’s round three of Joe Carnahan – director of Smokin’ Aces, which apparently knocked em fuckin’ dead at Butt Numb-A-Thon this past weekend – answering your quivering queries. We’ve got more installments ready to run, but we’re always looking for more questions. About ANYTHING! Anything at all. Ask Joe about his favorite food, what’s playing on his stereo, the answers to your math homework, or how he killed that one guy in Nicaragua with just a glance. There are no limits, there are no boundaries, and if anyone tries to impose them, you can bet Carnahan will blast right through. Just like he does in Smokin’ Aces.

So here’s the new stuff, and in the meantime, send you questions to me at with Smokin’ Joe Carnahan in the subject line.


What’s the biggest piece of advice that you’d give someone who is actively trying to start a career in film after film school and already living in Los Angeles?



We haven’t figured out anything that beats straight hustle. Put your head down and prove to yourself that you can do it. I said this in another response, but it’s never been easier or cheaper to make a really high quality short film and moreover, a feature. That’s what I would do. I would concentrate all my efforts on trying to do something long form that proves you can tell a story in three acts. Shorts are fine to show to your folks and they can certainly give hints to your underlying talents, but nothing says filmmaker, quite like the feature. It may seemed far-fetched, but it’s really not. I made ‘Blood Guts Bullets & Octane’ for about $7500.00 and did so, for the very reason I gave you. To showcase my abilities (or lack thereof, depending on your feelings for that film) at that level. The advent of digital technology has put all this stuff within easy reach. I wouldn’t even mess with 16mm anymore, when HD is sitting there and can be manipulated in so many magnificent ways. The possibilities are out there, you just have to run harder at them than the next guy.



Got just one question for "The Joe." I had another one previous, but, it already got asked (inspirational crime films).

So, I must ask: Smokin’ Aces. What kind of action scenes are we talking about? Are we talkin’ classic John Woo bullet ballet or are we talking crazy over-the-top 80s/90s Hong Kong (which, with the characters, it seems to have)? Maybe the more modern "close-ups for intensity" style, which is good but can sometimes get irritating? (no offense intended, ‘course! I’m just nitpicky) Perhaps a more straightforward Walter Hill style, low on slow-motion but high on dynamic shots? Or is it all-across the board, giving a flavor that can’t be defined as anything but "the whole bad-ass kit’n’ka-boom-le" due to its variety? Yes, this makes it seem like a bunch of questions, but it doesn’t hurt to be specific! :)

The trailer shows us a taste, a really good taste, but without seeing a full scene in context, it’s hard to say. So my question is very much what "type" are we gonna see? I love me a great action film, a genre I feel hasn’t been done well too often in the last 10 years, and although I have faith and belief in the potential accomplishments of Smokin’Aces, I do worry as I’m known to do.

Just asking, as one action flick aficionado to another.

Regards and thanks,

~Chris J.


You’re going to see my attempt to try and push the form forward.

To try and tweak the genre and goose it into areas seldom seen. I’ve tried to make an insane, over-the-top, emotional, thrill-ride of a flick.

A drive-in movie with brains and balls and whiplash changes in tone that you don’t necessarily expect. The gears that you’re going to need to go through as the viewer aren’t easy to find, but I have full faith that if people really let the film overwhelm them, then they’ll engage and actually enjoy the bumps and bruises it gives you along the way.

If I could splice Fellini & Peckinpah & the Coens, the result would be Smokin’ Aces.

Hope this helps.



I know you said you wanted to weed out only the best questions…and just so you know…this ain’t one of ‘em…but I HAVE to know how it was for Joe working with my guy Martin Henderson. All the ladies and gay men at wanna know. :) Thanks.




Gay men stand back! He’s spoken for! Martin and I are getting wed in about two weeks in a semi-secret ceremony in Vermont, so….HA! KIDDING!

I’m sure Martin would be thrilled to know that he’s equally adored by all sexual orientations.

Martin is a such a pro and his work is such a beautifully comic counterpoint to all the madness in the film. He shares two of the most memorable moments, at least in my mind and acquitted himself brilliantly. I would leap at the chance to work with him again. Also, just a dear, sweet guy who carries no pretense whatsoever.

So there you go, you can all start crushing on him all over again!



Hey Joe,

First off, I have to, like everyone else in the Chud-o-Sphere, mouth off about my love for NARC, so I guess that sets up my first question. We’re living in a cinematic age where everything is inevitably post-modern. Short of clubbing baby seals, it’s all been done. But NARC is the first film I’ve seen in ages that actually transports itself back through to its roots. It seems like something Friedkin or Lumet might have directed back in the day.But it has its own unique personality. Did you set out to evoke that gritty, naturalistic 70’s aesthetic, or did it just so happen that your instincts for that particular story produced something that felt at home in the time of long takes?

My other question is, what’s doing with KILLING PABLO? Are you off that project or is it just still gestating? It’s great material.

Good luck with WHITE JAZZ!!!!

Thanks man,


Washington DC


Brother, I did everything short of convening a seance to try and stir up the ghosts of ‘The French Connection’ and ‘Serpico’ and urge them to inhabit every part of NARC that they could. I think I was really trying to capture the spirit of those films in everything from the lighting and photography, to the way the characters dressed. I didn’t want the film to date itself. I wanted it to stand up well against age and I hope it does. Ultimately, it’s my paen/poem to the police procedurals of that era. It’s funny, when I watch it now, I can put enough distance on it to just enjoy it as a movie and it really does have this unique sense of time and place. We were really lucky on a lot of levels and had two incredible actors to ride with through that flick. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

In terms of Killing Pablo, I am going to be starting that film (fingers crossed) right after I do ‘White Jazz’ at the end of next year. That would have us starting in the spring of 2009.

I remain deeply, deeply passionate about that film and think the script is probably the best thing I’ve written up to this point.



Hi Joe,

As a big fan of Narc and seeing the trailer for Smokin’ Aces, which does look smokin’ by the way, I was wondering what happened to you between the two films? How come your hiatus between them was so long, what was you doing, writing a bunch, having a break? It’s good to see you back anyway and can’t wait for the new flick.

Kind regards,

Nas Ahmed


You share the name of one of my favorite rappers, so you must know your shit! I got bogged down in some stuff, including an extended stint on ‘MI3′ which took up quite a bit of time (not bitching about it, merely mentioning it) and I wrote quite a few things and toyed with some stuff that ultimately didn’t come to pass. I also was trying to raise my kids and be around a little bit after spending so much time away, frittering away on movies that, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been involved with to begin with. There’s a budget range that I’m comfortable making a movie at and Smokin’ Aces represents that range: One that gives you a lot of creative control and let’s you make something without a lot of compromises and studio interference.

It’s good to be back though. I’m still the luckiest bastard I know and it’ll stay that way, if I have anything to say about it.