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William Kaufman and Max Martini on the Military Action Film The Channel

Known for his explosive, low-budget action movies like One in the Chamber, The Hit List and Saints and Sinners just to name a few, action director William Kaufman recently sat down with MovieWeb to discuss his upcoming highly anticipated action flick The Channel. Joining Kaufman was one of the film’s leads, Max Martini, who many may recognize from films like Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, and Prime Video’s Tender Bar.

Kaufman, despite his budget, has always delivered on the action, and The Channel is no different. However, what sets The Channel aside from Kaufman’s previous work is that the film thrives in its characters. Particularly the brotherly relationship between the two main characters in a compelling and complex story of survival. The action doesn’t disappoint and the performances from both Clayne Crawford and Max Martini are astounding.

Michael Mann Inspirations

It’s very evident that The Channel takes many inspirations from great bank heist movies of the past, and when asked about some of his favorites, Kaufman went on to say:

“I don’t think it will come as a secret that yes, I’m a huge Michael Mann and Heat fan. Without a doubt, and that’s kind of my love letter to my youth. So I get to wink at Michael Mann all day long. I feel strongly that [The Channel] is its own thing. But I used to ask myself about that. Most of the films I can think of, or the comparable ones, you know, The Town, Den of Thieves — none of those movies, including ours, would probably exist as the way they are without Heat”.
“I think for me, Michael Mann is an actor’s director. So he first and foremost cares about character,” said Kaufman of why Michael Mann is such a huge inspiration to him and The Channel. “He has meaty dramas with very great action. I think Collateral is brilliant. I just love that genre. I love the modern noir vibe, and this was my chance to really delve into that. And I think what I found so interesting about this film, and yes, I wrote it, but it was that I got to cast who I would dream of casting… I got to put character and story first. Yes, we deliver on the action, but I think it’s the characters that make it worth your, 90 minutes”

Kaufman, as evident from his filmography, is an action director through and through. He admires other genres, but he currently has no desire to exit his explosive action packed world. “Well, no one’s gonna give me the rom-com, The Notebook,” joked Kaufman. “Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of different genres I love and if I got an opportunity, with the right people behind it. And I’m talking about cast and producers who believe in what we’re doing, to do something that is a meatier drama, yes, I would jump at that all day long.” He continued:

But this is what the little boy who wanted to become a filmmaker, this was his path. What I’m encouraged about more and more is pushing to get the opportunity. And I finally have a team behind me that really, that’s what they want as well.
Related: These Are Some of the Best American Heist Movies, Ranked

Michael Mann wasn’t Kaufman’s only inspiration for The Channel and his admiration for action movies. Legendary directors like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, who fueled Kaufman’s passion for filmmaking, were two of his earliest inspirations. “I was a little boy running around with a camcorder, you know?” Kaufman exclaimed. “So when everyone was playing war, I was trying to film it. I grew up on Steven Spielberg and James Cameron.” He continued:

“And then as I got a little older, I got introduced to people like Luc Besson and Michael Mann, and, eventually Fincher and the Scott brothers, of course, that drew me to that. And then as I was coming to make my first film… I knew it was a genre that was really successful, and I really enjoy it. So we made this tiny little movie, and it did really well for what it was. And that just became my niche, and I went down that path and embraced it heavily.”

Max Martini’s History with Military Roles
The Channel - Action

Brainstorm Media

Max Martini is perhaps best known for playing military and/or ex-military characters. Most notably is his role in the Steven Spielberg war epic, Saving Private Ryan. This was before shooting to fame for his time on the TV show The Unit, where he played Mack Gerhardt, a member of a secret US military group, of which the show centered around. From there Martini has gone on to star alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sabotage and in Michael Bay’s explosive 13 Hours.

“I did Saving Private Ryan many, many, many moons ago. And that sort of kick-started this, you know, military film career,” said Martini on his expansive military film career. “So, I’ve come to really love being a part of military films, I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of some big ones. I don’t necessarily think I was focusing in on action, but there’s something about me in the military world that people are buying”.

Although Martini, jokingly, isn’t sure why audiences love his military roles so much, the actor went on to explain his love and admiration for the military, and the care he takes when exploring characters who have a history in the military. “I try to really hone in on the tactics and the weapon work and I take it seriously, and I take representing the military very seriously, and I’m a big supporter, so I love that audience.” He continued:

I’ve been to the Middle East many times, and I’ve gotten off of Blackhawks in these little encampments that get hit on a daily basis all day, and giving these guys a little breather from the grind makes this entire business worth it to me. So I just love doing it, man. And Will’s a big supporter of the military, so we have that in common. And the action, just as a result, translates.

