It’s Gone Viral sat down with Donovan Marsh, director of Hunter Killer, ahead of the release of the film on DVD.
Hunter Killer is an action-thriller starring Gary Oldman, Gerard Butler and Linda Cardellini, that tells the story of a group of Navy SEALS who rescue the Russian President after a military coup. The film was based on the novel Firing Point, released back in 2012, and spoke briefly about the process of adapting a novel to the big screen, as well as giving us an insight to what we can expect from the film, for anyone who didn’t see it in the cinema. “It’s a damn fun, exciting, edge-of your-seat war thriller (and although) I didn’t write the screenplay, that was up to the writers, it was a great resource for the entire process”.
Obviously, when taking on such a huge project there will be moments when things don’t run particularly smoothly and with a mega budget of $40 million, it’s fair to say that when things do go wrong, they’re not your average problems. I wanted to know how Donovan stayed cool under the pressures of directing a huge action film. “There are always those days. They are a personal cross that a director must bear and so I cannot talk about them, other than you must wake up the next day with the resolve to fight on”. Surely the most stressful part of the filmmaking process though, is the aftermath. When the film is wrapped, edited and released there really is nothing else that the filmmakers and actors can do but wait and see how the film is received. It’s fair to say that Hunter Killer received mixed reviews and I asked Donovan how he’s able to deal with the process of dealing with the negative reviews. “We have a 79% audience score on rotten tomatoes vs 37% for critics, so it’s tough. I want 90% in every category. I am devastated that we didn’t achieve it, but I get it and I respect it”.
Hunter Killer boats an incredibly strong cast, with Linda Cardellini, Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman all giving excellent performances. Interestingly, Hunter Killer was released after Gary Oldman had just won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour, and so I wanted to know what it was like working so closely with Oldman given the hype that was around him at the time of filming. “I try to treat all actors equally. That is to say with respect and curiosity and in the spirit of collaboration. (Gary) Oldman was professional, low key and very focused. (Gerard) Butler was energized, passionate and a force of nature. I was challenged by both of them and I was the better for it”.
To say Marsh’s CV is varied is an understatement. He has directed the comedies Spud and Spud 2, dramas Dollar$ + White Pipes, Television movies Hard Copy and The Good Fight, thriller I Am All Girls and obviously, the action movies Avenged and Hunter Killer. With practically genres covered, I was curious to know whether Marsh had a favourite genre to direct and what it takes for him to take the reigns. “A great story that I feel in my gut is where I will go, any genre, any country, any day.”
It’s interesting to note that Marsh’s pursuit of storytelling and filmmaking does take him to ‘any country’. Hunter Killer was filmed predominantly in Bulgaria and England, so I had to ask to him about how he found his experience of filming in London and in particular how he found the locals. (Laughing) Oh, you lot are all right..England was epic! We shot in Pinewood, Leavesden, Ealing and all around the city with a pro brit crew! We edited at Twickenham and Soho and I lived in London for nearly two years working on this (project). So with such a vast amount of experience in working on so many different genres, I pitched an idea which I think would be right up his street… a rom-com-action-comedy with Gerard Butler heading the bill, but what did Marsh think about it? “I’m standing by for the call!”, he jokingly replied.
It was great chatting to Donovan about his career and about the process of working on Hunter Killer. The film is available on digital download now and on 4K, Blu-Ray and DVD from 25th February.