Matt Eskandari Aims For “Depth” With ‘Hard Kill’ Filmmaking

Matt Eskandari is one of the filmmakers who has worked the most with Bruce Willis. Since 2019, the pair have collaborated on Trauma Center, Survive the Night, and now Hard Kill. I have a bias towards filmmakers who squeeze every last penny from their shooting budget, and during our chat Eskandari talked about bring production value to his latest film.
 Jesse Metcalfe as Derek Miller and Bruce Willis as Donavan Chalmers in HARD KILL, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

Hard Kill’s straight ahead plot centers on Miller (Jesse Metcalfe), the leader of a group of mercenaries who takes a job defending tech CEO named Chalmers (Bruce Willis). The billionaire’s daughter Ava (Lala Kent) has developed a program that can cause worldwide damage, and a villain named The Pardoner (Sergio Rizzuto) kidnaps her to steal the priceless tech.

Chalmers has part of the code to enable the program, and though he’s hell bent on saving his daughter, he’s also the target of The Pardoner. It’s up to Miller and his hired guns to save the day as well as possibly keep the world away from a catastrophic disaster!

Along with Metcalfe to help anchor the proceedings, the picture also features solid work from Natalie Eva Marie as one of Miller’s fellow operatives and Kent (Vanderpump Rules) actually pulls off the role as the endangered daughter. Even though he had an indie budget with Hard Kill, director Matt Eskandari was focused on bringing as much production value as possible.

 Natalie Eva Marie as Sasha in HARD KILL, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

“We found a warehouse in Cincinnati that had a lot of variety to the sets,” said Eskandari who also penned and helmed the 2017 thriller 12 Feet Deep. “One room had this paint-chipped blue to it and another room had this metallic element. This other area had dripping wetness with a blue palette. There is enough visual variety that every 25 minutes you’re in a different sort of world. It feels like you’re in one warehouse, but there is so much variety to it that it feels like a bigger film than it actually is.”

Along with finding a great location to focus in on the story and action, bringing an immersive visual approach to the proceedings was also paramount. “It’s learning how to shoot a scene so that it feels there is depth on camera,” said Eskandari. “So it’s choosing the right angle, lighting to sculp the image in a certain way so that it feels that it has three dimensional depth to it. It’s moving the cameras as much as you can while still getting those wide big shots that lends itself to a bigger film.”

Jesse Metcalfe as Derek Miller in HARD KILL, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

As for working with Bruce Willis, movie magic is a rare thing, but having an A-list actor as part of your ensemble doesn’t hurt.”It’s like this magical thing behind the eyes,” said Eskandari. “It’s like how does he do that? He looks through the lens and some actors just have that depth that whenever they turn it on, it’s just there. Some actors just have that. Bruce is one of those actors where you cut to him and there’s something that’s instantly going on.”

One of my favorite sequences in Hard Kill, on a visual level, took place in a clock tower, and Eskandari talks about shooting that scene with Willis:

Hard Kill is available On Demand and Digital on August 25. My full interview with Matt Eskandari is now up for our CinemAddicts Patreon members.

To check out what other movies are coming out this weekend, listen to the latest episode of CinemAddicts.
If you love filmmakers like Matt Eskandari who bring a ton of value to lower budgeted movies, check out our spotlight on director Joseph H. Lewis, who’s best known for the feature Gun Crazy. On this Find Your Film episode, we take a look at the Lewis features So Dark The Night and The Big Combo:

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