Interview: Aleksandar Ivicic Talks Call Of Duty Undead, Transition To Hollywood & More
Ivicic, a Croatian refugee, recently made the move from Western New York to Los Angeles to live the American Dream.
The 23-year-old director offers updates on Call Of Duty Undead, the transition to Hollywood, his latest projects and more.
Cosmic Book News: Congratulations on recently wrapping Call Of Duty Undead.
Aleksandar Ivicic: Yes. After two years of pretty intense filming, we’ve finally hit post-production. Call Of Duty Undead is in its late stages now, we’re seeking a composer that will really help set the tone of the film overall and a Visual FX crew.
Cosmic Book News: The project is not linked to the video games?
Aleksandar Ivicic: No [laughs]. The project has no relations to the video game franchise or the Marvel comic book series. It’s an original piece of work based on a treatment I wrote back in November 2011 that was simply titled "The Undead." After a few re-writes and some long discussions over coffee, Jim Clark and myself decided to move forward with the project.
Cosmic Book News: What can you tell us about Call Of Duty: Undead?
Aleksandar Ivicic: The story follows five special operatives investigating disappearances on what is suppose to be their last mission. A lot of the characters make peace with their inner demons, revisit their past and try their very best to not kill each other under all the pressure. Eventually they come face-to-face with Dr. Nicholas Bergman, who is the mastermind behind all of the chaos. There are forces tugging in all different directions that are trying to get a piece of the pie in the film, and ther are lots of surprises in store for the audience. It’s a whole lot of fun! The characters are lovable; there’s some touching scenes that we hope will truly move people and of course, zombies! Maybe even a few other surprises beyond those zombies.
Cosmic Book News: What was it like shooting the production in Buffalo?
Aleksandar Ivicic: The cast is what makes the film truly spectacular. Buffalo is very limited on the resources available to filmmakers in every field. I’ve only come to realize that fully after my move to Los Angeles, but to put together what we did with what we had broke all of my expectations. I couldn’t be more proud! I still thank Jim Clark to this day for all of his work on the project. He truly helped bring it all together. Probably one of my best decisions during the early stages was having him on board as an Executive Producer and Co-Director.
Cosmic Book News: Tell us about the move out to Los Angeles.
Aleksandar Ivicic: It was a thrilling transition. I made a 5-day adventure out of it. I drove across the country and met some pretty amazing people on the way. On my first week here, I had a sit down with a major studio for a pitch that I’d probably get crucified for discussing, but I managed to walk away from it with some very useful information; that in itself was very motivational way to kick things off.
The scene here in LA is like Heaven and Earth compared to Buffalo. The pool of talents available is outstanding, and the competition is a lot more friendly, I think. Everybody is off doing their own thing, making their own success. Buffalo is so very isolated. It’s hard to climb to the top of the building if the ladder only reaches half-way. Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood is brutal. You’ve really gotta stand out, not just as a talent but as a person, but if you put in the effort, don’t crack under the pressure, do it for the love of the art, you might just get lucky one day. My idea of success is doing what I love and making a living off of it. There isn’t much I miss about Buffalo, but it will always be where I got my start. A piece of my heart will always linger there.
Aleksandar Ivicic & Jim Clark
Cosmic Book News: Do you have any projects currently going on in Los Angeles you can talk about?
Aleksandar Ivicic: Funny you say "can talk about." One of the biggest differences I’ve come across in LA - that’s different from Buffalo - is how "hush hush" projects can be. What I can say about the latest project I’ve been brought on board for as Executive Producer is that it’s a short film based on a popular and strong female character that is part of the DC or Marvel comic book universe. The project is not a tie-in to any of the major studio TV or cinematic universes, but rather an adaptation of its own. It’s still too early to tell what direction it will go, but it’s catching a lot of fire. We’ve had a total of 227 submissions from our first casting call.
I also have a film I’m in negotiations to direct titled "Point Blank Range." It’s got a very nice hint of dark humor which I really enjoyed. I know the project is in the process of negotiating a b-list actor for a supporting role. I’m pretty excited to see where that goes! I’ve also got another short in the works titled "The Anonymous" with Kevin Tanski attached as the lead (editor's note: catch an interview with Kevin here).
Cosmic Book News: What's "The Anonymous" about?
Aleksandar Ivicic: I had Mr. Tanski in mind for the project during the late stages of shooting for Call of Duty. "The Anonymous" has been brought up many times in conversation. After Call of Duty wrapped, we decided to move forward with The Anonymous, which will be filmed in Los Angeles. It’s very politically harsh. There are two very different characters whose views of the world differ dramatically. The film touches upon a lot of how these two view the justice system the world has set in place as well as their own individual beliefs as to what justice means. It’s a very dark script and will definitely cause some controversy.
With every new shoot, Kevin impressed me more and more. Kevin and I bumped heads many times on set with how we saw things from a creative perspective, and I really enjoyed that. Nobodies perfect, and I don’t know everything; so it’s refreshing to have someone step up and say, "Well why don’t we try this?" Kevin wasn’t afraid to share his opinions with the direction I was taking his character and plot. He added a lot more humor and charm to that character than I had expected, and I remember, very often, the question as to "just who is Keith Watzel?" would come up, and after watching it all come together I was reassured. Kevin Tanski IS Keith Watzel. His sense of character direction was something I needed for a character in "The Anonymous," and right there I knew he was perfect for the role. I know it’s going to be a blast working with Kevin again.
Cosmic Book News: We also noticed a short film that you recently completed, The Eleventh Hour, can you tell us about that?
Aleksandar Ivicic: The Eleventh Hour is a 24-minute war/drama. The story itself is based on true-events with a little movie magic. So far it’s been very well received. I don’t want to give away too much. It’s currently in film festival submission phase and will have its very first screening on July 7th at 4:30pm at the Screening Room in Amherst. The project stars Jim Clark, Jess Chizuk and Salvatore Sabia with supporting roles by Robert Woodley, Phill Beith and myself. Our producer did all of the casting for the project; he had a very particular vision for the film and after seeing my work with Call of Duty Undead, he left it in my hands to bring that vision to life. I strongly believe the film has a very bright future.
Cosmic Book News: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with everyone about Call of Duty or your other projects?
Aleksandar Ivicic: Just that I hope everyone finds some entertainment or a lesson to be learned from the projects I work on. I always try to do everything I can with what’s handed to me and try to keep an open mind. I love movies, Hollywood and Indie alike. Everyone I’ve worked with so far has believed in me and my work. I’ve been given so many opportunities to bring my ideas to life, and I hope that someday I’ll be able to do that for other people. And to all of my fellow artists, keep on entertaining, keep on building worlds, keep on fighting. The creative arts are a beautiful thing, and there’s really nothing else like it in the world. We’ve been gifted as a species with the minds to do amazing things. Why let it go to waste?
You can find more information on Aleksandar Ivicic and his upcoming projects on IMDb.