The Military Boot Camp of The Channel
The Channel 2023 Brainstorm Media

For any great action movie, especially those which require the actors to wield guns, there tends to be extensive amounts of training prior to shooting. It’s evident with movies like the John Wick franchise, and now with The Channel. “We did a great boot camp for The Channel. Generally, you do an extensive training period before you start filming these types of films,” explained Martini before going on to list his extensive training with almost every military and law enforcement branch under the sun:

“[For The Channel] we had a former seal leading our training sessions. I’ve worked with CAG, I’ve worked with SWAT guys, I’ve worked with FBI, CIA, I pretty much hit every law enforcement military branch that you could work with. So I came in with some training, but it’s something that I love so much, and it’s infectious. So, the other actors that didn’t have the training that Clayne and I had, were able to kind of feed off our energy, and it was exciting, super fun”.

Martini is no stranger to playing bad guys. However, the complexities surrounding his character in The Channel is an aspect he has a great appreciation for and was what helped draw him to the movie. “It’s not the first bad guy that I’ve played. What I love about this character, what makes it so rich, and kudos for building the character this way [to William Kaufman].” Martini elaborated about his character:

“He’s done time. I think he thrives on violence. It’s something that, if it’s not there, he’ll create it. But he also has this enormous love for his brother, which was really wonderful to play because I got to go back and forth between having zero consideration for human life, to risking it all basically for my brother in the ultimate sacrifice. That’s what made this character special to me, is that there were levels to explore as an artist, and it was great to do so.”

Ticking Off Their Movie Bucket List
The Channel - GTA Brainstorm Media

Both Kaufman and Martini have dabbled in a wide variety of genres and subgenres. Kaufman, heavy into his action, has delved into war movies and thrillers alike, as has Martini. However, directing and starring in a bank heist movie respectively has been something they have wanted to check off their bucket lists for a long while. “Since probably at least 1992. When Heat came out,” said Kaufman, continuing to show his admiration for the Michael Mann classic.

“I’ve had ideas thrown at me before,”continued Kaufman. “And as thick as this field is, of great heist movies, I wanted to try and take it from a different point of view. That’s why the heist happens in the opening minutes of the film, and it’s not so much about the heist. It’s about surviving and about brotherhood and family, and all the insanity that someone like Max Martini brings to the table.”

Related: Best Michael Bay Movies, Ranked

“I mean, it was definitely a bucket list thing,” added Kaufman. “So I get to check it off. You know, I’m still looking for my Western and my boxing movie.” Wink, wink, Kaufman.

How William Kaufman Visualizes His Movies
Max Martini in The Channel 2023 Brainstorm Media

Kaufman envisions his movies and the action surrounding them with a unique clarity, not having to change much from his scripts. “I have a very specific idea of what the picture is, and I think that’s also because we shoot what we’re going to use,” said Kaufman. “We have to, because we obviously have a much more compressed time schedule, then some bigger films. But that’s also why I collaborate with people like Scott Phillips, my tech advisor, because they’re invariably going to give great ideas”. Kaufman elaborated:

“You’ve got to have that room to be able to adapt, improvise, and overcome. So I think you’ve got to go in with a really strong plan, so you have the floor and the flexibility to add to the really good stuff that comes in from your team”.
Martini quickly responds praising Kaufman’s vision, efficiency and directing style. “We had rehearsed the tactical stuff so much that on the day, it went very fast and very efficiently, because Will will have such a clear picture of what he wants we don’t want to spend a lot of time on things that a lot of productions waste money on. And so what it did is it freed us up for the actual scene work, to rehearse and explore and carve out some beautiful little human moments in there.”

“Someone’s Been Playing Grand Theft Auto”
The Channel - Tension Brainstorm Media

Audiences may find that The Channel feels somewhat reminiscent of the hit video game Grand Theft Auto. It’s full of epic shootouts, car chases, and compelling characters wrapped in a criminal world. So when asked if both Kaufman and Martini would ever consider directing and starring in a live-action Grand Theft Auto movie, the two replied with “Done and dusted.”

Commenting on their favorite moments while shooting, Martini stated that “… this was our [Clayne Crawford and Max Martini] fourth project together, and in the three projects prior to this… we haven’t really shared a lot of scene work together.” Martini continued:

But my favorite moments are, in an apartment where we talk about our history, our family history, and our father and how many beatings I took for him, and it’s suddenly like the action movie steps aside, and these guys are taking a break from killing people to hash out their differences. I loved our relationship.
“Making movies is really hard,” concluded Kaufman. “And making movies with limitations budget-wise, it’s hard. And doing gun battles in city streets and driving everyone nuts is really challenging. But I never had more fun with these actors, and how much we laughed. This is by far my best experience”.

The Channel releases in theaters and on demand July 14th 2023.

