Interview: Matt Nable on Directing Transfusion, Working With Sam Worthington

(Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
(Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Matt Nable spoke with Transfusion writer and director Matt Nable about the upcoming crime drama thriller. The director discussed his athletic background and working with Sam Worthington. The movie is set to release in theaters, digitally, and through video-on-demand on March 3.

“To protect his son, an ex-special forces operative (Sam Worthington) plunges into the criminal underground for one final mission in this muscular, emotionally charged thriller,” reads the film’s synopsis.

Tyler Treese: You’re an experienced actor. You’ve written quite a few movies as well, but this was your first time also being a director. Since you’ve been around films, were there any surprises in doing your first feature, or was it what you expected?

Matt Nable: No, as you alluded to, Tyler, I’ve been around for a long time. So there wasn’t anything there that I felt like was a surprise. We were really, really well prepared and we made sure that before we turned over, we dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s. So no, there weren’t any surprises at all. I mean, there are challenges, obviously, that you have to plan for, but they’re going to pop up — we were in the middle of a pandemic, so those things are tricky. But from a filmmaking point of view in the process, no, I was pretty confident that we had it covered, yeah.

That’s great, and you’re pulling triple duty here: you wrote the movie, you directed it, you’re acting in it. I imagine that makes every single aspect so much more personal. So now that you’ve seen the finished product and all these years of work come together, how incredible has it been?

It’s very gratifying, because you start off … I’ve written lots of material that will never be produced, and that’s part of the journey as a writer — that’s what happens. So to see it all come to fruition and have a release like it’s having … yeah, it’s gratifying. I feel very humbled. You don’t go into it thinking, “This is what I want for it, and I want this, and I want that.” You go into it with the ideology that it might not get made, but then second to that, if it does get made, then the objective at the end is something that you’re proud of. All this sort of stuff that’s happening with it now is something you don’t really think about. But in saying that, it’s remarkably gratifying as well.

There are some really tense sequences in the movie. I was curious aboutyour ideology is when it comes to ratcheting up drama in the sequences and delivering that payoff?

Yeah, look, it’s a slow burn up until the last 40 minutes where it really, really kicks off. So it was about building the stakes [and] putting obstacles in front of Ryan so that he has to make some decisions that he’s uncomfortable with. And then, obviously, he gets dragged into the world that I operate in, so that, at some point, is going to be dangerous. So it’s building to a point where he’s making decisions he’s not comfortable with, and you know as an audience member that this is going to get witchy. He’s not selling wine anymore. This is something very, very different.

So the film’s marketed in a way as a thriller, but it’s really not. It’s a drama with some high-stake elements in it. So it’s about building to that point and making sure that the obstacles and the decisions that he made … the audience [is] aware that it’s going to ratchet up. They can feel it, they can feel the tension. That they can feel there’s an understanding that this is moving into a different realm.

Sam Worthington is just a total pro. What impressed you the most working alongside him and seeing him take your script and turning it into real life?

Everything, you know? I’d worked with Sam on Hacksaw Ridge, so we were familiar with each other and we’d been in scenes together there. Look, he’s a pro and he came aboard on this very, very early. What spoke to him about this script, I think largely, is that he’s a father of young boys. So he understood those relationships. He understood how to be vulnerable. He understood how to be a dad, to be compassionate and empathetic and honest. So he brought all those things because that’s who he is as a person. So to watch that unfold and play out in the manner that it did was incredible. There’s an element of stillness that Sam presents in this that I haven’t seen him do before, and it’s really captivating.

Now that you have your first feature done as a director, do you still have that itch to do more?

Yeah, I’ll do more. There’s some things happening at the moment, Tyler, that will happen. Once you’ve got one thing behind you and you’ve worked with people and then they see that you can handle it and that what you’ve delivered is well-made then you’ll get other opportunities. The trick is to make sure, for me, that the next thing that I do is something that I’m not taking too big a bite … something that I’m not going to be able to handle and something within the narrative that I can control and tonally get right. If I can do that, then I’ll probably get to do it again, but in between, I’m not just going to be a director. I’ve got to work, to continue writing and acting and when the time presents itself, then I’ll step into something else as a director, but it’ll only be something that I’ve written.

You have that rugby background in athletics. Did any of that teach you the mindset that has helped you succeed in your film career?

There’s an element of — not competitiveness, but certainly a belief in yourself. You’ve got to back yourself to a point. So I don’t get intimidated. Certainly, I’m not going to get intimidated by a film set mate, or what goes on making a movie. I mean, I’m not going ti get hurt. I put myself in some really physically hard situations as a rugby league player and as a boxer. So I’m not intimidated. I’m not going to be intimidated by going to work and making something up, that’s not going to happen. So my physical background has allowed me to have a self-belief and a confidence, but also not to fear something like this at all.

You did some great work as Ra’s al Ghul on Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. What are you most proud of with your work doing on that character?

I loved it and it was something that was an unexpected surprise, to be involved in that world and have a character that’s so revered and well-known. I felt really honored and and privileged. It was great. It was a great experience. I was away in Canada for a long period of time. My wife and kids came over, and I’m really proud of the work I did in that. I remember getting the role and a lot of fans [were] not too happy about it and to a great degree turned the fans around. So that was very gratifying.

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