Friday, November 6, 2009

New Video: All About the Elbows

Here's a short scene I just edited together. It's got something to do with elbows.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New scene - Captain Zorikh Runs the Gauntlet

The "running of the gauntlet" that I did in the rehearsal inspired me to create this scene in the movie. It is a pivotal moment in the story. I believe that sometimes there is not just one pivotal moment, an experience has to be reinforced by successive events to truly make a long-lasting impact. This scene occurs immediately afte another pivotal experience.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NYC Submission Shootout 9/20/09, part 2

Here's the rest of the NYC Submission Shootout for me, oncew again, my presence was sponsored by the Big Apple Comic-Con.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NYC Submission Shootout Sept. 2009 part 1

Well, I went back to the NYC Submission shootout and competed again. I did about the same as last time, although I fought four matches instead of three. Here's the first one...

The rest of the day will be coming soon!

My participation in this event was sponsored by the Big Apple Comic-Con which explains the graphic at the beginning and end of the video, and the large green t-shirt that I am wearing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

About a certain grappling party

For various reasons it looks like I will not be going back to that monthly grappling party for the foreseeable future. This is a shame, because I have had a lot of fun there, and cast part of my movie with my friends from there and people I have met there.

I am proud to have been a part of this party and the activities surrounding it since before the beginning, and have enjoyed much of it. I love each and every person I have met there and worked with regarding it.

I hope to keep in touch with you all, and hope to see you and have you as part of my future endeavors.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Heck of a weekend!

We shot the "Captain Zorikh plays a gig" scene at an actual gig at Otto's Shrunken Head. Then we showed the Tag-Team match at the bi-monthly Movie Madness Sunday at the same place.

The gig was a glorious trainwreck. I had wanted to form a band entirely of fighters from the movie, but some of them were not available, and some of those that were had a hard time getting to rehearsals. I needed to have a good gender ratio to match the theme of the movie, but it seems to be difficult to find rockabilly keyboardists and drummers in this town.

Finally, between people I have worked with, people I knew, people from the movie, and some last-minute networking with Frank Wood outside Otto's Shrunken Head, I wound up with a band, using the "Death Star Repairmen" name, consisting of myself on vocals, guitar, and harmonica, Eli Maniscalco on bass, Avery Man and Nicole Giunta on Saxophone, Isaac Everett and Amanda Tree on keyboards, Grace on drums, and Becca Hasselbrook on cajon. The entire band got a grand total of about 15 minutes of rehearsal as a unit before hitting the stage at Otto's.

Everything was late. We were the first band for the night. The house keyboard was locked up, the mikes were not out, the gig booker was late, the house manager was not present, and there was no one there to see us yet. Fortunately the camea people were there.

We got everything set up. The cameras were ready, audience arrived, more audience were hooked in from the other room, the band got on stage, and we blasted away, almost fully unencumbered by excessive preparation. The crowd was into it, the cameras were rolling, and we got through the two songs twice.

The camera crew consisted of Evelyn, M. Green, Matt Rosen, and Fred Smith.

After the set I hung out with Patrick Devaney of "Zombie Hunters" and several others, including Lou Nogueira, the "Guru" of the Underground Team in the movie. We had a rip-roaring time discussing making movies,and more, until we all crawled home.

After having avoided alcohol for two weeks to prep my voice for the gig, it was good to drink again.

Then on Sunday we screened the Tag Team match in two parts as well as "Zombie Hunters, Episode 6."

Though the turnout was lighter than in previous screenings, it was enthusiastic. We even drew in a few people from the bar who were not aware of the screening at first. It went very well. The Tag Team match got the desired reaction from the crowd. They were with the action all the way through. When Kristi-Lynn spun Doug on her shoulders, they cheered. When Big Vince proposed, the laughed with the hones guffaw of the recognition of the absurdity of the situation. When Captain Zorikh hit the mat, they cheered. And the applause at the end felt like genuine enthusiasm.

the screening was sponsored in part by the Big Apple Comic-Con, October 16-18 in NYC.

This all inspires me the keep on working, keep on digging, and get this movie done!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tag Team Match part 2

When last we left our heroes, Vince was struggling with commitment issues, both on the mat and in his relationship with Kristi. Lady Lee had dominated her two matches in the tournament, GA and Derek were still seeking their first victories of the day, and Captain Zorikh was facing his first tag-team match. And will the guru of the Underground team and the Trainer of the Legit team ever meet on the mat?

I have been experimenting with the London Bus Stop version of "Get it On, Bang a Gong" and the Ry Cooder soundtrack music. Please comment and let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Help this project! Buy my posters!

I am raising more funds to finish off this movie by selling off some things that I no longer need, some pieces of my life that I am leaving behind. I used to collect posters. At every comic convention, every free giveaway, every movie premiere, if they were giving away posters, I would take some. Some had been given to me as gifts, some I even sought out and bought. But now they are just taking up space, cluttering up my room, and not doing me any good. I don't have the wall space for them, and besides, I'm not a kid anymore.

So who wants about 300 posters from the 1980's up to today? Mostly they are movie posters, sci-fi and fantasy, although some of them are for comics, books, games, sports, art, music, and I even have a few that have the World Trade Center in them. I don't have the time to put them all up on E-Bay, so I will accept any reasonable offer, so long as you either come to pick them up or pay for shipping.

