These are exciting times for action cinema fans. Due for release later in 2014, John Wick marks the highly anticipated directorial debut of 87Eleven Action Design co-founders, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, who have long established an unparalleled reputation setting up one of the best stunt and action teams in the world. As stunt coordinators and second unit directors, their credits to date include The Expendables, Conan the Barbarian, The Hunger Games, The Wolverine and many more. They began their careers much earlier, however, and famously founded the team on the set of Zack Snyder’s 300 back in 2006. Since then, they have established a reputation as the ultimate one-stop-shop for show-stopping action. Even if you’re not well-versed in their careers, you will have seen their handiwork many times!
Now at the top of their game, they have setup a fulltime facility where their stunt team can train and work, shoot pre-viz action sequences and, in their own words, train as filmmakers rather than purely as stunt players. Their team are encouraged to shoot and edit their own mini projects between bigger movies and become fully fledged filmmakers in their own right – using different types of cameras, shooting action, understanding proper framing and editing afterwards. Without doubt, it’s this process and passion for filmmaking which led to Leitch and Stahelski embarking on their first feature as filmmakers, having cut their teeth directing shorts and second unit directing countless blockbusters in the years before. It’s a natural evolution and steering the vision themselves, as filmmakers, will be fascinating to see – especially for genre fans and those who’ve followed their work from the start. It also shows the methodology of being filmmakers first and foremost with an interest in action – rather than the other way around. This could pave a route for new directors and offer an opportunity with 87Eleven’s own action filmmaking platform.
In the story, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a former assassin who is hunted down by another contractor and subsequently seeks revenge after they kill the people closest to him. It’s said to be an old-school, hardcore action thriller and, with this team, the action will undoubtedly come in heavy doses. The film co-stars Bridget Moynahan, Willem Dafoe and Michael Nyqvist.
What’s more, I’m extremely proud and honoured to have David and Chad interviewed exclusively in my forthcoming book, Life of Action, alongside fellow stunt veterans and 87Eleven collaborators such as J.J. Perry and Sam Hargrave. In the book, they talk me through their backgrounds and earliest career experiences right through to the likes of John Wick. Their stories are fascinating and I’m very happy they are involved. In fact, I can’t wait for you guys to read the full interviews.
For more information on my book, Life of Action (due for release later in the year), check out and LIKE the Facebook page here!