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Our latest short film Rope A Dope will be premiering at the LA Indie Film Fest, come check it out! I’ll be there along with the producers and potentially the other cast and crew to answer questions afterward. I’ll throw in a live back flip for free if you show up.

When:

Wednesday August 21 @ 8:00pm

Where:

Let Live Theatre
916 N. Formosa Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Going South on Formosa from Santa Monica Blvd. it is the Blue Building at the end of the block. There is a 60 car parking lot that is on either side of the building feel free to park here. Additional street parking is available as well as parking in the Gateway Mall, home of Target.

Tickets:

Rope A Dope is in SHORTS PROGRAM 1
$10 online or $12 at the door

See ya there!

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The Stunt People and Action Pact Entertainment will be present at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Wednesday July 17th – Sunday July 21st
Booth #4015

We’ll also be showing our latest (and as of yet unreleased) short film Rope-A-Dope at the Superhero Ric Meyers’ Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza. R-a-D is currently running the festival circuit and there’s no telling when we’ll be able to put it online, so come check it out!

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Rope-A-Dope
Ric Meyers’ Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza
Thursday July 18 @ 8:00 PM
Room 6A

Filmmakers always want to know what goes down at the American Film Market. As I probably mentioned a few times, Death Grip attended AFM in 2011, and while the price of admission was steep, the learning experience more than paid for it. Stacey Parks of Film Specific recently interviewed us for her latest case study on AFM, and Death Grip‘s producer and co-star Rebecca Ahn gave a lot of insight into the current film market and how it impacts independent action films.

Today I’m going to introduce you to Rebecca Ahn and Eric Jacobus whom I worked with as private clients on their film Death Grip.  As you’ll see, even though Death Grip wasn’t finished by the time AFM rolled around, Rebecca and Eric decided to make the trip anyway (from San Francisco where they’re based) and see if they could start drumming up interest for their film.

Every year, hundreds of filmmakers show up on the AFM doorsteps with films in the post production stage in hopes of finding distribution interest for their films. But where I see most filmmakers fail is when they show up grossly unprepared – without the proper presentation materials and without any meetings set up… and as a result, most of them go home frustrated.

In this case study, you’ll see how Rebecca and Eric did things a bit differently by going in prepared…yet learned some very valuable lessons of what they could have even done better.

Enter Rebecca and Eric…

What is the name and log line of your film?

Death Grip

An Action Kickback film by Eric Jacobus, which takes Kenny Zemacus and his autistic brother Mark deep into the deadly world of the mysterious Coin of Judas and the murderous cult that will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.

What is the website for your film (if you have one)?  

www.DeathGripMovie.com

What is the budget (or budget range) of your film? 

In the end, we will have spent just over $100,000 to produce Death Grip.

What stage were you at with your film for AFM and what was your strategy and overall goal going in? 

We were in post-production on Death Grip when we attended AFM last year, so our goal going in was to find either interested distributors or at least a reputable sales agent to take on our film.

What did you do most to prepare for AFM? 

We did our research and identified several distributors and sales agents we thought would be a good fit for us and our film, then reached out and set up several meetings throughout the market. We then worked hard to put together a solid sales one-sheet with great cover art on one side, and cast & other important production info on the other. Since Death Grip was still in post-production, we didn’t have a final screener to take with us. So instead we took DVDs with the trailer and a few rough scenes from the film to show prospective distributors.

What were some of the obstacles you encountered (if any) and how did you overcome them? 

Our biggest obstacles came from the marketability and timing of our film. While the sales agents we met with at AFM seemed satisfied with our content, they continually expressed concern over whether we had adequate name talent. We hadn’t fully understood how singularly essential this one element can be to distributors, pretty much above all others, and this limited our ability to connect with some of the more established sales agents. In addition to that, we went to AFM while still in the early stages of post-production on Death Grip, which meant we didn’t have a polished looking product and our trailer wasn’t as strong as it could have been. This also hurt us in our AFM meetings, and though some sales agents were able to see past that to the film’s potential, we definitely would have made a stronger impression if we’d brought a completed screener, or at least an extremely solid trailer.

What were some of your biggest mistakes or wastes of time with regards to AFM? 

Going into AFM, we were still a bit fuzzy on the difference between a distributor and a sales agent. We realize now, looking back, that it was not as realistic to pursue deals directly from distributors there (especially not foreign) given the package of our particular film. So I do feel we wasted some of our time in contacting and pursuing distributors who would rarely give a film of our level their precious time. In the end, our conversations with sales agents were far more rewarding than those with direct distributors, so that is an area where we could have used our time more wisely.

