Wicked Pictures contract player/director Brad Armstrong is no stranger to AVN Awards, having added Director of the Year to his long list of credits in 2009. And this year he scored with the biker epic Speed, when the movie was deemed the year's Best Feature and Armstrong the Best Director – Feature winner.
“Right now, it’s me and Axel Braun who are really outputting some interesting stuff,” Armstrong opined to AVN. "Whether you like parody or not, I think he is pulling together some really interesting stuff, and when you look at that list of directors, it's almost the same every year, whether it's the features or whatever. There's only a handful of guys out there, and we kind of all jockey for position one year or the next, and this was my year, and it's always great.”
We asked Armstrong to give us the rundown on how Speed came about.
"When we came up with Speed, we were actually mulling over three or four projects that were going to be the big ones for the year," Armstrong recounted, "and we kept going around in circles, and in essence, Speed won out just because of its generic sexiness, with all the hot chicks dressed up in their outfits and the bikes and the colors, all very vibrant. And we thought it already had kind of a built-in following with people who like bikes and chicks; it's kind of an easy format."
"Our inspiration, for the most part, was Torque; not particularly a blockbuster money-making movie, but it was one that definitely had a style and it was done by the same guys who did The Fast and the Furious," he continued. "Yeah, that kind of car culture, bike culture, it just has an inherent sexiness to it, and all the guys are cool and all the chicks are hot, and it just kind of lends itself to this kind of thing. I've done period pieces before, like Eternity, where everybody's so dressed up; you know what I mean? Although kind of a romantic time, not the sexiest. I know I've had trouble with that one where they were having sex and trying to stay in character, it just kind of killed the heat a little bit, whereas with this one, I didn't really have that problem."
But inspiration isn't the only thing Speed owes to Torque.
"We actually used a lot of the locations that Torque used for our movie," Armstrong said. "They did what we did and closed off the Sixth Street Bridge, and they were also at the location [a defunct diner/motel] out in Palmdale that we used, so we definitely tried to emulate, utilize the same cool locations that they had."
"Dale DaBone, who did some of the stunts in our movie, he actually worked on Torque and he actually stunted for the lead guy in Torque," Armstrong continued. "So he actually has some pictures of him and the lead guy in the same outfits when he was doing all his stunt riding, and it was kind of cool. At first, I didn't even know that; I just knew Dale was a rider, and I said, 'Hey, I'm going to be doing a Torque thing,' and he said, 'Oh, I worked on Torque!' And I'm like, 'Get out of here!' So that was kind of cool."
Armstrong also found roles for nearly all of the Wicked girls in Speed.
"They each have their own personalities and strengths and weaknesses," he assessed. "I mean, we definitely don't have carbon-copy girls where you watch one girl's movie and the next girl's movie and they're basically the same movie. All our girls are very different, and usually I write to them, because most of the time I know who I'm writing for when I decide on a movie, and I'll pitch different movies for different girls. Some roles can be either her or her, but for the most part, they are definitely very different looks and personalities and we like to use that and a lot of times play off that, because if you've got five girls in the movie, and they're all exactly the same character, it's boring. We've had some great girls in the past, but right now, I'd say acting-wise and sex-wise, it's probably our strongest stable in the history of Wicked."
One thing Armstrong would criticize is his acceptance speech for the Best Feature trophy at the award show.
"Whenever I get up on stage I forget shit all the time, but I forgot to thank my editor," he stated. "There are only two people I couldn't have done this movie without. One was Derrick Pierce, who got me all the motorcycle extras—it's tough to do a motorcycle movie without all your bikers—and my editor, Scott Allen, who basically took what I gave him and made magic, especially in the race scenes, because obviously, some of the guys can ride but they weren’t particularly racers, and he really built some of those race sequences up into what I thought were epic proportions. Some of the stunts we did, and all that stuff, that would have been a whole week of shooting in a [mainstream] movie, and we did it all in a number of hours, so some of the stuff was really put together well. Scott wasn't there [at the award show], and I didn't see his face so I forgot to thank him."
"As I said on stage, it's a team effort; it really is," he added. "I couldn't do it without most of my guys I've been working with for five or, some of them, ten years now, and it's that teamwork effort between me and François [Clousot], my cameraman, and Mark Nicholson, my producer, and the whole crew for that matter. It really all comes together because they're so obliging. I mean, for Speed, we were out there in the desert in the freezing cold until 2 in the morning, and then they have to pack up all that shit. I just really want to thank everyone who contributed to this project; they're the best."
Pictured: Armstrong with the cast of Speed at the 2011 AVN Awards.