Did any of the cameramen get a camera kicked or punched into their face while filming?
You’re the first person to ask that! Everyone asks about the stuntmen – you’re the first to ask about the safety of the cameramen! [Director of Photography Matt Flannery] got hit in the face with a machete! (Laughs) Luckily he didn’t get hurt. And it was amazing how [the machete] made it through! Matt’s holding on to the camera – it’s on a Fig Rig so [the camera] is in a steering wheel – and the camera is pretty bulky, so it takes up a lot of that space [in the wheel]. And as he was filming, one of the guys was swinging a machete at Iko and Iko blocked it, and it just went ‘phoom!’ out of his hands, and it spun, and it went through the gap – there’s a small gap [in the rig] – and it went through the gap and hit Matt. He was okay – the camera was luckily okay as well.
(Incidentally, while watching the crazy action scenes in the film, “How did the cameraman NOT get hit in the face?” was pretty much the only question I kept asking myself.)
One thing I noticed about The Raid is that there are elements of the horror genre woven into it, which makes it that much more tense and exciting to watch. Was that a conscious choice, to borrow from that genre?
I realized early on in the writing of it that the concept of it was like survival horror – so I knew it had a survival horror feel to it. Once that clicked, I was like “Okay, well I can introduce different genres into this.” And I kind of wanted to play around a little bit with the expectation, because it’ll be billed as a ‘martial arts film,’ but I wanted to put things in there you don’t usually get in martial arts films.
One of those things was horror: tension, claustrophobia – playing around with all of my fears – and putting things in there that you don’t usually see in these films.
Like some very Monster-esque characters.
Yes, and it was all horror: Like that scene of tapping the machete against the tiles, it’s a horror film thing. You know, it’s the idea of like the Boogeyman is coming to get you, or you’re being hunted or stuff like that. It just so happens that the action discipline is martial arts-based.
Since the film debuted on the festival circuit, and people have responded so favorably to it, it’s gotten a sort of makeover – such as the new soundtrack by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda. Can you talk about the response since it’s gained so much attention?
The response to the film at [the Toronto Film Festival] kind of set everything alight, and it went nuts after that. The last five or six months have been crazy, really; it’s been pretty overwhelming, pretty humbling, too. It’s meant that we can go back and do that other film now, that bigger-budget film (the sequel ‘Berandal’). I mean we can get the budget for it in place now, and we’re in a very good position where like in January (2013) I can start shooting on that. So the sequel’s gonna go ahead.
Yeah, it’s just blown us away; when we were making [‘The Raid’] we were in a totally different head space from where we are now. When we were making it, you know, it was a backup project; it was a film that cost less than our first movie [‘Merantau’] – it was a step back, almost. Our ambition was to move forward, and kind of push and make it the best we could – but, you know, we really, really, had to change the way we worked on that film, and we had to scrimp and save everything. We pushed every penny of the production budget into it. So yeah, it just feels like the biggest relief possible to kind of have the reaction we’ve had, and it’s just been overwhelming.
Looking at your own biography – you’re Welsh. How did you get into the Indonesian film industry and what kind of impact has the success of this film had on that industry?
The local fans are great – they’ve taken to it in a big way! I was in Wales all of my life until I was twenty-seven – my wife is Indonesian/Japanese – and she put in a call because I hadn’t done enough in the UK to get myself noticed in the industry; my fault, I just didn’t push enough, or do enough to get my face known. So my wife put in a call and got me work doing a documentary out there [in Indonesia], and that documentary was about Silat martial arts.
Through the course of those six months I was able to sort of learn about the culture, the tradition, the marital arts discipline, and meet Iko as well. And everything I did in that documentary was like being given these different elements and tools for me to go ahead and make a film out there. That kind of chance didn’t come along often, so it was a no-brainer to say “I’m going to move out there and try it.”And yeah, I just feel very grateful that the industry has accepted me out there – which is so great to have that – nobody thinks I’m f!@#king around with their culture too much. I’m happy because that country has given me my career, really, and I’m happy to keep making films out there as long as possible.
Is your wife now looking at you waiting to be praised – I know it’s what my wife would do in a similar situation…
(Laughs) She’s my boss. She owns the company. So it’s kind of like anything I accomplish, she’s like ‘Okay, next film.’
[WARNING!!!! SPOILERS BELOW!!!]
One thing you did – in the midst of all this epic action – is manage to create a larger mythos for this world and these characters – specifically where things ended off with Rama (Iko Uwais) and his brother Andi (Doni Alamsyah). They kind of have a Batman/Joker thing going on, where they’re kind of now the antithesis of one another (super cop and criminal mastermind, respectively). Will that be a central focus of the sequel, Berandal?
We touch on it. We develop a little bit more with the brothers again. I think that my approach on that – that each [brother] has a ‘uniform that fits’ – if this was like a typical movie, [Andi] would’ve gone home with Rama and had dinner with dad and it would be a whole big happy family and that’s where you’d end the film. But I wanted it to be the reality that this guy [Andi] is happy where he is, and he’s good at what he does, and his life is what it is now – and has been for six years. Just because of one day’s events he’s not going to turn around and say “Okay, I’m going to be a good guy now and come home with you.”
Especially since he’s now at the top of a criminal empire.
Exactly! He’s inheriting it now! So that’s where we pick up from, the fact that [Andi] has inherited this sort of new crime syndicate. So yeah, it’s going to be fun.
The Raid: Redemption is now showing in limited release around the U.S. Go HERE to find out if/when the film is expanding to an area near you.