Going “Into the Ashes”: An Interview with Aaron Harvey

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Aaron Harvey has made a name for himself in the world of indie films, beginning with short films. He would make his first feature film with Catch .44 in 2011 followed with The Neighbor in 2018. He has worked with the likes of Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, Malin Akerman, and William Fichtner. His latest film, Into the Ashes, starring Luke Grimes and Frank Grillo, comes to select theaters, VOD, and Digital on July 19 from RLJE Films.

World Film Geek had the chance to talk to Harvey about his latest film.

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Thank you so much Aaron for talking about Into the Ashes. This sounded like a standard revenge film, but I was blown away with some of the twists and turns and especially its ending, which I wasn’t expecting. It was much better than I expected.
Oh man, thank you so much. I’m excited to hear that!

What was your inspiration in writing the film?
I always had a soft spot for these 1970’s lonely man archetypes genre of film. I always loved John Flynn and his film Rolling Thunder. I’ve always had an appreciation for that genre, so I wanted to make my own version of that genre. Find a way to contribute to that canon so that was the emphasis. It would be fun to make and it was something I knew I would definitely be fully immersed in so that’s how it came about.

The film was driven by the cast, who gave out wonderful performances, particularly Luke Grimes (above left) and Frank Grillo. What was it like working with them? Did you allow them free reign as to how to bring out their characters?
I did and I appreciate very much what they brought into the film. Love both Luke and Frank. We had an awesome time making the movie. We were all very much on the same page. I got very lucky with both of them because they both loved the script. They were doing it because they wanted to do it. It wasn’t about making a paycheck. We went into it with a very similar agenda and from what you see in the final film, it was great.

In terms of their characters, we spent time both individually and together talking about the film and discussed how to approach it before shooting began. By the time we got to set, they formulated who these characters were, where they came from, what drove them. They sort of had their characters figured out so that by the time we began shooting, it was relatively elementary in terms of execution. I’m wide open to collaboration because when you have these actors with experience, they bring a whole new side you never imagined in terms of character and story. And my job is basically to modulate them and keep them into play as to what the movie is about, so that no one goes too out into left field. They did a great job of doing that.

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Aaron Harvey (right) and Robert Taylor on the set of Into the Ashes

The film made great use of its locations as well, bringing a sense of rural nature to the film. Where was the film shot and how long did it take?
We shot the film in Bessemer, Alabama, which is just outside of Birmingham. We shot the film in 22 days total. It was a quick shoot, but I agree, I did like the locations we used. We initially scouted in New Orleans, but these guys said we should shoot in Alabama because they would have more of what we were looking for. We looked around and we found what we needed and it was a great shoot.

Is there a scene you would consider a favorite in terms of shooting?
Wow! Well, I did like all the scenes with James Badge Dale [who plays Sal] and Luke Grimes because they had this chemistry that worked well in terms of their characters. It was always fun to shoot them together. But to be honest, I really don’t have a favorite scene. I actually enjoyed shooting the whole film because when you see the camera, it is exactly how you envision it. It’s such an awesome experience and great feeling. I appreciated every second, no matter how brutal it would be. The shootout in the hotel. We spent an entire night and a half with that scene so it was non-stop. For me, it was fun even though my head was exploding (laughs)

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(L-R): David Cade, Frank Grillo, and Scott Peat as the deadly trio in Into the Ashes

What difficulties, if any, did you face during shooting?
Making a film is always a series of problems. I mean I had my share of difficulties along the way, but for all intensive purposes, making a small indie film with limited time and money, this was actually a very smooth production for the most part. I think this has been the smoothest production I’ve done considering it was also the most ambitious in terms of budget.

Every day there were challenges, such as weather or locations falling out. We did have to flip up one location during shooting, but we didn’t have any crazy curveballs, which would have blew up the phone because we didn’t have the extra time or money. You got to get what you get with the time allotted and money you have. We were very fortunate to get what we needed. Plus, the people there at our locations in Alabama were very helpful. The fire department even helped us out when we needed rain for a scene and they just went ahead and helped out. Normally, you wouldn’t expect that with a small indie film, but we were very lucky.


Are there any new projects in the works that you can talk about?
Yeah, I’m putting together another film. I’m planning another genre film like this one. It kind of pays homage to the film Thief, which was Michael Mann’s first film. I’m currently shopping that around. It is similar trajectory and underlining characters. It’s a more driven project and not too bubblegum, but I’m looking at some actors who may be interested in this. So we’ll see what happens.

That’s great! Into the Ashes comes out on July 19, and anyone who loves a good revenge/redemption drama will definitely like this one, thanks to Luke Grimes’ and Frank Grillo’s driven performances and its nice twists. Thanks again Aaron for talking about the film.
Thank you for having me!

A Special Thank You goes out to Katrina Wan PR and Aaron Harvey for making this interview possible.

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