Interview with Roel Reiné, director of “Admiral”

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Roel Reiné (far left) may be best known in Hollywood for his directing many recent sequels such as Death Race 2 and Death Race 3; The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption and The Man with the Iron Fists 2. He recently directed the real-life story of 17th-Century Dutch naval officer Michiel De Ruyter, entitled Admiral, which will be released in a limited theatrical release on March 11 from XLrator Media and is currently available on Video on Demand platforms.

Roel took the time out of his busy schedule with World Film Geek to discuss Admiral and how he made this dream project come to life.

Roel, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to discuss Admiral.
Absolutely, I am very excited about to talk about Admiral.

You are known in Hollywood for helming many recent sequels. What brought you to return to the Netherlands to direct this historical epic?
Well, I have always wanted to direct a Dutch historical epic, to bring a real story to life. But, I didn’t have the know-how as to how to approach making this type of film. So I went to Hollywood, did lots of sequels and in the process, I got to learn a lot about filmmaking in terms of financing, budgeting, planning. It really became a learning experience so three years ago, I decided that I had the tools to finally go back to Holland to make the film I’ve wanted to. It took about two years to plan it out in terms of financing and we finally got the film made.

On this film, you pulled double duty as both director and cinematographer. How long did the shoot last and did you come across any obstacles in making the film?
We came across many obstacles, many (laughs). As I direct my movies, I like to use a certain directing style. The biggest challenge was that our budget for the film was $8 million. We had to plan out how to make an $8 million movie look like an $80 million dollar movie in 42 days, because that’s how long we shot the film for, 42 days. We didn’t use any green screen or blue screen. We used real water and real props for the battle sequences and that really helped us in making the film come to life.

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Many may not be familiar with Frank Lammers (above), who plays the central character of Michiel De Ruyter. He was perfectly cast for the film and definitely carried it in a positive manner. How did he get the role and what was it like working with him?
We did a lot of research on Michiel De Ruyter and we found that he was someone who didn’t care about politics or even consider anything political. He was a grounded person. So, we needed a grounded actor capable of taking the role as if De Ruyter was a normal person. There were many old Dutch actors auditioning and then I saw Frank, who I remember seeing him in many Dutch films, and I said, this is the guy.

What’s great about Frank is that like us, he also did his research on the role so he was also a collaborator in terms of bringing the character of De Ruyter to life.

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Seeing the film, Rutger Hauer (above) makes a cameo appearance in the film’s opening battle sequence. How did he come onboard the film?
Rutger Hauer was a big influence on me wanting to become a filmmaker and I’ve wanted to work with him for many years, but wasn’t able to. I felt for a pivotal character (Admiral Maarten Tromp), I needed an iconic actor to play the role as the one who would basically tell De Ruyter that he is to become the admiral. I finally got to meet with Rutger and I explained that it wasn’t a big part and we wouldn’t be able to pay him, but I asked him would he do this cameo in the movie and I was so happy when he agreed to do it.

From my understanding, there are two versions of the film, including one version that takes out the explicit manner. Did you have a hand in being involved with the alternate version?
There are actually three versions of the film. We have the international version, the one you’ve seen and will be coming out, which runs about two hours. There’s also the Dutch theatrical version, which runs two-and-a-half hours. Then, there’s a version for the 12 and under crowd, in which we took the graphic violence out that was made for school audiences.

Here’s the big difference between the international version and the Dutch theatrical release. In the Dutch history books, there’s more involvement from Michiel’s wife Anna, who at the time would run his company and do so much more while he was fighting the battles. The Dutch people really like hearing these stories whereas in international versions, the focus is more on just the main characters. So I shortened the international version down to two hours. However, I feel the versions work and will appeal to everyone.

Would you consider this film one of your proudest achievements and what other films have you made that you would consider your favorites?
Admiral is by far, my favorite, best, and most personal movie. Another favorite was a film I did for Fox called Seal Team 8 (the fourth installment of the Behind Enemy Lines series). Not many people might not know about it, but it is a soldier film, about war. We had a lot of action on it. However, Admiral is definitely the best film I have worked on so far in my career.

What are you working on next and do you have a message for the fans?
I have to say this. I wish I was younger (laughs). Definitely wish I was younger. Nowadays, you can shoot videos on your iPhones and work on them on your laptop. You can use different types of still cameras such as the Panasonic GH4 or the Sony Red. For those who want to make films, do it. Experiment using your phones, cameras, and work on them on your laptop. It took me about 10,000 hours of directing to hone my craft. If you want to make films, go out there and do it.

As for what I am working on next? Well, I recently shot a sequel to Hard Target with Scott Adkins, which was great. We are now working on mixing and music for that movie. I recently directed an episode of The Blacklist, which has lots of action. I’m also planning to direct an action film called Pursuit, which is like Die Hard meets Speed. Finally, I am hoping next year to do another Dutch historical epic, this time about the Vikings battling the Franks in the area that would become Holland in the 9th Century.

Thank you so much again Roel for taking the time out of your schedule and I do hope the fans will enjoy Admiral as much as I did.
I’m glad you enjoyed the film and I want to thank you for help in promoting the movie.

A big Thank You goes out to Camelia Adibi of Katrina Wan PR for her assistance in making this interview possible and again, a Thank You to Roel Reiné for taking the time out his busy schedule to talk about his dream project Admiral, which is currently available on Video on Demand and will have a limited theatrical release on March 11. World Film Geek’s review can be found here.

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