Interview: Byron Mann

Mann attended a British all-boys high school, where he was active in community theatre as both an actor and a writer. After graduating, Byron moved to California to study and received a degree in philosophy at UCLA, even though acting remained important to him. After college, Byron attended USC Law School, but took a sabbatical after the first year. Back in Hong Kong, he received an acting role in the NBC Movie TV movie Last Flight Out. He returned to Los Angeles, California, graduated from USC Law, passed the California bar, and pursued acting full time.

Jason: When did you realize that you wanted to become a professional actor?

Byron Mann: I fell into acting. I was actually studying to be a lawyer, during the first semester I felt like it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was clerking in a law firm, and at the end of the clerkship, the senior partner sat me down and said, “I don’t think you should be a lawyer,” in a very caring way. I asked him, “How do you know?” and he said, “Because you have trouble coming to work in the morning and at 5p.m. you’re looking at your watch.” At that point I had no idea what I wanted to do. He said, “Do something you enjoy.” the only thing I remembered that I enjoyed doing was acting, in high school. I had been attending school in L.A., but I came back home and one thing led to another. Fairly soon after that I did my first movie, Street Fighter, That was like baptism by fire.
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Interview: David Zuckerman

David Zuckerman is the showrunner for the wildly popular FX series Wilfred. Mr. Zuckerman has been in the industry for over twenty years. His credits include the long running animated comedies Family Guy, King of the Hill and American Dad.

Jason: How did you get your start in the industry?

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

David Zuckerman: I had always wanted to be a writer. I think I started writing my first spec pilot when I was nine. It was pretty bad. Then I wrote a movie of the week when I was sixteen for a creative writing class in high school at Monte Vista High. I ended up re-writing it a few years later and received a Samuel L. Goldwyn Screenwriting Award when I was attending UCSB. I transferred to UCLA and graduated with a degree in Motion Picture/Television. I didn’t really know anybody in the industry so I just started working for an agency. A few years late I became an executive at Lorimar, and then moved to. I knew by that time I did not want to be an executive, I was terrible at it and it wasn’t satisfying. So I polished up my spec script and was lucky enough to get my first full-time gig on Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That was in 1993, and I’ve been lucky enough to keep working since then.
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Interview: Reef Entertainment on the Upcoming Rambo Video Game

Nurtured in the mind since the 90’s and born into reality in early 2005, Reef Entertainment is based in new offices near the city of Milton Keynes. Established as a UK based computer games publishing company, Reef has been set up as a UK based independent studio-style organization, not owned by or connected to any other major entertainment group, to provide developers and content owners with a distinct and alternate route to markets worldwide. We had the opportunity to speak with Craig Lewis, Reef Entertainment’s Commercial Director (UK) and discuss the development and release of the new Rambo video game.

Kevin: What inspired your company to get involved with a project like Rambo? Was it inspired by the release of the recent Rambo film in 2008 or was it inspired by the overall nostalgia for the franchise as a whole?

Craig Lewis: There are many people here at Reef including Peter and myself who love the Rambo movies. The power of the brand was clear when we gave our first press release on this title, it simply went mad. Since new investment has been placed in Reef, we have been keen to grow both the company and also the size of the projects we are doing, and Rambo will clearly put us on the map!
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Interview: Mykel Shannon Jenkins

Mykel Shannon Jenkins is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He has appeared in numerous television shows and soap operas during his career. Recently Mr. Jenkins made his motion picture debut in the heralded action film ‘Undisputed 3’. This film has catapulted him into the ranks of rising action stars and has given him international recognition for his performance and athleticism. We talked with Mr. Jenkins about his career and working with action icons Scott Adkins and Issac Florentine.

J: When did you know that you wanted to act professionally and how did you get involved with the industry?

Mykel Jenkins:null My mother was an actress so I’ve been around it my whole life. When I decided to do it professionally my father objected strenuously. He said there were no benefits, money, or health insurance involved. In my mind I thought “Tom Cruise had health insurance”, though I would never tell him that. I was in New Orleans just hanging around the set of ‘Double Jeopardy’. I caught the director’s eye and he says, “Have you ever acted before?”. He told me I had a certain look. It was only a few lines.

I graduated and was bored I got a couple jobs. I just tried to press it and fortunately I found an agent who liked my aggressive style. A lot of them don’t. She said, “I’ll submit you for this one role and depending on how you perform, we may start a relationship”. I booked the job and from there we started rolling. It’s just a matter of really pushing yourself, I’ve been fortunate enough to find people who believe in persistence and my talent. I take it very seriously coming from an athletic background; hard work pays off for me. (more…)

Interview: Dean Semler A.C.S., A.S.C.

