Wednesday, August 10, 2016

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Chad Michael Collins Talks 'Sniper: Ghost Shooter'

Sniper: Ghost Shooter is the third installment in the highly successful reboot of the Sniper movie franchise. Chad Michael Collins is the talented and versatile actor who stars in the movies as Brandon Beckett, a highly trained combat Marine and Sniper. I had the chance to catch up with Collins recently, and he was gracious enough to grant me a Q & A session with him about Sniper: Ghost Shooter, which is now available on a wide variety of streaming platforms including and Vudu.

Read on see what Chad Michael Collins had to tell me about working on Sniper: Ghost Shooter.

MARLA REED: Sniper: Ghost Shooter is your third time taking on the role of Brandon Beckett in the rebooted Sniper franchise. So can you tell us how you feel the character has changed and grown over the last three movies?

​CHAD MICHAEL COLLINS: Yes, this was number three already! And we've gone on a bit of a journey with Brandon over the course of SNIPER: RELOADED, LEGACY, and now GHOST SHOOTER. Initially, Brandon never knew his legendary Marine sniper father, Thomas Beckett​, and although he followed suit as a Marine, he went boots-on-the-ground infantry rather than eye-in-the-sky sniper. But as he learns more about that world, he starts to embrace it, and by proximity, his absentee father. They reunite on LEGACY, where he comes to understand even more the weight and responsibility of the long gun, as he struggles with the morality of his newfound skillset. In GHOST SHOOTER, we see Brandon leading his own sniper squad team again under Billy Zane's Miller and Dennis Haysbert's The Colonel, and he starts embracing it a little more, and in some ways challenges the modern tech like drones that are seemingly phasing out the need for sniper tactics.

MR: Do you feel that your approach to playing the character changed since that first movie and can you tell us about those changes, if any?

​CMC: The approach to playing Brandon has changed; he was much more of a hot head and impulsive in his younger, more inexperienced days. And while he still has a lot of cowboy - and tendency to be insubordinate - in him, Brandon tends to respect his chain of command a little bit more. Not that he'd ever follow someone's orders over his own hunches; he's definitely not afraid to go AWOL and piss people off in order to do what's right and get the job done, consequences be damned. I don't think that will ever change. He's just found himself surrounded by higher ups who understand and even appreciate that about him.​

MR: It seemed to be hinted at the end of Sniper: Legacy that we might see more of Tom Berenger's character, Thomas Beckett in future Sniper movies. However, he wasn't in Ghost Shooter. Was that something that just didn't work out or is it possible that the producers felt it was time for Brandon Beckett to step fully out of his father's shadow? Do you feel that in Ghost Shooter that this has happened for your character?

​CMC: Tom Berenger coming back to the fold for LEGACY was great, for me personally and professionally, and for audiences as well. But, as his character describes himself, he's a "ghost." He goes where the job takes him, regardless of his family or how he feels about it. It was nice for the characters to express that to each other in LEGACY, and I think from that point on, Brandon gets it, maybe even forgives his deadbeat dad somewhat. Is Thomas Beckett done for good? We don't know, but I wouldn't ever rule out of him showing up to get Brandon out of a bind. Once a dad, always a dad, of course. But there has already been a pass-the-torch moment between father and son, and Brandon stands firmly on his own two feet now.​

MR:  Sniper: Ghost Shooter seems to be more about establishing Brandon as standing on his own more, is this why there were very few scenes with Billy Zane and his character of Richard Miller and why it felt a bit like there were two movies happening in one?

​CMC: I agree - not only is Brandon an incredibly capable sniper, but he's also a leader in his own right. He's not a guy cut out for an office position or being on the base; he wants to be out there making a difference and taking care of business like Billy's Miller did back in the day. He's fine to let Miller and The Colonel handle all the politics and maneuvering in their own storyline while he executes the missions and, inevitably, sniffs out the rats.

MR: In the last two Sniper movies, filming has moved away from the 'first person shooter' format that was heavily used in Sniper: Reloaded and into a more traditional filming style. As an actor, which style of filming do you think works best for the perspective of your character of Brandon Beckett as a sniper?

​CMC: If a movie is about snipers, you are always going to get some pretty point-of-view (PoV) shots that put the audience behind the scope and introduce them to that world. For an actor, it's the same no matter what; we're right there going through the motions whether it's a camera we can't see or a smaller camera affixed to the guns seeing what we're seeing. A lot of work as a sniper involves stillness and being stationary, so I think heavy doses of first-person would put an audience to sleep pretty quickly! Part of a sniper's job is to be a snake in the grass, waiting, patiently to have a camera capture the camouflage and environs rather than stare out at nothingness for a long time!​

MR:  Sniper: Ghost Shooter and the other two movies all have some pretty diverse filming locations taking place within each movie. What kinds of challenges does it pose to you as an actor to move from one weather extreme to another? Which weather condition do you find more difficult to work in than others?

​CMC: Yes, GHOST SHOOTER shot in some beautiful places in and throughout Bulgaria in Eastern Europe. One week we'd be on the Black Sea coast; another, we'd be on top of a 10,000-foot mountain still covered in snow; and then we'd be on the crowded streets of Istanbul, Turkey. All of these locations and the masterful directing of Don Michael Paul and his DP, Martin Chichov, give the film a bigger, more epic feel as a result. Personally, the heat is uncomfortable at times for sure, but it's the extreme cold that makes it tricky as an actor. Once that numbness and shivering gets into your bones, it's hard to just turn it off and run a wind sprint or stop your teeth from chattering!​

MR: In the Sniper movies, your character handles more than just sniper rifles and Brandon gets into a wide variety of physical confrontations with the enemies. How much of your own stunts do you actually perform in fight scenes and were you given any kind of weapon's training so that you can carry the character convincingly?  

​CMC: Ah yes, Brandon does like to mix it up, whether it's a gunfight or a fistfight! Don likes to shoot a very gritty, action-heavy movie, and luckily the great stunt team they have down in Bulgaria are comfortable letting me do the majority of my own fight choreography, falls and general stunts. I prefer it, honestly; it helps my process, and I think it always looks better the more an actor can be doing the action. In terms of advanced training, I've worked with some tactical shooting instructors like the amazing Taran Butler, and I'm usually glued to the hip of the military technical advisor (Marine veteran Pete Stone) and the armorers on set. ​I don't have any ego about the gun business; I always prefer to operate from a place of pretending I've never even held a gun before, and letting the experts walk me through it. As an actor, you're crazy if you're not taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge someone like Pete has!

MR: So what is next in store for Chad Michael Collins? Any upcoming projects you can talk a bit about? Will we be seeing more of Brandon Beckett?

​CMC: I've been fortunate enough to have worked on some pretty fun and exciting projects lately. I'll be on the new Hulu series FREAKISH this October, a digital horror show from AwesomenessTV. I shot an awesome action-horror indie this past spring called HOWLERS with Sean Patrick Flannery, where I got to play a werewolf slayer from the old West who gets transported to the present to hunt down a bloodthirsty pack terrorizing a small town. That will be out in 2017​. And this fall there's talk of doing another SNIPER film, which would be exciting. I never get tired of being Brandon Beckett!

We'd like to say thank you to Mr. Collins for taking the time to do this interview.  Be sure to follow him on social media on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

Official trailer for Sniper: Ghost Shooter

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