What resources or tools did you find most helpful in preparing for and attending AFM? 

FilmSpecific.com was by far the most valuable resource for our AFM preparation, as well as for producing Death Grip in general. We were also fortunate to work with Stacey Parks on our marketing and distribution strategy. Beyond that, we just researched every site and resource on film markets and distribution we could find, and talked to everyone we knew who had been through it before. So we felt very well prepared going into AFM.

What was the outcome of your trip to AFM and did you accomplish your goals? 

At the end of the market, we left with a good number of positive leads from sales agents, which later developed into several full offers. Our hard work at AFM was rewarded, and we were able to compare and negotiate these offers and select the very best one for us. So in the end, we did indeed accomplish our goal, and now have our ideal sales agent WonderPhil representing Death Grip.

 If you had to do it all over again what would you do differently?

How you brand yourself is just as important as how you brand your film. Although we had prepared solid materials for our film, we didn’t focus enough on materials about ourselves – namely our business cards. We did have some on us, but they were hard to read and a bit outdated, since we made them for an older company. I sometimes wonder if we would have had more success had we brought more professional business cards with our current production company and roles.

Armed with these, we also might have had more courage to make more frequent introductions. We didn’t quite realize the importance of impromptu introductions until the end of the market, and therefore missed out on a good many additional opportunities. We had our schedule of meetings, but didn’t take as much initiative between them to pop in and introduce ourselves at other companies we hadn’t reached out to yet, but were still a potentially good fit. The few times we did do this, it lead to something more. So we left feeling like we could have done more there.

What are your next steps from here? 

We are proud to say we finally released Death Grip a few weeks ago with our own theatrical premiere, which was extremely well received and has already been earning numerous glowing reviews (http://deathgripmovie.com/press). It is also now available on DVD and Blu-Ray at our online store (http://stuntpeoplestore.bigcartel.com), where sales have really been taking off! So next, we will be working on building up more press, trying to get into a film festival or two, and helping our sales agent sell rights to more territories around the world. At the same time, we are also developing our next two projects, which we’ve gotten to the script stage and are now packaging with financing and cast. So it’s onward and upward for us!

Ric Meyers showed Death Grip at his kung fu movie panel, and I had the opportunity to meet James Lew before the panel. It was awesome. Though the crowd was an entirely different demographic than the one that attended our premiere, they laughed at all the same jokes. Afterward Ric had us all stand in front of a cheering audience.

All kinds of other awesome things happened too. Nathan met Eric Roberts, who signed a photo of him doing a stunt, sales were great, and I got to meet James Lew. Oh wait I said that already.

On day two of our Comic-Con 2012 visit, Darren Shahlavi stopped by the booth and remembered me from contact him on Facebook. I gave him a copy of Death Grip, and he spent an hour giving me the low-down on what it’s like being a “gwailo” (foreigner) in Hong Kong films. From his big debut as “Smith” in Tai Chi Chuen to his recent role as “Twister” in Ip Man 2, Darren’s been a force to be reckoned with on screen.

I mostly asked him about Ip Man 2 since it was his latest big gig. Darren had originally seen Donnie Yen in 1991 at a seminar in the UK. You can see Darren as a teenager in the clip, and from that moment he knew he would eventually work with Donnie one day. After almost two decades it happened in, and he said they flew him around promoting the film using the story of a young boy wanting to work with Donnie finally realizing his dream, with Donnie proudly telling everyone Darren was his student.

When it came to working with Donnie, Darren used the familiar term “incredible” in describing him and detailed moments like this:

“They’d have me run the choreography with a double, and Donnie would just sit there watching me. Then when it came time to shoot, he’d just get up and replace the double without any rehearsing.”

Darren would go home daily with bruises from the fight, since so much of Donnie’s choreography involved strikes to the limbs and chest and all that. “Plus I had been working out to get ripped for the fight anyway.” The fight with Donnie took ten days, which should give anyone who shoots action scenes Hong Kong-style some relief. So yes, Hong Kong takes a long time too. But they’re by no means slow. Sammo would dictate the shot style, lens, choreography, almost without any thought.

“I’ve never seen someone more in command of a film set than Sammo.”

