‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ Diary: The Behind-The-Scenes Players

For a few weeks now, we’ve been running exclusive columns from Michael Davis, the writer/director of the upcoming action romp, “Shoot ’Em Up,” starring Clive Owen, Monica Belluci and Paul Giamatti. His first piece tackled his beginnings, his second revealed how Giamatti channeled Karl Rove, and now he introduces us to the cast of characters behind the camera who helped make his film possible.

In “Shoot ’Em Up,’ our hero is the lone man who gets into every gunfight imaginable from a gun battle while he freefalls from an airplane to a shootout while he’s making love.

But, to make a film it takes a real posse to get it done. Here the rogue’s gallery that had my back:

– Don Murphy has been a nexus of cinematic energy. Before Wolverine was a twinkle in Bryan Singer’s eye, he was the sound editor on Don’s thesis film. Don optioned “Natural Born Killers” before Quentin was Quentin. He was a producer on this summer’s “Transformers.”

I met Don at USC. I was a teaching assistant which meant I had a scholarship. Don’s first words to me ever were “I want your job.” It’s this bulldog tenacity that’s made him an antagonist to internet bloggers, a film business success, and a personal messiah/Hollywood “hitman” for me.

– Rick Benattar is Don’s long time development guy and producer. I’m pals with George Lazenby (007 in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). George tells me a story that Bernard Lee (M in the 007 flicks) had a fountain pen with a secret compartment for his scotch. Rick’s the first one I call to share the fun story as Rick is a huge Bond fan. Rick gets it. He also gets my script. He read it before Don and shoved in his face to read.

– Susan Montford, completes the producer triad. She’s an awesome writer/director herself. She’s completing her film “White She Was Out.” I first met Susan at a birthday party for Don. In her thick Scottish accent, she told me she was a private detective working for Don. For the whole night, she didn’t give up the ruse. Nutty, but adorable.

– Bob Shaye, New Line CEO, saw 15 minutes of my animation of the action and said, “Let’s make this.” He gets credit for greenlighting the film. Each time I see him, he reminds me, “I’m your Godfather.”

– Toby Emmerich, studio head, who brings his dog to expensive Beverly Hills restaurants, and splurged for the A-list actors in this crazy B-movie. When the film was done, he happily surprised us and said, “Guys, spend some more money on the music.” Thanks to him, we have Nirvana over the first gunfight. Whoa.

Cale Boyter, my senior creative executive, could be an action hero himself. A 6’4″ former college football player, hot off shepherding “Wedding Crashers,” was the one with the clout within New Line to make it happen. Cale is the big guy, literally and metaphorically. He became the go-to guy at New Line for us. He butt heads so I didn’t have to.

Jeff Katz – studio executive, comic book writer, pro wrestling announcer and radio talk show host at age 15 is a genius. Fanboy savant, he was the first to champion the script at New Line. The beyond brilliant idea to cast Paul Giamatti was his.