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– by Stephon White

When you think boat full of animals what comes to mind? I’ll give you a hint. It begins with the letter “N”. If you were thinking Noah, I’ll give you a pass. You probably just have not heard about Primal, starring Nicholas Cage, on a boat full of animals. It’s as insane as you might imagine. Wait, did I forget to mention that Canadian actor Kevin Durand plays a psychopathic ex-military real Colonel Kurtz type who suffers from a unique medical condition making travel by air deadly? Well now I did, and here’s my interview with the man behind all this madness, director Nick Powell.

Primal hits VOD and DVD on November 8, 2019!

LRM: Can you tell me what’s the premise for Primal?

Nick: Primal is essentially a thriller set on a ship when nobody can escape and there’s a load of animals loose on the ship and there’s a killer loose on the ship. And the killer’s trying to sort of eliminate a load of people that are trying to hunt him down and the animals are doing whatever they feel like doing. So it’s an action thriller.

LRM: Great. Yeah, it has an awesome set up there. I’d say.

Nick: Absolutely. I think so, yeah.

LRM: How’d the story come about for this project. It’s it reminds, it’s a setup that I haven’t seen before and I’m sure some of our readers haven’t seen before here at LRM online. But it is unique, and it automatically sets the brain sort of working as to what sort of events are going to play out in this scenario. So, how’d you come up with the premise like this?

Nick:Well, I was sent the script a while ago. A producer I was talking to said he thought I would be good to direct a movie that he had, and he’d had for a long time. I mean he’d had it for, I think this was written maybe 18 years ago or something, the original script. And the producer had it for a long time and I was chatting with him and he asked if I’d be interested in reading, which I did, and I thought it was a fun movie. And basically, it came together that way. It was him sending me the script and we changed it around a little, we moved things. But the whole premise is pretty much the same. We just tightened a few things up, changed a few little beats in the script and everything else and tried to add a little bit more humor than there was with the parrots and things like. But other than that, it’s pretty much essentially the same, the same project I was sent.

LRM: Interesting. All right. And I’d like to ask you, so what was the production process like with the film once you became involved?

Nick: Basically, they sent me the script, or I was sent the script, and then they sent me a list of actors after I’d read the script saying, these are actors we think we can get this project made with. And I’d worked with Nick Cage before, and he was on the list. And I’d also, to be honest, as I was reading it, I was thinking… Nick and I had spoken about doing something else together and because I’d worked with him before and it wasn’t such a great experience from the sort of such production side in terms of the release and everything else. It was, we were both a bit disappointed and we said, look, we enjoyed working together a lot. Let’s do something else on a better production. And the list that came to me had Nick’s name on it and I had already considered him as perfect for the role of Frank.

And so, I sent it to Nick saying, you know, Hey, if you’re interested, I’m being told that we can get going on this one very quickly and Nick liked it, luckily. Nick said yes within about three days of reading it and everything was supposedly happening very quickly. But in the end it took probably almost a year after Nick had said yes before we go to going because we had hurricanes in Puerto Rico while I was prepping, there were financial problems, there was Nick breaking his ankle in another movie in Bulgaria that he was filming. And so, he was out for months and then, you know, so there was a lot of setbacks up after we’d already kind of got the thing in motion. But once we got on the ground and the Puerto Rican producer basically made everything happen very quickly. So, once we actually got there and started to work, it happened very much like clockwork and everything went very well.

LRM: Great. You had a unique band of actors there. You mentioned Nick Cage, you also had a Kevin Durand. What’s it like working with a cast like that?

Nick: I thought the cast was great on this movie. I mean, I’ve known Kevin for about 20 years. I guess, maybe it was a little less, maybe 18 or something, but I’ve known Kevin a long time. And I thought he was perfect for this role from the very beginning. And I know Nick. I’ve always admired Michael Imperioli’s work and Famke’s work. So, it was great to be able to get them on board as well. I felt, with the whole cast was really good in terms of very solid, very right for the roles and it was just, it was a pleasure working with all of them.

LRM: Wow. Okay. That’s really interesting. I’d like to ask you, well first of all, like to say that I really liked that opening scene where we see Nick Cage hunting and we get our first shot of the CGI Jaguar. Is there a particular company that handled the VFX?

Nick: Thank you. The CGI was done by a friend of mine. Again, I brought him on board early because he’d worked on the Life of PI and we were looking for someone who’d done a lot of work with animals that we needed. We knew we needed really good animal work on this movie. And the basically Tao, Walter Tao was the guy who, as I said, I knew Walter already. And while this, while we were sort of in negotiations for the movie itself, myself as director and everything, I had already spoken to him and said, Hey look, if this happens, I’d like you to sort of read the script and have a think about whether you can do all this stuff on the tight budget that we have. And he did. They did a great job at Tao. It was, I thought. You know, under the circumstances with the budget, I think we did amazing work.

I mean I thought the monkeys were amazing and the jaguar was really well done. And in some shots, I think it’s so realistic in terms of, it’s just overly realistic that we had to tone it down a little bit because it felt it was too realistic in terms of it felt a bit fake. It’s one of those sort of ironic misnomers where you kind of, you’re looking at something going, it feels fake, and then you look at the Jaguar on its own and you’re going but the jaguar that looks very real. Yeah, but the way the light is around it and so you’re analyzing everything, and it was going backwards and forwards at the end while we were doing post-production, trying to make sure it worked. And they were great. I mean it really was well done I thought from that point of view.

LRM:  Very well done. Thanks for the insight there. Let me ask you, when can the readers of LRM online get a chance to see Primal and where can they see it?

Nick:Well, it’s opening November the eighth in 10 cities around the US. And it’s also, at the same time, I believe it’s going on VOD at the same time. And there’s a whole package that Lion’s Gate to put together with the publicity that we’ll be able to give you more specific information than I can give you right now.

LRM: Sounds great. Appreciate it. All right, Nick. Well, I think that’s my last question there for you. I’ve got to thank you again for taking time out for this interview today.

Nick: A pleasure. Thanks a lot.

Be sure to check out Primal in theaters VOD and DVD when it releases this November 8th.

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