Belgian-born filmmaker Guy Bleyaert has only been around for under a decade but he has made quite an impact with his roles and his work behind the camera. After a successful feature film debut with 2013’s The Last Inquisitors, Bleyaert is upping the ante with his latest film, the post-apocalyptic thriller Transit 17, which features himself with British martial arts aces Zara Phythian and Silvio Simac.
World Film Geek had the opportunity to interview Bleyaert via e-mail about making his latest film.
Thank you so much Guy for talking about Transit 17. This was a pretty good apocalyptic film that has some great action talent and some twists and turns in the story. Overall, a job well done.
Thank you so much!
What inspired you to write Transit 17?
Transit 17 is my second feature film, as you know. The inspiration of Transit 17 came from a short basic story I had in mind for years. I love sci-fi movies and action, so I started writing it out to a feature story. In my first movie The Last Inquisitors, I realized I made the plot to complex. If you want to have a movie that can be watched from kid to grandpa, you need to keep it simple and honestly sometimes in real life, it isn’t much different. A simple task or misunderstanding can lead to a huge drama, right?
So for Transit 17, I wanted to keep the plot basic. Second, I wanted it to be sci-fi and have portions of different elements, using sci-fi, action and a dystopian environment without overusing any of them. The first problem though was the budget.
If you go in that style and you want to make it believable, then you need normally a budget between 15 to 30 million. I had to do with less then 1 million, so you have to be careful what to show on screen and what not and play around with what you have. Also, you need to keep the audience in mind. An audience is spoiled by seeing too much content in these huge Hollywood budget movies so they are use to see top quality CGI and VFX from the very best houses. If you are used to watching those, it’s very hard to watch any indie film in that same style and there is no way to explain the budget difference except to people who are in the business.
The mentality of the new generation is different as well in terms of feelings when they watch. The younger generation has learned not to show emotions anymore. Being tough is cool. I wanted to make my characters not to show to much emotions as they live in a dystopian world were you lose people and friends every other day. So you get used to that. Anything too emotional or to entertaining is these day’s called cheesy anyways. Even the editing has to have shorter cuts now then in the old days. Young audience typing there cellphone while the watch a movie, lol. No wane takes time anymore.
You also played the character of Tex, who is the team leader who seems to be at first reluctant to take on the mission. Did you write the role for yourself or did you have someone else in mind at first? Personally, you did a great job.
Thank you for the compliment. As for my role as Tex, yes I love to be in my own movies. Who wouldn’t? But I wasn’t planning of playing it myself at first, but it was rather to do with the budget again. I’m sure Jean Reno or any other A-class actor would probably have done a better job if the budget allowed it. However, when you write a story you know exactly what you like the character to be, so I took it on. I wanted Tex to be a tormented grizzled soldier on the booze who was sick and tired of the world they live in. On the other hand, he was useful due his experience in the old days to lead the team, but then again, he was very skeptical to the mission at first. I don’t know if I did a good job on that and I leave that up to the audience.
You have some top action talent such as Zara Phythian, Silvio Simac, and Lee Charles. What was it like working with them on the set? Did you allow them free reign on their characters?
Yes, they are all true martial arts talents and were great to work with. Silvio, in particular, has become very close to me. He’s a great performer with awesome charisma. Although he played in big movies like Transporter 3, he’s a very down to earth person and very passionate in his profession.
As for the play of their character, I give them the basics of how their characters should be. But, I give the actors free reign to give it their own touch. I must say I don’t think I will do the combination again of wearing to many hats in my next projects. Taking the lead and directing in combination is a hard job.
How long did shooting take and were there any obstacles you had to face on the set?
I wouldn’t know where to begin. We had delays of all sorts and we shot Transit 17 is several blocks. There were too many projects at the same time running and the delays came from many reasons that took priority. We were not in a hurry with Transit 17 anyways. Another mistake is that it was to soon announced. We were not even sure if we were going to shoot it even or able to find the budget. So, we did a promo teaser in 2015 to find a budget and major sites started to share. That lead to the idea that it was expected sooner and a sudden, we had a fan base going wild.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
Of course! There are so many possibilities and some projects in the pipeline. I have scripts and mood boards ready. I even did some work on art design as we speak for a production next year and a TV mini series. The problem is again the budget as usual. In Europe, the movie business works different then in Hollywood, where it is a movie industry. Most European countries have a sort of film funding and it takes to long to raise a budget. The funding is a mixture coming from different companies and film funding cells with their own vision and policy. Most of the government film funding authorities does not like to invest in commercial indie film like action or sci-fi film, but rather more in culture-based or arthouse films that are suited for major film festivals. How many times have you seen an action film win in Cannes? Or Toronto or Venice 😉
Transit 17 is now available on Demand and it will hit DVD in time for Christmas on December 17. This is an indie post-apocalyptic thriller that’s pretty good and when it calls for it, makes good use of its action. Thank you again Guy for talking about the film.
Thank you so much again! It’s been a pleasure.
A Special Thank You goes to Nicole Newton-Plater at EPEC Media Group and Guy Bleyaert for making this interview possible.