Dito Montiel, the director of Channing Tatum's critically acclaimed 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints' and his upcoming 2009 action drama 'Fighting', was recently interviewed by UK sight FutureMovies.com. In the interview snippet below we learn why Dito thinks Channing is like a "young Steve McQueen" (the ultra-cool and Oscar-nominated male film star of the 1960s).
Dito Montiel on Fighting, Clapping and Being an Unlikely Filmmaker
"Writer, director and musician Dito Montiel first came to the public’s attention in 1989 when his hardcore band, Gutterboy, signed to Geffen Records for $1million. In 2003, he published A Guide To Recognising Your Saints, a memoir of his life growing up in Queens, New York, during the 1980s hardcore punk scene, which chronicled his time touring, his brief modelling career and his old neighbourhood
Adapting aspects of the best-selling book into a screenplay, he was persuaded to direct it by Robert Downey Jr., who starred in the 2007 film adaptation as the adult Dito, alongside Shia LaBeouf as his younger self and Channing Tatum.
Montiel’s second novel, Eddie Krumble Is The Clapper, about a professional audience member who’s transformed into a celebrity by Jay Leno was published last year. His second film, Fighting, starring Tatum and Terence Howard as underground street fighters, is released in 2009.
He speaks to Future Movies about genuine fight scenes, the grim reality of being a television clapper and his latest project, based on real, unsolved murders.
Is it true the film company made a trailer for Fighting before they’d even seen the movie?
Yeah, it’s hysterical and beyond me how that’s possible. I think they just got the footage and decided well, Channing looks good without his shirt, we’ll go with that.
Is it like Fight Club?
No, not at all. Originally, they had a script that was horrible. I thought it was pretty bad at least, about basketball players that gamble. What, everyone’s broke but they own Hummers?! One of those.
So they asked me if I’d rewrite it for them and I said, “if you’re talking about guys from the street, the most I’ve ever seen change hands is $20”. I’m more interested in the idea of two people meeting who need each other because they’re a little bit lost.
Now, I like basketball, but there’s only so many ways you can dunk a ball. And when they called up and said, “turn it into fighting”, I told them they were crazy. This would be good for someone else to make but not me.
Still, I started writing it and really had fun with it, referencing retro films like The Warriors. I figured if you’re going to go for it, why not have some fun? So I said look, Terence Howard is itching to do something, let me get him and Channing together, plus some other actors I really like, say Roger Smith and Luis Guzmán. I didn’t want it to be one of these “I’m gonna kick your ass” movies. I wanted it to be something fun that we’re all glad we made.
Do the characters of Sean (Tatum) and Harvey (Howard) bond through fighting?
Yeah, sort of. The first time you meet Harvey, he’s complaining about someone charging him too much for a soda. They just kind of strap onto each other, start roaming together and when they get thrown into this thing, the mentor needs another guy. But the idea of Harvey being a mentor should surprise the audience because he’s someone who’ll argue about the price of a pizza.
As the film is set in New York, do you bring a degree of authenticity to it?
As with my last movie, I think that if you bring relatively real things to a movie, it’s more fun. A lot of things I see in movies … I don’t mind a guy flying, because I know that’s not real. But if you try to portray a reality and you make it really corny, that’s shit. So instead of making them guys who were excited to fight and wanted to be the champion of the world, they would rather just hang around together. But they suddenly get thrown into it and the fights end up being crazy, which is fun because I’ve never done that before. In Saints I had two little fights and I let them really beat each other up. In this movie, at first the producers kept telling me ‘well, you can’t let them do that’. But of course, it looks more real, because they’re really fighting. So we let them really fight and we got some crazy footage. It was very exciting.
Channing’s a maniac. Really crazy, but in a good way. And he’s turned into a really good actor. I joke with him all the time. When I met him I didn’t think he was right for the last movie. And then, when they praised him, I told him ‘I don’t know what the hell they’re praising you about, you weren’t that good’.
I mean, I thought he was good, but the character was quite close to who he was, I don’t know if you’d call it acting. Now though, I think he can really act. He reminds me of a young Steve McQueen. I haven’t seen a guy in a movie like this in a long time.
'Fighting' is set to hit theaters some time in 2009, but in the meantime, fans can read my exclusive interview with Chan on set last year and check out tons of photos and videos from the set of the film below: