Friday, April 29, 2016

Director Daniel Zirilli Interview A Dan's Movie Report Exclusive! 'Time Rush' ' The Asian Connection'

Greetings Dan's Movie Report readers, time to take a trip behind the lens to the director's chair with the independent action man Daniel Zirilli. Mr Zirilli has several films under his belt, he takes time out of his hectic schedule to chat about the Archstone release 'Time Rush' and the upcoming film 'Asian Connection'. Daniel is quite a prolific film director, with many projects currently available. Grab some coffee, learn the inner workings of the indie film world, as the two Dan's speak! 3-2-1- Go!

How did Dean and yourself connect to do 'Time Rush'? What attracted you to the concept? Can you tell us more about it?

Dean and I have been trying to find a film to help break him out as an action actor and producer, and he came up with a great hook (originally titled “Reflex”) that he wanted to use for a short film… But I thought it would make a great full length film, so we shot as much as we could as an experiment, with a small budget, as I knew I could show distributors a teaser, and get a deal to finish it. Time Rush is basically about a guy who wakes up everyday in a military hospital, has to fight his way out with armed men (lead by Ron Smoorenberg) chasing him through various scenarios each ending in his death. It's like an action “Groundhog Day” - each loop Deans character learns a bit more about his life and situation, meeting Selina Lo’s character along the way (his ex-girlfriend) who helps put the pieces back together, along with Byron Gibson, the resistance leader helping him escape. On the last loop, hopefully he has learned enough to live…  (you’ll have to watch the movie to find out if he does :-)…   the good news is, we did make the distribution deal and money to complete the film we needed and more (through distrobution company -Archstone- who retitled it "Time Rush") so it was a happy ending creatively and business-wise. So the experiment worked, thanks to everyone that helped on the film.

Above Photo: Car flip stunt in 'Time Rush'
Delving deeper into 'Time Rush', chat about directing skilled fighters like the Jaika Team. Ron, Dean, and Selina. must have been a bit easier, but at times probably harder to slow the action down enough for the audience to grasp.

On 'Time Rush', it really was a team effort, we are all friends, and all love action. So aside from the script of course we had many meetings with stunt actors with unique skills, and then incorporated them into the film, from Dean's parkour in front of a train, to Ron's amazing high kicks, to lighting a guy on fire and having him fight (safely- more on that later) to live action - real car flips and more…. for example - the fantail boat sequence was an idea I had mid-shoot, and we did that with a handful of crew on our “day off”…. I wanted a boat chase - shoot out, so we just went to the docks and rented the boats on the day, and shot the shit out of it.. that sequence cost something like $500 bucks, because everyone was game to do it.
Above photo, bad ass flame kick in 'Time Rush'

It is quite amazing what can be done by passionate people. On the ending credits it states that Dean did the editing, did you guys collaborate at all in post, in concept and ideas?

Dean did the offline edit of the film, and yes i gave many notes, and once it was sent to the post house in Los Angeles, I worked through the color correction, sound FX, sound mix, and had my composer Nick Rivera score the film… but yes- Dean did the heavy lifting, he is a very talented dude and a great guy to work with.

Chat about some of the challenges in shooting in an open location. Looks like the Train Market scene was shot gorilla style. How long was the total principal photography in Time Rush?

We did some gorilla type shooting like the boat sequence above, but everything was done with safety being paramount, and with the train, we had permission in advance and monitors / train guards on set the whole time. so as crazy as it may seem having a guy running in front of a train, bear in mind that track is actually on an active market where they clear within seconds of the train about 8 times a day. its hard to image until you have seen it, but they have it down to a science- hundreds of people and vendors move out of the train's way right before it passes. also- its moving slower than it appears, and we shot on long lenses to compress the shot and make dean seem closer than he was. 

We shot with a full crew for maybe 12 days, then second unit would go off many days to get pieces of the fight. Sometime it was literally just Dean and Ron and a camera and they would to pick up shots on fights and lock off shots with the camera on sticks. there was one abandoned building we used, maybe 20 stories high, no elevator, hot as hell, literally with bats in the staircases we’d walk up and shoot over and over. some of the coolest sequences were creative over cash.

