Your movie The Art of
Wushu - in a few words, what is it about?
On the surface, of course, it's a cheesy B-movie about occult shit,
monster brawls, smoking pot, Satanic rituals, gratuitous depictions of
murder... all that fun stuff. Deep down, however, I guess there's a bit
more going on: the younger generation gets thrown under the bus for the
mistakes of their ancestors – the increasing threat of which has
determined the course of their lives, as they are the ones who are
responsible for coming up with a solution before it's too late; issues of
gender roles and equality are subtly explored, as the female characters
are typically sacrificed in order to preserve the long-standing
pre-conceived ideals established by earlier generations of a
male-dominated culture; conservative-minded pot culture taboos are mocked
pretty unsparingly all throughout. Or maybe I'm just trying to make it
sound deeper than what it is: a cheesy, occult-themed horror movie about
monsters and demons who enjoy smoking weed while killing in the name of
Satan, and beating the shit out of each other in the woods.
Art of Wushu is a prequel to your movie Blackbags
- so did you create Meathead in that movie with this backstory in mind
from square one, or did you dream it up only at a later date?
was something I originally wanted to include in Blackbags, but didn't get
to shoot. The pacing wouldn't have worked for all the ideas I had, and, to
be truthful, I dragged my feet a lot making that movie. So I should
probably say I didn't get around to shooting this material. Until last
winter, that is, a few months after the Blackbags
members kept asking questions about the Meathead, so I decided to respond
with the The
Art of Wushu.
sources of inspiration when writing The
Art of Wushu?
This is probably going to sound a
little lame, but I always liked that ritualistic cult element in Halloween
5 and 6, explaining how Michael Myers was under some demonic curse or
whatever. I enjoyed every Halloween movie in their own little way, even
Halloween 3. So the Meathead is a bit of a nod to that. Anime, fighting
games, and Troma films heavily inspired the monster brawl between the
Meathead and the Jenk-Jenk Beast. I was beginning to plan for principal
photography when Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem screened at TIFF, and I was
kinda worried people would think I was trying to make something like that.
But that was totally not the case – even though I enjoyed Lords of Salem
and even though Zombie's career in general has been a significant
influence. My vision for The
Art of Wushu was inspired mostly by that Druidic cult
element from those Halloween
sequels, and doom metal, like Electric Wizard
and that kinda shit. And because Blackbags
was sort of an excuse to
showcase music from my various recording projects, mainly that of 13 Bags
of Dick (http://13bagsofdick.bandcamp.com/),
this project was a similar deal by extension. The title of the movie is
even a reference to one of those songs, which is diegetic music playing on
the car stereo during the final scene. Actually, all of the music in that
scene is by 13 Bags
What can you tell us about the
very specific look and feel of your movie?
Since this takes
place in the Blackbags
universe, I wanted to keep the look and feel
consistent. The other side of it is that I plan to mash the two together,
with some extra scenes and footage to bridge it all, then release that
officially as a feature. So it has to look at least somewhat consistent in
that regard as well.
You of course
have to talk about the demon masks and costumes for a bit, and what were
the inspirations for those?
I can't say enough how much Troma
has been an inspiration. Class of Nuke 'Em High, Sgt. Kabukiman...
gold. The live-action Guyver movie Mark Hamil had a small role in was a
childhood favorite, and has always stuck with me. I still have a copy of
that on VHS somewhere. Definitely The Story of
Ricky. I've always wanted
to shoot a crazy, earth-shattering fight scene with two massive beasts, or
mutants, or whatever, just slugging it out. I needed to beef up this story
a bit since I'd decided to shoot it as a stand-alone short, so I thought
of people I knew who were bigger than Dave (Kolenski, the starring
character), and came up with an abstract concept for the Jenk-Jenk Beast.
Named after our friend behind the mask, Spencer Jenkyns, we went through
some of his old Halloween costumes and found some masks at the local Value
Village, then brought the monster to life. I got the cult members' robes
from Value Village as well. That place is great when you're working on a
microbudget. Although, because we were shooting on a microbudget, there
were some more spectacular ideas in mind for the brawl – along the lines
of the movies I mentioned above – that we didn't get to pull off. Maybe
in the future.
What can you tell us about
your cast, and why exactly these people?
Dave Kolenski was cast
because, of course, it was a reprisal of his role from Blackbags. Spencer
Jenkyns is one of the biggest guys I know. He also has a decent range, a great
presence, is able to choreograph his own fight moves, and really gets into
the scene and his character. Liz Cleland and Alyssa Axeworthy were cast as
cult members 'cause they're all about Satan and shit, and Liz even wrote
her little monologue for the ritual scene. I met Torin Langen [Torin
Langen interview - click here] at a
Hamilton screening of his short Trash and had wanted to work with him
ever since. I asked if he'd be interested in making a small cameo
appearance as one of the cult members, and he was more than happy to.
