Bringing the “211”: An Interview with Writer/Director York Shackleton

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York Shackleton started his career as a professional snowboarder who popularized the move known as the “rodeo flip”. Transitioning first into acting, Shackleton has found his true calling as a director. Beginning with the documentary Las Paraditas, Shackleton made his directorial debut with Kush, which gained a following as well as Pretty Paradise. His latest, 211, will be released in theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on June 8 from Momentum Pictures.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to talk with Shackleton about the film.

Thank you so much York for talking about 211. I recently caught the film and it was better than I expected. It was such a meshing of action and intense drama.
Thank you so much! I think it was important to showcase a film that’s not just a typical action film but bring something more to the table, so I appreciate hearing that you liked the film.

Before we delve into 211, you started out as a professional snowboarder. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
When I was a snowboarder, I was approached by filmmakers to start doing short films and commercials. So, I started doing a lot of stunt work and some of my stuff in front of the screens. It was during this time that I wanted to learn filmmaking so I got started doing some acting and even worked as a production assistant on projects. I soon realized that acting wasn’t really my thing, so I decided to learn all of the different aspects of making films so I began writing and directing. It was one of those things where I was one of those who started at the bottom and worked my way to the top.

211

Let’s get into 211. It was inspired by the Battle of North Hollywood, a historic event that took place in 1997. For those unfamiliar, can you tell everyone what it was and how it inspired you to make this film?
Definitely, it was one of those events where in 1997, two armed robbers went up against the police in a standoff that lasted about twelve hours. Growing up in Southern California, this was all over the news and you have heard about it numerous times. At the time, the police were only issued a standard holstered weapon. It is not like today, where you can have a shotgun in the trunk of the police cars and other heavy artillery. And this was the event that started allowing police to carry such weapons. I mean that day, the police were actually going to stores just to grab these other heavy weapons so they can subdue the robbers and on luck, they succeeded.

What I wanted to do was to bring this element to a small town but not just make it a typical action film. I wanted to bring other aspects that would drive the film. So I came up with bringing the aspect of bringing the drama in the hospital, to show the doctors and staff who are tending to these victims and how the event impacts them as well as the standoff and how the police tend to handle the situation involving the robbers.

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York Shackelton (far right) on the set of 211 in Bulgaria (Momentum Pictures)

It’s very interesting that the film is set in small town Massachusetts, but the film was shot on location in Bulgaria. How did that come about?

This was one of those very interesting things where I came up with the story and when it came time to begin developing the film, I didn’t know how to go about it. After all, I’m not working with a major studio here. I heard about this great studio in Bulgaria, the Nu Image studio and they have all this land and they did an excellent job at making it look like small town America. I mean if you look carefully, you can’t really tell that we shot the film in Bulgaria. Did you notice that at all?

I have to admit, I was even fooled because I’m from a small town in New York and I’ve even been to small towns in other places and the setting looked like small town America.
Exactly, so I think they did a great job in terms of what I was hoping to bring in terms of the film’s setting.

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Nicolas Cage as Mike Chandler in 211 (Momentum Pictures)

What was it like working with Nicolas Cage? He’s quite the versatile actor and I felt he gave this great dramatic and at times, intense performance in the role of Officer Mike Chandler.
I have to say Nicolas was ready from the beginning. I mean, he’s done so many wonderful that earned him a lot of accolades and awards. There are those who see him for these wacky roles, but that’s what is great about him. People don’t realize that he’s done all these other more serious types of roles that he’s earned awards for, but I think he really brought a level of emotion and intensity to the role of Mike.

211 comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on June 8 and I’m just going to flat out say this. I am recommending this film to anyone who wants an action film with intense dramatic performances.
Well, thank you so much and I’m glad to hear you’re going to recommend it!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and York Shackleton for making this interview possible. For more on York and his projects, check out his official Twitter page.

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