What are your thoughts on cop movies? Kindergarten Cop, Blue Steel, Chinatown, Serpico, Dirty Harry, The Departed, The French Connection, Fargo, Blade Runner, Heat, Reservoir Dogs, the list goes on and on. Now how many cop movies combined with found footage can you think of? I couldn’t think of any either.
If you’re a writer, you’re trying to stand out from the crowd. Your scenes are creative, inventive and original. Always thinking outside the box and making your readers/viewers scratch their heads muttering the sounds, huh, hmmn, oohh, okay, yeah I get it. This is good! A small reward but one good writers seek all the time. They want you to figure it out and come to the conclusion that it’s something they haven’t seen before, nor thought they ever would. Sometimes life imitates art and sometimes art is created from the kind of writer that has a gift for original thought.
One such talented writer with original thought is Christoph Kositza. He wrote, directed and co-produced the film L.A. Beat. His other co-producers are Anthony Risling and Philip McAlary. I had the distinct pleasure to talk to both Christoph and Anthony about their third feature film. They were generous enough to supply me with a screener that took my breath away.
“How did you come up with the concept of this story?”
Christoph answers, “I had the idea back in 2010 while working at a family run hardware store. I wrote the script in about 2 weeks and then I became completely stuck on a five-page scene that took just over a year to complete. I wanted to create a story different from all other found footage films and cop movies. It was taking a risk making it, but we knew it would appeal to enough of an audience to keep going.”
Christoph and Anthony are very good friends and seem to make decisions much like a team would. They evaluated the risks and it seems to have paid off.
“Once the film was made, did you launch it into the festival circuit?”
“We did. We sent to ten festivals including VIFF and were surprised that many of the festivals wouldn’t take it, including VIFF. Many told us, it was very different from the type of format their used to receiving and it just wasn’t a good fit for their festival. Then we went to the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California and had a different reaction.”
Christoph and Anthony were embraced by the film market and it’s distributors along with sales agents. They networked and shook many hands, exchanged cards, took names and once back they had cemented a relationship with a sales agent, Ted Chalmers of Summer Hill Films. Ted was involved with finding a distributor for Evil Dead 2. I think they’re in good hands.
After watching the film L.A. Beat, I did see the enormous potential for a broad audience and did also understand the apprehension that festivals would have. At times it is controversial and raw, but it has fantastic dialogue and riveting scenes that keep you off guard. I found it convincing and well written.
The story is based on a vigilante that highjacks a police car and drives around with a two man camera crew imposing his brand of justice on street criminals. The action never stops and actor/VSF instructor Mikal Grant carries the film to the end. Touchdown and victory lap go to this veteran. His character was sinister, playful, ego driven and bent on serving his brand of justice that you don’t find in a law book. Some of the other stand out actors were Phil McAlary, Robert Johnson and Javier Badillo. One of the principal actors was David Zorilla, a student from Mexico. He played a drug dealer in the film that became the victim of the vigilante’s brand of justice. The scene made me cringe but that’s just great storytelling.
“When did you shoot the film and how many locations did you use?”
“We shot it in early 2015 and finished post in early 2016. We actually built a trailer park for one of the scenes in Delta. We rented a corner store in Campbell River near the US border. We literally had to build our own shelves and stock them. There was an extensive shootout scene in the store. We also had a mockup police station. The rest was shot driving around in the police car. In the opening scene there is a few shots of L.A. that are also real. We happened to be down there the same time somebody had tried to burn the Hollywood sign down, so we captured footage of a helicopter flying over.”
The action is non stop and you’re convinced this could be an actual experience unfolding before your eyes. Anthony and Christoph tell me they rented four cop cars and outfitted five actors in uniform. They used a real Taser in the film and the explosions inside the store were not CGI. They made the film for approx. 100,000.00 and completed the film on time. Two prosthetic arms used in the film cost a thousand a piece but were essential to the scene. Their crew consisted of fifteen and twenty-five actors brought the film to life.
They captured their images on a Canon 7D and said they couldn’t really make any mistakes. If the camera was out of focus, it looked more realistic so they kept it in. If the boom fell into frame, that stayed in too. Both Anthony and Cristoph edited it themselves and intentionally left out music. They felt it might be distracting and you quickly forget its absence. There are ten minute long takes that were only possible with multiple rehearsals. I was told they would sometimes shoot a scene fifteen times to get it absolutely right.
“If we had to make this film over again, it wouldn’t be the same. It had its challenges but the actors and crew had a lot of fun and the experience was great.”
If you’d like to see what these guys are up to next, please give their website a peek at. It’s www.savageartspictures.com They’ve informed me that they have many more scripts ready to go into production. I wish them well and will have my popcorn ready for the next one.