Interview With Director Lin Oeding Of BRAVEN
We had an opportunity to talk with Lin Oeding, director of the upcoming film Braven starring Jason Momoa, about his experiences directing the film and also his career thus far.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Lin Oeding, director of the upcoming film Braven starring Jason Momoa, Garret Dillahunt and Stephen Lang. Braven, his first feature film, is an action/thriller about a logger who unexpectedly goes head to head with dangerous drug runners and is forced to do whatever it takes to protect his family. Filled with intense action and great performances, Braven is an impressive debut.
We discussed his history in cinema, his newest feature, advice to others and what we can expect next!
Kristy Strouse for Film Inquiry: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I really enjoyed the film!
Lin Oeding: Thank you!
You’ve had a lot of experience as stuntman/coordinator, you’ve acted, and directed TV episodes and short films. How did you first get into it?
Lin Oeding: I was making martial art films as a child with my friends and my dad’s 8MM video camera. I started making martial arts films, though they were very terrible in the beginning, and then over the years, they got better and better. I attended film school at the University of Texas in Austin. I was also competing in Mixed martial arts on the side. I was making terrible kung-fu videos with my buddies.
Did you have any Martial Arts inspiration? Even as a child?
Lin Oeding: There was a TV series I watched in the 80’s called Sidekicks. starring an actor named Ernie Reyes Jr. His father was Caucasian in the TV series, he was a little Asian kid, and they fought crime together. I don’t know how long the show lasted, but my mom’s Chinese and my dad’s Caucasian so when I watched that show I identified with them. I said “oh that’s what I want to do one day, Martial arts and movies” and it worked out.
What drew you to this project for your first feature film?
Lin Oeding: I had worked with Jason on a movie called Bullet to the Head. And I am a fan of films that this film is similar to. When he first called me about it he pitched it as a throwback to classics of the 90’s such as Die Hard and Cliffhanger etc, so that really appealed to me. As well as working with him and the rest of the cast.
In that movie Jason beats me up in a tattoo parlor, so we had a casual business interaction. And then he saw a short film I did called Lifted starring Joel Edgerton on the internet, that was brought to his attention by somebody in his camp. After seeing that short, that’s when he called me.
You said you had worked with Jason Mamoa, it sounds like he brought this project to your attention. What about the other casting? Stephen Lang, Garett Dillahunt – Can you tell us a bit about that?
Lin Oeding: Stephen had worked with Jason on a movie called Conan. So, we made a cast offer to him. Stephen and Jason were buddies, so that was a way for them to reunite.
So that worked out well.
Lin Oeding: Yes, that worked out well and Stephen is a fantastic actor. Super dedicated and super prepared. And he can handle the physicality well as you saw.
Yes, absolutely. And he brought a great vulnerability to his character in Braven. The landscape plays a big part in this film. How important was the locale and how did that impact the shoot?
Lin Oeding: Well Newfoundland is very cold, so it impacted the shoot in that way. We all toughed it out. We only had about 9- 9 1/2 hours of light each day. So, in the morning we would rehearse with lanterns or the flashlights on our iPhones, in terms of reading the script and rehearsing. And the second we had enough light on the F stop, the aperture of the camera to allow for shooting, we would shoot from the break of light until the sun went down. So, we shot the film in French hours, and for those who are unfamiliar with the film industry, it’s when you don’t take a lunch. You take a walking lunch. And you shoot for ten hours straight.
So, you had some pretty grueling days shooting?
Lin Oeding: Yeah there was a number of days, like when Jason climbs up the side of the Mountain, that we would have hot bowls of water, and the second we would say cut he would dip his hands into a hot bowl of water to warm up just to prevent hypothermia.
Wow, I can imagine. I grew up in Maine, so I’ve known some pretty cold weather myself!
Lin Oeding: Yeah so you can imagine that, except he’s running around shirtless. He’s a tough guy.
Yes, he goes through the ringer in this film too, so I can imagine that playing a huge part. You have another feature coming up called Office Uprising, can you tell us a bit about that?
