A Chat with Chris: On the Count of 3

Last week we published an open letter from Christopher Coffel (co-writer of On the Count of 3).  From that open letter we went back to ask him a few questions that came to mind about film, franchising and Fred Williamson.  

As a genre piece On the Count of 3 sounds as though it might be difficult to pin down, you credit the Coen Brothers as the catalyst for writing.  They're known for never dabbling in the same pond twice, is the comedy cop/buddy movie a genre you wish to use OTCo3 as a stepping stone further into the genre or would you change stride?
I'm not opposed to repeating a genre, but I certainly would never want to be confined to just one. In a few weeks we begin production on our next feature, LANDRY, which is more of a Cameron Crowe-esque road trip film about a guy trying to discover life. This film will be nothing like OTCO3, but it's also not entirely our project. Brett and I co-wrote it, are producing it and Brett will handle the DP duty, but our good friend Shawn Severud will be directing. Landry is his baby.  I'm also working on a screenplay for a horror/comedy that I fully intend to be very bloody. I'm not against doing more buddy cop stuff, but I want to explore other genres.

I've always found the writing process to be someone of a solitary pursuit, your relationship with Brett sounds incredibly collaborative - do prefer writing with a partner?
Brett and I have known each other since junior high so I think that helps with the process. Truth be told, we don't actually do a lot of writing together. We usually get together and bounce ideas off of each other and create an outline. Then one of us will take the ideas, write something and then let the other person look it over and make notes and what not. With OTCO3 I wrote about 4 drafts before Brett ever read it. He made some notes, I did some more re-writes and then he added a few scenes. It works out pretty well for us.

You film actually sounds like it belongs to the Italian Exploitation movement alongside offerings like The Violent Professionals and Confessions of a Police Captain who's in you dream team casting 1970's style?
Oooh, that's a tough question. Fred Williamson for sure. He would definitely be my lead. Dick Miller would have to be in. In fact I want Dick Miller in everything. Joe Spinell and John Saxon. Bronson. Who wouldn't want Bronson? So many good exploitation and b-actors that I'd love to use. Really anyone from the old AIP pictures.

You can tell a lot about a man by his favourite Fred Williamson film, what's yours?
I don't know that it's my favorite, but I really love The Big Score. I think it's incredibly underrated. Nobody ever talks about but it's terrific. The cast is incredible, in fact I basically ripped that cast off for my dream 70's cast. Vigilante is another good one."

It's interesting you say you failed at writing a blaxploitation film but managed something in vein of Shane Black who I think is responsible for some of the best blaxploitation films that never was. What elements of OTCo3 do you think speaks the most of Black's influence?
The relationship between our two leads is a little reminiscent of the relationship between Gibson and Glover in the Lethal Weapon films. The title of OTCO3 itself is a reference to Lethal Weapon 2. So really when I say Shane Black, I mean Lethal Weapon. Not that Black's other work isn't great. The Monster Squad is incredible.

60's Batman?  I'm assuming you're relating it to the bond between the two stars over an particular "bat dance" or highly suggestive double entendre.  How did the guys go about cementing that sympatico for the screen?
Actually when I say 60's Batman what I really mean is that I wrote something into the script that we couldn't pull off because we had no money to make the film. So to get out of this corner without having to do a major re-write we just did what Batman would do. When you see the movie you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

When will and where can we see the film?
Good question. I'd like to get the answer to this someday as well. We're close to wrapping up post and then we hope to strike a deal to get the film out to the public. Whether we get distribution or we have to do it ourselves, one way or another we'll get it out there and Knifed in Venice will certainly be the first to know!"

Finally, buddy movies often birth sequels, will we see an On the Count of 3 Too?
I'm not opposed to it! I think it would be called On the Count of 4 though. I love our lead characters, Charles and Richard. I think we've created a universe that gives us lots of options. It won't be in the near future though. We've got Landry just about ready to jump into production and two more screenplays in the works. I wouldn't rule it

To read Chris' open letter click [here]


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