 

Consistent with stories from other stunt folks like Cynthia Rothrock, Shahlavi detailed the “no-script” method of shooting in Hong Kong. Much of the English dialog was unservicable. Darren said,

“‘Guys, I can’t say this!’ So I started rewriting it there on the set, and they were ready to roll camera and here I am still writing the script on a piece of paper.”

Meeting Darren was no less than awesome. Here’s to a guy who made it into big Hong Kong films from just being a kid with a dream.

When we walked into the exhibit hall today to begin our Comic-Con 2012 adventure, the initial impression was: holy sh*t. Not only is Comic-Con bigger, but it’s louder, thicker, longer, and faster. Legendary is two hundred yards from us with a Dolby Surround system and a 130-inch LED TV near the ceiling playing every trailer since 2009, and Konami is around the corner with a booth that looks less like a booth and more like a castle.

The Stunt People exhibited the first day with an all-new booth design by Chelsea and Rebecca that drew a solid crowd. Sales were better than the last three years combined for preview night, when the exhibit hall opens for only three hours to a more select group of attendees who want to get in and buy the collectibles before the big crowd arrives on Thursday. The Stunt People banner is missing, so we’re showcasing the Action Pact Entertainment logo above the booth. People are less likely to assume we’re a stuntmen trade association this way. Once we get the SP banner we’ll put it in back above the TV for those who engage our booth.

Ric Meyers prepped me for his Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza panel with him tomorrow night, where I’ll be featuring some action from Death Grip. it. I probably shouldn’t tell you exactly what he said about the fights in Death Grip, but I can say that of the six or so other film snippets playing, Death Grip will be the last one for a reason.

We’re going to do our best to get into other people’s panels, including one with an appearance by Jackie Chan and the cast of Expendables 2. To be honest, there’s no way in high hell we’re going to get into these, let alone meet the stars, and least of all hand them a DVD. The fanfare at Comic-Con is utterly super-human. There’s still a line around the building waiting to see a cast appearance at the Twilight panel on Thursday, and get this: the line started on Monday. These kinds of waits are common, and we simply aren’t hardcore enough to do it. Plus, we’ve got a movie to sell, and so far people are really, really digging Death Grip.

Enjoy these pics from the show. We’re stoked about tomorrow, and we’ll post plenty more pics from then too!

Donnie Yen took a flight to New York very recently because he was invited to attend the yearly New York Asian Film Festival as a special guest for special showings of the 1993 kung fu action classic Iron Monkey as well as his recent hits SPL (aka Kill Zone), The Lost Bladesman and Wu Xia (aka Dragon). Since last Sunday Donnie has been present at the festival talking about his life, career, The Lost Bladesman and SPL, as well as answering questions from fans. He’s currently continuing to be present over there for interviews and Q&As with special showings of Iron Monkey and Wu Xia.

Check out footage of his interviews and Q&As for The Lost Bladesman and SPL below.

 

 

 

 

The premiere for Death Grip on June 30th, 2012 was a night I’ll never forget. Two years of solid labor suddenly morphed into something real and alive. The audience reaction was incredible. They got every joke (and a bunch of others, which I didn’t expect), screamed at the gore, and cheered after every fight scene. They ate up the DVDs and shirts, people said they wanted to invest, and we’re expecting a bunch of reviews to flow in soon.

And now I’d like to extend a thank you to everyone for making Death Grip happen.

Cast – The overwhelming response was that while the action still beat everyone’s expectations, the acting was the ultimate surprise. The most frequent comment I received was, “I came in expecting just some action movie, but it was like a real movie.” The cast did an incredible job at taking Death Grip far and above the schlocky action film genre and into a new ballpark. Johnny, Nathan, Chelsea, Shaun, Amberly, LaChe, Cynthia, and Sean, I wish you could have made it for the show, but due to a combination of prior engagements and leaky car batteries weren’t able to attend, and the audience missed you all.

Crew – The audience was convinced that Death Grip was made for a few million dollars. This is largely thanks to the efforts of our amazing crew that squeezed every bit of production value out of our budget as they could thanks to their superb grasp of the art form. Drew Daniels (DP), Brett Perry (composer), Brad Wagner (sound recordist), Phil Gorn (sales agent), Justine Jacob (legal), and Matteo Grilli (sound designer and mixer), we missed you all.

Donors – The overwhelming support of our donors helped us meet our budgetary needs and showed us that there’s plenty of hope for the independent genre film. Thank you all. We’ll be sending out donor packages this week, with a short delay for those who requested the Blu Ray upgrade.

