Ayer's gritty cop drama, "End of Watch," is a rare breed for Comic-Con's massive Hall H, given its lack of capes, spandex and monsters. Open Road Film's true indie was shot entirely with handheld cameras in order to immerse the audience in the world of the LAPD. Details and video from the panel below.
Navy veteran Ayer comes with street cred; he did extensive research into the LAPD before writing the script for Antoine Fuqua's 2001 film "Training Day," starring Denzel Washington in an Oscar-winning performance. Ayer went on to direct "Harsh Times" and "Street Kings." He rejoices that he had final cut on this film, which was produced through Exclusive Media.
The "dirty secret of Hollywood" is that studio films involve too much management and too many voices, Ayer said. Directors often get caught between commerce and art. "Hollywood has lost its way," he feels, and he wants to bring the heart back to movies with "the bread and butter filmmaking which made the industry for eighty years."
If "End of Watch" was made at a studio, "there's this whole side we wouldn't have been able to capture...it would have been 'Apocolypto' in the hood," said Ayers, who wrote the script in six days, "like a fever."
Jake Gyllenhaal introduced a nice chunk of footage via video (he's shooting a film in Canada). It expanded on footage shown in the trailer and certainly got the Hall H audience pumped up for the film's September 21 release.
Pena and Ayers agreed that the shoot, which was twenty-two days, was tough and brutal. "It was all about planning," Ayers said.
"You see how crazy their lives are," said Pena. "They blow off steam by cracking jokes, but when it's time to work they are right on top of it." Among the officers, Pena confirmed: "There's a definite sense of family. If someone is trying to kill you and your buddies are helping you, that's incredible."
The bond between cops is stronger than marriage, Ayer believes, because "there's bullets involved." Gyllenhaal and Pena also did several ride-alongs with different units around Los Angeles, gaining unprecedented access that enables "End of Watch" to tell the story of the LAPD in a way "that hasn't been done before."
Synopsis: Academy Award® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star in the action thriller End of Watch as young Los Angeles police officers Taylor and Zavala as they patrol the city's meanest streets of south central Los Angeles. The film creates a riveting portrait of the city's most dangerous corners, the cops who risk their lives there every day, and the price they and their families are forced to pay.