parts into our Smokin’ Joe Carnahan Answers Your Questions feature and the man hasn’t run out of steam – for the last two weeks he’s been waiting on me more than I have ever waited on him! Joe is a boundless reservoir of energy – the guy outlasted me at the casino in Tahoe and then woke up and was doing interviews the next day before I ever even considered taking my head off the pillow.

Have you been following this all the way? If not, here are the previous 7 installments:


And by the way, don’t be shy – send in your question to Joe now! Send ‘em to with SMOKIN’ JOE CARNAHAN in the subject line. I’ll pass the best ones along to Mr. Carnahan.

Those of you in the UK can see Smokin’ Aces when it opens there this weekend. You Yanks will have to wait until the 26th.


NARC is a masterpiece and I’m looking forward to SMOKIN’ ACES. I saw on your blog what you were listening to in the music section…DAMN! Any man that listens to SKULL SNAPS is a BAD MOTHERFUCKER. You got great taste, my friend. Keep up the great work!




Thank you brother. I pride myself on my musical snobbery. Putting that soundtrack together was such a joy and I think the songs in the film work really, really well. Enjoy!



Hey Joe,

No bullshit and accessible. Supercool. Anyways, here’s a flurry of questions, answer as many as you’d like:

What was the budget for "Smokin’ Aces"? How do you feel about shooting digital? I know Shane Black was an early inspiration for you — what did you think of "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" and its under performance at the box office? What other filmmakers do you hang out with, if any?



With that name, you must be class. Iggy Pop is my top three all-time and they’re wouldn’t be anything called PUNK if not for that man. Everybody, Clash and Sex Pistols included, have kissed that ring.

Smokin’ Aces was roughly 21.5 million or in that rather inexpensive, condo/duplex type neighborhood (comparatively) and almost all of it went up on screen.

The actors, God love ‘em were at one point being paid with menthol cigarettes and livestock. They certainly weren’t doing it for the dough!

I dig Shane, but unfortunately haven’t had a chance to see the film. These types of flicks (my own included) are sometimes difficult to market and if you don’t have the right kind of advertising/publicity mix, then great movies can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

Filmmaking friends of mine? Peter Berg, Gavin O’Connor, Jake Scott, Andrew Dominic.

Scott Frank. Just a few of ‘em.

‘Smokin’ Aces’ is definitely an action flick, but it’s a lot of other things too. Just come in with an open mind and your thinking cap on. You’ll have a blast. I promise.



Hey Joe,

Long-time fan. You’ve managed the impossible: to make a $7,000 indie film, and use it to break into the industry. Your success makes you a hero to many struggling filmmakers (probably the bulk of your fan-base) and helps us keep the dream alive.

Just wanted to ask you if there were any plans to produce a deluxe DVD of BLOOD, GUTS, BULLETS AND OCTANE anytime in the near future? I had the opportunity to see Mark Stolaroff from (the now defunct) Next Wave Films host a panel at a film festival many years ago. He brought several hilarious promo videos from BGBO which featured you (in a performance not unlike your birthday video for Harry Knowles). They were a lot of fun, and I would love to see these promos featured in a upcoming DVD release.

A commentary and the usual behind-the-scenes documentaries would also be most helpful and informative to those of us pursuing a similar career path.

Thanks for the inspiration,

- David


I would love nothing more than to go back into BGBO and blow it up right.

It remains something obviously very near and dear to my heart. It’s up to Lions Gate. If they were down to do some kind of deluxe thing, I would too. The problem is, only about seventeen people actually saw the film and nearly a dozen are relatives of mine. This poses a bit of an issue for a company looking to drop top dollar into a special edition DVD. I’m hoping that in spite of that, we do it anyway.

NARC is probably more likely to receive this kind of esteem, but again, I’d love to do it for BGBO. It’s like a mutt that you just want to bathe and powder and put a nice bow on.



Joe, (yep we’re on a first name basis here) I’m a big fan of yours like everyone else on here and I really admire you for answering questions on here. Anyways I’m also a big fan of Ryan Reynolds and I know he does a lot of improv. I was just wondering how much, if any, improv went into the making of Smoking Aces not just with Ryan Reynolds but with everyone. I know I didn’t word this very well but oh well haha.



Ryan wanted nothing to do with my script and insisted on rewriting every piece of dialogue so could ‘Reynold-ize’ it. I had no idea what the fuck that meant, but we had already inked the deal and this fucker waited till I had film on him before he started throwing tantrums; demanding HUGE rewrites and hurling insults at me in the form of red sharpie marks that he made all over the script, assailing not only my writing choices, but my grammatical shortcomings as well. Everything came to a head one day when he beat me senseless with a dog-eared script in front of the rest of the crew. When I finally awoke, things seem to have simmered down and we went about getting onto the business of DAY 2 of shooting.


Ryan is a consummate and I mean CONSUMMATE pro. He wouldn’t even consider changing things and was incredibly communicative throughout the process. The great bits of ad-libbing he did were primarily in the van at the opening of the film.

He also has a great bit about a ‘Cadillac that looks like a whiffle ball’ which I loved and used. When you’ve got a guy who’s that funny and that gifted on his feet, you’ve got to let him do his thing, and I did. You see him go through a ton of different tone shifts in this film and he handled himself like a stunt driver, weaving around things and hitting walls at high speed with equal aplomb. He’s a fantastic actor and a guy I am determined to work with on something BIG in the future. I’ve actually got a spec that I’m writing with him in mind.