You can see photos of them all at My Photobucket Site

Below is the list of what's available:

Movies & TV
300 DVD (3)
Alien Raiders (small) (3)
Alien Raiders (4)
Apollo 13 (2)
Babylon II (2)
Beowulf (2)
Black Dahlia
Blade Runner- National College Preview (2)
Blade Trinity 1
Blade Trinity 2
Boogeyman (2)
Braveheart weapons
China O'Brien 2
The Core
Cutthroat Island
Daredevil – Ben Afleck
Daredevil – Bullseye (2)
Daredevil - Elektra (2)
Daredevil – Kingpin (2)
Darkman (3)
Dead Presidents
Deadly Spawn (6)
Death Prof & Planet Terror/Death Proof (2)
Death Proof & Planet Terror/Machete (2)
Doomsday (2)
Dragons – Animal Planet (William Stout)
Eight Legged Freaks (3)
El Cantante
Escape From L.A.
E.T. 20th Anniversary (5)
The Exorcist (remake)
Fanboys (6)
Final Destination 2 (2)
The Fourth Protocol (3)
Ghost Ship
Golden Compass
Grant Morrison's MBX (online animated)
Harry Potter Soundtrack
Hellboy (small) (2)
Hellboy (big)
Hellboy II
Hell's Beacon (signed)
Highlander/The Cutoff (Karate International) (2 sided)
House of the Dead (2)
The hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney)
Indiana Jones (4)
Into the West – TNT (2 sides) (2)
Iron Man (launching) (2)
Iron Man (4)
Iron Man (2)
Jackass 2
The Jacket (2)
James Scott (audio play)
Jurassic Park – The Lost World (2)
Kill Bill (3)
Kull the Conqueror (3)
LifeForce (9)
Lord of the Rings – Two Towers (small) (2)
Lord of the Rings – Two Towers (big)
Lord of the Rings – Return of the King – Gandalf
Lord of the Rings – Return of the King - Frodo
Master and Commander (2)
Master & Commande (2 sided) (2)
McHale's Navy (4)
Millenium Actress (2)
Mongol (59)
Mr. Ed Salad Bar – Nick at Night
Ninja Babes from Space (2)
One Piece (2)
Pathfinder (2)
Perfect Creature (2)
Punisher 2004 (Skull) (2)
Punisher 2004 (Thomas Jane) (3)
Punisher War Zone
Red Planet
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (2)
Remo Williams: The First Adventure (6)
Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (7)
The Rock
Rollerball (remake) (3)
Sci-fi Channel (2)
Scorpion King (8)
Seeing Red
Silence of the Lambs
The Sixth Day (3)
Slacker Cats
Slayer (3)
Stardust (2)
Stargate - Ark of Truth
Star Trek Nemesis (4)
Star Trek 2008
Star Wars – Revenge of the Brick
Star Wars – The Phantom Menace – Taco Bell 1 of 4 (with coupons)
Star Wars – The Phantom Menace – Taco Bell 2 of 4 (with coupons)
Star Wars – The Phantom Menace – Taco Bell 3 of 4 (with coupons)
Sweeny Todd – Depp (2)
Sweeny Todd – Depp & Carter (2)
Tales of the Broken Moon
Timeline (3)
To the Devil – A Daughter (2)
Tomb Raider soundtrack
Tomorrow Never Dies
The Tune (singed & personalized by Bill Plympton)
Transformers (2)
Twilight (2)
Underworld (2)
Urban Legends - Final Cut
War of the Wizards (11)
War of the Worlds
Watchmen - Silk Specter (5)
Watchmen – Comedian (2)
What About Bob
X-Men (2)
X-2 (3)

America Film Market 1989
America Film Market 1990
New York International Independent Film and Video Festival 2005 (2)

It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues

Hatter: The Looking Glass Wars - (2)
Star Wars – Legacy of the Force
Tigerheart (Peter David) (2)
Waldenbooks Other Worlds Club

100% - Vertigo
2001 Nights (3)
Batman Adventures
Big Daddy Danger - DC
Black Dragon
Black Tiger
Chronicles of Sara
The Filth – Grant Morrison – Vertigo (2)
Helix Comics
Human Target - DC
JLA: Obsidian Age
Magnus Robot Fighter – Aklaim
A Man Called Ax – DC (3)
Marvel in Previews
More Than Mortal Sagas
Ninjak – Aklaim
The Pummeler
Savage Swod of Conan
Sin City
Spiral/Black God
Troublemakers - Aklaim
Turok - Aklaim
The Warrior's Way
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia – Original Universe
Warrior's Way
Will Eisner Tribute
WS: Eye of the Storm - Wildstorm
Zombie Loan/Alice on Deadlines

Big Apple Convention September 2005 10th Anniversary (Arthur Suydam) (3)
Big Apple Convention November 2007 (Brian Kong)
Big Apple Convention June 2008 (Michael Golden - Iron Man) (16)
Creation Convention National Tour 1983
MoCCA Art Fest 2005 (2)
Whitney Comic Art Show 1983

Computer Games
Asheron's Call (2 sides)
Dragon Age Origins (2 sides) (24)
Lair (3)
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Middle Earth – The White Hand
Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning (2 sides)

Non-Computer Games
Andromeda 2500
Dragon Quest
Kult – Illusion #1, 1994
Shadowstar Games
Sorcerer's Crusade
Who's Who Among Vampires – Children of the Inquisition

Batmobile 1950's
Justice League
JLA – Starro
Superman #14

Architecture calendar posters (2 different)
Architecture in Congrass 2000 - 1985
Cheshire Cat
Dragan Ilic
Dragan Ilic signed & numbered (1 of 100)
Excedrin 1
Excedrin 2
Wavertree ship in South Street Seaport
Heavy Metal (Royo)
Red Grooms Grand Central Terminal (signed & personalized)
Salute to Brasil 1979
Sagres – Portuguese ship
Sci-fi – Columbia House

Boxing - John Duddy vs. Dupre Strickland 5/18/2007
Boxing - Tyson - Holyfield 11/9/1996
Dr. J – Converse
Football Cards, uncut sheet
International Fight League
NASCAR Sprint Cup 2008
New Jersey Red Dogs Arena Football 1999
New York Knights Arena Football 1988 (3)
Pepsi-Gatorade (2 sided)
Tommy Moe-signed
USA Basketball “America's Team” 1992
Super Bowl XV – New Orleans

The Beatles First US Visit
Hudson River Revival 1986
Apocalygma Berzerk
Battery Cage
Bella Morte
Psyclon 9
System Syn

Cindy Crawford in fantasy armor - Pocari Sweat (Japan)
D-Day 50th Anniversary (3)
Famous Grouse “Henge” scroll
Famous Grouse map of Scottish whiskey distilleries
Head of Charles Regatta
“Marihuana” Warning
School of Visual Arts – Churchill & Eiffel Tower
School of Visual Arts – Imagination Birds
Stuyvesant Scroll
Taco Bell “80's, what a Decade” 1990 calendar
Timespell (Multi-media show in Watkins Glen, NY)
Tower Records book covers (2)
Tower Records calendar 1987 (3)
Tower Records calendar 1989

Most of the posters are in great shape, though some are a little battered from having been up on a wall or in transit.