Academy Award winning cinematographer Dean Semler has achieved international recognition for his work on numerous critical and commercial hit films. Mr. Semler has been shooting feature films for over three decades, photographing some of the most iconic and recognizable faces on the planet. He recently lensed the horse racing drama ‘Secretariat’ in addition to Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut ‘An Untitled Love Story’.

Jason: When and how did you first get your break into the film industry?

Dean Semler: I was born in Renmark, a small country town in Australia on the fringe of the outback. I’d not even seen television when I applied for a position as a props boy at Rupert Murdoch’s newly opened television station in Adelaide, the state capital. I had no idea what the position entailed but I took a bus to the city and went to the interview. nullFor some reason I’ll never know I got the job and was thrown into this fantastic, exciting new world. Within a year I was operating a studio camera because there were very few people who’d had any experience at all and opportunities were plenty over the next couple of years. I always envied the two news camera men who at the end of each day would pass through the studio with light meters around their necks and film rolls tucked under their arms. As luck would have it I would soon join them as the third newscamerman, I was 19. There was no film school and my only film experience was making a few little 8mm home movies, I had a lot to learn, and two great mentors. Pat Mcewan, and Trevor Rose took me under their wings and guided me in those early years. Pat would shoot solid and steady, using a tripod, filters, no flares, wheras Trevor would shoot wild and woolly, handheld, no worries. I am embedded to them both for their mixed teachings. One of the first events I covered was THE BEATLES explosive visit to Adelaide, the crowds, the traffic jams, the press conference filmed on an Auricon sound camera, and of course their spectacular frenzied concert with the hysterical screaming fainting crowds. (more…)

Interview: Dolph Lundgren

Internationally recognized action icon Dolph Lundgren has appeared in 40 films over a career spanning 26 years. After making his debut in ‘Rocky IV’ as the villainous Ivan Drago, Lundgren has gone on to portray such beloved characters as ‘He-Man’ and ‘The Punisher’. His recent role in ‘The Expendables‘ reunited him with long time friend and on-screen rival Sylvester Stallone. Dolph Lundgren has directed six feature films, the latest being ‘The Killing Machine’, available now on DVD.

nullJason: Now that you’re an accomplished director, in addition to being an actor, is it difficult to be directed by someone else? Or do you enjoy the break from all the responsibility?

Dolph Lundgren: Actually it’s a pleasure, less work. You can always pick up stuff, you watch with different eyes then when you’re acting. If you haven’t directed you’re not aware of the mechanics of how it’s all put together. When you’ve directed you get ideas of camera placement and lighting, and you watch the whole show. It’s kind of relaxing to able to just ‘act’. So I’m doing a couple of supporting roles in a few movies just to act a bit and have fun with it. (read our review of Command Performance)
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Interview: Dito Montiel

Dito Montiel is best known for writing and directing the cult classics ‘Fighting’ and ‘A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints’. The latter based on his experiences growing up in Queens, NY, as chronicled in his memoirs of the same name. His most recent film ‘The Son Of No One’ reunites him with frequent collaborator Channing Tatum, and also stars Al Pacino, Katie Holmes and Tracy Morgan.

Jason: You’re a published author, musician, and former model. How did you evolve into a filmmaker?

Dito Montiel:null It’s crazy. Everyone has a story and I just wrote mine. I wasn’t a very good guitar player so I had to write songs. I couldn’t rely on anyone else. I started to write these little hardcore songs. At first it was a joke but it started to catch on. I remember sitting down and writing when all of a sudden one page become two and before you knew it was almost book length. I’ve always loved movies and I started flirting with the idea of writing a film. My friend Jake and I were working together in a music house when we started to make these short films. I would write and direct and Jake did the editing. We screened the film and then realized, “Wow, maybe we can make two minutes into a feature length film“. It’s been a long very weird process. I don’t know how I got to where I am, but I’m glad I’m here. (more…)

Interview: Danny Draven

Danny Draven started his directing career with the famous scifi/horror power house Full Moon Pictures. He has directed eight films and since moved into editing; cutting thirty-nine films and counting. His new book ‘The Filmmaker’s Book of the Dead: How to Make Your Own Heart-Racing Horror Movie’ reveals all of his secrets to putting together and distributing a low budget flick.

Trevor: You’ve done a lot of editing work lately, is that by choice? How did you make the move from director to editor?

