Joe Carnahan doesn't apologize for his unpolished debut, Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane, so much as explain it. "This movie was designed to get me a gig directing a Hanson video. It was, Why do I want to go in there with a short film when I can use the exact same amount of money and show them I can do an entire narrative film?" Carnahan, a burly 29-year-old Sacramento native with no prior industry connections, not only directed Blood, Guts (for $7300) but also wrote it, edited it, and starred in it as a sleazy, fast-talking used-car salesman. "I didn't want to look around and have someone else to blame."
Carnahan's charming spin on the shady-deals-gone-bad genre, which was released last week, has gotten mixed reviews, but he has taken the poundings like Entertainment Weekly's F-rated critique with admirable grace. "I would much prefer an F to a C, which is so milquetoast." Having started the movie in 1996, he feels somewhat removed from the film's fate. "It's the end of the ride. I'm standing at the dock, the boat is pulling away, I'm waving. And I'm on to the next bit of business."
Blood, Guts has certainly functioned well as a calling card. A year after selling the film to Lions Gate, Carnahan has a two-picture writing deal with Warner Bros.; a pilot with NBC; and a script, Narc, he's more than ready to start shooting. "It's a very brutal, not funny Detroit cop flick. It has nothing to do with Blood, Guts. I don't want to be pigeonholed as the guy who does Tarantino-esque things." A devotee of Serpico, The French Connection, and Prince of the City, Carnahan has high hopes and a casting wish-list that starts with Don Cheadle and Nick Nolte. "If this comes out the way I want it to, every cop film after will be judged against it. It may sound stupid or conceited, but why would you want anything less? If good things miraculous things can happen from a bunch of guys just wanting to do a movie, why not go for it?"
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