If you are interested, contact me at or 917-865-1214

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Tag Team Match - Part 1

The tag team match was probably the most magical moment of the whole production process. Some of the matches had been carefully choreographed, some we pretty much "wung" on the fly, but everyone knew the order in which the matches were supposed to be, and the significance of each match. When it came time to shoot, and the performers began, there was no stopping them. They threw themselves into the scene with passion, energy, and commitment, and we just let it happen! Most of the footage you see here was from that one, 12-minute take (with three cameras). We did do some close-ups and pickups later, but in that one shot,I saw what can happen when preparation, passion, and enthusiasm all come together.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tournament Round 4 - The Climax

I have finally gotten to the climactic showdown between Captain Zorikh and his adversary, Lady Lee. I am very glad that I did as much editing on the other matches as I did before getting to this.

I took it in a slightly different direction this time. I wanted a different feel for this round, especially for the Big Showdown. I used flashbacks to help heighten the drama. I also used some Ry Cooder music from Streets of Fire (loved that movie!).

Yes, I have edited the end of the match, but you don't really think I'm going to give it all away right here,do you?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some more movies I should have watched before starting this project.

Bull Durham - Really good film technique, very good handling of the sports movie genre, its characters and tropes.

Run Fatboy Run - An excellent sports comedy about redemption that avoids the corny, unrealistic ending that Simon Peg's previous redemption movie, Sean of the Dead, fell into.

Never Back Down - Really not as bad as some folks have made it out to be. I especially liked the use of internet, video, and instant communication technology to advance the story.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Latest screening of "Redemption" footage a success!

Although the attendance of the "Redemption" cast was sparse, "Zombie Hunters" brought nearly 20 people to the "Movie Madness Hour" at Otto's Shrunken Head on Sunday.

This was the most satisfying film screening experience I have had so far. A bunch of people with no foreknowledge of the movie, and who may or may not have been fans of wrestling, grappling, or martial arts, gave all the right reactions at all the right points in the footage. They expressed amusement at Avery's identification with cartoon characters, laughed heartily at Vince's fear of commitment, gave a satisfying "ooh!" when Avery slammed Doug on the mat, appreciated the comedy of Kristi-Lynn's disqualification, and the resultant stop and restart of the tournament, and applauded entousiastically at the end of the tournament matches. Even the epilogue, the scene in the hallway between Vince and Kristi-Lynn, got the laughs and gasps in all the right places.

After a the decidedly mixed reactions that "Combat Twister" has been getting, this was very encouraging.

And in a completely unrelated note, there is a small bird clinging to the screen on my window.

Kimbo becomes a Role Model

So it seems that the second-biggest gimmick in mixed martial arts last year, Kimbo Slice, has joined the cast of "The Ultimate Fighter". In a report by Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, it is reported that Kimbo said "There might have been a little more money elsewhere in the short run, but I’m looking at the big picture, and this is the right move for me at the right time."

Here's a guy who got 10 million views on YouTube and was the face of a major national network's MMA show, until he got beat by a last-minute replacement fighter in 14 seconds. He had beaten Tank Abbot, had won his first few legit MMA fights, and could apparently played his notoriety up by continuing to tour the top-level MMA circuit, fighting carefully-picked, past-their-prime fighters, maybe even done some pro wrestling like Tank, Ken Shamrock, and Dan Severn did. But no, he puts him in with a class of young up-and-comers, essentially admitting he has a lot to learn.

This is a role model. Someone who has a dream, a goal, and follows it. Also it is a very shrewd move. By being this kind of role model, he makes himself a more appealing figure, which may also make him more marketable. A big, mean, scary guy who is a good example to youth (Mr. T anyone?).

I want to be that kind of role model. But do I have what it takes to do it?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Screening today at Otto's Shrunken Head

I edited down the "Getting to Know the Cast" video to a manageable 5+ minutes, added some music to Round 2, and will be screening those videos and Round 3 at "Captain Zorikh's Movie Madness" today at Otto's Shrunken Head.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tournament Round 3

Round three has proven to be the easiest round to edit. The fight choreography and footage available lent itself very easily to chapter breaks and cutaways.

In this round we have the "heavyweight match" between Bundy and Willis, Joe finding it tough going against Kamakaze, and Lady Lee taking on the tattooed Derek, with Captain Zorikh watching intently.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Apple Con Report

On Sunday, June 13, Redemption made its first major public appearance at the Big Apple Convention. Lee, Douglas, Kirkland, Avery, and Eric came to help, and they succeeded in selling 4 DVD's. Brimstone was also there and he took some disks to sell as well.

Thanks to all you of you for coming. Here's a picture of the crew. That's Diana with us also.

Romantic Comedy Soap Opera

This is the first "acting" scene without me that I have edited for the project. Kristi-Lynn was a very-last-minute replacement for a cast member who had not shown up for the last rehearsal and whom we thought we had lost forever. It turned out she had been called on an emergency trip for work to California without her cell phone or any way to contact me, which was a shame because she had created this character and had really great chemistry with Vince. I went through a mad emergency casting process and got very lucky in being able to confirm Kristi at 2:30 PM the afternoon before this shoot.

Kristi turned out to be a great addition to the cast. She is a boxer, wrestler, and stunt person who threw herself into the role. We gave her a crash course in grappling basics and immersed her in what the scene was supposed to be. I think she did a great job!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Round 2 is up!

Here's the rough cut of Round 2 of the tournament scene. No music this time, I'm hoping to get some new music from certain local musicians.

This is the video that was banned from the Grappler's Quest Facebook page!

The matches here are between Kirkland Campbell and Derrek Bolster, Vincent Gottschal and Kristi-Lynn, and Douglas Ahammer and Avery Man.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Week 7 - Meet the Cast video

Here is the second part of the Week 7 video, in which Captain Zorikh talks with the cast and gets to know them better. There is footage from various rehearsals, the movie itself, and other sources to illustrate what the various cast members are talking about.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grappling = Dance?

