Summit Entertainment releases Snitch nationwide on February 22nd, 2013.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you find the right balance between entertaining the audience and provoking them intellectually?
Ric Roman Waugh: The movies that I want to make are the ones that you come out of the picture and you are entertained, but you’re also asking questions about a world that you didn’t know about before, and about what you would do in that situation. I never want to hit you over the head with my biased opinion. I’m not looking to paint a picture of my own interpretation. I want to put the audience on the 50-yard line and let you take your own interpretation. When the movie’s over, you might say, “You know what? If you’re in the drug world, this is what you get.” Or might go to the opposite end of the spectrum and say, “How could people with drug trafficking charges be doing more time than for child molestation, rape or manslaughter? What the hell is wrong with our country if that’s what the war on drugs is doing? My job is not to sway you one way or the other; it’s to take you into a world with a lot of moral ambiguity, a lot of grey, and let you form your own opinion. Let people form a discussion about what to do about things. I want my movies to be relevant enough that you may not be from that world, but you understand who these characters are and can relate to the perils and pressure that they’re under. At the same time, I come from the stock world and making these huge action movies and commercials, so I want to entertain the audience as well. Hopefully, I’m going to be making movies like Argo.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that the average American is conditioned into looking at the world in black-and-white?
RRW: I think that it’s even further than that because the black-and-white narrative in our country has become fluorescent white and jet black. It’s so painted to the left and to the right that everybody completely forgets what happens in the middle. It’s happening in our politics and in mainstream America. The public is feeding that frenzy, and that’s what I don’t want to be about. I want to be in the middle. Journalism is supposed to be about taking it down the middle and letting everybody have a discussion about what is right and what is wrong.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging is it for you to come up with a title for your films?
RRW: It’s tough because you’re trying to do two things with a title: to speak to what the thematic thread of the movie is, and to try to get people to see it in theaters. There’s a commerce side to it and a creative side. When I had first heard this story, the original script was always called Snitch, and the first thing that I said to everybody was, “You can’t have this movie say ‘Snitch.’ I know this world really well. I just did Felon. People aren’t going to go see a movie called Snitch unless it’s called Rat Bastard." It was a running joke. The more I did research, the more I realized that I couldn’t call it anything but Snitch because what we’re trying to show is that “snitch” is a dirty word. This movie has to be about where the art of snitching is less about someone ratting out someone else and more about “the lying game.” If you look at the original Frontline article that Snitch came from, so many DA agents and US attorneys called the informants “the liar’s club.”
NYC MOVIE GURU: If you were to re-cast Dwayne Johnson's role with an old-time actor, whom would you choose?
RRW: Paul Newman.