Interview with Section 8 director Christian Sesma
by Bobby Blakey
Director Christian Sesma has been putting his mark on the action genre for years working with some great casts including Luke Goss, Danny Trejo, Val Kilmer, Jason Mewes, Michael Jai White and so many more. His latest film, Section 8 continues that trend featuring Ryan Kwanten, Dolph Lundgren, Dermot Mulroney, Mickey Rourke and Scott Adkins. I had the chance to sit down with him to discuss the action and bringing Section 8 to the big screen.
Bobby: How did you get involved with this with a section 8?
Christian: Chad Law the writer brought it to me with the producer Brandon Burrows and they came to me with the script and it was weird because we were kind of basically coming out of the whole Covid thing and peak times of the industry was starting to ramp back up and you know, production was starting to kind of ramp back up as well. They had this pretty fun action kind of Mission Impossible style thing, but it definitely had this you know, grounded everyman quality, which I thought would be an interesting take, very much like diehard where you have just a regular cop thrown into this crazy scenario. Here is the same with Ryan Kwanten’s character, just a regular vet trying to pay the bills, feed his family and he gets thrown into this insane world of espionage and politics and action. I thought when they brought that to me, I thought that was very interesting.
Bobby: You've had a very awesome career with the people you've worked with and I'm fans of most of them. I'm a martial artist myself so anything with Scott Adkins, Dolph Lundgren and Luke Goss and all these guys I'm instantly in. When you go into to want to cast a movie like this with all those people you have worked with, what is the process or did you already have people in mind to play these characters?
Christian: I think when the casting was taking place, working with some of these elements were exciting to me. I've worked with Mickey before but it was the first time Dolph and it was very interesting things for me. But Ryan Kuantan being cast as the lead of this kind of action movie, I think, really helped sell it for me just to make something interesting. You know that this is somebody that you're not used to in this space. So I thought that quality would really help us stand apart a little bit enough in this genre. So of course, Scott, is Scott and it was our first time working together, we've done it a few times now and just him being in that role, I thought was a perfect late addition to the script to be honest. I mean, that wasn't in the original script. This kind of character was added later.
Bobby: Anytime. I know Adkins is in a movie I’m all in because I'm such a massive fan. Sometimes he has the smaller roles, not even full action and I get aggravated and I have to let that go because that's my issue, but I want to applaud you though, because for the small amount of time he's there you used him to perfection you gave him time to shine. How involved was he in developing the fight sequences or were they already laid out?
Christian: I think both. The casino element wasn't part of the original script, either. I mean, that was something it was like, look if I'm going to have Scott and he's playing this, you know, 007 style assassin guy then he's going be this person that's constantly the impending danger, pending threat for Ryan's character above Dermot’s part. With that how do we give Scott that playground to really do what he does? I was able to get the casino scene approved over here and when we shot there's some friends that own the casino, and it’s also the first thing I've ever shot with Scott. It was such a great intro and having him just moving through that casino and doing what he did. It was super, super, super cool and one of my favorite scenes. He was awesome.
Bobby: I want to go to another element of the film and I'm going to try to word right because I don't want to spoil anything for anybody. The situation that causes Ryan to go on, I guess we can say the rampage that he goes on at the beginning that’s the catalyst of it all. I really love the way that opening scene was shot because there are elements that aren't something you typically show on film, involving younger people. How did that sequence and variation of that sequence come about? Was it written a certain way or did you have different variations on how you wanted to show the impact of actors?
Christian: It was written a little differently, but it was still interesting. Funny, you mention that because there's two sequences that are my favorite this whole film believe it or not, not just the house fight at the end, but it's the casino sequence and then this sequence when Ryan Kwanten finds the family to the moment he ends up and then we fade out at the strip club. That's basically one sequence for me in a way, you know, one entire piece that I think that if it didn't come out the way I wanted it to I don't know if anybody would be in for the ride, you know? I was kind of inspired a lot by the way Road To Perdition did it where, you've seen it but you don't see it, but instead stay with the main character on that and the main character's reaction. Just the thing with Ryan's reaction, I think was a way to go in a way so we we totally understand what's going down and it is pretty brutal.
Bobby: He acted the crap out of that scene and you could have never seen anything more than just his reaction and you knew what happened the moment he walked in, but the angle shot of the reveal I think just slaps you in the face.
Christian: I agree.
Bobby: When you are dealing with a movie like this on a smaller budget scale how much time did you have to develop the action and fight sequences?
Christian: Maybe two weeks? Sometimes even on the day, I mean, it all depends. I always feel that when people do feel like they watched a real movie, I think that's a huge accomplishment if you have the feeling that you watched any other movie that you watch in the theaters then I did my job right whereas other films, maybe this genre, a month or two months, I mean, we have weeks with these action movies.
Bobby: Before I run out of time I have to ask if you have anything else coming up you can tell us about? Did I see correctly that you are doing some other films with Adkins?
Christian: After Section 8 we shot Lights Out, which is this fun kind of Roadhouse fight movie with Frank Grillo, Mekhi Phifer, Dermot Mulroney and Jamie King with Scott Adkins in that so that should be coming out. We're finishing posts on that this year. And then Scott and I have a very, very cool project together that we were in Alabama for and then we're on hold right now , but we're going go back called War Paint that people are going to flip over. It’s going to be great.
Bobby: Awesome. I really liked the movie and big props for not only bringing the emotions, great action and utilizing everybody in a way that a lot of people tend to miss. You clearly have that vision and I'm a huge fan and didn't even know I was a huge fan, but I am there for life.
Christian: Appreciate that.
Bobby: I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.
Christian: Thanks, take care.
Check out Section 8 in theaters and AMC + now from RLJE Films.