I just saw a program on Channel 13 (PBS) about Black Grace, a predominantly male dance troupe from New Zealand. The founder and leader of the troupe is a brilliant choreographer and in the program he was preparing the troupe for its appearance at the Jacob's Pillow dance festival.

I recognized the same passion I have for this movie project as he had for his dance project. He really wanted to say something with his dance. He really demanded dedication from the dancers.he really believed in the power and ability of dance to communicate feelings and ideas.

Watching this confirmed for me something that I had been thinking and feeling all along: grappling as a performance medium is dance. Through movement, two grapplers can cooperatively tell a story. The moves that they do, the choices that they make, the manner in which they do them, can all combine to make the audience read the relationship between the two of them. The match or scene can be one of comedy or drama or anger or pathos and pretty much anything else, if you just make the choice that that's what it's going to be.

I now have an idea of how to make a stage show using grappling as the performance medium. It would be similar to a pro wrestling shown in that every scene is a "fight scene," but I believe the stories that we can tell can be so much subtler that the typical WWE show.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Preview DVD available at Gladiator Martial Arts Awakening this Saturday!

Once again we step out of the production blog continuity to bring you an urgent update.

The "Martial Arts Madness" boys are holding another tournament at Kid Kelly's Gym in Brookly, I have been madly pulling together a "Preview DVD" to sell at the tournament. It's all ready now, 37 minutes and 18 seconds of video including the trailer, the Brimstone promo, Round 1 of the tournament scene, and a couple of chapters of the video production report. Hopefully I can sell a few of them to start making money on this project, which will them be plowed into further production and promotion.

You can see a description of the tournament at The Facebook Event Announcement

Week 11 Report

On Week # 11, everything came out in the wash.

The cast member who had problems with two other cast members had written himself into an agreement that prevented him from working with those cast members, and since I would lose four other cast members if I lost those two, and losing those particular cast members would disrupt the storylines that I had been building and fight routines that had been established, I decided that I would lot get rid of those two members. So he dropped out, and one other cast member went with him. The first of those two cast members who left was not so difficult to replace. In fact, I had pretty much already replaced him. He had been absent a lot lately, and Lou Nogueira had stepped in and been present on those days that he was out. Even when he was in, he had deferred to Lou a lot. The other cast member was tougher, as she was part of the "Romeo & Juliette" sub-plot I was writing in. But Nicole Giunta joined the cast in time for Week #11 and took over that role.

I also put out some casting notices and got a surprising level of response. I got experience competition grapplers and MMA fighters, Jerry Mendez had referred a few of his grappling and MMA friends, and I even got contacted by the former Israeli Pro Wrestling champion and the agent of Brimstone, a well-known indie pro wrestler.

I had invited these people to come to a particular "underground wrestling party" in Manhattan as well as the rest of the cast, and got a great turnout! the cast members were able to get a sense of the scene that I was coming from with this movie, and I was able to see these potential new cast members in action.

So on Saturday I had 6 potential new cast members lined up (including Nicole). Lou and I put them through some paces with the cast, and then I conferred with the cast as to who would get which role. In the end we were able to use each and every one of them to fill a hole in the cast.

Specifically, we needed to cast a new Tybalt. Stephen showed in his wrestling the kind of desperate fury that I thought such a character would have. We needed a new trainer for the "Legit" team. Bret showed the legit credibility such a role required. We needed three referees and someone to fill a hole in the "Legit" team. WE had the auditioners improv refereeing three different matches (this also gave three pairs of wrestlers the opportunity to practice their routines under performance conditions). After this we were able to select a head referee. Looking at the cast, I decided that the other referees would be supplied by the two teams, and that they would start off the tag team match.

Together with Willis, Oscar, and Yusif, the three of us some days earlier had set all the matches for the tournament and the tag-team match that we were to shoot on the 25th. I told everyone in the cast what those final matchups were and the order in which their fights would go, and set them to working on their routines.

When that work was done, we gathered up the mats, the "Underground" team, the cameraman, and the PA's, and headed up to Tagine, where we shot the "Underground Fight Party" scene. The three preliminary fights there (Vincent vs. GA, Bundy vs. Kamikaze, and Sandra vs. Lee) were all well prepared, with only my match with Yousif someone improvised (I have found myself so busy doing everything else it takes to make a movie that I have had precious little time to actually work on my own fights. Note to self: don;t let that happen in the future). Lou proved invaluable, giving us good grappling advice. He also was able to do his trick whereby he caught an orange thrown at him while blindfolded. Jeremy Salig manned the camera, and Debra PA'd with great dexterity and sensitivity.

Tomorrow we shoot the scenes where Captain Zorikh first comes to train with the "Legit" team.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Screening today!

Confession: This blog is several weeks behind. I had intended to report on all the work as it happened, but working on the projectgot in the way of reporting on it. As did my new job.

So today I will depart from the regular chronology and announce WE ARE HAVING A SCREENING TODAY!

At Otto's Shrunken Head, I will be screening an advance sneak preview trailer/short video of the movie. Be there! htt://, along with a cupcake tasting from Red Velvet Heaven

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Week 10 Report

When I originally conceived this project, I had envisioned that I would have been done shooting in March. Then I looked at how many weekend there were things I wanted to do with the cast to help and promote the project, including going to grappling tournaments and comic book conventions. I also had the idea that we would need a few extra weeks to really work and hone the routines. So I thought that this week, April 11 would be a good day to shoot. A closer inspection of the date revealed that this was the week after I-Con, and I had too much going on at I-Con to miss it, and we would definitely need a week after I-Con for a "dress rehearsal."

However, some drama occurred that meant that this was not to be. A large and significant portion of the cast participated in a martial arts tournament on week #7. This was cool, I thought, as it would give the cast martial arts cred and be a great promotional opportunity. The following week, however, not a single member of that portion of the cast showed up at rehearsal.

It turns out that there was a bit of internal dissension in the group, and some members no longer wanted to work with other members, and my project was stuck in the middle. I had to have lengthy phone conversations and in-person meetings to find out what was going on. In the end I had to make the very difficult choice of who to let go and who to keep, because I was not going to be able to have everyone in that group work together.

