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Interview: Barry Battles


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This year, American director Barry Battles released his first feature film, The Baytown Outlaws, heralded as ‘a southern whip-ass extravaganza.’ TNS chatted to Battles to get the lowdown on the new film…

So, what is ‘The Baytown Outlaws’ about?

The film follows a bunch of red neck mercenaries through this trip through the South and as events unfold things get crazier. They’re on a mission to rescue the kid of Celeste, Eva Longoria’s character. The tag is pretty on the money -it’s a ‘southern whip-ass extravaganza.’

Can you name any films that had an essential influence on The Baytown Outlaws?

Oh, absolutely. We’re Alabama guys, myself and the other writer of the film, so we’ve been really influenced by the whole repertoire of Western action films out there. All the movies that we grew up on were Westerns. For example, The Baytown Outlaws was really influenced by The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, and other films like that which explore the moral grey areas. You can see that in The Baytown Outlaws - there are bad guys that are trying to do a good thing.

As kids, we were into those Western kinds of comic books which were about and had a kind of action-thriller, rip-roaring tone, so the work we do now sometimes reflects that cartoonish sensibility. I mean, The Baytown Outlaws was supposed to be fun. In the film, we make a lot of references to directors who do the same kind of thing we do. The Coen brothers, for example, have been a big source of inspiration. The Baytown Outlaws was our way to tip our hat to the movies we love.

How would you describe the film’s sense of humour?

Well, it’s very much a testosterone-driven sense of humour, based on the way that guys and brothers relate to each other. Anyone who has that kind of relationship can relate to it. In terms of black humour and violence, we kind of play with the limit - dancing around the line but not going too far.

Are there any members of the cast that you particularly enjoyed working with?

Well, what can I say? The whole thing was just a dream come true. Everybody in the cast brought their enthusiasm and love of the script to the part. We were working without much money and on a tight schedule but everyone completely nailed it. The casting of the Oodie brothers was really the most crucial part of the film and I can say that that decision worked out perfectly. Our cast was just incredible. It was amazing as well to be working with Billy Bob Thornton, a legend of course.

I heard that producer Lorenzo Bonaventura described you as reminiscent of a young Tarantino. Would you agree and could you draw any parallels between The Baytown Outlaws, or your work, and Tarantino’s work?

Well, I think it’s great that someone would say that and I would say that Tarantino has been a big inspiration to us as writers, yeah. Films like True Romance spoke to us so much, and I like to think we’ve emulated that style in certain parts of The Baytown Outlaws, but put our own spin on it. I’d say The Baytown Outlaws has the same really great dialogue as a lot of Tarantino films.

Can we expect to see any more work from you in a similar vein to The Baytown Outlaws?

I really hope so! I’d really love to continue looking at shoot ‘em up stories and characters that fall into that moral grey area for future films. Now I’ve done the first one, I would definitely like to go on to make more films that stay in the action crime comedy realm. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

The Baytown Outlaws is released by Universal Pictures (UK) on 26th December 2012.

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