Red Right Hand : Exclusive Interview with Eshom & Ian Nelms

Red Right Hand : Exclusive Interview with Eshom & Ian Nelms

Orlando Bloom in RED RIGHT HAND, a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

RED RIGHT HAND, Cash (Orlando Bloom) is trying to live an honest and quiet life taking care of his recently orphaned niece Savannah (Chapel Oaks) in the Appalachian town of Odim County. When the sadistic kingpin Big Cat (Andie MacDowell) who runs the town forces him back into her services, Cash learns he’s capable of anything — even killing — to protect the town and the only family he has left. As the journey gets harder, Cash is drawn into a nightmare that blurs the lines between good and evil. RED RIGHT HAND has the kinds of characters who leave an unforgettable imprint on you.

Genre: Action, Mystery & thriller

Original Language: English

Director: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms

Producer: Mike Gabrawy, Basil Iwanyk, Zak Kristofek, Michelle Lang, Erica Lee, Ryan Donnell Smith, Jason Tamasco

Writer: Jonathan Easley

Release Date (Theaters):   Limited

Release Date (Streaming): 

Box Office (Gross USA): $18.1K


Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Nelms BrothersEshom Nelms and Ian Nelms, co-directors of RED RIGHT HAND, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Q: Ian, you went to college on a wrestling scholarship before taking on English literature. Eshom, you pursued an education in fine art. How did you end up working together on filmmaking? Your education goes in totally different directions so how did you decide to go into the film industry together? 

Ian Nelms: Obviously, we grew up together. I think we got along really well. We loved playing together and thinking up battle strategies for our G.I. Joes. We created a lot of movies when we were kids growing up.  We never thought of  movies as a career until later in life but we were definitely synthesizing our taste at a young age and really devouring a lot of film. When I went to college on a wrestling scholarship, I was a theater minor and an English major. I loved writing. I love the analytical side of writing as well, the reviewing and deep diving into what it all meant and the layers in literature.

Esh, when he was in art school, right around the end of his first year in art school, he got a couple of A degrees and then went off to art school in Kansas City. While there, he was doing comic books. Obviously those are pretty related. I’m writing stories and plays. He’s writing comic books and we talked every couple of days. We talked for a few hours so we decided when we got home, we would start working on something. Then, one night, I watched two movies on IFC and called Eshom in the morning.

I said, “Hey I just watched these two movies last night and that really inspired me. I think we should try to make movies and he says, “I just watched two movies last night that really gave me a paradigm shift.” I felt like, “How the hell… Were we watching the same movies at the same time in two different states and had the same paradigm shift?” It was amazing, but we really did. We sat on the phone for four hours and talked about what we wanted to do that summer when we came home.

Eshom Nelms: Then we went back and made some terrible short films. And we wrote some bad screenplays, but we were off and running.

Q: Orlando Bloom is pumped up and pretty badass in this film, working against the typecast. Did you have him in your mind when you were writing a screenplay? 

Eshom Nelms: It’s a perfect storm really. We met Orlando Bloom in around 2017, right after he saw one of our previous films, “Small Town Crime.” We really hit it off and liked him as a human being, got to know some different aspects of him, and his appetite for doing something outside of what he’d been doing, the more traditional Hollywood fare like the swashbuckler, the fantasy and the handsome leading man stuff.

He was like, “Hey, I want to do some real, down-and-dirty stuff. I’d love to work with you guys.” The feeling was mutual. When Jonathan Easley’s script for “Red Right Hand” landed on our desk and we read it, it was an absolute page-turner. The characters and dialogue just leapt off the page. The first person we thought of was Orlando. And we said, “Wow, what would make this really, really fun is if we got Orlando to do it — it’s something you’ve never seen him do before.”

Q: This film has great casting. Talk about casting Scott Haze — his range of performance is amazing. His portrayal of a washed-up drunk is so different from the smart, calm guy that he’s been cast as lately. This is totally against type.

Ian Nelms: We met Scott during the casting process. We’re always on the hunt for great actors that we’re excited to work with. We’d seen a bunch of Scott’s work and we were really pumped to see if he would be interested in something like this. We reached out to him traditionally and he responded since he had a lot of things in his family and past that linked him to the script emotionally.

And then, he’s just the type of guy who would hit us up and say, “Okay I’ve only read the script five times”… And we’re like, “Okay, amazing.” He brought a lot of options, suggestions and ideas, which is awesome. You always want someone so committed and really thinking about the role. He was already really layered up on that first phone call with us.