So in week 10 six cast members I would have lost if I had followed the woitshes of one other cast member returned to the production. I had a talk with them, along with one other cast member who was close to the one. When I reported the results of the meeting to the one member later, he decided to withdraw, and the one other member went with him.

But in the meantime we had to continue working on the movie.

I focused on continuing to build routines, and I am very pleased with some of the results we are getting. Kirkland and Dan have built a "wrestling vs. kung fu grappling" routine that is quite interesting. Kat and Vince have built a wonderful romantic comedy storyline. And Bundy and I have a spectacular routine for the tag-tam match. I am getting concerned, though, because I am having to spend so much time directing and producing and writing that I am not having any time to train.

Oh yeah, I was able to distribute the Sprawl shorts and shirts to the cast members who needed them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brimstone supports "Redemption"

Last week I posted a casting call to fill a few openings in the cast that the course of attrition and a few minor dramas over an 11 week rehearsal process had left. Also, I needed to cast a few referees.

The response to this was astounding. Where were all these people three months ago when I started? I got calls from real hardcore MMA guys, ten year competition veterans, high-ranking martial artists, and an Israeli pro wrestling champion. I also got a call from Brimstone, an indie pro wrestler of some renown who offered to do a celebrity cameo.

We shot the cameo on Sunday, It was the scene where Captain Zorikh gets the contact information for the legit martial arts team that he will join. It was shot outside Otto's Shrunken Head with Frank Wood. Brimstone was also kind enough to shoot the following promo:

Cool, huh?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Some thoughts about sports, martial arts, and gender

The origins of this movie lie in the activities I used to do with a female wrestling team that made videos, competed in legit tournaments, performed in night clubs and fetish parties, and did wrestling sessions. I loved the diversity of activity we were able to do with the same skill set: submission grappling. As a long-time supporter of Equal Rights, I also was pleased that we happened to be demonstrating that women could be every bit as hard-working, aggressive, and competitive as men when it came to sports.

By the time I started this project as it is now, however, I was no longer working with that group, so I had to hold an open casting call. Through this casting call, and other casting calls I have made for female martial artists, wrestlers, and grapplers, I have found that most female martial artists who are also actors are more into the kicking and punching and "cardio" martial arts than the grappling arts. Upon reflection, whenever I have gone to grappling trainings or tournaments, there have always been very few women, and very few of those had any interest in show biz.

I recently recalled how when I was trying to help start a legit women's grappling school, research showed that while female participation in sports and martial arts has been skyrocketing lately, the slowest-growing field is wrestling.

Since I started making this movie, and even back when I was making "Combat Twister," I have run up against the perception that what I am making is a "catfight" or fetish video.

Yes, I have made wrestling fetish videos, both as a producer and a performer. No, I am not a wrestling fetishist. While I can tell how someone would find two women wrestling sexy, it's not what gets me aroused. I am more interested in the drama and skill of the fight, and I appreciate it when comedy is well integrated into the match.

The original version of this movie was going to be for the fetish market, but as I thought more about the movie, and the dramatic and comedic potential of the story, the more I thought it did not have to be strictly a fetish movie. And when I realized that I was not going to be making it with the original people that I had been working with, any pretense that it would be served to that market went away for me.

The whole premise of the movie is about how a man learns how to actually stick with an activity until he develops a skill he can be proud of, and the gains the courage to face his adversaries regardless of the potential outcome. It just so happened that the activity that inspired this movie was submission grappling, and the adversary in question was a fetish wrestling goddess. So in order to make this story work, I had to create a world in which men and women have the opportunity to compete on the same level in submission grappling. This, inadvertently, allowed me to express the idea that when you are training and competing to be the best you can be at what you do, you should not limit yourself to competing against only one gender.

I like this idea very much. I have lived with this idea as a part of my life. And now, as a writer, producer and director, I have a chance to make it come to life. But the realities of the grappling world and show biz are making it a challenge to realize that vision.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week 9 Report

Several of the cast members who had been absent the past two weeks returned, but several key members did not. Tony, who had been with us the first two weeks, returned, and brought with him Manuela, a new addition to the cast.

We worked on routines through the entire rehearsal. We figured out how Kat would spin and throw Yousif. Kirkland and Dan fount the completion of their match. GA and Vince figured out how they would do a move I had wanted GE at do since I saw his "Osirus" videos: a flying triangle. Bundy and I worked on our routine, which will have some spectacular stuff in it. And Sam and Lou continued to provide good advice and training.

A few key people were not there, though. I am starting to get concerned about the attrition rate among the cast. I expected a few people to drop out for various reasons. One woman dropped out early because she was concerned about injury. Another dropped out because she was concerned that too many people would think this was a fetish video and she had to think about her career. Another woman dropped out because she thought the "darkness" in this movie would affect her. And yet another female cast member had a pretty horrible family tragedy strike. And now a few cast members are saying the don't want to work with each other. I am certainly going to have to get to the bottom of this.

Hopefully I won't have to have another casting call. I love this cast. Their unique personality and chemistry has informed and inspired my vision for this movie so much, I can't imagine what I would do if I had to replace too many of them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Week 8 Report

For some strange reason, all the people from Martial Arts Madness failed to show up today, so I was not able to do all of what I wanted. Instead we learned a new sequence of guard pass, submission attempt, and counter, divided up the group available into the two teams, and discussed costuming.

Then we set up another improv scene, in which we rehashed "Captain Zorikh challenging the Adversary" that we had done two weeks before. This time I had Joseph Jordan stand in for CZ, and GA West and John B. Thierse played the "mentor" character. Lee Boria played the Adversary again. I had the cast run through the scene twice, and make different choices each time.

It was amazing how uncomfortable I felt watching someone play myself and watching myself be abused and made fun of. When I heard Bundy and Kamikaze shout "Captain Dork," and saw Joe stutter and stammer his way through his challenge, I was taken back to some of my less pleasurable moments in school and summer camp. That's when I knew that this movie has potential. We are not just punk kids half-assing grappling technique and fooling around, we are making a movie that people will be able to relate to, that they will respond to.