Danny Draven: I’ve been an editor for a really long time. I’m a member of the Motion Pictures Editing Guild and I own a small post production company called Darkworld Post. We handle all of Full Moon’s post production work and a lot of freelance work for other people as well. An indie filmmaker might be looking for someone to author a bluray and they could come to my company. We give great rates for indie filmmakers. It’s a business and a lot of the editing stuff I do comes out of my company. I think I’ve edited about thirty feature length films at this point. The last one we did, Puppet Master 9 Axis of Evil came out on bluray and dvd and so did Killjoy 3. Next is Gingerdead Man 3 and then Evil Bong 3. I’ve edited about every Full Moon movie that’s come out in the past ten years, but I also edit for SyFy channel. I just did a big spider movie for them called Ice Spiders. I definitely work on a regular basis. If you could direct all day long that would be great, but you can’t direct a movie every week. So in the meantime I do a lot of editing. If you’re a director you really should know how to edit and that will definitely make you a stronger director in the long run. (more…)

Interview: Daniel Bernhardt

Daniel Bernhardt was born in Bern, Switzerland. He enjoyed success as a male model for top designers before making his acting debut in ‘Bloodsport 2’. The film garnered a cult following and Mr Bernhardt was hailed as the next rising star in the genera. Audiences around the world recognize him as Agent Johnson from his villainous role in ‘Matrix Reloaded’. Mr Bernhardt has starred in over 20 films during a career spanning 15yrs. He recently made his writing and directorial debut on the highly regarded short film ‘Fetch’.

Jason: How did you get your ‘break’ in the film industry?null

Daniel Bernhardt: I was 28yrs old; living in NY doing some modeling when I was cast to appear in a commercial for Versace. It was shot by the famous photographer Bruce Webber and stared Jean Claude Van Damme. They were looking for models that had a background in Martial Arts. So I was cast to do a fight scene with Van Damme. (more…)

Interview: Ward Russell

Cinematographer Ward Russell has worked in the industry for over 30yrs. His collaborations with director Tony Scott on films such as ‘Days of Thunder’ and ‘The Last Boy Scout’ have produced some of the most iconic images from that era. Today Mr. Russell resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he continues to express his artistic side through still photography.

Jason: Did you always aspire to become a Director of Photography?

Ward Russell: Actually, I aspired to be a theatrical lighting designer. I went to college and received a degree in theater in scenic designer. It was my interest in lighting that eventually led me into films…and the fact that you can’t make any money in theater.

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Interview: Sticky Fingaz

Kirk Jones a.k.a Sticky Fingaz exploded onto the music scene in 1993 as part of the hip hop group ONYX. Their classic hit single, ‘Slam’ established Sticky as a prominent figure in the Hip-hop community. In addition to being a platinum selling artist Mr. Jones is also a veteran actor. Having appeared in over 60 film and television roles in a career spanning almost twenty years. In 2006 he played the Marvel Comics character ‘Blade’ in a TV series that ran on the SPIKE Network. Most recently Sticky wrote, directed and starred in ‘A Day In the Life’, the first film told entirely through rhyming dialogue.

Jason: You’ve recently made your directorial debut with the film ‘A Day in the Life’, which you also wrote and stared in. Was taking on three distinct jobs a difficult experience?

Sticky:null No it wasn’t difficult at all. It was fun, actually. All the actors were fantastic. I had a great team working with me. They pulled everything together. That was probably the most challenging part; trying to pool all that talent, organizing everyone’s schedules.

J: The film has a very high profile cast of actors Mekhi Phifer, Omar Epps, Michael Rappaport, Bokeem Woodbine and many others. How were you able to assemble such a talented cast?

SF: I’d say 85% was through personal relationships, I’ve know a lot of these guys for many years. Which meant I didn’t have to deal with agents or managers, I reached out to each actor directly. Some of the cast I didn’t know, like Clarence Williams III. So, I contacted him, showed him some footage; he thought it was great and jumped on board. (more…)

Interview: Olivier Gruner

Olivier Gruner was born in Paris, France. He served in an elite unit of the French Military before becoming a world Champion Kickboxer. Mr. Gruner was ‘discovered’ at the Cannes Film Festival and successfully made the leap from athlete to actor. Since 1990 Olivier Gruner has appeared in over 30 films. He is recognized across the globe due to the phenomenal success of films like Nemesis, Angel Town, and the Mercenary series.

Jason: You have a background in the armed forces can you tell us your position
and life experiences you gained from this?