Great insight on how to use location. Very happy that the lovely and talented singer and actress Zom Ammara worked on the film,( pats self on back haha!) Looks like you had many locals in walk on roles, chat about the importance of that in a film like 'Time Rush', does it give it more scope?

Yes, thanks for hooking us up with Zom, she provides some comedy as well as the Taxi Driver…. almost everyone was from Thailand, and as mentioned above, we’d access their skill set and try to utilize it on the film, I wish I could tell you all the budget, you would be surprised what we made this movie for, and again, could not have been done without the team and everyone's amazing attitude. There were NO assholes in this crew or cast at all. which is rare. Everyone wanted to do the best for the project, and I appreciate them all.

Above photo: Cover art for 'The Asian Connection'

Daniel, this is very informative, I sincerely hope other directors read your insight you could teach a master class on directing. On to 'The Asian Connection'. Seagal and Michael Jai White chat about working with the two MA legends. Did the three of you meet private to discuss the film?

I met with Seagal and MJW separately. Seagal and I were connected through my producers, and hit it off creatively over the phone. We made some revisions to the script Seagal asked for, then he signed on and we met in person in Thailand… did some casting and I into’d him to a couple of my stunt/actor buddies including Ron Smoorenberg (from Time Rush) and Nick Khan. After doing a few martial arts moves, Ron actually said Seagal has the fastest hands he has ever seen. Later, when we were shooting, Seagal told me he worked longer hours for me than any other movie in 20 years or something like that. Seagal has certain things he wants to do his way, and I respect that, because he is obviously very experienced in action, and why not use his feedback? But, at the end of the day I also made sure I shot what I needed to make each scene work. It was a good collaboration. Seagal also told me he put his heart into this film, so I appreciate that.

MJW I’ve know for a number of years through my Los Angles Stunt Coordinators - the legendary James Lew and Arnold Chon… we were close to doing a film together in the past, but this one came about in a fun way. MJW was prepping his film Never Back Down 3, (which he directed and starred in) in Thailand at the same time I was prepping Asian Connection… he sent me a message through Facebook and asked me for casting suggestions, which i gave him and I also asked him if he wanted to play a roll in my film. So I pitched the character, he was open to it, and after reading the script, he made himself avail right after he wrapped. so it worked out perfect for us, and he was a total pro and a great actor. It was very satisfying for me to direct Seagal and MJW, and I hope to work with them again.

How is it this time around filming in Thailand filming 'The Asian Connection' as compared to Time Rush?

'Time Rush' was a much smaller film, fewer characters and a small but dedicated cast and crew… there was actually a bit more freedom in that, but then again on 'The Asian Connection' it was great to have large lighting packages and cranes and such, so they both worked out well for different reasons. I've always have had a wonderful experience shooting in Thailand, it is my favorite place to shoot right now, crew that really work hard, exotic locations, and high production values.

Above Photo: Daniel Zirilli in the Bahamas swimming with LIVE SHARKS for 'Isolation'

What is next for Daniel, upcoming projects for 2016 and 2017

Since I have 3 films I directed coming out in the first half of 2016, I'm being very careful what i direct next, i just signed onto develop and possibly direct a film (for producer/writer Paul Collett) called 'Extraction' (though the title will change) and I have couple other scripts I'm looking at, but the key to me is finding the right actor for whatever the next film i direct will be,…. the quality of acting is just as important as the quality of action so i’m looking for the Liam Neeson type of actor who can do the action, but also pull off the Drama. (I’m not saying I’ll be able to cast Neeson, but always looking for guys like that who can really Act!)... in the meantime I’m producing a film or two…

Daniel, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to conduct this interview.

Thank you Danny for your site and your support, it is not easy being an indie film maker.

Dan's Movie Report firmly believes that Mr Zirilli has cut his teeth on the indie circuit. His latest film 'Crossing Point' is amazing, even some of the big sites are mentioning it, and he deserves a big budget to work with.

For more information on Daniel go to his IMDB Page @

Pop Art Film Factory Page  @

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