The Fighting Spirit Film Festival (@FSFilmFestival) recently featured our film Blindsided alongside Scott Adkins’ action-comedy Accident Man.

Blindsided won Best Short at the 2017 Fighting Spirit Film Fest. Thank you Soo Cole for featuring our film, and Hardeep Mahal and Scott Adkins for the Twitter love.

Clayton Barber and I spent a chunk of 2017 on the continuation of Blindsided entitled “Blindsided: The Game“. Stay tuned for release details.

Today we’re releasing our new short film Blindsided, an exciting event not only for marking the third film of the JB Productions franchise, the first 2 being the Rope A Dope series, but also for representing a turning point for this humble stuntman, who started a stunt career in 2001 as a do-it-all-because-I-have-to filmmaker, wearing all hats, and proceeding to shed one hat after the other through various projects, until the moment of finding himself working alongside an incredible team that functions like a fine camera. Whatever role I might have played in Blindsided, all credit is owed to the following people:

The director, Clayton Barber, also my business partner and mentor, introduced me to storytelling with Save The Cat, a huge help in not only creating story but understanding the tradition of the feature film format. Clayton’s ability to find good story has been responsible for all our great short films. His inspiration helped create the Blindsided script, and his direction is why I was able to deliver any lines whatsoever. He always reminded me of who Walter Cooke was. Thank you, Clayton.

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David No is a fantastic stuntman and veteran filmmaker, but he demonstrated his producer skills by putting Blindsided together in ways I’ll never understand. He actually has two phones, one for each ear, one for dealing with shooting locations falling through, and one for everything else. I’m not sure he sleeps either. His deep understanding of martial arts cinema of the world ensured every level of the production would produce a quality action film in the end. David set an example for the team by demonstrating that there was no ego on this shoot, as he dedicated himself solely to producing and shooting, from shooting and editing the initial pre-viz to producing the post-production process, even doing some color and editing himself.

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Roger Yuan, a veteran stuntman and actor, was so good to us to lend us his time as a performer, but he topped it off by coming to every pre-viz session to create the choreography that would end up on camera. Roger helped craft Walter’s movements and it was an honor to work with someone who knew cinema like Roger did. My favorite piece of advice from Roger was, “Smooth is fast.” It calmed my nerves when using the wiley blind cane, which I knew nothing about up until the moment we rolled cameras. While shooting Roger made performing a simple task, always finding the truth of the scene and never walking over anybody, even though he fills huge shoes and has decades of experience on most of us.

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Nicholas Verdi, also a stuntman, and filmmaker, made himself available to not only play the villain Nico but also to act as director of photography. He brought a classic sentiment to the shooting style, often running behind the camera to check lighting when necessary, then running back in front to do his scene. Nick’s a hell of an actor, and as anyone knows, a fight scene needs two players. This performer looks only as good as the people around him, and Nick sold every second.

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Khalid Ghajji, also a stuntman, is a world class breakdancer, boxer, and basically the ideal martial artist, cast in the role of one of Nico’s gangsters. We learned this in China working on Heart of a Champion, when in 4 days of his final fight scene Khalid made zero mistakes. In an alternate universe, Khalid would be doing windmills and 540s in the Blindsided fight scene. But in this world, he was given a character who loses his knife and grabs a broken skateboard, and he perfected it. If you gave Khalid a popsicle stick and two broken legs, he would perfect that. That’s what it means to be a perfect stuntman. Shitty stuntmen do 540s when they’re armed with popsicle sticks.

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Brett Sheerin, also a stuntman, originally came on as a stand-in for shooting pre-viz, but when the other performer couldn’t commit to the part, Brett was an obvious choice since he had already recreated the part from the ground up. When he owned it, he perfected it and began innovating, finding new ideas everywhere, and always being a pro. Brett was also expecting the delivery of his second child during the last day of shooting but he never let that break his focus.

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Steffen Schmidt, our composer, a professional, sat through a dozen arduous meetings where we would tear apart the latest draft of his soundtrack and often leave nothing but scraps. In the end Steffen became the ultimate composer because he never rushed anything and instead let the music find the film, first by creating the perfect theme song, and then with Clayton’s input letting that theme song drive the rest of the soundtrack. Steffen created magic.

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Johnny Marshall, our sound designer, took the final cut and score, locked himself in a cave or some catacombs in the middle of the planet for a couple weeks, and emerged with the final sound design, with every punch and kick sound perfectly tuned, all dialog mysteriously “frontal”, and all mixed so you could enjoy it in a theater or on an iPhone in a crowded subway car. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone doing this on the first draft before. Can someone confirm that Johnny Marshall is actually human?

Tim Connolly, a veteran stuntman, not only has the most epic beard of any man, but is also the kindest tough guy on the planet. Tim lent us all his equipment, including his cameras and sound gear, and even operated B camera for the entire shoot. I liked throwing jabs at Tim because he’s a nice guy. Then I’d run away because he’s 6’2 and kicks like Van Damme. Thanks Tim, you’re so rad.

