If you follow writer Jeff Dixon on social media you already know, he is a wickedly funny man. Unless, of course, you know him as a writer who specializes in the horror and thriller trope. Despite his undeniable talent, it has taken him nearly 18 years to get on a big budget project and now that he has landed it, what an incredible project it has turned out to be!
Jeff is one of the writers on Rob Cohen's (of 'xXx' and 'The Fast and The Furious' fame) action film 'The Hurricane Heist,' which stars Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, and Ralph Ineson. From his writing process to journey as a screenwriter, Jeff reveals all to Meaww.
Meaww: Heist films have a long history and are a genre into themselves, what films inspired your work on the film?
Jeff: I was less focused on heist films and more so action films. When you work with Rob Cohen, action, action, and more action is the priority. He’s the master at the nonstop thrill ride. We want people to feel action from beginning to end with hardly a break to breathe. To that end, while many action films of the 1980s and 90s may not have directly inspired my work on this film, they’ve definitely implanted a foundation that I’ll always have in my brain. This would include films like 'Die Hard' and 'Last Boy Scout'. Although I have to say that the Fast and the Furious movies probably helped me subconsciously with a lot of the vehicle action.
Meaww: What excited you the most while working on the film?
Jeff: I was mostly excited about the notion of working with Rob Cohen. When you’re a screenwriter in this business, there are few opportunities that come your way to work with a legendary action director. I really wanted to see how we would work together to script the action. I’m always curious how much certain directors like written down versus coming up with some stuff on set. The answer? Everything was meticulously written down and planned to very specific detail. The man knows what he wants and knows how to get it.
Meaww: Were there any moments that were improvised and not in the script?
Jeff: Since the action had to be so planned out, almost none of that was improvised, but there are always bits of dialogue that change and are improvised on the fly. I wish I had some specific examples for you, but I don’t know off hand.
Meaww: You had a chance to see the film with the cast and crew last week, what was your favorite moment in the film?
Jeff: I’m a horror guy at heart. Most of my career I’ve been working with very dark material. To that end, I always lean toward the darker moments of everything. Pretty early on in the film there’s a very disturbing visual death (no spoilers here, but you’ll know when you see it.) Hearing the absolute gasp in the theater when it happened, especially when most everyone already knew it was coming, was awesome. I LIVE for that gasp.
Meaww: Tell our readers a little bit about how you got started as a screenwriter?
Jeff: Oh man, where to start on this one. Haha. I’ll give you the nutshell version. I grew up in small-town Utah worshipping horror movies because they were the “rebellious” thing to do in my very religious town. They fascinated me. Fear is such a powerful emotion. I then decided to go to film school in order to learn how to write those exact same movies that could evoke those exact same emotions. After college, I made the jump to Hollywood where I won a screenwriting contest with one of my scripts and got my first representation because of it. After that it’s been no secret to success. Instead, it’s been countless years of nonstop writing, clawing, scraping, paying dues and busting my ass to finally succeed in this amazing business I love so much.
Meaww: What is your dream project and what are you working on now that you can talk about?
Jeff: I have quite a few things in the works that sadly I can’t talk about yet, but there is one thing I can mention. One of my dream projects and what I’m working on now thankfully happens to be the same thing. Every screenwriter I know has his “baby” script. It’s that script that you love more than all the rest. It’s the one you want to get made so much because it’s the best representation of you.
That script of mine is called 'Dermis,' a dark thriller set in the world of tattooing, and I’m happy to say that we’re financed and in the casting stage for it right now. Obviously, in this business anything can happen from now until the cameras roll, but knock on wood, everything appears to be proceeding according to plan. Other than that, my dream would be to do a large studio horror film like 'IT.' I love the idea of being able to scare so many people on such a massive scale. Creating fear that causes the entire world to tremble… now THAT’S a dream.
You can watch 'The Hurricane Heist' in theatres starting March 9, 2018.
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