Jared Cohn on his new action thriller ‘Deadlock’

Patrick Muldoon as Mack in the action film, DEADLOCK, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Movie poster provided by KWPR

Jared Cohn brings us a really cool action thriller with Deadlock, which he wrote and directed. 

Bruce Willis stars as Ron Whitlock, a wanted criminal leading a team of mercenaries on a mission of vengeance. Convinced that the government is working against them, the merciless group brutally seizes an energy plant and holds everyone inside hostage. With a nearby town on the brink of massive flooding and destruction, it’s up to one retired elite army ranger Mack Karr (Patrick Muldoon) to save thousands of innocent lives before it’s too late.

Check out my interview with Jared!

Where did this story come from? 

Jared: Eight years ago, I wrote what would eventually become Deadlock. And much of it took place in different locations and basically the skeleton was there, but as I started pitching it, people were like, ‘Oh, this is too expensive. Can you contain it? Can you make it take placein one main location?’ The story was always about bad guys taking over what was originally a nuclear power plant and was originally named Reactor. I couldn’t get a nuclear power plant so I had to rewrite it for a water power dam. But it just kind of came through my head, you know, just from watching movies. I think I watched Under Siege, and thought, ‘let me do something kind of like that,’ because it’s been such a long time since anything like that was made. It’s really such a good movie.

Did you use any films for inspiration in shooting it as well?

Jared: Not so much during shooting just because it was such a tight schedule. We were really just trying to get all the coverage. We had done a lot of preparation, but of course, when you get there and actors are still getting made up and you’re running out of time. It was a fast shoot, so I think the inspiration was just to make sure we have a full movie by the end of the shoot.

Was it a tight shoot because of COVID? 

Jared: A lot of it, I think has to do with actor availability. I would have loved to have a few more days, but the budget wasn’t in the cards for that. It was sort of one thing after another and I think we started off with 20-something days to shoot, then like 17, then 14. Next thing I know, we have only 10 or 11 days to shoot the entire movie. And that really puts a lot of pressure on you. You just shoot and make sure you’re getting all the beats and telling the story and, of course, putting as much style as you can in.

Let me tell you, you would not be able to tell that you only shot that in like 10-11 days.

Jared: Thank you. Yeah, we hustled to get as much as we did. Our DP was great, Brandon Cox, he moves fast and was still able to make it look big. We had a lot of good people on the team, the producers, the towns people that live there and the people that work at the dam, they were just awesome and kind of gave us the run of the dam.

I’m always interested in how people settle on the titles of films. So how did you settle on Deadlock?

Jared: For eight years, I was running around Hollywood trying to get this script, Reactor, trying to get it made. It got optioned a couple times. It almost got made a bunch of times. This movie was like the textbook screenwriter running around town trying to get their movie made. I used to go to these speed dating Pitch Competition type things, where you get like five minutes with each person. I went to a bunch of those and I was really beating the bushes trying to get tthis movie made. And it was always Reactor. The name was always Reactor and took place at a nuclear power plant and the main character sort of was the reactor to the situation. So when we shot the movie, Reactor was on the slate for every scene and then we realized, you know, we’re now at a power dam, filming this movie. Reactor made absolutely no sense. And so they’re like, ‘Hey, can you come up with some additional titles or title suggestions?’ I came up with a bunch of other ones and they didn’t go with any of those. Then just randomly one day, pretty recently, it was on IMDb as Reactor for a while, and then Deadlock appears. I asked who came up with Deadlock? That’s a pretty cool title. Nobody I knew seems to know where Deadlock came from. 

Bruce Willis as Ron in the action film, DEADLOCK, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of
Saban Films.
What was it like working with Bruce and Patrick?

Jared: I’ve worked with Patrick before, he was a really cool, funny guy. We had a great time. We were always talking about, ‘Hey, we gotta do something else in the future.’ And then when Deadlock came about, and they got Bruce, that was awesome. We started talking about who’s gonna play the lead and one of the producers, says like, ‘oh, you know, Patrick Muldoon’s a leading man.’ I was like,’ wow, that’d be great because I worked with him before.’And Bruce, I mean, he’s a legend, so, it was an honor to work with him. He comes in with his entourage and everybody knows when Bruce is on set or en route to set, he kind of changes the energy. Everyone perks up a little bit. And so I was happy to work him but again, with such few days, you don’t really have much time to say, ‘hey, Bruce, down to chat?’ He shows up to set and it was basically, ‘Alright, let’s block it, and then we’ll shoot it.’ It was very much,’ nice to meet you. Thanks so much. This is the scene we’re about to shoot.’ I wish I had more time to sit down with him and just talk about anything. I did a little bit here and there, in between shots, we’d have a few nice conversations. He’s a very nice guy. Very, very professional.

So, this film was unexpected. I wasn’t expecting Patrick’s character to be as funny as he was and  I also didn’t expect Bruce to be kind of the villain. 

Jared: I thought what Patrick did, especially with his the sort of sidekick character, they had some really funny lines. He brought this humor to it that I did not expect him to. I mean, there was always some humor on the page, but it was very understated. I never envisioned it like that. But he read it and it was like, ‘you know, this character can be really funny. I get a lot of humor here.’ And at first, I was like, ‘I don’t know, dude, we’re making an action movie. I don’t want it to be hokey or this or that.’ And then he’s like, ‘no, no, trust me. I’m gonna play it like this,’ and I actually didn’t believe it, like I couldn’t really imagine it until he created the character. It was funny, but it wasn’t hokey funny. It was like this weathered guy, who’s over it. And that totally made sense and it was funny, I thought it was great. And Bruce is just brilliant. He had some brilliant, crazy moments. He brought a volatility that I didn’t really predict until we started shooting. And that’s what’s great about filmmaking, I mean, obviously, we didn’t have any time for rehearsals or table reads. I mean, it was show up, run it and shoot it. I love doing rehearsals and table reads and preparing, but I didn’t have that. So a lot of it was on the day of and they just brought it and it worked. Hopefully the audience, when they watch it, will enjoy the humor.

It’s still just unreal that you were able to do all this in less than two weeks.

Jared: I mean, it is crazy. I’ve shot movies in like six days, seven days, but that’s a whole other conversation. But yeah, I mean, just having to work super, super fast has become sort of a new, not that new, but kind of the way to work. If you’d like if you can get it done, why should we give you more days and spend more money? I understand the producers, I also produce, but it would have been nice to have more. But we got it done and the crew was cool and the actors were cool, there were really no major hiccups or issues. I mean, you could have given me 13 days and I’m sure I would have said, ‘I wish I would have had 16 days.’ You always want more. There’s no making the filmmaker happy until the movie comes out and people say it’s good.

Before I let you go, is there anything else that you would like to say about Deadlock?

Jared: I would say tune in. A lot of heart and soul and energy went into making the film. It’s supposed to be an entertaining action film and I love that its got some comedy. Just tune in and if you like it, write or make a comment or something. And if you don’t like it, you’re more than welcome to make a comment as well. I’m just grateful. I’m grateful to have directed the movie alongside Cam Cannon who did a great rewrite.

(Center) Patrick Muldoon as Mack in the action film, DEADLOCK, a Saban Films release.
Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Deadlock will be available in theaters, On Demand and Digital – December 3, 2021.