Shooting an Action/Comedy film with Brisbane JMC Students

Director Charnstar Anderson’s newest action/comedy short film, ‘Pizza Deliverance’ is his own personal love letter to renowned action filmmakers Shane Black and John McTiernan.

Pizza Deliverance is one of 11 slated films set to be produced as part of JMC Academy’s Graduation Projects, where the student’s put the skills they’ve gained over their course to the ultimate test. Anderson describes his film “like Die Hard…with more pizza” as well as an incredible crowd-funding trailer to solidify those claims. We spoke to the director about his upcoming film, shooting violence and his advice for student’s preparing for their own short film.

Watch the trailer at the bottom of this page!

Could you tell us a little bit about your film?

The film is about a loyal and dedicated pizza delivery driver who discovers that his favourite customer has been kidnapped by Germans, as you do. He and his trainee, a job-hopper, must work together to fight the Germans and save the girl. It's your classic tale of boy meets girl, girls been kidnapped by Germans, team up with other girl and kill and Germans.

The idea for the film came about from my "real world" job as a pizza delivery driver; I work with several people who take their job as seriously as my character Mike does. I've always found that dedication to pizza funny, so I wondered JUST HOW FAR would these people go to serve their customers? According to my film, probably too far.

What kind of budget were you working with? 

We were working with approximately a $6000 budget. Utilizing the fact that we have access to amazing gear from JMC, we pushed our budget in places that we wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise, such as professional make-up, great locations, and anamorphic lenses. We were very fortunate to have Red Bull, Domino’s and Pizza Capers all sponsor the film and supply us with heaps of pizza and energy drinks to keep the huge team going late into each night.

How have the skills you’ve learnt while at JMC helped you bring your film to life?

I think the skill that I learnt from JMC that helped us the most was team work; I have spent my pre-JMC career as a one-man band, doing everything myself, and with my last film I really learnt that that didn't work with the scale of productions I was trying to pull off. For the entire next trimester I spent my time learning to communicate better with different heads of department by being those heads of department and learning how others spoke to me. I really don't think Pizza Deliverance would've been possible without the amazing team and the fantastic communication we had together.

For all the tech-heads, what kind of gear were you guys working with?

We were shooting on a RED Epic camera at 5K with 10:1 REDCODE compression. We had a set of LOMO anamorphic lenses: 50mm, 75mm and 100mm, with us favouring the 50mm for the action scenes. 50mm gave the depth compression you need to sell a punch, but gave us the field of view of something more akin to a 24mm, meaning we could shoot much wider shots than you could with traditional spherical lenses.

Are you entering Pizza Deliverance into any Film Festivals?

With the success my last action comedy short, L-Plates, winning two awards at Festivals so far, we are definitely going to be entering Pizza Deliverance into as many festivals as possible.


What other films do you think influenced both the story and the visual style of Pizza Deliverance?

I wear my influences on my sleeves; the two main characters are Mike Tiernan and Shenae Black, named after my two biggest inspirations: John McTiernan and Shane Black. I've always loved McTiernan's use of composition and camera movement, and I think the inspiration from his magnum opus, Die Hard, is probably very apparent. Shane Black and his use of dark comedy with violence and witty dialogue has always been an influence in my writing, and pretty much everything in this film is a love letter to him.

Judging from your trailer, it looks like yes; there will be blood. Can you talk about the process of shooting gore/violence in a way that doesn’t take away from the story?

I think good violence and gore should always have a point; Whether it's Guillermo Del Toro’s use of gore to shock the audience into thinking, or Martin McDonagh's use of sudden violence to provoke laughter, there needs to be a reason for it. For me, it's about the comedy. Shane Black and Martin McDonagh both use comedic violence in different ways, and I've always tried to combine those two techniques: silly violence and over the top violence. Comedy comes from reaction, and I think it's the way the characters react to the violence is also a key to making it funny. Watch In Bruges or The Nice Guys to see what I mean with this.

Can we expect more films like this in the future or will your next film take a different genre?

I'm sure I'll stop with the action comedies in the future, but for now, I'm sticking to what I know. I mean, to be fair, I always try to combine action/comedy with another genre: with L-Plates, it was spy; with Pizza Deliverance, it's buddy-cop; with my next film, it's a romantic action comedy. So, it IS different, just not... too different.

If you could have one A-list Actor/Actress in your next film, who would you choose and why?

Oh man, I cannot express just how much I want to work with Emma Stone in an action movie. Both of my female leads in my last two films were written with Emma Stone in mind. We still haven't seen her go full Charlize Theron and just kick all the ass YET, but I'm telling you, it'll work, and it'll be amazing. As for actor, it may just be because of The Nice Guys, but I think Ryan Gosling is one of the funniest and charismatic actors to be working at the moment. Seeing him go from Drive to The Nice Guys, which are ESSENTIALLY the same genre, neo-noir, and seeing such a different performance in both was just amazing. They say, "get you a man who can do both" and Ryan Gosling is that man. In retrospect, maybe I just want to remake La La Land as an action movie?

What advice would you give to upcoming students as they head into creating their next film?

For any upcoming student looking to make movies, I would simply tell them to work together. Listen to each other. Sure, other people may not share your specific vision and don't compromise your vision, but working with other creative, like-minded people makes this whole process not only easier, but it helps you learn and grow. Being a lone wolf out there in the industry may sound like the only choice, but if you surround yourself in a healthy, creative, and supportive environment, you'll not only survive: you'll thrive!

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Pizza Deliverance | Official Trailer #1 from SilentDez on Vimeo.