The live action genre, from video games to extreme sports to film, has never been hotter in Hollywood. Reaching the elusive young male demo, the first adopter, and getting that group to take an interest in a project is a huge challenge. The ROI can be tenuous, and the ability to get that group to use social media and word of mouth to support a project over a sustained period is an even bigger challenge.
Perhaps the most efficient way to engage that audience and to get them talking and involved in a project is to find a niche in that genre that is different and more exciting than anything else out there, a real-time live action high impact and compelling product. The directors of the upcoming movie “Act of Valor,” Scott Waugh and Mouse McCoy may have just found that right mix. The film, the first of several on the way to talk about and give an insider’s look into the lives and mission of Navy SEALS, is part video game, part documentary, part story of life lessons and all about high adventure.
It doesn’t have any big name stars as most traditional action movie have had. There is no Dolph or Arnold or Segal or The Rock. The stars, as a matter of fact are never really identified as they are real life, active duty Navy SEALS and their families, with some actors brought in to balance out the cast. What the film does have is the support of the military and the ability to engage and keep the audience locked in on the story from the minute it starts to its end after approximately 90 minutes. It looks and feels real, and it leaves you almost shaking with its second by second plot changes and emotional connection to those in the film. Oh, and it is the first film since the 1920’s to use REAL bullets in the filming, but more on that in a second.
Now Waugh and McCoy, and their company, the Bandito Brothers, are no strangers to the action genre. They have done short films, trailers and videos for everything from surfing and extreme sports to edgy product programs for Hot Wheels, Mountain Dew and EA Sports among many others. They are all about high impact and high adrenaline, and Act of Valor will not disappoint. We took a few minutes to talk to McCoy and Waugh about the film, which will hit theaters on February 24.
-Act of Valor has been described as being as true to life for the work that Navy SEALS do as anything ever captured before. Is this a new genre of action film making we are seeing?
McCoy: It’s not a new genre but it is certainly the evolution of what fans want from action films, ones that have a solid story line with real characters that leave fans wanting more. We call this heartfelt human stories wrapped around incredible action, and we think it is something that is different from anything ever experienced before.
-You have worked now with Navy SEALS in this project and with athletes like Roger Federer, Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald and many others. Who takes better direction and which is easier to work with, given that none are professional actors.
Waugh: In both cases, athletes and the SEALS, the guys aren’t really acting. We are putting them in situations in live action that they understand and are comfortable with. We never ask any of them to do anything that they don’t understand or aren’t familiar with in their roles. In the case of the SEALS they scripted the operations in the film from the real life scenarios that we wanted, and then built the script and filmed around those scenarios. It was very unique but very effective and makes the film look and feel as real as possible.
-The film won’t come out until later in the month across the country, but from a marketing standpoint it got a huge push with four spots in and around the Super Bowl. How valuable was that push for you?
Waugh: “It was actually very humbling to see our independent film featured alongside such huge studio productions and so many iconic brands for the consumer. Overall I think it really hammered home the relevancy of the film to the audience watching the Super Bowl. This is a film that has real life values, high impact and is important to that audience, the sports fan. It was a big step and one that will obviously raise the level of awareness for us as we open.”
-The marketing of the film is a little unconventional because of the lack of participation by the SEALS for security reasons. How have you overcome that lack of access to tell the story?
McCoy: “The word of mouth on this film is obviously key. It is a film that once you see it, you will tell others and that is what has happened. We understand the restrictions we have but we also know that these guys are real live action heroes and role models and that appeal will resonate with an audience that needs and wants to experience and support their efforts. It’s a challenge but one which is being overcome.
-One of the most unique elements of the film is the use of live ammunition in many of the action scenes. What was that like and how was that decision made, since it is the first time since the 1920’s that a film used real bullets.
McCoy: “Our goal was to re-create true to life scenarios and make the best live action film possible. The biggest advantage in doing that was to out our trust in the hands of our SEALS, who are true professionals. There was an unspoken trust amongst them and with us that whatever we did it would be done authentically and as safe as possible. They never out anyone in any real danger and we worked within the guidelines they set forth in the Ops we filmed to make it as real, but also as safe as possible for the crew. It was very intense and that intensity comes across in the film pretty clearly.”
-So we have live ammo, real SEALS, a true to life story blessed by the Navy, raw emotion and an inspiring film for people of all ages, especially those who love action films and good stories. What’s next for you guys?
Waugh: This was a once in a lifetime experience that obviously will be hard to ever top, nor do we want to. We set out to tell a story and feature these real heroes and we think we have done that in a film that will appeal to many different audiences. We are going to continue to look at opportunities in this genre, which we think will grow. Our next project is Black Sands, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but right now we are all about making sure that as many people experience Act of Valor as possible.
The trailer and all the background can be seen at http://actofvalor.com/