22 May 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Kevin Bacon joins cast of One Way; director Andrew Baird discusses new crime thriller
16 Nov 2020 : Nathan Griffin
Actor Kevin Bacon
We spoke with Irish director Andrew Baird to get some insight into his new action thriller One Way, the news that Hollywood veteran Kevin Bacon has joined the cast, and developing an established shorthand with Vikings star Travis Fimmel.

A graduate of the National Film School at IADT, Baird firstly made a name for himself through his extensive work in commercial directing, completing over 150 campaigns and music videos including high-profile long-form pieces such as the title track off The Weeknd’s debut album, Kiss Land, inspired by the dark world of Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner), which lead to a deal with ICM Partners for his debut feature film, Zone 414 starring Guy Pearce.

“I got very lucky to work with a master actor; Guy Pearce on Zone 414 and now I get to do it again with Kevin Bacon,” Baird told IFTN.

“Like Guy; his resume speaks for itself. Guy and I had such a good relationship on Zone. Rocky at first; the master assessing the novice, but within a few days we were cooking. I can't tell you how much appreciation and enjoyment I get from casting and working with the best actors I can find for the roles. Kevin, like Guy, is as good as it gets when it comes to film actors. It’s that simple.”

The film, which was being shown to buyers by Highland Film Group at the virtual AFM last week, is produced by veteran Irish producer Tim Palmer, Martin Brennan, and Jib Polhemus with Bill Grantham serving as executive producer.

“My lawyer, Bill Grantham connected Tim Palmer and myself about 2 years ago,” said Baird.

“I was in early pre-production of Zone 414 with Martin Brennan of 23 TEN in Belfast and Jib Polhemus (also my manager) at Source Management + Production in LA, and my own company BAIRDfilm.”

 “Bill had been working with Tim on several film projects,” Baird continued. “I admired Tim from his maverick resume in Irish Film. He is a true visionary when it comes to spotting talent. Into the West .... and more importantly, Patrick's Day, which was a calling card to Irish film like Easy Rider was to Hollywood. Terry McMahon and Moe Dunford's work on that film was extraordinary and is how I feel Irish film should progress; Ballsy, Authentic, Courageous, and Visionary.”

One Way, which was written by Ben Conway, is expected to begin production in Tulsa and Los Angeles next February. “I initially received another script from Tim; written by the same writer Ben Conway. It grabbed me right away. I passed it along to Martin. It was a large scale action thriller and it was note-perfect to LA where it is set,” said Baird.

“We put it to the side, but Martin also sent me One Way, which Ben wrote. I read it and again liked it, but the environment where the premise was set didn’t work. 

“A few months passed and I was shooting Zone 414 in Belfast when it was presented to me by my manager and producing partner Jib Polheums ( Source Management + Production in LA), and Martin Brennan (23 TEN in Belfast) as a go project. Martin, Jib, and I formed a powerful team on Zone 414, which Jib also produced with Martin and we wanted to continue this relationship.”

The film was developed with funding from both Irish funding bodies Northern Ireland Screen and Screen Ireland, making it a cross border collaboration. “(At that point) A revision had been done by Ben with support of Lesley Mckimm of Screen Ireland and Andrew Reid of Northern Ireland Screen, which was shepherded by Tim and Martin.”

“The script grabbed me right away. Its new environment suited the premise perfectly. Ben Conway has a distinctive voice and a unique spin on the US Genre cinema, which I hadn't read before. He is a very gifted writer, which is rare; really rare.”

Baird was weighing up his next project while in the middle of post-production at Windmill Lane on Zone 414 when he had what he described as a “defining conversation” with producer Tim Palmer.

“I was driving back to LA from the desert in July on a break from Zone 414 post –production,” Baird told IFTN. “It's a trip I have made hundreds of times over the last 10 years, as I live between both. That's when I realized how to approach One Way in a visceral, unique way; an 'a-ha moment' if you will. I had shot a narrative music video in a similar manner and knew I could approach One Way the same way with a particular Italian neo-realist style, which my Italian DP Tobia Sempi and I had devised over many years on commercials and music videos. So jumped headfirst in from there and it snowballed fast.”

Other than the recent addition of Kevin Bacon (Footloose, The Following), One Way already has a strong cast established with Baird regrouping with Vikings star Travis Fimmel who stars in Zone 414. “I called up to Travis' ranch in Santa Clarita and he jumped on right away,” Baird said. “I owe Travis for jump starting my feature career. He was the first star to back me and it ignited Zone 414 into production. A unique situation happened where Guy and Travis swapped roles on Zone 414 for scheduling.”

“Travis is old school; a powerful no nonsense actor in the same vein as the greats of the 70s. I put Travis in a similar world to Norman Reedus who I know from NY. They are authentic leading men who are equally comfortable being character actors. Built for camera; effortless charisma.”

“Very few actors would take on his highly controversial role in One Way, but Travis took to it like a duck to water,” Baird continued. “We went way out there with his character on Zone 414 and were very happy with the results. So we have a trust and a shorthand now.”

“Next to jump right away on was Colson (Baker),” the rising American acting star and rapper, a.k.a Machine Gun Kelly, who recently earned a US No.1 album. “Jib was about to shoot a western with him and Sam Worthington. Colson caught my attention from being the standout performance and element by far playing Tommy Lee in the Motley Crew biopic, The Dirt.

“His choice of roles and the filmmakers he is working with is very shrewd,” Baird continued. “Albeit being a full on rockstar, he is well on the way to being a great film actor. When I first spoke to him, we clicked right away; he adored the script and the role of Freddy. I told him he was on his way to having an acting career as strong as Mark Wahlberg and I have no doubt he will be a major movie star within the next few years. One Way is his first full on lead, which is a very exciting prospect.”

According to Deadline, One Way follows Freddy (Baker) who goes on the run with a bag full of cash after a robbery of his former crime boss goes wrong. With a potentially fatal wound, he slips onto a bus headed into the unrelenting California desert. After a call for help, Freddy’s estranged father (Bacon) betrays him, notifying the crime boss where he is. With his life slipping through his fingers, Freddy is left with very few choices to survive.

Although the full cast has not yet been revealed for One Way, Baird was full of praise for the Irish contingent he worked with on Zone 414; “I worked with 3 incredible female Irish actors on Zone 414 - Antonia Campbell Hughes, Olwen Fouéré, and the legendary Fionnula Flanagan.”

 As was the case with Zone 414, Baird intends to continue his relationship with Irish post-house Windmill Lane for One Way; “Tim Morris and the whole team there are world class. Tim has been a key supporter of me from day one 20 years ago along with Meiert Avis in LA”. Editor Tony Cranstoun will also reunite with Baird after editing Zone 414 earlier this year; “In my opinion the best film editor based in Ireland”.

When asked about an expected release date, Baird told IFTN; “It has been sold everywhere and releases theatrically in US in May 2021 with Saban Films and internationally with Universal Pictures.

Although Baird has enjoyed a packed production schedule between Zone 414 and One Way, he’s showing no signs of stopping with a third feature on the horizon. “We have just done a deal for my third film, Tarbox; a dark thriller with echoes of Se7en and David Lynch. This will also be another authentic Irish-American production, and we plan to build on this very successful infrastructure. It's going to be another great adventure and a sublime slice of action-crime cinema.”

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