And that's what this is all about, isn't it?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Week 7 video Part 1

Here is some video from week 7. This was the week that Sam and his team of Martial Arts Madness fighters were competing at a mixed martial arts tournament. So with a smaller cast of attendees, and with Lou Nogueira leading the training, we learned a new sequence and continued working routines.

Stay tuned, because in the next video, we will finally learn a little bit about the cast members themselves.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Location, location, location...

So it looks like we have almost all the locations we need for the movie in the works, if not locked down.

I just spent a few minutes chatting with Sensei Louis A. Ruiz of Goshin Ryu Traditional Shotokan Karate-Do. He has said that we could use his dojo for shooting the scenes of the "legit" grappling team.

A friend of mine who works in a warehouse in Brooklyn has agreed to let me use that space for the big tournament scene, and Lou Nogueira has said we could use his mats. However, bringing those mats down here would be a task so...

Lou has offered that we use his dojo in Connecticut to shoot the tournament scene. I will be visiting it soon to check it out.

Tagine has agreed to let us use its basement for the "Underground party," I just have to come up with a certain amount of money to pay for food for the cast and crew that they would provide.

The "wrestling room" in the LGBT Center is available for a very affordable rate, and we can use that for one or two important scenes.

I still need to nail down a weightlifting gym for a couple of shots and I would like to use a bar around the corner for one scene, but I can adapt with both of those locations.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Videos from Week 6, talk and improvs

Here is the talk I gave to the cast when I handed out the story breakdown. I explained the story and why it is important to have a believable Adversary for the Hero.

So I divided up the cast into two teams and gave them instruction that would lead them to enact a composite scene combining several elements of the story.

Here was the first team to preform their improv, made up mostly of pro wrestlers with Lee Boria as the Adversary, Jonathan Rodriguez standing in for Captain Zorikh, and GA West as the Mentor-to-be.

And then the second team went on, made up mostly of Sammy's team of mixed martial artists and the kung fu class I had recruited on Week 2. Elizabeth Vergara plays the Adversary, Douglas Ahammer stands in for Captain Zorikh, and Sam plays the Mentor-to-be.

These performances allowed me to see new aspects of the story that I had not considered, and showed me what aspects do not work. It was also instrumental in helping me cast the role of the adversary, and decide that the final tournament would be a match between two teams, not three.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Week # 7 Report

Well, Sammy and his crew were off competing in their mixed martial arts tournament in Brooklyn, and for some reason, all but one of the New Epic Wrestlers were also absent, so turnout was a little light. This gave us a chance to give more personal attention to the folks who were there, and for Lou to put his expertise to work.

We learned a new grappling sequence, then set those who were there into their pairs to practice their routines. We ran the routines and Lou and I critiqued them.

While the routines were being practiced I spoke with Vince about his subplot with Kat. I think this has the potential to be a great piece of romantic comic relief for the movie.

Then I sat the cast down and had them talk, one by one, about why they were involved in the movie, what it, and grappling, meant to them, and what kind of a grappler, and character, they saw themselves in the movie. This was very, very enlightening. It gave me a quantum leap in my view of what this movie could be.

Then some of us went down to Kid Kelly's gym where the tournament was taking place. It ran a lot longer than we had expected, so some of the haste we took in getting there was wasted haste in getting there, in which a couple of cast members did not make it.

But once there, we saw an enthusiastic display of amateur martial arts prowess. You can see the video of Sammy winning his main event bout in an earlier post.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Video from Week # 6: Zorikh Talks to the Cast

In this video, I speak to the cast about what the movie is about, how you need to have a real downer to make the uplifting believable, and the need for the right person to play the Adversary. In the end I set up the cast into two groups to improv a very important scene.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Video from Week #5: grappling routines

Here's the video of the routines that we began choreographing, complete with a little thematically appropriate music to give it that extra "something"...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sammy Wins!

Sammy Vergara, trainer of the cast of "The Redemption of Captain Zorikh," along with a half-dozen of his crew that are also in the cast of the movie, competed in a mixed martial arts tournament yesterday.

Harol Coronado lost his match by a guillotine choke in the first round. Doug Ahammer and Jonathan Rodriguez fought each other, with Jonathan coming out the winner in a decision. Robert Rampersand lost his match by ground & pound. Edwin Echevarria and Stephen Plummer fought for three rounds to a draw. They were allowed one more round, which Stephen dominated for the win. Willi Cruz Jr. was forced to submit in the second round of his match.

But the highlight of the day was Sammy Vergara's match, the main event. In it he demolished his opponent, who stood a good head and shoulders above him and outweighed him by several dozen pounds, in less than 45 seconds of the first round. He knocked him out with a kick to the head, a difficult feat with the headgear all the fighters were wearing. It was easily the fastest, most exciting, and most emotional match of the day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Week #6 Report

This week we moved ahead. After learning a new takedown/submission/escape sequence, and having the cast members work on their competition routines, we did some group improvs.

I divided everyone, including the instructors, into two groups. I assigned each group a "Captain Zorikh" stand-in, an "adversary" and a "gatekeeper." I told them that the scene was set at an underground wrestling party where Captain Zorikh challenges the adversary. She accepts the challenge ad wipes the floor with him. Then the gatekeeper invites CZ to come train, if he wants to be taken seriously. in group A, a had all of the New Era wrestlers and several other cast members, as the party attendees, Lee Boria as the Adversary, G.A. West as the Gatekeeper, and Jonathan Rodriguez as the CZ stand-in. In group B, everyone else (mostly Sammy's crew, the Kung Fu kids, casting respondents, and the individuals I had personally invited) was the party attendees, Elizabeth Vergara played the Adversary, Sam as the Gatekeeper, and Douglas Ahammer as the CZ stand-in.

After a few questions, the cast took the ball and ran with it. They took the story and the action further than I had expected, and though they did misunderstand a direction or two (perhaps I was not clear enough in explaining myself) but by doing so, showed me stuff that I had not thought of.

I also handed out the story treatment of the movie to everyone, and explained to them a little bit more about where the movie came from, and what we were looking for as an Adversary for CZ.

