Over the past few weeks, ComingSoon.net has had a chance to talk a couple of times with director Ric Roman Waugh about his new action drama Snitch (out February 22). Based on a true story that was covered on "Frontline," it stars Dwayne Johnson as the father of a boy put into prison under the mandatory minimum laws that have been established for those caught possessing narcotics and how this father decided to help the DEA catch cartel druglords in order to reduce his son's prison time.
It's an interview you can read later this week, but as a preview, we wanted to share some of what the former stuntman has been developing since we last spoke to him for Felon four-and-a-half years ago.
Besides being a strong filmmaker both in terms of character and action, Waugh is great at pitching a project which is probably why he has so many of them in development as you can read below when he tells us a little about each one. Who knows? Maybe some people with money will read this and make these cool-sounding movies happen even sooner.
Return of the Shadow Warriors
When we asked Waugh about a previous project he was working on called Manhunt, we learned that it had been transformed into something different by way of a documentary he'd been working on.
"I've been doing a documentary since we last spoke called 'Return of the Shadow Warriors' and it's about the first special forces operator post-9/11 who was blown up on the raid in Baghdad in 2005 and it follows him, not in the war and not when he's in the military, but it follows him out and shows how hard it is to reintegrate back into society when you were used to that type of an adrenaline ride, when you were doing hundreds and hundreds of missions every rotation, and then suddenly, all that's stripped away and the fallout that you deal with. We became very close friends and we're almost finished with the documentary now. He (Tyler Grey) was my tactical advisor on 'Snitch,' and working with the DEA and all the law enforcement. He knew that was a world that I always wanted to get into and this project came along that I literally turned upside down and just did a whole new draft on it."
That brings us to….
This is likely to be Waugh's next project, which is an action crime-thriller about special ops forces that get involved in crime once they return to the States, which he compared to Michael Mann's Heat.
"If you look at what's happening in California right now with an ex-cop running around with the second largest police force in the United States trying to find him. Now imagine his training, imagine if you have Tier 1 operators at that level. What people are not talking about is that I can tell you right now, there are cops that know him that have a lot of empathy for this guy, thinking 'Maybe I could have been the one that snapped, and I don't want to have to cut down one of my own.'"
"That's what 'Currency' is going to be about. When all the war's are over and these guys all come home, especially the special operation techs that are used to that kind of adrenaline rush and can't really function in common society, they're all going to have a tough time coming back home. Some of them are going to try and do it the right way, go into federal law enforcement, try and find jobs that fit their specific expertise. Then there's going to be the people on the wrong side of the law who decide not to reintegrate and they unfortunately go into crime. It's something that we talked about on set one night. We're talking about 'If you're in Delta Force or Seal Team Six and a few of us went back, you're screwed. Who could take us down? We're operating at a higher skill set than anybody on this planet.'"
"And that's the movie. What would it be like if you were in federal law enforcement and you realized that a crew of your own brethren were now doing a criminal activity that they think is righteous? It's kind of like Ed Harris in 'The Rock' or Jack Nicholson in 'A Few Good Men' with a very grey moral compass of what they think is right and wrong. What would it be like to have to take down your own brethren? How would you face them? Would you let them go? You're operating in that grey area and having it be all domestic and urban.
"It's a fantastic movie, I'm really excited about it. I think we were looking at 'Zero Dark Thirty,' look at all the movies that came out recently that are all about war. This is what nobody's talking about, which is home, and it's not about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), it's far bigger than that. You never know what's for real, but yeah, it is my next movie. We are focused on casting right now.
Untitled Deepwater Horizon Project
To anyone who pays attention to the news, this one may sound familiar, as this is about the oil rig leased by BP that exploded and sunk into the sea leaking oil in what would become the largest oil spill in United States history.