Olivier Gruner: My specialty was to over take boats. There was a very similar situation to what is going on today in Somalia, happening to us [France] in 1978/1979. My team approached on Zodiacs and retook these tankers. We were very similar to the Navy Seals in the American Military. nullThe great thing about serving is that it really builds your character very quickly. During training they would drop us in the middle of the ocean and we had to figure out what to do. It was to instill a sense of ‘never give up’. The survival skill is more in the mind than anything else; the body will follow usually. It also taught me to depend on myself, yes I had teammates but if you didn’t take care of yourself it could really jeopardize the team. When I got out of the service I felt in my mind that I was indestructible. (more…)

Interview: Gary Daniels

Gary Daniels is an English born ex-kickboxing champion and star of more than 20 films. In his 22 years in the business he has shared the screen with action icons Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Dolph Lundgren. Mr Daniels can be seen in the upcoming films ‘The Expendables‘ and ‘Tekken’. He recently took a few moments to speak with MovieMavericks.

Jason: Can you tell us about your background in the Martial Arts?

Gary Daniels: I started martial arts when I was 8 in a local kung fu school where they were teaching a system called ‘Mongolian Kung fu’ which was a hybrid system that dealt mostly with practical fighting techniques, for me it seemed like a systematized form of street-fighting. At around 12 years of age I moved onto ITF Tae Kwon Do where I received my black belt after 3 years and was teaching in 3 schools throughout the London area. I started kickboxing and fighting for the P.K.A at around 16/17 years of age under the tutelage of Mickey Byrne, an ex P.T.I (physical training instructor) and boxing champ from the British Army. After moving to the states I studied Muay Thai at Benny Urquidez Jet Center and with Yuki Horiuchi at his Piston Kickboxing Gym in O.C. It was around that same time I met sifu Winston Omega and trained in his art of Sillum Wong Ka Kune which I studied for the next 18 years, The past 5 years I have been going to Thailand and training Muay Thai at several camps there. (more…)

Interview: David Michael Latt

David Michael Latt is the co-founder of The Asylum, the most prolific independent film studio in Hollywood. Latt heads up production which produces a feature film every three to four weeks. He develops and overseas all aspects of the physical production. Mr. Latt has won more than three dozen film awards, and his features have been invited to over 100 film festivals worldwide.

Trevor: You mainly produce for The Asylum, but you also have directing, editing and visual effects credits on some of the films. What drives you to take on those other roles?

David Michael Latt: Well, you know that really starts from early on. Making films when I was 9 or 10; just doing everything. Bottom line is I’m a huge fan of production; every aspect of it. I don’t hire anyone for anything that I don’t understand the issue or can’t do myself. I’m really the fail safe guy, that if something should fall through – I’m the guy that we turn to, to make it right for what we need. I may not be as good as the people I hire, but I’m confident enough so that I’ve pretty much done everything in every department of film. I can talk intelligently with the department heads, but also when I need things to happen the ‘B.S’. factor is a little bit lower because I know some of the stuff that’s going on and can fix it. But really because of the budget and our extreme deadlines, if we don’t have the special effects done in time we’re not going to delay the street date. We have a hard street date so that means someone’s got to get those special effects done. So I’ll do it, or I’ll write it or I’ll do sound or music, whatever it is. You know I’m going to be sure that the project gets done on time, whether I have to do it myself or not. (more…)

Interview: Glen MacPherson A.S.C, C.S.C

Glen MacPherson is a Canadian born Director Of Photography. He has been in the industry for over 25yrs. Mr MacPherson has worked with some of the worlds biggest stars and top directors. His credits include ‘Rambo’, ’16 Blocks’, ‘Friday after Next’, ‘Final Destination’ and the soon to be released ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’. He is a member of both the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and the Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC)

Jason: How did you break into the film industry?

Glen MacPherson: I grew up in Montréal, Canada and they had a small film industry there. In Canada you go to high school until 11th grade then you spend two years in CEGEP, which is like a pre college. I took their Film/Television course and played around there for a few years. After that I went to a community college that had a great film program, I stayed for a year. At that point I was shooting third year students’ projects and I thought it was time to move on. I heard that Robert Altman was shooting a movie in Montréal. So I went back home and located their production offices. I pretended to be a delivery man, walked right past the receptionist and into the office of the producer. I told the guy my name and that I was willing to do anything to work on a movie. They didn’t throw me out; instead they gave me a job in catering. So from there I just worked my way up. I became friends with the camera guys and eventually got a job in the camera department. (more…)