Technical advisor Chic Daniel discusses the weapons of Faster in Faster: The Chronicles Chapter Three
Earlier this year, I was invited to the set of Faster, which marks the return of Dwayne Johnson to the action movie genre. While I can't quite talk about that visit yet, we are posting the third chapter in Faster: The Chronicles today. You can to read Latino Review's Chapter Two piece.
In our chapter of Faster: The Chronicles, we speak with technical advisor Chic Daniel, who trained Dwayne Johnson in the use of firearms for the movie. Faster follows the wrongfully accused "Driver" (Dwayne Johnson) who, after a 10-year stint in prison for robbery, sets off to find and kill the four people who set him up. Before we get to the interview, though, we have details on a new contest that CBS Films is setting up, where one lucky reader will win "The Ultimate Guy's Getaway" in Las Vegas. We also have an exclusive video message from Faster star Dwayne Johnson, which you can watch below, and you can also take a look at an exclusive new image from the movie, which features Oliver Jackson-Cohen as "Killer":
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as "Killer" in Faster
All you have to do to win is go to the Faster Facebook page and answer questions about each chapter of Faster: The Chronicles every week. The winner will receive "The Ultimate Guy's Getaway" trip for two to Las Vegas, which includes roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations (2 nights) and $1000 in FAST cash.
Chic Daniel was the man in charge of training Dwayne Johnson in the usage of firearms for Faster. And he certainly has plenty of experience in this field. Daniel was a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department for 26 years before retiring and turning his experiences on the strees into a career as a technical advisor for film and television. His previous credits include movies like Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, Insomnia, Collateral and TV shows such as The X-Files, FlashForward and Southland. Take a look at what he had to say about his experiences on Faster below:
Technical advisor Chic Daniel working with Maggie Grace in Faster
Can you first just tell us a bit about your overall experience on this movie and how you first got involved?
Chic Daniel: Actually, I first got involved through executive producer Dara Weintraub. I had done a couple of movies with her before so she called me up, told me a little bit of what it was about and set up a meeting with the director, George Tillman Jr.. We talked about his ideas for it and the type of training and the direction he wanted to go in with the characters. At that point, I was brought into work with the four main characters, Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and our lovely leading lady Maggie Grace. Basically, what I was brought in for was anybody who was going to use firearms, to teach them the proper way how to handle a weapon, take them out to a range, spend some time with live fire, teach them some tactics, reloading. There are a wide variety of weapons.
I've seen that most of the work you've done has been as a police consultant on films. Is this a little bit different for you, since you're on both the police aspect and the other side as well?
Chic Daniel: Yes, it does. It changes a little bit because now you're dealing with people who work in law enforcement as their primary job, so I come at it a little differently. Everyone involved had some kind of training, with the exception of Dwayne's character, so we still wanted it to be structured, as far as what they're going to learn and how they're going to look. Dwayne was more of a free-spirited person who had handled guns but hadn't had any training.
When we were on the set, they were talking about that monstrous gun he has, The Bear Killer, I believe they called it.
Chic Daniel: Yeah. It's the Ruger Blackhawk Super Alaskan, a 454 pistol. It's a long name. The gun is basically made for hunters and fishermen who spend a lot of time up in the Alaskan area, where it's not convenient to be carrying a long rifle.
He does not use it for bears in this film.
Chic Daniel: Not exactly (Laughs).
It seems like a very fast-paced film, very unrelenting. Can you talk about the production side of it? Was the production itself very fast-paced as well?
Chic Daniel: It was, yeah. It was very fast-paced. Generally, you're working long days, 12-hour-plus days, but it was non-stop. I wouldn't say it was shot at the pace of a television show, but it was very busy, busier than many features that I have worked on. It's good because it gives you the time to get a lot done. We were cramming a lot into each day and trying to fight weather, wind and everything else from the locations.
You talked about the four main people you worked with and Oliver is fairly new to the acting game. Did he pick this up quickly?
Chic Daniel: He's British and he's spent most of his time on television in England. I told him that this wasn't a British sitcom or soap opera, so let's start at the beginning. The nice part was that, since he knew very little about firearms, he had no bad habits. Most actors are like sponges. You teach them something and they want to learn it, they soak it in and I would say within a week he was looking very good. By the time we got to actually filming, he was extremely proficient with firearms.
Is there anything that you have seen from the film? Any footage or a rough cut, perhaps?
Chic Daniel: I haven't seen a cut, but I have seen pieces that I thought looked great. I think it's hard to look at that trailer and think that you don't want to see this. I think when they do see it, people will like it. So often you see a trailer, and that's as good as it gets. That won't be the case here.
From what I remember on the set, it sounded like you were all over the place, filming in many different locations. Can you talk about some of the different places you filmed in and what kinds of challenges those locations presented?
Chic Daniel: I think the biggest challenge was the weather conditions. We'd be in, lets say, the metropolitan Los Angeles area and then we'd spend a few days northeast in Lancaster or Palmdale, where it was literally freezing at night and by the early morning - we'd have 6:30 AM call times - it was in the 30s. It was so cold and everybody was trying to do their jobs. There was another location at this reservoir where the wind came up and it definitely brought a completely different atmosphere to the location. It makes it difficult when you're doing it, but when you see it later, you go, 'Boy, that was really good.' You can really tell how much it added to the film, these weather conditions which were a problem but turned out to be good for us down the road.
