ES: Who are some of your influences?
SL: As an action/adventure writer, I'm influenced primarily by novelists...Alistair MacLean, Ian Fleming and John D. MacDonald.
I think you'd probably find a lot of MacLeanish elements in my films. As a director - John Ford, for the linear drive of his
films, the attention to character and detail, the sentiment and the ability to say in one or two strokes what it takes other
directors 6 or 7 strokes to do. Howard Hawks for the relationships between his characters. Andrew McLaglen, who is sort of
John Ford "light." His stories are macho, he-men stuff, sentimental, funny, sad and always action-packed. Burt Kennedy for
the same reason, though Kennedy leans more towards humor. And both men tend toward the same basic story I like - which is
old guys getting back together to kick ass one more time. Roger Corman because he always managed to get some semblance of
style into his work, despite the budget or schedule. And I learned how direct a movie in ten days or less by watching Fred
Olen Ray movies.
ES: How did you go from making low-budget 16mm Florida-based horror flicks to writing multimillion dollar action films?
SL: Fell into it; the generosity of a friend. At the time I arrived in Hollywood (fall 1995), the market for low-budget
16mm to video sci-fi/horror was drying up. It did no good to have a reputation for making the sorts of movies distributors
weren't buying anymore - despite the fact that I was good - and fast - and my films made lots of money. JACKO was one of the
most successful direct-to-video horror films of the mid 90s, selling over 15,000 units (very unusual for a B title) and playing
HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, etc. But by 1996, you couldn't make or sell a JACKO 2 (which is precisely why that project went south).
But Fred Ray came to the rescue, asking me to write INVISIBLE DAD. The film turned out very well - I think it's been playing
- literally - every week on cable for close to two years. It's on SHOWTIME this week. I got my rep as an action writer with
the followup, SCORPIO ONE, which Robert Carradine called the best first draft script he'd ever read. It snowballed from there
and I've been able to bounce from company to company. I think I keep working because I'm known as a prolific writer (I wrote
9 scripts in 1999 - seven have been produced) - and am able to deliver a very strong 1st draft and rapid rewrites. This is
critical when you try and attract the "A" list talent we have to book in order to sell these films.
ES: Can you tell us a little about the upcoming ACTIVE STEALTH?
SL: ACTIVE STEALTH is an old-fashioned adventure film - sort of a combination of WHERE EAGLES DARE, THE WILD GEESE, THE
MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE. Army Rangers use a modified stealth plane to rescue a captured comrade, destroy
a massive drug dealing operation and save local villagers from the tyranny of a dictatorship. Good guys vs. bad guys, lots
of action, lots of spectacle, a great cast (DANIEL BALDWIN, FRED WILLIAMSON, HANNES JAENICKE) and references to all my favorite
war pictures and John Wayne movies. It's great, old-fashioned fun - the sort of movie I used to watch with my Dad on Sunday
afternoons. And it's also got the rapid pace, state-of-the-art affects and hi-tech story elements today's modern audiences
demand. And a dose of that good old John Ford sentiment. It's Fred Ray's best film. And that is saying a lot as he has become
an accomplished filmmaker. His recent work is hitting big with critics. His western THE SHOOTER was nominated for a Golden
Boot Award - beating out such heavyweight competition as John Milius' ROUGH RIDERS.
ES: Where do you picture yourself 10 years from now?
SL: Same place. Making movies. I'd like to get paid more and work a little less but it's a great life.
ES: Which two action film stars(dead or living) would you like to see paired up?
SL: The only combo that comes to mind consists of one living and one dead actor. In the mid 70s, there was some brief discussion
in both actor's camps about a joint John Wayne/Clint Eastwood film. I'm sorry that never came to pass.