Monday, November 21, 2011

Why on EARTH Did I Make a Movie?

Danielle Dubois, Stephen Spielberg, Melantha Blackthorne

I must have been on drugs.

It was at a time when I was curious about the process of producing a film. And I had a little extra money. But my good friend Kevin Woodhouse had a script for a Martial Arts flick. Entitled, “The Order of One”, it would be very much grind house- style (unfortunately a few years before Tarantino made that cool again), low budget…just lots of action with very little plot and some breasts for good measure (breasts…measure…get it? Never mind) It’s about a sacred sword that gives whoever holds it great, unbeatable, super-natural power. Everyone wants it- various criminal factions and a nasty crime lord. Stephen Harper would have wanted it too if only he’d known. I think he was unavailable for the days we were shooting. I am pretty sure. But basically, the film was aimed at 19 year olds who are completely baked in their basements (ok, their mothers’ basements) wanting a laugh between pizza deliveries on a Friday night. Oh, and to see people getting the crap kicked out of them in all sorts of exciting ways. And breasts. Did I mention breasts?

We had a good critical mass of people to work on it. Jason Cavalier, an actor and Montreal-based martial artist and stunt man was keen to direct the action and play the lead role of Sonny, an escaped convict. I was studying Martial Arts in Oakville, Ontario, and had the honour of working with the amazing Grand Master Hung Chul Kim- a 9th degree Tae Kwon Do Black Belt (I think you can only be awarded 10th degree posthumously…) and Master Harrison Chan, a stunningly superb martial artist (and 5th degree Master) who had just finished a 6-week training camp in Korea. He was very buff- and dazzling in his skill. Truly, it’s hard to miss when you do fight sequences with people of this caliber. They were quite happy to be the “bad guys”, and speak in Korean to each other. No martial-arts film would be complete without subtitles. Jason was quite delighted to have these experts to choreograph. Everyone (myself included) had at least a black belt in some kind of Martial Art. I, of course did the suitably-retro soundtrack, which I hope to have out soon. I also did a guest appearance as a drug-addled, perverted, strip-club owner. Frankly, it wasn’t much of a leap for me- although I am always worried about becoming type-cast.

It was tongue in cheek, 70’s retro silly. I bought 2 old clunker cars, goofy fancy-coloured clothing and several thousand dollars worth of fake gunshot hits. When you have no real money to make a movie, you can’t afford to take yourself seriously. Lots of fights, car chases, falling off buildings (nice to have a professional stuntman as your lead actor/action director), fake blood and a cast who were really great sports about it all. Wonderful people, all. Everyone understood what we were making and that it was, in essence, an homage to Sonny Chiba and his tacky 1970’s exploitation flicks- right down to the metal strips in Jason’s armbands. And for good measure, Jason (who edited it along with his scream-queen partner, the bodacious Melantha Blackthorne) added cartoon bubbles over the more memorable executions, such as “skull destruction fist”, or “eyeball destruction”. Kind of like when Batman hit a bad guy and “POW” would come up on the screen. No, “Gone With the Wind” it ain’t. But it’s a lot more fun. And to top it off, part of the fun of doing it was that the production itself something of a family affair- Kevin's wife, Danielle Dubois (pictured above) was a gun-totin' Siren as well as an occasional sound-person, full time makeup, effects and wardrobe person (blame those outfits on her) and craft girl among a zillion other jobs. I have nothing but good things to say about her muffins. Melantha, who filmed most of it,  is Jason's real-life partner. Very incestuous. OK, not really. But sort of.

I travelled extensively to try and sell the thing. I discovered that there are plenty of folks who will take your movie into their stable of films, give you nothing for it and promise you that you won’t make a dime from it.  It’s amazing how many people will actually  still “sell” their film to outfits like this.  And to be fair, the usual distributors of even low-end fare really didn’t know what to make of something like “Order of One”. The ubiquitous presence of Youtube was still a ways off and its populist, folksy mindset had yet to take hold.  Indeed, it was hard to imagine the crazy shit that some people really like to watch-  as we now know thanks to the aforementioned Youtube. Indeed, I thought our crazy shit was no crazier- and a lot more entertaining – than most. We even had a coveted midnight showing at the 2006 Fantasia Film Festival and a number of excellent reviews.  But sadly, our little film fell into the cracks.

Alas, as in every story there is a hero. Julian Grant, a good friend and film maker with more artistic integrity than just about anyone else I have known, called me up and said he had found someone who might put out “Order of One”.  His name was (and still is) Warren Croyle, of Chemical Burn Entertainment, and specializes in selling these kinds of flicks. WARNING OF PIMPAGE!!!! BUY IT HERE: (

So this fall, “Order of One: Kung-Fu Killing Spree” hit the streets. (Yes…marketing required an adjustment to the title) The reviews were generally excellent- particularly by those who “get” this type of film:

I honestly can’t recommend this flick enough. I know I have a reputation for intentionally watching/ loving bad films, but that’s not the case at all with ORDER OF ONE. I legitimately loved the shit out of it. It’s the perfect amount of batshit crazy and over-the-top action.

(That’s from

If you are expecting a multi-million dollar extravaganza, you will be disappointed. One reviewer (and seriously, only one) was scathing in his critique:

This film is nothing more than idiotic, mindless, silly, brain dead exploitation. The direction is shoddy, the script is pathetic, and the production value is non-existent.

We’ll try and be more inclusive and culturally sensitive next time. At least he did say this:
If I have to say something positive about the movie I think I would commend the fair amount of people in the film who obviously had some sort of martial arts experience, as they seemed to know what they were doing

“..some sort of martial arts experience…” You are too kind.  And you, dear reviewer, obviously have an exceptionally small penis.

Anyway, judge for yourself if you wish. (About the film, not that guy’s penis…) This is, indeed, a shameless plug for “Order of One- Kung Fu Killing Spree” and do keep in mind that I still have a kid in college, OK?