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Christian Sesma's 'Every Last One of Them' isn't your average shoot-'em-up

November 4, 2021
3 min read time

In writer-director Christian Sesma's Every Last One of Them, ex-Black Ops soldier Jake Hunter, played by Paul Sloan, finds himself at the center of a revenge story as he desperately seeks to find his missing daughter.

Sesma was initially brought into the project after the script with a different title and premise was financed by 101 films. "They brought it to me and they said this original script felt too much like Rambo: First blood — it was just a standard shoot-'em-up. After reading the original idea, I saw a ton of room for character development. I really wanted to flesh out the story with the daughter."

To expand on what would end up as the script's A Story, Sesma says, "I really dove into the backstory, the flashbacks, the how and why it all happened; I wanted to make him a damaged character and a failed father. I felt it would really help add a layer to the script."

For Sesma, the project became a rewrite based on the already developed characters and established action pieces. "It tremendously changed from the original script to the final edit."

It's apparent in the quick-moving film that this movement likely translated directly from script to screen. Sesma details, "I really try to look at every project as its own living organism — each project has a zen of its own. If you try to get in the way of it, then you close doors that might lead to a better story; but, if you go into every project and harmonize with what it wants to be versus what I, as the writer, or I, as the director, want it to be, you give life to this organism. As the director, I see myself as the caretaker of that process."

The characters, especially the lead characters, in the film have full arcs with obvious purpose; each intricately connected to the film's inciting incident.

"It's a bit of a mantra regarding how I direct, but the page is just a foundation to the story; we have to play jazz music with the script to find what’s not there; to find the notes that are hidden in the character and in the story, itself. If we don't, then we’re missing opportunities. We are mining for the subtext of what’s there — asking the actors to find it; when they do, it really works to elevate the genre. I really wanted people to be surprised."

The film's dueling A stories are well balanced. "It wasn’t balanced before. I think the script found its balance when we decided to fully lean into the daughter's storyline. We had a lot of 11th-hour ideas that are going to have dire consequences to the story's payoff and arc. It was always [about] making sure it felt balanced."

Balance also comes from the film's consistent tempo. Sesma attributes that to the close relationship he maintains with the film's editor. "I worked with the same editor all the time and we have a process. He understands the story that we are trying to tell. He’ll do the initial assembly and say, 'x is falling flat' and that's when we really start to collaborate; we start to really craft and cut and polish."

In his writing process, Sesma does attribute his storytelling format to his understanding of Joseph Campbell's "The Hero's Journey". "It’s hopefully a little bit more of a film than a standard shooter; there’s subtext and character development and consequences and a clear understanding of where I wanted the characters' arcs to go."

Sesma finishes, "you have to have a map of where you're going when you write, but where the characters end up depends on how you develop them."

Every Last One of Them is currently in theaters, on-demand, and digital.

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