Your upcoming webseries Karma Klub - in a few words, what is
who beat up boys who beat up girls
Even if this might sound like a stupid
question, what made you want to do a webseries with domestic violence as
its core topic?
an exboyfriend broke into my apartment in the middle of the night and
attacked me. When I tried to call the police he ripped the phone of my
hands and smashed it on the ground. I barely escaped, in my pjs, to a
neighbor's house. The screaming woke him up, and he was already by the
door when I was pounding on it. My ex was gone before the police
arrived, but charges were pressed. The city's attorney's office
cut a deal with him, gave him a small fine and a year's worth of
counseling. He didn't spend a minute in jail, he was never charged with
breaking and entering or vandalism. As it turns out, you can hit a
current or former domestic partner with impunity the first few times,
but a stranger on the street? That, the law considers a real problem.
While I healed up, I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be great if
one of my martial artists friends beat him for me?" My
friend, former WWE developmental wrestler Jennifer Thomas was there for
me at the time, and the idea bloomed. Although no ex's have been harmed
in the making of the project.
How did the project fall together in the
Jennifer and I developed the concepts, naturally we bounced ideas off of
our friends. Nearly everyone thought it was great idea, and wanted to
get involved. Also, nearly every women we spoke with shared her own
experiences with domestic violence. And not just women either. One of my
male friends recently escaped a dangerous and frightening woman. Welcome
to feminism, where women can be violent against men too. This isn't just
a women's issue, even if it appears that way at first glance.
What were your sources of inspiration when
writing Karma Klub?
Klub is a series, and its been inspired by countless, heart breaking
stories of the people we know. I don't know how much we can change the
world with a TV series, but everyone involved is ready, willing and able
to use our collective voices to bring this issue out of the darkness and
maybe make a little difference in the world. Change
has been happening, but slowly. You wouldn't believe the stories from
previous generations, where women were asked what they did to provoke a
beating, or worse, accused of beating themselves for attention or revenge.
Women just weren't believed when they did speak out, and men? They
couldn't speak out at all. They've been completely stifled.
Tara training with Jennifer Thomas
From the looks of it, Karma
Klub seems to feature quite a bit of action - so what have you planned
in that department?
premise of professional female fighters tracking down domestic violence
abusers requires a whole lot of action. To be clear, we aren't
advocating that women in abusive relationships should beat up their
boyfriends. That doesn't work for dozens of reasons.
far as the action goes, the cast that we have attached (and will
expanded as we go) already features highly skilled actors with extensive
backgrounds in martial arts, wrestling, and various styles. Each role is
tailored to the actor playing it, which we feel brings out the best
possible collaboration. Because
we have such skilled performers, there's no need for unrealistic
choreography for shaky cam work to hide the flaws. Our cast is expert
level in fight skills. Crystal Santos [Crystal
Santos interview - click here], for example, has been inducted
into Martial Arts Halls of Fame all over the world, and is currently
featured as a weapon's expert on El Rey Network's Man at
Arms with Danny Trejio.
Basone is another phenomenally skilled actor. She appears in every
season of the original GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of
premiered in the 80s. She has continued to hone her skills since then,
and has wrestled professionally all over the world.
co-creator, Jennifer Thomas, has wrestled some of the biggest names in
wrestling, although she's far too modest to brag about it. She was
chosen for WWE developmental program, and they sent her overseas to
wrestle too. She was also trained by my buddy Al Snow, who worked with
me on Legend of
the Red Reaper.
Do talk about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
is a three part equation. Part 1 is making sure the actors and fight
choreography convey the desired tone. I wish I could have done a little
more with that in the trailer. Because it's part of a grant competition,
we only had 2 weeks to shoot and edit and a two minute trailer time
limit. I regret not being able to add in a few more telling details, and
feature the actors in a stronger light. There are so many nuances to the
series, and so many themes to be explored, we just couldn't fit it all
in. The series will do a better job of that.
Part 2 is directing the camera in the best ways to show, rather than tell,
the important pieces. The camera sees things so differently than the
human eye. In that respect, I use a lot of POV shots. You can see an
example of that in the trailer where Jeanne clothline's the camera. POVs
have an entirely different impact to the viewer than showing the action
in a wide shot. There's a time and place for a wide shot, and you can
only include them when you have extremely talented performers involved.