We were talking on the set about how excited we all were that Dwayne Johnson was finally getting back into the action genre after being in the family realm for awhile. Can you just talk a bit more about your work with him and how he really took to everything?
Chic Daniel: Oh, absolutely. He was excited to get back into the action genre after doing this Disney-type movies. Those family films certainly do well, but this is something that most guys enjoy and I know he certainly does. He took to shooting the weapon that he had right from the beginning. He never backed off for a second. It is a powerful thing to shoot and he was in it 100%. He's one of the nicest guys you'll meet and just a great guy. He's a lot of fun to hang out with. He's got lots of questions and it always helps people trying to figure out who they're coming from. 'Why would I do this?' 'Why would I think about that?' At the end of the day, he certainly brought a lot to it.
That was the first time I had actually met him and I had heard for the past few years that he was probably one of nicest people in this business. He definitely proved that when we met him on the set.
Chic Daniel: Oh, and believe me, he didn't just put that on for you. He was like that from the very first day I met him, all the way through. You never saw a different side. I'm sure he probably has off days, but I never saw it.
We were interviewing him and there was kind of a half-circle of us around him. There weren't enough chairs and one of the women was standing up and out of nowhere he stood up and said, 'You have to sit down. My mother would kill me.' We were all stunned by that. He's pretty amazing.
Chic Daniel: It's pretty amazing when you look at actors out there, these "stars," that's the last thing they'd be saying.
That's very true. Can you also talk about your work with the director, George Tillman Jr.? You've worked on a number of successful films and I was wondering what your take on George was? He hasn't really done a lot of action films so what was your impression about his work on the movie?
Chic Daniel: I was very impressed with George. He's the most collaborative director I've ever worked with. Often, directors come in and they have an idea of what they want. That's not bad, because they already know. It wasn't that George didn't know, but it was that he was willing to listen to everybody else. It's a better way to go to make changes. There were times early on where things weren't looking how he was thinking and someone would come up with a better idea and he'd change it. It makes it a lot easier for crew members when you're trying to help, because everybody is there for the same reason, to get the best product out of it. He was truly a pleasure to work around. He was always very interested in everybody's opinion on things and double-checking himself on a regular basis. It was like throwing all the brains in one pot and seeing what you come up with. At the end of the day, we got some great stuff there. It was truly a pleasure and I'm sure he will be in this genre in the future.
Was there one moment that will stick out? An action set piece or a big moment that will set this movie apart?
Chic Daniel: Actually, I think there are several. Probably the driving sequences. There's a pretty extensive crash in this and I think people sitting in their seats will go, 'Wow!' It's that kind of a thing. There are a number of very cool pieces. I use this term loosely, but it's in the vein of some of the bullet stuff, some of the high-speed stuff. It looks fantastic.
Are there a lot of gunfighting scenes or does it primarily revolve around the chase?
Chic Daniel: We do have some little shoot-em-ups, yes we do. There are a couple of those that will hold people's attention. The storyline is good too. It's an action movie and I think people will go expecting to see some cool stuff with Dwayne and Billy Bob and the rest of the cast. They'll come away satisfied.
I see that you also worked on Southland, which has a very interesting history. Will you be going back to work on that as well?
Chic Daniel: They called me and asked me to come back so it looks like I will. We had a lot of fun on that. It's a very different type of show, but it's a pretty interesting project. Now that it has found a home at TNT, we hope it will move forward.
I'm actually neighbors with Clifton Collins Jr. and we talk about the show sometimes.
Chic Daniel: Clifton's a great guy. I actually worked with him on Traffic. He's a very good actor and a very decent man.
You guys go into a lot of these high-crime areas on the show and these stories are ripped from the headlines. Do you bring your own stories from your career as a police officer to the show?
Chic Daniel: Oh, absolutely. I spend a lot of time in the writer's room, kicking around ideas, talking about things. Sometimes it will be changed, but the nice part is, even if you have a portion of a good idea, sometimes that's all they need to flesh it out and put some substance into it.
Is there anything else that you've been circling or joining that you can talk about?
Chic Daniel: I'm doing some work on the new Law & Order: Los Angeles, since they cancelled the old one. It's going to be the same, but different. They're reworking the framework a little bit, but not too much.
Just to wrap up, what would you like to say to anyone who might be curious about Faster about why they should check it out in November?
Chic Daniel: Well, hey, if you like action, then you'll probably love Dwayne Johnson, so you've got to come check it out.
Well, that's about all I have for you, Chic. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with anything else you have coming up.
Chic Daniel: You got it. Nice talking to you, Brian.
Faster hits theaters nationwide on November 24 and be sure to look for future versions of Faster: The Chronicles on various websites in the coming weeks.
Faster was released November 24th, 2010 and stars Carla Gugino, Dwayne Johnson, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood, Billy Bob Thornton, Matt Gerald, Courtney Gains, Annie Corley. The film is directed by George Tillman Jr..