Directed by first-time feature filmmaker M. Shawn Crahan (who is also known to millions of fans as Clown from the hugely popular band Slipknot), Officer Downe recently premiered at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. Written by Joe Casey (who also penned the graphic novel), Officer Downe stars Kim Coates in the titular role as an immortal cop fighting to make Los Angeles a safer place in the not-too-distant future.

Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with Crahan about his first time in the director’s chair for Officer Downe and heard more about his approach to the material, why Coates was the perfect choice to embody the film’s hero, how Mark Neveldine has continued to mentor him, and more.

Great to speak with you today, Shawn. I was really excited to see that you were going to be directing. I was super bummed as a fan to not see you come back for The Devil's Carnival sequel, but this is a heck of a reason to have to step away.

M. Shawn Crahan: Yeah, I've been pushing for this for a while, and I've done so many videos and things like that, that those end up being little fun things, but I end up getting a little frustrated because they're only one-day shots of being artistic. I started hinting around and all the right people met and this came about. I knew I wanted to do this.

I've always said before I did anything, I wish I had time to go learn from some people, because I want to respect the craft. You learn that every time you're on set. So when I was on Devil's Carnival, I got to watch so many amazing people throw down what we call acting, and that's just amazing. I'm lucky to have had that opportunity and then had the chance to actually step up and direct.

You mention the fact that this was something you wanted to do for a while. Was that in regards to adapting the comic book itself, or just directing overall? Was this on your radar a few years before you were able to come on board as the director?

M. Shawn Crahan: Basically, I'm surrounded by a wonderful group of people. My manager met this gentleman, Skip Williamson, and Skip Williamson and Mark Neveldine worked on the Crank series together. My manager told them that they really should meet me and then they met me, and the next thing you know, here we are.

But as far as movies go, this is what I've wanted to do my whole life. I've been telling people to try and make them understand a little bit. I'm 46 years old and I grew up in such a wonderful time. When the movie Alien came out, I can't explain to you what that was like. 1979, ten years old, and I'm looking at my dad like, "Are there aliens?" And he's like, "We don't know." I'm ten years old and my dad's like, "We don't know." He's not lying to me. “We don't know.” I'm like, "Is that real?" And he's like, "Could be." I'm like, "I am scared to death," and it's only one alien. Just one.

So what I'm saying is, I grew up with Alien. I grew up watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Apocalypse Now, Monty Python, The Deer Hunter, Taxi Driver, A Streetcar Named Desire, Breakfast at Tiffany's. You get the point. The thing is, I didn't understand any of it, but my dad and my mom would talk about these films and so I would really listen to my parents and they did a really good job of describing things in a way to me that I could understand as a child. I was generally interested and I loved the saturation and all of it. I loved the intellectual property that's buried in cinema.

I'm destined to make movies, though. Now, it's up to people whether they enjoy what I do, obviously. Just because I think I'm supposed to do it doesn't mean I'm going to be any good doing it, but my life has been leading to this and I love it.

For this project, you have this strong and heroic character of Officer Downe, and you have to make sure you’ve got the right guy or the whole thing could be a huge misfire. What did you guys see in Kim Coates in terms of what he brought to the table for this role?

M. Shawn Crahan: We were very particular. Names came and went. Nothing really felt well, and then the politics of movie-making comes in and you start thinking about fans and this genre and a lot of different factors come into play. You've got to make decisions. You've got to work through all this stuff. We thought there could be a chance we could have big guys, maybe old actors. Everyone came to our minds. We went with all kinds of philosophies. Then all of a sudden, Kim Coates' name got on the table.

Now, I don't know Kim from Sons of Anarchy and there's one reason for that. I'm not being disrespectful, but my wife and I just now in our lives have started watching those TV series, like Breaking Bad, Sopranos, Dexter—all these kinds of shows. So that's the only reason why I haven't watched Sons of Anarchy yet, because we're going to watch the whole thing now that it's done and it's going to be sometime soon.

But I didn't know Kim from that, but I know Kim from a bunch of movies growing up. I love his face. I love his eyes. When they said Kim, I was like, "Yes!" Obviously, it's a comic book, so Officer Downe's real tall and overly big and Kim Coates is tall, and Kim Coates is ripped. He's got the philosophy on his face and who he is, is what Officer Downe is.

You know me. I want to make something cult-ish and something colorful and arty. I don't want to get too over in some weird world with some actor that's a part of something else and is acting. But then he came on board, and it was just amazing. I was on tour when we first got on the phone together. He asked me, "Yo, bro. How are we going to get this movie done in six weeks?" I'm like, "As long as you do it, we're going to do it." He just was like, "Well, I never heard that before."

You had mentioned working with Mark Neveldine, and the Crank movies are two of my favorite modern action films. How was it collaborating with him on Officer Downe and did you pick up anything from him along the way?

M. Shawn Crahan: Okay, so here's the deal. Obviously, Mark's got his thing with Crank, which is phenomenal. So for this movie, having Mark coming in to be my producer was incredible. He was also the second unit director, so when I'd have to take off and go do Kim in a big scene, he would stay back and do little details and stuff like that.

I don't know if a lot of people know that Mark is a cameraman. He's not only a cameraman, but he is a madman. He roller blades with a camera. I was always told this and I can respect it and understand it, but until he's right there with you and you've held the camera that he has—this guy will go 25 miles an hour and do spins with a 70-pound camera, and then ask you if you've got what you want and do it over and over and over again. He's amazing.

But working with him made things really relentless and it’s been awesome to work with him. He's mentoring me. I'm learning so much from him. He encourages me, he pushes me, and he's very excited to work with me, he tells me, because I just pound art. A lot of people that have been doing it for a minute love being around me because they'll be like, "We can't do it like this." I'm like, "You say we can't, but I'm saying we are." I'm committing to the weird. We'd commit to the weird and everybody loved it. They helped me and they're telling me I helped them and we just created something special.

When you see it, you're going to love it. If you love Crank, you'll love this. It's different altogether, but this movie is relentless, with a bold, big middle finger, and that was something that was very easy for me to do because it's just what I do as an artist.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.