Fortunately, we have that. Again, with Jeanne, you can see her deliver
that stomach stomp expertly in the wide shot in the trailer, as just one
3 is the edit. I wouldn't have a clue how to direct something if I
didn't already see how I wanted it cut together. On larger budget
projects there can be story boards. One day I'd like to have those too,
but for now, because I am also an editor, I know how I like action to be
cut. I'm a fan of Jackie Chan's style of editing, where you cut on the
impact, and then in the subsequent clip, back it up a few frames to show
the impact again. You can see that when Jennifer, who plays
"Karma", kicks the bad guy in the final fight sequence. She
really delivered that kick, and our stunt guy, Vince, really took that
hit. That's something common to martial arts movies that they don't do
so much of in other projects.
You also appear in front
of the camera in Karma Klub, right? So what can you tell us about
your character, how do you prepare for your role, and what will you draw
upon to bring her to life?
character is a washed up action actress, with only movie fight training
who got beat up by her ex. When she misses a wrestling engagement with
Karma, Karma shows up to find her with a limp, a black eye, and a tall
tale about falling down a flight of stairs in her one story apartment.
Karma sees potential in her, helps her through her injuries, and slowly
introduces the underground Karma Klub ring to my character.
every series creator that works both sides the camera, the character
will be a version of myself, and as you've already surmised, based on my
real life experiences. One of the delays in bringing this project to
life has been my own health issues. I was diagnosed with cancer last
summer, and had to undergo extensive surgery. There have been some
complications, and it has made it impossible to train, either in martial
arts, or even just going to the gym. For that reason my preparations
have more to do with healing, much like my character. Fortunately, it's
been extremely healing just to have something positive, like Karma
to focus on.
What can you tell us about
the rest of your cast, and why exactly those people?
addition to my co-creator, Jennifer, Jeanne and Crystal, we've also
teamed up with producer and actress Esther Goodstein. She's produced
dozens of features, and I met her on the set of Spreading Darkness, a
feature I star in, and she produces. Esther is also an incredibly
partner who is great at not just managing a set, but managing me as
the trailer shoot, we were lucky enough to get Gary Graham, Rena Riffel [Rena
Riffel interview - click here] and Dominique Swain, all of whom are heavy hitters in the industry. I
worked with Gary a few years back on a TV pilot, we've remained friends
ever since. Of course you know him from Star Trek: Enterprise and
Alien Nation. Rena and I worked together on Spreading Darkness too, and she's
famous for Showgirls and Mulholland Drive. And of course Dominique Swain
played the title role of Lolita, against Jeremy Irons, and John
Travolta's daughter in Face/Off.
probably noticed comic book legend George Perez [George
Perez interview - click here] in the trailer too. For
those who don't know him, he's famous for drawing Wonder Woman and many
of the other classic comic book heroines. George penciled for both
Marvel and DC and most recently for
BOOM! It was an honor to shoot in
his studio where many of the most iconic comic covers and characters
made it from fantasy to page. A humbling honor.
initial cast brings an enormous amount of experience to the table, which
is imperative for success on a small project project with big dreams and
at what stage is your production presently?
trailer, which we hope you will watch (over and over again) is part of a
competition for the Canadian Independent Production Fund -
competition ends March 31st, and the trailer performs well, as judged by
views, comments, thumbs up and subscribers, we move on to a short round
two, which mostly involves paperwork. We will know by July if we've
received funding or not.
and beyond a web series, our end goal is to pitch this to networks, Netflix,
Hulu and Amazon Prime as a viable original content series.
are also currently in talks for sponsorship with a well known makeup
brand, and some martial arts themed paraphernalia as well as an energy
drink. So if you see the Karma Klub leaving lipstick stains of cans of
energy drinks, in between ass kickings - you'll know why :)
And when and where can it be
seen once finished?
is platform A. We intend to release short 10 minute episodes there, but
also utilize our output deal with Amazon Prime to release longer format
versions the episodes. Both will be free to the viewer, but ad
supported, and thus recoup for our investors.
Any future projects beyond Karma
attached to a few movies and a TV pilot coming up, but let's save that for
Your/your series' website, Facebook, YouTube,
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
send EVERYONE to our trailer first. That's what will help us win the
can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
covered it all :)
Thanks for the
Thank you again Mike! So lovely to chat with you!!!