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‘I am officially off the market’: When Margot Robbie revealed she made the ‘conscious’ decision of not dating actors

Margot Robbie revealed her decision to not date actors because of the media scrutiny that came with a public relationship of two high-profile actors
Back in 2015, A-lister Margot Robbie made a declaration that she would not be dating any actors. The actress may have alluded to her fiance Tom Ackerley, who she married the following year in 2016. In an exclusive interview with Marie Claire, she revealed that being in a relationship as an actor herself came with its own set of challenges. She believed that dating someone who was popular would add on to the media scrutiny.

Margot Robbie opened up on why she made a conscious decision to not date actorsTalking to Marie Claire, she claimed, “I am officially off the market.” She then shared the reasoning behind her decision and added, “I made a conscious decision not to date actors.” She continued to explain, “But not because I hate actors. That’s a nasty generalization to make, and that’s not the case. People take such an interest in your love life when you have a profile, it puts a lot of stress on a relationship.”
The Barbie actress continued, “So two people with profiles, I figure it’s just double the amount of scrutiny, and I’d like to avoid that at all costs.” This came after reports of her locking lips with Tarzan co-star Alexander Skarsgard started making rounds. It was reported that she was caught kissing the actor during the Sundance Film Festival.

Margot Robbie revealed she opted for a minimal lifestyle even after becoming an actorIn the interview, Robbie also opened up about how she was adapting to fame. She shared, “I have a normal 24-year-old life. If I were a waitress, I’d probably have the exact same lifestyle. I’d go to the same clubs I go to already, live in the same house with the same housemates, hang out with the same people.”
However, Margot Robbie tied the knot with Tom Ackerley who is an English producer and actor. The duo met on the sets of 2013 movie Suite Francaise where Tom was working as an assistant director. Post marriage, both of them launched their production company LuckyChap Entertainment.

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Monica Bellucci and Tin Burton at lunch in the restaurant in Selci Lama

For All Saints’ Day, the Hollywood star from Tiferno returned to his native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and then visit his parentsOn the occasion of the All Saints’ Day celebrations, the Hollywood star of Tiferno origin, Monica Bellucci, returned to her native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and to visit her father Pasquale and her mother Brunella.Flanked by her current partner Tim Burton, she went to lunch, together with about twenty old friends, at the Osteria del Musicista, which has always been her favorite restaurant, in Selci Lama.Menu dedicated to typical dishes of the area, which includes an appetizer with breadsticks lined with coppa, duck in porchetta and grilled pork livers, polenta with wild boar sauce accompanied by the very typical cappelletti in broth.To conclude, a dessert based on fried “ciaccia” with Nutella and roasted chestnuts.
Having paid the bill and greeted the restaurant owner and lifelong friend, Roberto Polchi, Monica brought home cappelletti and broth for a family dinner.

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‘Rocky’ Was Quite Different In His Original Screenplay, Sylvester Stallone Claims

Sylvester Stallone took his friend’s advice on a rewrite of the original screenplay to Rocky. A few tweaks later, he was on his way to major success.
In the new Netflix documentary Sly, Stallone discussed how he initially conceived of the project, which had a much harder edge. In the early version, Rocky was depicted as a “thuggish” character, inspired by Martin Scorsese’s crime drama, Mean Streets.

But Stallone’s perspective changed when a friend read the script and thought the boxer was too cruel for audiences to actually care about him.
Stallone recalled her crying.

“She goes, ‘I hate Rocky. I hate him. He’s cruel. He hits people. He beats them up.’”
Stallone took it to heart, and asked what he could do to soften the character.

“I said, ‘what if you stop short of it?’ Like, maybe he almost did. He could have, that’s his job, but he doesn’t?’ ‘That’d be nice,’” he added. “I said, ‘What if he had a girlfriend or something?’ ‘Yeah, that’s nice.’ So I go back, start writing that: ‘Girlfriend. Nice.’”
$117 million in box office later, a franchise was born.

Stallone also revealed that actor Dolph Lundgren sent him to the hospital during one fight scene in Rocky IV.
“Dolph Lundgren… he pulverized me,” Stallone says in the documentary. “Later that night, my heart started to swell—which happens when the heart hits the chest—and then my blood pressure went up to 260, and they thought I was going to be talking to angels. Next thing I know, I’m in intensive care, where I’m surrounded by nuns, and I thought, ‘OK, that’s curtains.’”
Stallone was in the hospital for nine days following the incident, praying for “one more round.”
“For the first minute of the fight, it is going to be a free-for-all,” Stallone told Lundgren. The Swedish actor joked in a separate interview that all he did was “obey orders,” explaining, “[Stallone] was the boss. I did what he told me.”
Doctors allegedly told Stallone that he received a blow to the ribs that made his heart rattle around in his ribcage, a condition typically seen in head-on collisions. “I did hit a bus, of sorts,” Stallone joked.

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