you look at the edit of the film, the film looks very nice the way it is. So yeah I always do play part in the color correction. I don't know if color correction is the right term, it's a grading process. Wherever it feels you need to match things up because we shot a lot of stuff, we picked up a lot of stuff...

How was the shoot in Moscow?
Haha! (laughs) Moscow was interesting, it was a shoot like I've never experienced before, we had a lot to do in a very short period of time. We had a lot of material with Dolph riding around on a motorcycle, we had to film in Red Square, we had to film at Kremlin, it was a very very tight schedule. I think we just pulled it off and I'm pretty happy with it, pretty happy!

I think it was planned as a one-week shoot that became one day?
It became two days, yeah, it was tight (laughs)! It was tight that's for sure. But it was good, I'm happy with the results!

Coming back to working with Dolph, you're quite young did you grow up watching his movies or did you have any preconceived ideas about him before you met him?
I didn't have preconceived ideas, but I did grow up watching his films. When I was young I watched MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, ROCKY IV, THE PUNISHER, that was his film in Australia, and even UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. Those are films that I enjoyed a lot as a kid, and I was very young I was when I watched those movies, I was only 10 years old. Still I'm only 25 years old, so you know I'm still quite young to be doing what I'm doing. But it was quite an honor for me to be able to work with him because, 15 years ago when I was 10 years old I had a lot of respect for the guy, and I really loved his work. And I've always loved filmmaking even though I didn't want to get into the industry such as Dolph, but I never forgot who he was and always loved what he did, particularly UNIVERSAL SOLDIER and THE PUNISHER, they were great films for me as a kid, and it was such an honor for me to work with the guy who was in those films. It's hard to explain but I've got an immense amount of respect for him, because I think he's incredible at what he does. And I think he's actually a fantastic director, he's a great filmmaker. I can certainly see him make some even more impressive films in the next twenty years. And I know that COMMAND PERFORMANCE is certainly a very high-profile film for him, it's incredible, I think it's great for what it is.

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