Shane Dax Taylor’s latest movie The Best Man features a solid ensemble (Dolph Lundgren, Luke Wilson, Brendan Fehr, Nicky Whelan, Scout Taylor-Compton), and it is an action thriller that is a recommended watch. As a fan of all of the aforementioned actors as well as Shane Dax Taylor’s 2010 feature Bloodworth, I am the target demographic for The Best Man.
The Best Man centers on Bradley (Brendan Fehr), a former Special Ops soldier who reunites with his fellow colleague and good friend Cal (Luke Wilson) to be the best man at his wedding. Dolph Lundgren is Anders, another member of the Special Ops unit who attends the nuptials, with Nicky Whelan starring as Cal’s fiancee Brooke and Scout Taylor-Compton as his soon to be sister-in-law Hailey.
The wedding turns tragic when a group of mercenries storm the casino hotel and take members of the wedding hostage. It’s up to these three military vets to save the day and keep their loved ones alive.
In the interview, Shade Dax Taylor also talks about how he transitioned from an ESPN producer to a feature filmmaker. He also mentions how filmmakers David Gordon Green (George Washington, Joe) and Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) have played an important part of his directing journey.
The Best Man has a maze like kind of construct. It is one location but there are a ton of visual set ups and moving pieces. Was that a draw for you in directing the feature?
Shane Dax Taylor: Yeah for sure. Greg, thank you for having me on first and foremost. I was brought on as a director at first. There was a script in place and I came on and kind of fine tuned it to what I wanted. First, I want you to care about the characters. So there’s an opening action sequence and then we go into the fist 15 to 20 minutes and you get to know these characters before we put them through the ringer.
Also I wanted to make the two female leads sisters and not just friends. So when one is going through something, it meant more. Whether they witnessed it or how they deal with it. And then these three buddies who have this deep love for each other and want to protect each other.
I wanted it to have heart and not just about how are we going to get to the next action sequenece. That was important to me. That is when I came on board and kind of what I brought to it.
There are a healthy share of action sequences in The Best Man. What goes into executing these moments?
Shane Dax Taylor: We didn’t have a whole lot of time to shoot this film. So it was really just about research and prep time and working with the stunt coordinators and fight choreographers. Just making sure we had everything we needed within these sequences. Just as far as the fight scenes and whatnot, it’s just the prep time.
If you’re only going to have a couple of weeks to shoot this, please give me the prep time to shoot for it.
Can you talk about the location for The Best Man?
Shane Dax Taylor: We were fortunate that we were able to shoot it at The Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero, New Mexico. That’s a character in and of itself because 100% of the film was shot interior and exterior of that building. That was key.
Even though we had a short amount of time, it feels like there were 50 locations. That was important to me to have the casino. To have an indoor pool sequence. To have these hotel rooms and boiler rooms and all these different locations. It all feels so much bigger but yet we are in one big location.
Can you take about the casting of your film? It’s a very interesting mix.
Shane Dax Taylor: When I came on board, Dolph was already on board. Luke was brought on right then. That was a great choice. Dolph is an icon in the action world. With Luke, I’ve never seen anything like that from him in an action film. That was a blast for him to do.
I really wanted to surround it with other talented actors. Typically with these action films, there are two people you recognzie and this is not a reflection on the other actors, but you are spending all your money on the two actors. And you’re hiring (the other actors) locally. I wanted (to work) with people I knew was going to knock it out. Whether that’s Brendan Fehr, Nicky Whelan, Scout Taylor-Compton, or Andrey Ivchenko from Stranger Things, Chris Mullinax.
All down the list. I called in a lot of favors as well and just brought them on. When you have Brendan, Luke, and Dolph – never in a million years would you think they would be the three leads. They work well together. Their friendship really plays and it feels like they’ve been to war together. They really lifted each other up as well.
Do you see a running thread to your directing work?
Shane Dax Taylor: Yeah. I’ve been very fortunate. The guy who brought me to L.A. I was at ESPN forever. I was a producer at ESPN and have done a lot of documentaries and I’m in the middle of one right now.
Shane Black brought me to L.A. and said “Hey, I’m going to help you out.” And through Tim Orr (the cinematographer behind Shane Dax Taylor’s feature Bloodworth), David Gordon Green has become a friend.
I’ve sent David cuts (of Bloodworth). The film Bloodworth is named Bloodworth because of David. The movie is based on the book called Provinces of Night and David (said) “You’re new title Bloodworth and here is your cuts and what you’re going to do.”
Chad Law, he’s an an extremely writer who I’ve worked with, I’ll say “pass me along to these directors you’ve worked in this action world so I can ask them how to shoot this hand to hand fight scene.” That’s really the biggest (thing) – just these relationships over the years.
The documentary Shane mentioned centers on John Y. Brown. Here is Shane Dax Taylor’s preview of the project:
How do you handle stress on a movie set? Nicky Whelan and Scout Taylor-Compton talked about how you are very chill and collaborative as a filmmaker.
Shane Dax Taylor: That’s a great question. I come from world of ESPN and live sports. So the average time at ESPN is seven months – a typical season. I was there for 13 years.
I think I handle stress very well. I’m not going to yell or scream. I got into the entertainment business because we want to have fun. It shouldn’t be a stressful thing if you don’t need it to be. Of course there will be stressful (situations) on set, but you just get through it and you hire the right people
I used to watch David Milch on Deadwood because Earl Brown (the screenwriter behind Bloodworth) would go to set and if you changed one word of the script, he’s like “Wait a second.” That’s not me. As long as we get from A to Z in a scene, I want actors to feel comfortable. They are the characters so how would they feel comfortable saying (a certain word). Would you say “buddy” or “hey buddy.” Bring some of yourself into the character. It makes the actors feel more comfortable, I believe.
Yeah. It is for sure. And I finished directing another feature with Malin Akerman and Amy Smart less than two weeks ago. It will be out in theaters later this year. It’s called The Christmas Classic. I was in the editing room this morning on it and (just realizing) I’ve got to switch gears and focus on The Best Man.
This is the fun part. I love talking about films and bringing up Bloodworth. But I’m super excited about The Best Man.
We review Sisu, The Black Demon, and Ghosted on the latest episode of CinemAddicts: