Night Train Director Shane Stanley on His Explosive New Action Film

Jan 27, 2023

Buckle up for high-octane action thrills aboard Night Train. Now in theaters, the high-octane effort from Saban Films and director Shane Stanley (Double Threat) follows a struggling mom named Holly (Danielle C. Ryan), who is driven to extremes in an effort to save the life of her young son — even if it means hauling black-market drugs in her souped-up truck. Oh, and the feds are in hot pursuit, led by a female agent (Diora Baird) who’s battling her own demons.

We recently caught up with Stanley, who dished on collaborating again with Night Train writer CJ Walley and how action films from the ’70s and early ’80s influenced their storyline, such as Smokey and the Bandit (which is getting its own TV spin-off).

Shooting a Gritty Film in Palm Springs

MW: What was it about Night Train that first attracted you to the project?

Shane Stanley: We have kind of formed a brand in-house for ourselves. We kind of want to take that Hal Needham approach in the ’70s and early ’80s with like The Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit. But we want to let “Bandit” ride shotgun and let Sally Field do the driving. And that was kind of our mindset when CJ Walley and I kind of set out to do a slate of films together. And this was a film that CJ had kind of conceptualized and tucked away for a while. And during the pandemic, you know, like a lot of creatives who were locked in the house, we started spitballing ideas. “What can we do, as soon as the floodgates open back up?” We ended up doing another film, Double Threat, during the pandemic. And then as soon as that was done, our partners were really excited and encouraged and said, “What else do you got?” And CJ said, “Do you want to revisit Night Train?” And I read the treatment again, and I said, “Let’s just do it. I think this would be a lot of fun.” And CJ rolled up his sleeves, like he always does, and wrote us a shooting script. We had it in like 10 days, maybe 12, and went out to Palm Springs and met with Levi Vincent, the head of the Greater Films and Television Alliance out there, and just give him a beat sheet. He just showed us all the locations, and I sent them to CJ in London, and he just tailored the script for all the locations we had. And that was it. It was a lot of fun.

Related: Exclusive Night Train Clip: Sneak Peek of Danielle C. Ryan as Holly McCord

MW: Besides the films from the ’70s and ’80s that you mentioned, did any past films or filmmakers influence how you shot Night Train?

Stanley: I come from a music background, and my favorite bands were Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Aerosmith, the Black Crowes, where they had a plug-in-and-play mentality. And I think the success from those bands came greatly from just, “If we’re making a mistake on the album, so what? If we screw up, so what?” And that’s what made those albums and even their concerts so great. I’m not comparing my work to them, but I don’t look at anybody else’s work to try to get influenced. I think we all have so many influences, and we’re affected by so many things all the time. And I learned very young just to stay the course, kind of keep your own vision and let things unfold as they do. And trust the team that we work with, like Joel Layogan our DP, and the actors and our people that just are part of our film family. We just kind of created this look, you know? We like the Canon C70 cameras, which are… not glossy, but I love the look of them. They just have a little bit more of that gritty, dated edge to them. Everything’s getting so polished and crisp… Those are the kinds of things I think about, you know? I wanted to make this feel raw and a little bit more gritty, just naturally.

MW: What was your favorite day on set, or a favorite scene that you shot?

Stanley: You know, we went and made this film out in Palm Springs… and in 35 years of producing films, this was the best experience I ever have. There was not a bad day on set… When you’re out in Palm Springs, you can get these unbelievable wind storms. We had 75 knots of wind one day, when we were supposed to shoot outside. And you know, you work with people like Levi [Vincent]… [who] was always preemptive and had other places for us as plan B, when the weather look dodgy… And so, when I watched the film… it’s nothing but endearing memories with every scene. I think about the owners of properties or bars or restaurants that we filmed in, or gas stations, you know, and just the experiences we had that day. And if there’s not a bad memory on this film at all, for me.

Night Train Franchise and Future Projects

Saban Films

MW: Diora Baird and Danielle C. Ryan’s characters have that big emotional face-off at the end of Night Train. Was there a special approach you took to help them get ready for the scene? Was it challenging to shoot?

Stanley: It was very challenging only because of the light situation. Where we shot was so beautiful. And also, I don’t know if you noticed, there’s a cut where there’s a train going next to Danielle in one shot, and those trains out there are over two miles long. And when we flipped around to get to Diora’s side, we had a train that literally came 50 feet to her right. And it was one of those two-mile suckers… I mean, that was the only challenge. The girls had it. I mean, it’s funny: The very first scene that I shot with the two of them was on Diora’s first day. It was the one in the coffee shop, which is a pretty intense scene, where Diora’s starting to corner them. And I knew just watching the girls bounce that scene, I knew they were fine. It took very little meddling for me. My approach has always been, “When you hire an actor, or you invite an actor to come play in your world, you trust that actor. You live and you die on that sort.” And I’ve been really fortunate with some really great actors over the years that really understand it. I’ve worked with Danielle before. We’ve done a couple of films, and this was my first with Diora, who I’ve wanted to work with for many years. It was a real, real blessing in disguise that it came together. And boy, those two have, they have some tremendous chemistry between them.

Related: 8 Video Games That Would Make Great Live-Action Movie Adaptations

MW: Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you’d like to share about?

Stanley: There are some other projects I’ve talked to Diora and Danielle and Joe Lando about.

MW: Night Train sets up the potential for a franchise. Would you be interested in doing a sequel?

Stanley: You know, I love that question. I try to end everything I do with that potential. Sometimes, you know, it could work. Sometimes it doesn’t. CJ and I, and some of the actors, have already talked about exactly where that next one would go. It’s something we really would love. Let’s see how this does, how it’s received. And if it’s something that they want to come back and do again, I’d always be excited to do it. I didn’t have a single issue with anybody or anything on this.

Night Train is available now in theaters.

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