An Interview with Scott Wiper, director of “The Condemned”
BY KEVIN CARR
Hear the entire interview…
7M: HOW ARE YOU DOING?
Pretty good. This year, I’ve had a blast. Spent a majority of this in Austalia, where we filmed the movie. It’s like you don’t have to grow up. You go out in the wilderness, and you blow things up.
7M: WHY SO LONG FROM YOUR LAST FEATURE?
Getting a movie made and getting it financed takes so long. I made my first movie, “Captain Jack” in Granville. We shot that in ’93. And then shot “A Better Way to Die” in ’99. So it was almost the same gap. In between, you’re always trying to get something up and going and financed. I think after “A Better Way to Die” because I written it and directed it and acted in it, I went in many different directions and enjoyed it. Mostly I did a lot of screenwriting. I liked it, but it was just how I made a living. The majority of that time was eaten up by screenwriting.
7M: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUNG SCREENWRITERS TRYING TO MAKE IT?
Well, a mentor said to me, “If you want to direct, start directing. If you want to write, start writing. If you want to act, start acting. If you want to produce, start producing.” For those four jobs in Hollywood, there is no journey to it. Ultimately, if you want to be a director, get a digital camera and start filming movies because that’s the only way people will view you as that. If you want to be a screenwriter, that’s even easier. You don’t need the equipment. You just sit down, you map out a structure, and then you type until it’s finished. And usually the first draft stinks. But the main thing is you get it on paper. It’s the Nike thing: Just do it.
7M: HOW DID YOU GET HOOKED UP WITH THE WWE?
I’ve had the same agent for ten years. We’ve had a great relationship. He had helped me get A Better Way to Die get made. He called me one day and said, “Hey, there’s a script called ‘The Condemned.’ It’s an action vehicle for Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Vince McMahon is financing.” And he was financing it for ten times the budget of my last movie. So I was hired to rewrite the script and direct.
7M: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT REALITY TV? ARE WE GOING DOWN THIS PATH?
I do not like reality TV, and probably the most tedious part of this job was when I sat down to write this script, I had to go rent seasons one and two of Survivor and Fear Factor because I had to educate myself on reality TV. I remember on Fear Factor, some 19-year-old girl had to eat a cockroach, and I was like, “People are actually watching this?” I thought how do we take this to the nth degree. The first goal was to make a fun, action-packed popcorn movie. For me, there has to be some sort of cautionary tale. It’s a wake-up call that a lot of what we see on the screen is real.
7M: DO YOU LIKE PRACTICAL OR CGI EFFECTS FOR ACTION?
It’s a two-part thing. I think I came to like it because I came up through the independent film world and making stuff on my own, and CGI wasn’t even an option, I’ve always been attached to that. If you’ve gotta blow a guy’s brain’s out in a scene, the special effects guys come in there with this high-pressure contraption, and you’re waiting for 45 minutes for it to work. In the old days, we just used a beer bong with bread, vegetable oil and red food coloring, and someone with good lungs just blew the beer bong out and you hid it behind the guy’s head. Just because you’ve got twentysome million dollars, you don’t stop using those things. I see too many CGI explosions in aciton movies now. I see things that take me out of it. I wanted “The Condemned” to feel authentic. So the goal was to do as few visual effects shots as possible.
7M: DO YOU PLAN ON STICKING WITH ACTION IN THE FUTURE?
I think I want to stick to action. I think it will naturally evolve. I just remember what I liked to watch when I was a 17-year-old boy. I don’t want to overthink it too much. I like action movies because they’re basically rooted in mythology. They’re so visual, and it is drama. Like Clint Eastwood said to why are movies are so violent, he said, “Conflict is the ultimate form of drama, and violence is the ultimate form of conflict.”
7M: HOW DID THE WRESTLING FANS REACT AT THE PREMIER AT WRESTLEMANIA?
They went ballistic. Any action fans will dig it, and this is that on steroids. Everyone there was a Stone Cold fan. The moment he came on screen, they went nuts.