Chad Stahelski on Filming Berlin Club Action Scene

Mar 22, 2023

Chad Stahelski, martial arts instructor turned stuntman, turned director, was born to helm the John Wick saga. The stars aligned when Stahelski’s path crossed with actor and John Wick star Keanu Reeves, a partnership that has given movie lovers one of the most sensational action movie franchises of the decades. Stahelski continues his orchestration of intricate action sequences awash in neon and concise choreography in John Wick: Chapter 4,. During an interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Stahelski breaks down one of those very scenes, explaining how they pushed boundaries, and how they incorporated a love of music into this one. He also clarifies the official John Wick timeline and reveals why Chapter 4 has the longest time gap between movies.

According to Stahelski, Chapter 4 picks up around six months after Winston (Ian McShane) shoots him off the side of a building and reclaims his position over the Continental. Six months pass before Wick regains the strength to confront the High Table for his freedom. Alongside Reeves and McShane, Laurence Fishburne and Lance Reddick reprise their roles as the Bowery King and Charon, respectively, but Chapter 4 also digs deeper into the lore and introduces new characters like Bill Skarsgård as the Marquis de Gramont. The Marquis represents change within this assassin’s underworld, and he has global alliances out for Wick’s blood, including those the Baba Yaga considers close friends.

On March 24, John Wick: Chapter 4 will expand on the mythology, introduce family ties, more dogs, and more than likely top the previous movies in regards to violence and action. Stahelski’s vision takes audiences across the world to breathtaking locations and raises the stakes on the titular legendary assassin. The movie also features Donnie Yen, Shamier Anderson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Natalia Tena, Scott Adkins, and more. You can watch the interview in the player above, or read all about an upcoming Berlin club scene in the transcript below.

COLLIDER: I am very curious how much time passes in the John Wick Universe between the beginning of the first John Wick movie to the end of John Wick: Chapter 4.

CHAD STAHELSKI: Good question. Well, we figured the first three movies almost happened in like a week, week and a half, somewhere in there. That’s my version, I think Keanu’s is a little different, and I think this is like six months later. So within a year, I think it all happens. I would say almost within seven to eight months.

Image via Lionsgate

So the first three, you said it was a week and a half?

STAHELSKI: It’s almost like a week and a half, time-wise.

Did you ever think about putting that on screen?

STAHELSKI: We did, we actually did. I think it was in the second one, we actually kind of thought about that between the two, but then we were like, “Ah, that’s kind of goofy, we’ll just let people guess.” Because we didn’t know how bad we were gonna injure him. You know, after number three, you’re like, “Okay, we can stretch it a little bit, but he did fall off a building,” so we’re like, “Eh, a femur? Six months.”

In this particular interview, I want to focus on one thing, the Berlin action, which has tons of extras behind Keanu. For people that might not realize, there’s a reason in movies you do not see a ton of extras behind your star because of the challenges.

STAHELSKI: It’s hard to coordinate.

Image via Lionsgate/Niko Tavernise

Can you explain to people this sequence and why it’s such a hard thing to pull off?

STAHELSKI: Okay, so when you have a lot of people that’s a lot, that’s like wrangling kittens [laughs], and when you deal with continuity, not only are they… Maybe if it’s just behind them and [there are] two people sitting drinking coffee, it’s an easy repeatable motion if I’m over you and I see them. When you’re in a dance club, and now you have a specific song, you have a beat and at the same time – I don’t know why I did it, but we have flashing lights. So when you edit, you’re trying to find the rhythm of the lights. So we have a light coordinator that’s trying to keep the reds, yellows, blues, greens of the club matched to the same guy that’s doing the musical playback so the beat is landing at the same time, so you don’t get 300 people, and then another 300 people, on the wrong beat. Then on top of that, you have people that will look at the camera or not be in the right spot or something. You know, it’s a whole other layer of things that can go wrong when you’re trying to nail these fight-beat moments.

And then we thought, “Oh, let’s put a dog in there and do fight scenes too. And let’s put 44 waterfalls in. Yeah, that’ll be fine, we’ll figure it…” It’s not [laughs], it takes a lot. The resets were probably about… A reset will be, we’ll yell, we’ll go, we’ll do the action, and then something will happen. We yell, “Cut!” The water comes off, the music stops, everybody’s got to go back, they back up. So every time you do another take and you reset, it’s a good 10 minutes to get the rhythm in and fix the problem and go. So now you’re stopping 100 times a night. That’s a lot of time.

But we were a little bit smarter this time because I went out and got a dance troupe, some of the best modern kind of hip hop or extreme club dancers from Berlin, and we put this little troupe together, these like 20 people. And we had like, I forget what it was, but it was literally over two dozen wardrobe changes for each of them, between the men and the women, and we kept using the same 15 to 20 people in and around Keanu every chance I could get so at least they got the rhythm right, and we had to keep changing their hair. Then you find out, by the third night, where the background players are that are kind of paying attention and getting it right, and you take that 100 and keep that close to the shot, and the other 100 go well into the background so you know that you’re kind of getting it right. It was challenging, but having the dancers go off was pretty cool. I think at the end it was worth it. Maybe not.

Image via Summit Entertainment

Oh no, it was. That sequence is fucking crazy.

STAHELSKI: We never get a chance… I love music, and to try and work music in somehow, I think that’s how we got the club. We wanted to do another club scene but in a different way, and tie in water to it and all this stuff. But then, that idea kind of grew to be the DJ. Like, how do you get needle drops? How do you get all these great musical pieces into John Wick, which is typically very specifically composed? So, we went from the club going, “Yeah, we like music. That was really fun. We gotta do something… DJ! We’ll have a DJ do a needle drop. That’s it.” And that’s how we came around to the Walter Hill thing of The Warriors and stuff. Crazy.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is in theaters March 24. Check out our interview with Keanu Reeves below.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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