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“Hippie Frank” Frank Strick, veteran of the film industry, is one of those guys you hire to play a part, in this case the “bum”, but when you realize how gifted he is with people and the production process you hire him to do whatever’s left undone. By the end of the shoot he was running the set, taking notes on a piece of cardboard he found, calling the shot list, keeping schedule, always treating everybody with respect, and at the same time never to be disrespected. Faced with an extremely limited schedule during the second day of the fight scene, Frank’s attitude and work ethic allowed us to finish with hours to spare. People like Frank are nothing short of superheroes who fix all your problems, and after it’s all done they vanish to do cool things.

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Pete Antico, yet ANOTHER veteran stuntman (there are more stuntmen in this project than people on screen), sports the most expensive outfit in the shoot, thus effectively donating $500 to the budget. Acting with Pete was like being in an improv troupe. Every take was different. As the editor I would have hated him for that, but the takes always got better, and the final take was always magic thanks to Pete. It’s an honor to act with a man like Pete.

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Walter Raineri, our blind consultant and real-life action hero, is the man I train with in the end credits of Blindsided. Walter’s insight into how the blind perceive the world not only crafted the script and performance but gave me some real-life insight that I’ll never forget. Grant Corvin was generous enough to help out for the day I met real-life Walter and filmed the entire meeting. It will make for a great behind-the-scenes video in the near future.

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Renae Moneymaker, a stuntwoman, originally acted in the liquor store scene, but the scene was a late addition, and though her performance was perfect and charming, the scene wasn’t right for the final cut. She’s a world class stuntwoman and she should at least throw a kick next time. Or fight with a popsicle stick.

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Laura Aika Tanimoto, the art director, pulled off a genius move that I didn’t notice until I watched the dailies. There’s an upside-down painting in Walter’s apartment that’s clearly visible when he’s rolling dice. That was Laura’s doing. She envisioned the Walter character trying to fit in with the sighted world and doing his best by buying art and accidentally framing it the wrong way. An art director who knows the character knows the entire film. Laura was also instrumental in crafting the pie scene. During the fight scene, Laura and her assistant Daniel Alverado were always ready during the fight with extra blind canes, some lighter than others, some with the sections taped together, and some with knives embedded.

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Sharon Zhang, our wardrobe pro, had a vision from the beginning of Walter and created what you now see. Costuming is a nightmare, but Sharon makes it look easy because she’s so good at it. She even painted Walter’s shoes. Twice. That’s crazy.

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Jair Holguin was our script supervisor. I never understood the need for this role, until I underwent the hell of syncing external audio and picking shots for the edit and received Jair’s notes transcribed in a spreadsheet, complete with shot and take numbers, file numbers for video, file numbers for audio, and detailed information about every shot that he gleaned from random notes thrown around by Clayton, David, Nick, and myself. I thank you Jair for shaving off hours hacking off days of work in the post-production process because of your work.

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Parker Amberg, our assistant camera, is a prodigy. David would point to something he needed, but before he could mouth the words Parker would have it in his hand. Parker’s like a hitman you bring onto a shoot to annihilate 10 hours of work in no time and save you huge headaches.

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Karen Pang, hair and makeup, and a fitness model to boot who makes an appearance as the jogger, made us look sexy. That’s not hard with someone like Nicholas Verdi, but for me it’s a monumental undertaking usually reserved for people armed with pruning shears and die grinders. Entrusting the entirety of that task to Karen was a wise decision. Thus, everyone looks sexy in Blindsided.

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Don Le, our co-producer, was instrumental in getting the project going from the start. Don’s got that “first push” way about him, where once he gets the cart moving, you better run after it because it’ll finish without you.

Nate Votran, behind the scenes camera operator and stills photographer, followed us around for 5 days documenting everything. He even loaned us his equipment. His attitude is fantastic and I can’t wait to show what he filmed.

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Andrew Lewis, our colorist, slaved away for weeks trying to mask the insane lighting discrepancies of the outdoor scenes. I have no idea how coloring works, but I know when it doesn’t work, and that’s when people notice things. Don’t know how you did it, Andrew, but you did.

Zach Chamberlain, another stuntman, did our on-site sound recording. The sound came out fantastic. Thanks for all the hard work, Zach. Special thanks to Christina Connolly for coming out and filling in when Zach was booked.

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Master Andre Lima was extremely generous in allowing us the use of his Lima Taekwondo schools. Master Lima is a TKD extraordinaire and his story is inspirational. At lunch he told us, simply, “Show up on time, do your work, and you will succeed.” (Having a phenomenal work ethic like his helps too.)

Gil Sanabria, our titlist who also did titles for Rope A Dope, never disappoints and always gets things done super fast.

Jenna Tower, key art photographer, shoots magic. Sometimes she has to shoot schlubs like me, but she makes the best of it and snapped the coolest poster photo of all time.

Kenny Sheard, another freaking stuntman, came and helped pre-viz the action and brought his awesome attitude and epic beard. Kenny claims to be new at stunts but we all think he might have been making action films during his military tour.

