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Age: McCoy, 42; Waugh, 41
Homebase: L.A.
Inspired by: McCoy cites Claude Lelouch (“Rendezvous” and “A Man and a Woman”) and “The Deer Hunter.”
Reps: Agent, Emile Gladstone (ICM); Lawyer, Stuart Rosenthal

Action filmmaking has become a game of constant one-upmanship, as directors compete to see who can pull off the biggest or craziest stunt. Usually, it’s the big-budget studio guys who win. However, on “Act of Valor,” co-directors Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh came up with an idea that outdoes even the sight of Tom Cruise dangling from the side of the Burj Khalifa: “A lot of scenes were shot with live ammunition,” McCoy says. “We were on the main cameras in the middle of the gunfights, in the live-fire scenarios in full body armor and full camouflage.”

According to Waugh, authenticity is the hallmark of the duo’s filmmaking style, and “Act of Valor” (an intense, independently financed combat movie made with the Navy’s blessing and the participation of real-life SEALs) serves as the ideal calling card for their Bandito Brothers production shingle.

“We are a brand that loves to tell human, heartfelt stories immersed in incredible action,” Waugh says. “We feel like Bandito Brothers is the Special Forces of filmmaking. We do things very efficiently and economically — as with a SEAL team, we like that collective idea.”

For “Act of Valor,” McCoy says their commitment to realism extended to involving military pros in staging the film’s visceral action scenes. “Our film is based on real stories that happened to real SEAL operators,” he says. “We felt like we could make a film that’s truly coming from an authentic perspective, instead of the overblown, Hollywood-ized CG action films that are out today.”

Former stuntmen with decades of on-the-job training from such films as “Spider-Man” and “Bad Boys II” to draw on, McCoy and Waugh established Bandito Brothers as a chance to create their own work, directing high-impact commercials for clients such as Hot Wheels, Electronic Arts and the U.S. Navy. Tackling feature work was a natural next step.

“We’ve spent our whole lives working as stuntmen and stunt coordinators,” McCoy says. “So we felt like we’ve had our Ph.D equivalent in film from the time we’ve had on set working with great directors. Now it’s time to apply our vision and go about it our own way.”

10 Directors to Watch
Zal Batmanglij |

Valerie Donzelli | Gareth Evans | Philippe Falardeau | Mike ‘Mouse’ McCoy & Scott Waugh | Gerardo Naranjo | Matt Piedmont | Michael R. Roskam | Lynn Shelton | Benh Zeitlin