This week also welcomes Lou Nogueira to the family. He will be acting in the film and assisting Sam with the training. Lou is a Judo, karate, and BJJ black belt, member of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and multi-time champion of several martial arts and grappling disciplines. You can see more about him at

Friday, March 13, 2009

Week #5 Report

Thsi week we began rehearsals in earnest. We divided the cast into pairs and had each pair work on choreographing a short routine. Then we sent each pair up "on stage" to perfrom their routine infront of all of us. After each routine the pairs were critiqued, and advised as to how to continue their work.

It was a great experience for everyone. I must say that with the help of Sammy and Willis we were able to put together some very interesting matches that were able to display the strengths of each individual as grapplers, and every team showed a great willingness and abiulity to work together. Some of the highlights included a lovely judo throw executed by Kirkland on Jonathan before a good technical match with several quality changes in momentum, Liz Vergara's openning fall before she skillfully won her bout against Yousif, a magnificent battle of leg-holds between Louis and Willis, Mitsuru's kung fu pose that was countered by Liz Hara's double-leg takedown, Sean and Robert's lengthy see-saw battle, and Kat and Vincent's romantic comedy match!

Next week we wil begin some acting improv work to help cast some of the more specific roles.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Week #4 Report

This week we introduced a bunch of wrestlers from New Epic Wrestling in the Bronx to the cast. I had met them at the last Grapple Den party and rolled with all of them in a handicap match. They have brought a wonderful spirit, energy, and willingness to perform to the production.

We added falls and takedowns to the curriculum. It has been interesting to see how the people with different physical backgrounds approach the rolls and falls. Some of the more acrobatic types really "hot dog" it, while the beginners welcome the step-by-step instruction it takes to get it right.

I find myself torn between the need of a director/producer to watch the cast work and the need of a performer to work with the cast. I must admit I am also easily seduced by the role of observer/director. I am going to have to take more training with Sammy outside these rehearsals to build my skills for the picture.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Week #4 - Captain Zorikh Runs the Gauntlet

After three weeks of making everyone else do work, I let the cast have a crack at me...

Saturday, February 28, 2009


The Long Island Meadery has agreed to supply us with a few bottles of their mead for a scene or two. It's great stuff! You can find out more about them at

Sprawl has also been kind enough to agree to supply us with a few sorts and shirts. Watch for them in our future videos.

Talking About Week #4

Captain Zorikh, Sammy Vergara, Lee Boria, and Willis Cruz Jr. talk about the project after the workshop on week #4.

NYC Submission Shootout - Matches #2 and #3

Here are the second and third matches that I fought at the NYC Submission Shootout. Though I did not win either one of them, I had fun adding music to the video...and competing as well ;)

Week #3 Video: Part 3 - Tag Team Match

At the end of the workshop in week #3, we lined up the attendees and held a tag-team match.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Week # 3 video, part 2

Some more video from week # 3, where we started to build routines.

Camera by Phil Fiumano of NY Rocks TV
Editing by Captain Zorikh

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wrokshop/rehearsal report, Week #4

We had a great workshop today. We worked on falls and takedowns, and then we did more cooperative choreography work.

We had a bunch of new wrestlers from New Era Wrestling join us,a nd they proved to be very good, able to pick up techniques fast and having some great physical skills of their own. The beginners in the cast made great strides and show real potential. There were a couple of folks from the auditions we were not too sure of to start with, but they have all shown marked improvement

At the end of the rehearsal, thanked everyone for all the hard work they had done for the past four weeks. I had the cast applaud themselves, and I was actually surprised by the length and passion of the applause. I really think that they are beliving in this project. Then I pointed out that they had been working hard but I hadn;t done much but watch them. Then I aske dwho was wondering when I would get into the action, and who wanted a piece of the Captain.

Then I ran a gauntlet, wrestling each and every member of the cast for 30 seconds or to submission or tag out. It was good to finally get some action after spending 4 weeks simply watching everybody (as a director must do). I realized after that that I need some more moves in my vocabulary, more physical strength, and better conditioning.

But it felt great to do it, and the entire cast was into it. At the end everybody was cheering and chanting my name. I shouted "Who wants to be in my movie!" and everybody enthusiastically replied in the affirmative. It is moment like these that truly make me believe that this can be done.

Also this week, I had a new person hold the camera, A. Afendi. I will be posting his footage soon.

After the workshop, I met with Sammy, Lee, and Willis Cruz, Jr. We discussed how pleased we were with how things were going, and we proposed a few potential matches for the movie. As soon as they are confirmed, I will be posting them here.

Grappling Instruction Video #2 - Passing the guard

Friday, February 13, 2009

Grappling Instruction Video #1: Basic Guard

I have started editing the instruction portions of our workshops and posting them up here. Today, the basic guard position.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Video from Submission Shootout

This match ended in a draw, because no submissions occurred. If this were a points-scored match, I would have lost.

I will have video of the other two matches up soon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

NYC Submission Shootout Report

SO I got there good and early with my friend StapleDuck to hold the camera. Unfortunately, no one else from the Redemption project was able to make it to compete, although Kat had expressed an interest (but finances prevented it). She did cheer me on, however, as did GA, Sandra, and Vincent.

This was a submission-or-nothing, round-robin tournament, in which each competitor got to face three different fighters. If there was no submission, the match was ruled a draw.

In my first bout, I managed to hold my own, denying a couple of submission attempts, sweeping out of mount a couple of times and gaining mount myself once, to achieve the draw. Although if we were scoring points I would have lost, I consider the draw a victory considering my record and recent limited training.

My next two bouts were not so successful. The first one was a pretty efficient takedown and progression to submission (although I did make sure he had to progress through several steps to get the submission).

My final bout was an interesting one in which I found myself denying a leg submission by having my left ankle crossed over my right thigh. This effectively prevented him from either straightening my leg or bending it further, due to the entanglements our legs were in. However, I literally found myself scratching my head wondering what to do because I could not reach him with my arms to do anything. He finally submitted me with a knee bar after the entanglement came free.