Family – Our families gave us extra support when we needed it the most. From financial help to location services, the Jacobus, DeGregorio, and Ahn families were invaluable to the production.

Fans – To readers of this blog, members of The Stunt People Forum who have pushed me since day one, the Facebook community, our Press contacts, and all the other forums and blogs out there putting the word out, we couldn’t make a splash without your support. Many of you came from a long distance to see the show and it as a pleasure to see you all!

Friends – To all the good people who lent support whenever it was needed, from handing out fliers to pushing us on social networks to just bringing people to the show, we thank you!

Investors – To the executive producers who truly believed the independent action film could hold its own in the market, we hope (and expect) to make it worth your while in spades, setting a precedent with Death Grip.

Local BusinessesFlips N Flops Gymnastics, Tiger Claw, Arthur Freyer Lighting, Jonah Hendrickson, Petaluma Historical Museum, The Seasteading Institute, Ongaro & Sons, Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, Yusan Sushi, Arizmendi Bakery, Historic Bal Theatre, and Victory Warehouse were all instrumental in the making of this film. We feel an even stronger sense of community after your help, so thank you for making the Bay Area the perfect location for Death Grip.

Thanks to all of you, Death Grip is sure to make an impact. Now let’s see some reviews 😀

This weekend I spent about 48 hours finishing up the Death Grip behind-the-scenes featurette The Life of Death Grip, which clocked in at 75 minutes. I also finished authoring the DVD and the Blu Ray masters and shipped them off to Signature Media this morning. If all goes as planned, we’ll have 2000 DVDs and 1000 Blu Rays to sell at our June 30th Theatrical Premiere. We’ll also have shirts. And if you’re in California, please come to the premiere. You’ll like this film, I promise.

I made the cover art after I finished the BD and DVD masters, so I ended up squeezing more onto the discs than it actually says on the artwork itself! So here’s an updated list of special features:

Blu-Ray: Even though the printing company will only burn a single-layer Blu Ray disc, which limited us to about 2 hours of videos, this version still has its share of special features and I loaded it to the brim, utilizing almost all of the disc. All special features are in 1080p HD.

  • Full film in 1080p HD
  • Commentary with me and producer/co-star Rebecca Ahn
  • The Compound – a 13-minute short action film, from which we cut the old teaser for our IndieGOGO campaign to raise funds early on
  • A deleted fight with Johnny Yong Bosch, which was part of our IndieGOGO campaign
  • A deleted fight with Yun, which was reshot in favor of a longer fight
  • Bullet Time
  • Outtake Reel – 14 minutes of outtakes
  • Paper Pushers short film
  • 2 small Easter eggs

DVD: This one’s a dual-layer disc, meaning it holds twice as much information as a regular DVD, but like any DVD it’s in standard resolution instead of the ultra-crisp 1080p you get in the Blu-Ray version. I used 5mbps VBR 2-pass encoding, and the film codec we shot on has a lot of bit depth, so it still looks damned good. I loaded this disc to the brim and had almost no space to spare from the 8.5 gigabytes available.

  • The Life of Death Grip – This will be the reason people might choose the DVD over or in addition to the Blu Ray. It’s a 75-minute behind the scenes look at all aspects ofDeath Grip, from casting Johnny Yong Bosch to budgeting, location scouting, and tons of making-of footage for the fight scenes in the film. Includes interviews with Johnny and two more industry pros, J. J. Perry and Shahar Sorek.
  • The Compound (same as above)
  • Outtakes (same as above)
  • The Art of Throwing – All the throwing outtakes from the film
  • Commentary with me and Rebecca (same as above)
  • Deleted fight with Johnny (same as above)
  • Deleted fight with Yun (same as above)
  • Deleted scene at a sushi restaurant
  • Deleted scene with Mark
  • Deleted segment of the end fight, which made Kenny out to be a little too ruthless
  • Deleted segment of the care home, which gives away too much of the film
  • Alternate car scene, which was funnier than we wanted at that point in the movie
  • Paper Pushers
  • Bullet-Time
  • Easter egg

Now we wait for the printers to get the shrink-wrapped units to us while we make the soundtrack CD for the donors, print Death Grip shirts, print new retro SP shirts (the “Our Pain Is Your Pleasure” ones), and attempt to get 800 people to our premiere.

The DVDs and BDs will be for sale at The Stunt People Store on or around July 1st.