On Tuesday the non stop fast paced thriller from Daniel Zirilli CROSSING POINT heads out for audiences to see. The film involves a couple visiting Baja Mexico that ends up going horribly wrong. Travis let all the readers know his thoughts on the film and had a chance to speak to the filmmaker behind this engaging feature. Read the full interview Daniel ahead and check out Travis’ review on Crossing Point here.
Where was most of the film shot and how well did the community receive you?
We shot the film in Tijuana and Baja, Mexico. It was important for me as a director to go to the authentic places where the story is based, for the realism and look that only shooting in Mexico provides. The community was very supportive, even though its a crime drama/action film, I wanted to make sure there was a heroic Mexican lead character- which was the good hard working Tijuana cop, Jesus, played by the extraordinary actor Jacob Vargas. About 75% of the cast and crew was from Baja, and they were fantastic. I love Mexico and respect its people.
When creating the direction for Crossing Point where there any real life inspirations or other films that influenced the style?
Shawn Lock developed the script and said it was based on some similar, true events. I grew up in La Jolla, California near the border of Mexico and have been there countless times, so I am very familiar with the locations and of course some of the crime stories. (more on my experiences in Mexico below). As far as film influences, Man On Fire was the bench mark. The look, textures, feel, Denzel Washington’s soulfulness, and solid acting and Tony Scotts action sequences and interesting coverage of drama are things I admire. Given, our budget was probably less than the catering budget on that film, but its a underrated classic. The Mexico scenes in Traffic were also an influence. On one of our location scouts, we just zigzagged through the barrios along the border, and ended up on some narrow dirt roads and streets that few have traveled. It probably looked like we were cops or something on surveillance, and of course many eyes were on us, because we did look suspicious. Anyways, we get to the top of this one hill, and in front of us was an SUV, and the driver was wearing a black motorcycle helmet! He looked like he was about to cut us off- we all pause for a moment and i locked eyes with him thinking “why does he want to hide his identity?”… yes, the thought of an Uzi being lifted crossed our minds, but it didn’t happen, he just slowly drove out of our path and we moved on. So we used that hook in the film… We have four hit men pulling up in a black SUV, wearing motorcycle helmets, carrying Uzis and shooting there way through a strip club.
Why will there always be films involving Americans in foreign lands where something horrible happens to them, are we all that naive?
I think the “fish out of water/stranger in a strange land in jeopardy” makes for high drama, high stakes. Having a culture and language barrier and not knowing where you are plays a major factor. I travel all around the world and have had very few bad experiences, but as a true example of something that happened to me in Mexico when I was around 18- I went to a surf contest in Baja, and two waiters got in a fight and one of them was stabbed with a knife in the stomach… the guy was dying and no ambulance came for about 15 minutes. Since I knew where the hospital was I helped take the waiter in our van, and used my shirt to help patch the bleeding. So we pull up to the hospital, and there was a “Policia” car. Two Gringos jump out covered in blood, and after they brought the guy into the hospital we were arrested, put in the cop car and brought to jail. We tried to explain but we did not speak Spanish (I speak some now) and we ended up spending the night in a large general population jail cell. No shirt still, dried blood on my arms, with some real criminals. Luckily no one messed with us, and in the early morning finally people from the contest were able to back our story, and they released us. Unfortunately we were told the waiter died. We bought a bottle of Mescal, drank it on the beach and ate the worm…. True story. So yes, things can happen especially when you do not know the language, though that did not stop me from going back to Mexico many many other times and having a great experience, fishing, lobster on the beach, making movies…..
How was it working with the great talents of Luke Goss and Jacob Vargas? What did they add to the film and cast of Crossing Point?
I really enjoyed collaborating with Jacob Vargas on his character Jesus in Crossing Point. We talked through all the scenes and he takes direction so well. He is a soulful, talented guy, whose genuine approach to acting really draws you in to the drama. Jacob also went all in for the action. I remember shooting the scene where he is running full speed in ice-plant above a cliff overlooking the ocean, he never held back, take after take, and once when he was running down a dirt hill he tripped, did a head roll and kept going like it was on purpose. we used it in the film. Luke knows exactly how he wants to play his scenes, and needed little direction, he is a pro in this genre so I let him do his thing with only a few notes. But lets not forget legendary Tom Sizemore, his scenes really stand out to me, as a master character actor. Working with Sizemore in a setting he shines in… a strip club, with guns and drugs, was really classic… I felt like I was on the set of “Heat” (one of my favorite action movies). We are good friends, so were very comfortable working together, and he is so clever and funny, but also crazy and menacing in his scenes.Rudy Youngblood (the lead in Apocalypto) also has solid acting chops and really dug into his role. it’s great to help break out new talent like Shawn Lock and Maria Gabriela De Faria, but working with veteran actors is always rewarding.