After watching the footage, and other bouts in the tournament I have come to a few conclusions:

1. I like the fact that at my weight, I tower over almost everyone else.
2. I need to learn a few more techniques, and how to properly execute a few techniques that I already know about.
I really, really need to improve my stand-up and takedown game.
3. Increasing my strength and stamina would be a good thing, especially my back.
4. I simply like to talk during matches. It's how I roll.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More video from Week #2

Here are some highlights from the week 2 audition/workshop

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Video from week #2

Here are myself, Sammy Vergara, Edwin Echevarria, and Lee Boria talking about casting and other things regarding "The Redemption of Captain Zorikh."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Workshop Report #3

We did things a little differently yeasterday. In the instructional period, we focused oin positions and transitions, escaping side mount, escaping mouont, sweep from butterfly guard, armbar from guard. Instead of free rolling, we hjad the auditioners work cooperatively, building mini-routines through trading move for move, counter for counter. Then when we hat the tag-match, we divided the group into two teams to see how well they would work together. It also hel;ped me see particular matchups that I had been curious about. Also my friend Phil Fiuymano of NY Rocks TV held the camera, so I could pay more attention to what was going on, and take a more critical eye at the participants.

I am proud to say that the people who concerned us last week all showed the improvement we needed, and everyone else that we were comfortable with gave us what we wanted.

After sending out the invites, I will post the official cast list. Video will be up soon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

RIP Helio Gracie

Helio Gracie is the man who founded the Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) school of fighting. It was his family that gave us the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which proved that grappling and groundfighting can be effective against striking martial arts. From this, submission grappling is now one of the fastest-growing martial arts/combat sports today.

His passing away marks the ending of an era. No longer will we have that experience and authority with us. However, he has left us a great legacy and a large family, from which we will continue to learn and grow.

Helio Gracie on Wikipedia
Helio Gracie on the Gracie Academy website

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2nd Worskhop Report

As anticipated, there was some attrition from the previous week.
However, we also got four new female auditioners and a whole bunch of new guys (in addition to the two returning females, and half-dozen returning males), most of whom had been in a kung fu class earlier. I found them changing in the bathroom and asked them if they would be interested in trying out for the movie, and most of them said yes. I think we may have a few keepers in the bunch.

Ron Gastelu of was kind enough to donate his time to shoot the video for this week's training, to add to what I shot. I should be able to edit it and post it up soon.

We learned some basics (guard, passing guard, mount, arm bar, rear naked choke, and triangle) and then went into some free rolling. We finished with a Royal Rumble Tag Match.

I am beginning to see some of the auditioners as specific characters. This is good, because it will give greater depth to the story, and greater potential for the audience to identify with it.

This Saturday is the last "open" workshop. After that, potential new cast membmers will be allowed in on a case-by-case basis. One thing that is disappointing me is the lack of trained female grapplers showing up. All the women so far have had some form of martial arts training, and several of them are showing great energy and dedication to learning the techniques, but I want to have a couple more cast members with more experience on the mat and in tournaments.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sammy Vergara inducted into Hall of Honors.

Sammy Vergara, the grappling trainer for "The Redemption of Captain Zorikh," has just been inducted into the Action Martial Art's Hall of Honors in 2009. He was also awarded for "Outstanding Achievements in the Martial Arts" and as an official ambassador for the martial arts.

I am insufferably pleased that this talented young man is working with this production. It gives me very high confidence that we will have an impressive levvel of grappling to display in the movie.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Report from United Filmakers & Actors meetup

Just got back from a "meetup Group" of United Filmakers & Actors, to find that my phone service was out, so I couldn't post a here it is now.

I was on FIRE that night. When it came time to give my pitch, I had the audience laughing and cheering. Afterward, folks came at me from all sides saying that they were interested in getting involved in this project. I wish I had recorded the evening, because it felt really good.

We will see how many of these contacts pan out. About a half-dozen people said they would come to this Saturday's audition/workshop, including fur or five women and a couple of skilled and experienced martial artists. This would be great for the production. I also talked with two music people, a location scout, a couple of producers, and a guy who says he wants to cast me as the lead in a comedy feature he has written.

It's all very exciting!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First workshop report

It was a very productive first day. After Yours Truly gave a short speech outlining the background and objectives of the project, Sammy Vergara let a brief training session in some basics of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We then did some free rolling and had a tag-in royal round.

Attendees present were:

Samuel Vergara
Edwin Echevarria
Anthony Batchelor
Willis Cruz, Jr.
Kirkland Campbell
Lady MacDeath
Natasha Missick
Vallen Pilgrim
Eric Ramey
Yousif Sarya
Katrina Segers
G.A. West
Devin Zhang

It was a small but spirited group, having fought through the snow to get there. Afterwards I conferred with Sammy, Edwin, and Lady MacDeath regarding the attendees and casting. I am confident that I will be able to find a role for each of them in the tournament scene.

Interestingly, all the men had at least some form of wrestling or grappling background, be it BJJ, collegiate, or pro, but only one of the women had done grappling before, though all had done some form of martial arts or combat sport. We still need more women, though. If this film is to have a scene at a non-gender-divided grappling tournament, we need a more equitable ballance of males and females.

Captain Zorikh's introduction to the first workshop attendees

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Purpose of This Project

Greetings, and welcome to the production blog of "The Redemption of Captain Zorikh." The picture of that handsome fellow you see is yours truly (about a year, 10 pounds, and two haircuts ago), Captain Zorikh. I am the writer/director/producer/lead actor/subject of "The Redemption of Captain Zorikh. Is this a vanity project? Heck yes, I won't deny it. But I would not feel right if that's all it was.

This movie is about athletic competition and the meaning of redemption.

Athletic training and competition is about working hard, having fun, and being the best there is at what you do. Redemption is about taking everything you are, have been, have done, have thought, have experienced, cashing it in, and finding out what you are worth.

We (the cast and crew of this motion picture) are in the entertainment business. We have the opportunity, nay the responsibility, to move and inspire people. It is the stated intention of this project to move and inspire people to work hard, have fun, and be the best they can be at what they do.

It Begins!

Welcome to the official production blog for the video project titled "The Redemption of Captain Zorikh. Here you will see updates on the production, view photos and videos, and hear the latest news.

You can see more about the project at and see the videos at