Lin Oeding: I am very excited about that. The movie has been testing very well. And genre wise it’s an action/comedy and totally opposite genre from Braven. Its very similar to an Edgar Wright style, action/comedy. Those who have read the script, or seen the movie, say it’s similar to Zombieland meets The Office, or Shaun of the Dad meets The Raid.
Okay, well that’s sounds great! Do you have an idea as to when this will be released?
Lin Oeding: It is supposed to be released this Summer. I don’t know the details yet, but it should come out around June.
And that is starring Brenton Thwaites?
Lin Oeding: Yes, and Karan Soni who is in Deadpool. Jane Levy from Don’t Breathe. And Zachary Levi who has now been cast in Shazam.
Great! We look forward to it! Do you have any other projects in the works? Anything you have your eye on doing?
Lin Oeding: Yes, I have two other features. One is close to going into pre-production in the next few months. And then a fourth feature that I am developing.
Sounds great! Congratulations again on Braven! I’m sure your experience with stunts helped. Based on your IMDB, it looks like you first started doing stunts back in 1997, is that right?
Lin Oeding: Yeah 1996 really, and then the film came out in 1997. So, I was 19 years old. And I’ve been doing it for 21 years.
And I’m sure it’s been a journey from that to making your first feature film.
Lin Oeding: Yeah it was great, I went to film school, so I was able to learn the technical knowledge of filmmaking that you don’t often learn on sets. The combination of that, the set experience, and short films, I feel led to where I am at today. When I was in Film School I started doing stunts, and there was a TV series in Texas called Walker Texas Ranger, and I submitted my martial arts/MMA video to Chuck Norris’s son who was the stunt coordinator at the time and he hired me to do fight scenes with Chuck Norris while I was in college, so that was how I sort of got my start initially.
That’s quite the experience!
Lin Oeding: Yes, and over the years I have had wonderful opportunities to study on set under many of the great directors of our time. Spending months with Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception. JJ Abrams on Star Trek and Edward Zwick on The Last Samurai. All the different movies over the years, you gain something from each one. So, I have been able to work as a performer and a stunt coordinator, in 17 countries. You get to see the world while learning a lot about filmmaking.
That is an extensive list, with so different films over the years, and there is a lot of impressive work there! I can imagine you’ve learned a lot.
Lin Oeding: I think, like with anything in life, when you are surrounded by people at a pro-level you learn two things: You learn what to do, and you sometimes learn what not to do. You know, there’s not enough hours in a life to make all the mistakes yourself, so you have to learn the pro’s and con’s from other people.
That is definitely true, and I think that is great advice! A lot of the readers of our publication are film students, many who are going to school or are interested in the business. I think this is great advice to let our readers know.
Lin Oeding: My advice to film students is this: when I started out I would do whatever I could to be on set. I did a ton of extra work and I had a little black notebook in my jacket and I would write down things that were going on set, whatever the terminologies were, and then I read a lot of books. I worked on a movie called Rushmore with Wes Anderson and Wes said “You know, I didn’t go to Film School. I was a fellow UT Longhorn, Philosophy Major.” And I asked how he became a director. And he said that he read every single book imaginable on filmmaking. And so then after working with Wes I said that I am going to adopt that same mentality. So, I watched countless director commentaries on DVD’s, went to countless workshops, and I took more courses at UCLA between my stunt jobs. It was just sort of, in martial arts we call it the White Belt Mentality, constantly trying to grow and learn in whatever craft it is that you are pursuing in life.
That is great advice as well, and it sounds like you definitely put the work in!
My last question: Going forward, are you hoping to stick to any particular genre given your experience, or do you have anything else that you are hoping to pursue in the future?
Lin Oeding: I think in the infancy stage of my career based on my background I’m getting hired as a result of my action experience, however, my last short film had zero action, and I like the idea of doing non-action things as well. In a lot of the TV shows I’m directing, for NBC and different networks, the sequences and episodes have no action. And some of the episodes have turned out extremely strong. So, for me it’s just about compelling material.
Film Inquiry would like to thank Lin Oeding for taking the time to speak with us. Braven will be released digitally and in theaters February 2nd. To find out more click here.
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