Being the sister of Melissa Doctor from Blackbags, Cheryl Tate was brought
on by Dave as the female lead, Kelly Watermoon. Since she's Native, I
wanted to maintain that aesthetic consistency, and cast Robert Mukwaodayin
in the role of the brother, Kirk. Stu Keays (as their grandpa) is a great
character actor I know from a few other short films I was in, and had been
looking for an opportunity to work with him, as well. Alyssa and Robert
are known locally for having performed in a number of bands, so I thought
it would be an added bonus to feature some of my rock'n'roll friends,
considering music is a prominent element of the film. Bri Leeson (as the
hiker in the woods) was just a random casting based on someone's
recommendation, who turned out to be really enthusiastic, incredibly
dedicated, and surprisingly talented. Devin Bateson – a personal
acquaintance, and local comedian and writer with sketch comedy troupe
Aunt Francis – was one of the first people I thought of for the role of
the other random stoner, the Meathead's final victim of the movie. Albeit
small, I needed someone who could play a convincing and humorous pothead,
and I knew he would be great for it.
Do talk about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
are simulated, but the weed is real. Or is it the other way around? There
was always a fun vibe on set. We're all friends, or are familiar with each
other in some way, for the most part, so it was pretty casual. I'm not a
very demanding director either. I don't really have to be, 'cause
everyone, so far, seems to appreciate and respect why we're all getting
together to do this. Depending on what happens with the release and
special features and shit, you might get a chance to see some of the
horseplay that went on behind-the-scenes. We're a bunch of jackasses
sometimes. A lot of the time. Especially when there's dope being passed
$64-question of course, where can The
Art of Wushu be seen?
That's a good question. I
picked up the slack and went on an editing blitz to get it finished in
time for Darrel Marsh's local horror festival, Little Horrors, in June
2014. In regard to festivals, overall, I'm not going too crazy until the
big mash-up is finished. Then I'm going to hit the circuit real hard. I
was discussing another VHS split release with Torin, through his
production company, Candle Flame Films. Maybe that will happen this
summer, or something. I'm going to have a limited run of DVD's printed for
the premier, wherever that ends up being, but resources for distribution
are going to be largely devoted to the big mash-up version. I saw
Blackbags up on a streaming site, so maybe people will be able to find the
Wushu link through one of those, as well.
What can you tell us about
audience and critical reception of The
Art of Wushu so far?
Aside from Dave and
co-producer, Jay Winger, no-one's really seen it yet. I only just finished
it recently, but have sent the online screener to a few review sources and
friends overseas. (re)Search my Trash posted the first advance review.
Nikki Chatwin [Nikki Chatwin
interview - click here], of Sick Bunny
Films, had a chance to check it out and
seemed to dig it. He especially had good things to say about the music.
Any future projects you'd
like to share?
I've always got a few irons in the fire. The
Art of Wushu mash-up should be ready by the end of the year. I recently
scripted the first of a two-part live-action story arc based off a comic
book character Spencer and I have published, for which I'm aiming to begin
principal photography this winter. Winger has green-lit me to guest-direct
a couple episodes of his horror review web series The Host. Since last
summer, I've been seriously developing a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action
feature. I've got another three years of school left, though, and while I
was originally hoping to start shooting in 2015, I think I might have to
hold off until I graduate. In the meantime, I've just been carefully
crafting the story, characters, and world they occupy, and getting
together as many resources as possible. I've been eagerly awaiting the
warm weather so I can get to work on building the prop weapons. Ideally,
I'd like to shoot a little test video at the end of the season, just as an
excuse to demo them and give people a taste of what I have in store for
this project. There's always a lot of shit going on up here in my head,
but that's all I'm gonna talk about for now.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook,
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I own the Video McNasties domain name, but am lazy as fuck when it
comes to writing code and programming web sites and shit. So for now, it's
Facebook or nothin'...
Art of Wushu official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Art-Of-The-Wushu/307099222725381
official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VideoMcNasties
Anything else you are dying to mention
that I have merely forgotten to ask?
Nothing's coming to
mind. But that's a problem I suffer through often, so my apologies if I
forgot to plug someone or something. You will always have a special place
in my heart, nonetheless. Oh, yeah... check out Quiet Lakes on the
and support independent artists.
Thanks for the
Thank YOU for the interview. The pleasure was all mine.