Red Right Hand, Orland BloomOrlando Bloom in RED RIGHT HAND, a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Q: With this script, viewers were on the side of the lead character, Cash, but he had a history with Big Cat played by Andie McDowell. He’s a pretty smart guy, but throughout the film, Big Cat’s always outsmarting him. Talk about creating that tension between Big Cat and Cash and constructing a story with all those twists and turns throughout. 

Eshom Nelms: Absolutely. Big Cat’s the boss queen pin for a reason. She’s got the intellect and knows how to pull the strings on her goons. Cash has worked for herand was one of her top dogs back in the day. There may or may not have been some romantic happenings, but he tried to break free. But she wouldn’t let him go.

Ian Nelms: I think, at the core of that question, is how do you get these types of performances and the feel of those two characters? First, it comes down to casting. You cast the right people in the right roles. Of course, we’re trying to subvert your expectations with these two casting choices, especially with Orlando playing against type — what you’ve seen him do before. Again, Andie is playing against type as well.

That was really exciting for us. But, to make it work, you have to have people that are really committed to those roles and are really talented. Luckily, they were both committed, really talented and hungry to do something like this. When they got in the room together there was just chemistry and fireworks. They’re just really good actors and really turned it on. l leaned on each other for those reaction moments and their performances — and they just crushed it. That chemistry was there because they are good.

Eshom Nelms: We loved throwing a monkey wrench into a scene. That’s really what makes it fun for us. It’s like,”Hey, we have them in this circumstance and when they think this is going to happen, it actually will be that.

Q: Speaking of monkey wrenches, you had a pretty crazy idea of breaking knees with hammers and of this guy riding on the bonnet of the car. Did you get inspiration from other films that created those crazy ideas and scenes? 

Ian Nelms: I can’t think of a movie that specifically does either of those things. I’m like, “Yeah, we want to do that.” But that’s part of it. We’re always trying to think of something that we haven’t seen before. There’s movies that we’re mentally referenced — like what movie has a great torture sequence or what one has as far out style or tension, but we’re never like, “Okay, they do a great job stabbing that person there, let’s use some of that stabbing.”

We’re always like, “They did a great job stabbing someone there. How do we change it and mix it up and make it our own and make it fresh?” That’s what we’re always trying to do. We’re trying to find a way to make something fresh. As we said before, we want to subvert your expectations. You think we’re going to lean left and we lean right quickly so you didn’t quite see it coming but it also works organically in the script and in the moment.

Eshom Nelms: Obviously, there’s that scene with the hammers that you’re referencing. That needed to be very impactful [so to speak]. It’s a catalyzing scene that sends Cash on his path. It needed to have a powerful effect.

Ian Nelms: We went for it since, at that moment, we really wanted the audience to feel she needed to die. We really wanted to push that and we earned it.

Q: This actress, Chapel Oaks, who plays the daughter with all these macho guys, this is her debut film. Her performance was really amazing. Talk about casting her. 

Ian Nelms: It was unpredictable. We had some name actors who were up for the role that we were really excited about. They would have been phenomenal in the role for sure; had they done their own thing, they would have done it in a great way. But Chapel was right there, knocking it out of the park with her performances and auditions. We really liked what she was bringing to the role.

Luckily, she resembled Scott and Orlando enough to where we were like, “Oh yeah, they feel like a family.” It just really came down to how talented she was and how well she was performing in a lot of the things, like the last zoom call we had with her. A Zoom audition is not easy to do because you have no environment, you’re just looking into a screen. You really need to have a great imagination and the discipline of your craft to be able to pull off an effective performance in a Zoom meeting.

She did such a phenomenal job when we had that director/actor Zoom meeting. We were making sure we could all work together, how she took direction and how we worked with her style. We asked her to do a very emotional scene. She said, “Can I have a few seconds?” We said, “Absolutely.” She closed her eyes and went into a place. Her dad was like, “Okay, go ahead Chapel.” And she’s like “No dad, give me a second. this has got to be real.” Then she opened her eyes and delivered a phenomenal performance.

Eshom Nelms: We just knew that if she could sit there under those circumstances and ask for the time she needed to prepare, then come out and nail it, we were going to be good when she’s sitting across from Andie McDowell, Orlando Bloom or Garrett.

Ian Nelms: When you’re casting someone and this is their first film, there’s always that question of whether she’s going to be okay when she’s with Andie or Orlando in the scenes. It’s one thing to do it across from two yahoos like us and it’s another when you’re sitting in front of actors that you know, that you’ve seen their movies and this is your first thing. But honestly, she just earned it, she killed the role so we gave it to her.

Red Right Hand, Oaks Chapel Oaks and Nicholas Logan in RED RIGHT HAND, a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Check out more of Nobuhiro’s articles. 

Here’s the trailer of the film.

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