In this episode, we talk to the director of Cold in July, Jim Mickle! We also talk about other “manly” movies.
Here are a few of the questions we asked Jim and his responses. Listen to the whole interview by clicking the play button below and hear if he could shoot an intruder in his house, his battle with a groundhog, picking the father figures in the movie, how he met Nick Damici, what his favorite Coen Brothers film is and some other interesting things. The interview starts at about the 4-minute mark. Enjoy!
-Dan & Nick
SUK: What was the toughest part about adapting Joe Lansdale’s work?
Jim: Practicality-wise, it was the time it took to get it made. We originally read it and wanted to do it years ago. This was around 2006 or 2007. Then it took a long time to get it going. People were always interested but it took awhile to get them over the hump and get them to commit. When it did, things moved rather quickly and we got it done pretty quickly. That was the toughest part practicality-wise. Creatively, it was interesting because we’re massive fans of Lansdale’s stuff and we really wanted to get it right and really felt a duty to be faithful and get it done the right way. There were times where we had to learn that balance of how slavish you can be to something and where you have to take some liberties when you translate it to the screen. And that’s still something we’re playing around with.
SUK: The third act of the film is just visceral and intense. We are known for ass kissing on our show. We bring people on that we love and we kiss their ass. But it was seriously just flawless filmmaking. Can you briefly take us into the end sequence and the planning an execution of that scene? It was just so great.
Jim: Yeah, thanks, it was cool because we had done three movies before and we had to do set pieces before and I think this was us finally realizing how much time we needed and how much effort we needed. We’ve had a stunt coordinator on the last three movies but usually it’s we can afford a day and we have to fudge stuff here and there, figure out how to shoot around a stunt. This was the first time that we could say, “The whole movie, there isn’t much going on stunt-wise or action-wise beforehand.” It all sort of builds to this moment. And this moment has to work because the whole movie culminates to this in a way. So we brought in Tony Vincent, an awesome stunt coordinator, early and walked through and said, “We’re not doing monsters this time. This is real. This is a guy walking into a place and getting into a shootout with some 80s rednecks. And what are some of the fun things we can do?” We found this great house. It was actually this giant, old, sort of mansion/hotel/church/school building that had been abandoned for a while. I think the creative approach was to treat it like a funhouse almost.
SUK: Right! Wow, absolutely.
Jim: Sort of like a haunted house, where each room is a different color and different themes and different things going on. And it was really about putting you in Michael’s shoes. That was really the biggest thing there. And we took three days shooting it and it was awesome.
SUK: Did you always have Don Johnson in mind for Jim Bob Luke?
Jim: No, it took a while to figure that all out. Originally, there was another actor, who is very, very, very cool who was attached to it for a very long time and during the many incarnations of it as it came along, and he ended up not being available. So for the first time we had to think about whom we wanted. And it was Linda [Moran], our producer, who came in and said, “What about Don Johnson,” after seeing Django Unchained. And then it was like “Woah!” Once that idea kicked in, then it couldn’t be anyone else. And then I met him and he was exactly like that in person. So it was like, whatever we need to do, lets make this happen.
SUK: What can you tell us about what to expect about the Hap & Leonard series? Is it going to be based off books or original stories?
Jim: Yes and yes. So we’re working on the scripts now. We just moved into individual episodes now. It’s six episodes for the first season. We’ve brought in E.L. Katz from Cheap Thrills. He’s co-writing with us. So it’s Nick Damici, E.L and myself. We brought E.L. in around December, so he’s out working on a draft right now. And Nick is working on an episode. It’s all starting to come together. Joe is very heavily involved. Creatively, he reads stuff and coming back to us, doing dialogue passes, which is great. That’s something we really want to make sure we get right. And Ellen Chenoweth is our casting director. She did No Country for Old Men, and a lot of the second half of the Coen Brothers’ careers. She’s casting the show. She started last week. And we’ll start looking at specifics this week. We have some ideas, but it’s all about trying to find availability. We’ll be shooting in late April and I believe they will start airing at the top of 2016.