Ti West & James Ransone (of “In a Valley of Violence”)
The Critic and the Referee recently got a chance to interview Ti West and James Ransone, writer-director and star, respectively, of “In a Valley of Violence.” This film also stars Ethan Hawke and John Travolta, among others. In this interview, Ti and James discuss how they became attached to the film, what it was like to create a “Ti West” western, and much more!
About “In a Valley of Violence”
For our review, click here!
In Theaters, On Demand and Digital HD October 21.
A mysterious drifter named Paul (Ethan Hawke) and his dog Abbie (Jumpy) make their way towards Mexico through the barren desert of the old west. In an attempt to shorten their journey they cut through the center of a large valley – landing themselves in the forgotten town of Denton – a place now dubbed by locals as a “valley of violence.” The once popular mining town is nearly abandoned, and controlled by a brash group of misfits and nitwits – chief among them, the seemingly untouchable, Gilly (James Ransone) who is the troublemaking son of the town’s unforgiving Marshal (John Travolta).
As tensions rise between Paul and Gilly, Denton’s remaining residents bear witness to an inevitable act of violence that starts a disastrous chain reaction, infecting the petty lives of all involved and quickly drags the whole town into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga) and Ellen (Karen Gillan), two bickering sisters who run the town’s only hotel, try to find the good in both men, while desperately searching for their own salvation. Only the world-weary Marshal struggles to stop the violent hysteria, but after a gruesome discovery about Paul’s past…there is no stopping the escalation.
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone with Karen Gillan and John Travolta
Directed By: Ti West
Written By: Ti West
Distributor: Focus World
More About Ti West & James Ransone
Ti West (Director/Producer/Writer/Editor) studied film production at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in New York City. Acclaimed filmmaker and teacher Kelly Reichardt introduced him to underground horror icon Larry Fessenden, who immediately struck an interest in West’s student films. In 2005, Fessenden produced West’s first feature film The Roost which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. In 2006, West and Fessenden re-teamed to produce the micro-budget thriller Trigger Man. Also in 2007, West was offered to continue Eli Roth’s successful Cabin Fever. Immediately following Cabin Fever 2, West started production on The House Of The Devil, which world premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival and has been hailed by critics as “One of the best horror films of the decade.” His next film, The Innkeepers was one of the best-reviewed films of 2012. West also created an original web-series called Dead & Lonely, before re-teaming with Eli Roth on the feature film The Sacrament, a fictional retelling of the Jonestown Massacre, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2013. West has contributed segments to the popular franchises V/H/S and The Abc’s Of Death. West was invited by The Criterion Collection to provide a video appreciation for the home entertainment release of Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House (1977). Other filmmakers who have recorded appreciations for Criterion include Terry Gilliam, Sidney Lumet, Peter Bogdanovich, and Paul Thomas Anderson. He was also featured on the cover of the winter 2012 edition of Filmmaker Magazine, and as an actor, has supporting roles in the features You’re Next and Drinking Buddies. West currently lives in Los Angeles and is working on his next film, Far Out.
James Ransone (Gilly) has created indelible performances on the big and small screens as well as the stage, performing in a wide variety of projects that span from intimate indies to blockbuster genre films. He most recently starred the latest installment of the Sinister franchise in which he returned as the lead, reprising his role from the original film. He co-starred also in the critically lauded, award-winning Tangerine, directed by Sean Baker, which debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. His previous film with Baker, Starlet, earned Ransone and the team the John Cassavetes Award at the 2013 Independent Spirits. In his film work, Ransone has proven to be a loyal favorite with director Spike Lee, having roles in his films Inside Man, Red Hook Summer, and Oldboy. Ransone also starred such films as Larry Clark’s Ken Park, John Waters’ A Dirty Shame, and recently Frank V. Ross’ Bloomin Mud Shuffle. Next, he can be seen in Mr. Right, opposite Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. Ransone is perhaps best known for his work with David Simon, having roles in all three of his award-winning, The Wire, Treme, and Generation Kill. He will next star on Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming series, Mosaic, slated for a 2017 debut. Ransone has also graced the New York stage, receiving critical for his work in Small Engine Repair, written by John Pollono starring opposite James Badge Dale and Keegan Allen.
1. Ti: IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE is a unique take on the western genre. You’ll find there’s violence, revenge, drama, suspense … and humor; and, at some points, what felt like improv, which we don’t always see in conventional westerns. Ti, tell us, first, how you came up with the story, and then how you decided to put your twist on the classic western film?
2. Ti: You’ve casted many wonderful actors, including James, in this film: Ethan Hawke is in this, along with John Travolta, Burn Gorman, and Toby Huss, just to name a few others. How did you decide which actor to choose for each role, and what was it like to guide them in bringing your characters to life?
3. James: In this film, you’ve teamed up with Ethan Hawke again. The last time you two worked together, in the film SINISTER, you played the ever-helpful deputy. But, in this film, your character, Gilly, who’s a serious troublemaker, is the antithesis of Ethan’s character. Tell us how you determined how far to go in that portrayal, and what that process was like for you and Ethan this second go ‘round?
4. James: You have lots of experience in both film and TV. How is preparing to play a film character, like Gilly, different from preparing to play a TV character?
5. Ti: You’re no stranger to the multi-layered process of directing, writing, producing, and editing your films, as you did with this movie. How does managing all those different hats, especially in this film, differ from when you are solely a director for, say, television?
6. We’ve seen that a lot of films this year have been released both in theaters and on demand, on the same day. This is for both of you or whomever wants to answer, how does a movie like IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE specifically “play” differently in the theater vs. at home?
7. Here on Why Watch That, we always end our interviews by asking our guests which movies and TV shows they’re watching right now. So, Ti and James, what are you watching?