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 http://www.thedojoonline.com/ablou.htm

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...