"If you talk about an event movie, that's the size of 'The Perfect Storm' with (producer) Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and it's nothing about the aftermath. It's all about the 115 people that were on that oilrig 40 miles out at sea when it blew up. 11 people were killed in the initial explosion and the rest of them were saved by their own, blue collar people out there who helped each other and survived it before the Coast Guard and James Bond and Superman could get there. It's a huge, huge undertaking and big big budget, so I'm not going to steer away from action or those types of films. I just want it to be provocative stories and provocative concepts. "
This may be one of the more interesting projects on Waugh's plate, being that he started as a stuntman and a movie about Evel Knievel would allow for lots of greats stunts in recreating some of his feats. Waugh compares it to Raging Bull and Walk the Line, both serious biopics, which should make it a great role for whomever comes on board.
"He is the modern-day 'Raging Bull' story. I don't know if we'll ever make a 'Raging Bull' again and show the rise and fall of a human being like we did Jake Lamotta. What we want to do with 'Evel' is I feel like it's my 'Walk the Line.' Instead of rock concerts and music acts, it's jumps and stunts and mayhem that I lived a part of. When I was growing up in the stunt business, a lot of people would say, 'Oh, you know Evel Knievel was a stuntman' and we were like 'No, he's a daredevil, there's a difference.' But we all respected him because we knew how hurt he was and that he'd get back on that saddle and he'd go jump again and ride that bike no matter how much pain he was in and saw the cast off his broken leg and duct tape it into the boot, whatever it took. What I love about the story of Evel Knievel is that it's the true essence of achieving the American dream, but with Evel, it was at any cost—his own morality, his physicality, his family, everything. I think it's a really good study on what fame is all about."
"I've already finished the script based on Leigh Montville's book. If you haven't read it, it's a fantastic read. Now we're just trying to find that right guy. There's only a small handful of guys that I think fit the bill for him so it's just a matter of lining it up--their schedule, my schedule--hopefully we fan find the right guy who says 'Yeah, I can fill this man's shoes.' It's a great era of that idea of taking his story and showing some of the segments that happened after Caesar's Palace, after Wembley, the Snake River and some of the debauchery that happened later with Evel going to prison for breaking a reporter's arms. Crazy, crazy, outlandish stories but it really focuses on his upbringing, how he became who he was, coming from a town like Butte, Montana that was considered by Charlie Chaplin as the best Red Light district in North America. There's great fun and lore that's with it as well, but it's really about the rise of a star and achieving that American dream."
This is one of Waugh's more recent projects that he signed to do with Relativity Media last December and the way he talks about it makes it sound like a pretty intense science fiction thriller ala Minority Report.
"I've been looking for a sci-fi movie that did something different,but I did want to have my 'Logan's Run' or 'Blade Runner' kind of feel to it. I came across this script and it really struck me that it was the reverse of 'Children of Men.' That was about all the women on the planet having gone infertile and nobody was being born again until one baby is born. Who would people see that baby as, as a hero or the anti-Christ? 'Tipping Point' is the complete opposite. It's really a scary thing about where we are going in the world due to over-population. Imagine that the planet is up to 10 to 12 billion people and continents are dying because we're not able to sustain ourselves. The world would have to go crazy green to try and support itself and then it got to the point where the Oppenheimer of our generation, this Nobel Peace Prize winner, put out this quantum theory that if we ever pass the 12 billion mark on our planet then we will perish as a world because we wouldn't be able to sustain ourselves. Unfortunately, with that warning sign where he was trying to get people to wake up and do the right thing, it reverts itself and it becomes where they implement Death Squads where you have to have a permit to have a child. If you have a permit without a child, it's life for life--it's the parent's life or the kid's life. Till you meet this guy who is like a Blade Runner, he's this guy who is hunting down illegals that are having these kids. The big catch of the story is that he turns around the corner and he sees the love of his life he lost eight years ago and she's carrying his twelve-year-old son. So he goes from the hunter to becoming the hunted."
"It's got all this great moral ambiguity and greyness that I love in stories and how everybody reacts to that and kind of a wake-up call to where we're all heading, so I'm actually going to be meeting with futurists and others to find out 'where do you see the planet, where are the warning signs? What are we doing to sustain now?' and kind of bring all that into this movie, but it's a big undertaking and I'm really excited about it."
Look for the rest of our interview with Waugh before Snitch opens on Friday, February 22.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard/News Pictures/WENN.com)