Edward Kahana, the last stuntman in this post I swear, dedicated his time to helping create Walter’s style during pre-vizzing sessions in the park. Ed’s good at coming up with choreography ideas, and we happened on a bunch, about 2% of which ended up in the film. That’s not bad! Ed is a dear friend of mine and was the best man at my wedding, and he’s an amazing griller, but most of all he’s been instrumental all of my projects since 2003.

Allen Quindiagan, another stuntman (I lied, there’s more) and production assistant, made time to come and help with the shoot. Allen also dedicated tons of time to some of my side projects and is busting his ass daily as a stuntman in LA.

John Adams, composer of the “Q’s Blues” song playing in the background of the liquor store, stole my heart with his track. I’m a closet jazz fan.

Many thanks to Rafael, Carmine, and Ralph Santos of Grace United Methodist Church in Long Beach for granting us use of their parking lot on such short notice.

Thank you Ron Stehler, Paul Tek, and Nick Nipha of Wine Mess Liquors for being so cool and letting us take over your store for a day and even come in for reshoots.

Cold Steel was kind enough to sponsor our knives, which were fake.

Eone was kind enough to sponsor the blind watch, which was real.

Tasha Day and Emily Scott of Long Beach for helping with putting production on track, Luke Lafontaine for your knife expertise, 87eleven Action Design for loaning out props, David Hoang, Nam Luong, Park Pantry, Don and Cindy Stokes for your constantly accommodating me in my many trips to LA, my wife Chiara for her love and support and watching 72 drafts of this film, and the families of all involved.

Special thanks to the following folks who contributed subtitles:

Arabic – Sari Sabella
Chinese – Grace Wang (thanks also to Pete Lee)
Dutch – Elwin Rijken
French – DL MacDonald & Michèle Wienecke
German – Alvin Vojic
Greek – Manos -The Bro- Kipouros
Indonesian – Dave Christian
Italian – Zak Lee Guarnaccia
Japanese – Ian Erickson
Norsk – Andreas Vasshaug
Polish – Uzi
Portuguese – Helton Carvalho
Russian – Rustic Bodomov
Spanish – Dario Susman
Swedish – Christoffer Frank
Tagalog – Joey Min
Thai – Boripat D
Turkish – Tanay Genco Ulgen
Urdu – Nick Khan
Vietnamese – Lee Entertainment

And thank you Kan Shimozawa, Daiei, and Shintaro Katsu and for creating the iconic Japanese underdog Zatoichi and Phillip Noice and Rutger Hauer for Blind Fury. Your work will forever inspire us.

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Now for the film!

It’s still January but California-based stuntman Eric Jacobus has already had a very busy 2017. From promoting his new short Blindsided and writing the feature film adaptation to working as a motion capture stuntman for numerous video games, Jacobus had momentarily stepped away from the Tekken IRL series. In his Armor King IRL video, Jacobus polled his YouTube subscribers, whose numbers recently surpassed 50,000, asking them which character they’d like him to reenact next.

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The fans spoke, so Jacobus gave them what they wanted.

Jacobus notes on his YouTube page that Devil Jin’s movelist has some real-world origins but is mostly a mishmash of Karate techniques.

Devil Jin’s movelist is built off Jin’s Tekken 3 movelist utilizing Mishima-Style Karate, which is shared by Kazuya, Heihachi, Jinpachi, and a few other characters. According to the Tekken Wikia, DJ’s movelist has elements of Shito-Ryu, though it seems like more a general amalgamation of Karate elements with its front-stance punches and abundance of front kicks, plus all the laser beam attacks. It’s be a stretch to say Devil Jin’s style is applicable in real-world situations, though the fundamentals of his basic attacks definitely have their place, as do most of his throws.

Jacobus added another poll to this Tekken video asking users who they want to see next. Make sure you turn on annotations and vote to tell him which one you want.

Back in 2003, Chelsea Steffensen and I embarked on our first feature film endeavor, a film he wrote called Immortal. We shot for three months under the sun in a Redding summer and one month in a freezing winter, encountered dozens of injuries, and finished the thing five years later. You can still buy the DVD at The Stunt People Store, but we’ve now made it publicly available because, hey, we just want you to see it. We went through so much pain to make this damn movie; I busted my eye socket and knocked myself out falling through a floor, Gavin got heat sickness, Chelsea broke his nose and big toe, we took on a haunted building for two weeks to make the end fight, and everyone got kicked in the nuts at least a dozen times.

We hope you enjoy this film. It’s all heart, kind of goofy, kind of serious, but the action’s still great.

If you like it, the DVD’s loaded with special features, including a hilarious commentary track where we get drunk and make fun of the film. Buy it here: http://stuntpeoplestore.bigcartel.com/product/immortal-dvd

Shaun Finney has released his second installment of Beast Mode, a reel of the latest indie action from across the globe, set to a rad song. If you’re new to the indie action world, then this is a great place to start.

The Stunt People Forum is also a great gathering place for indie action teams. Just go to the Independent Alley section to get your daily fix. Also be sure to check out Beast Mode 1, which is a similar compilation but of badass Hong Kong film clips.

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.

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.