Wednesday, March 5, 2008

3 Bullets, 10 gunmen, you do the math

The photo above is of Michael Jai White from the upcoming short film '3 Bullets', based on an idea that Mike's had percolating for a couple of years. He showed me the animatic short film that he and writer/director Ben Ramsey shot in the annex on Mike's property. Using about 12 action figures, the original 3 Bullets was action packed crazy, complete with explosions, bad dialogue and much ass kicking.

Fast forward a couple of years later and I'm working in a new digital division at Sony, charged with coming up with short form content to be shown online and on mobile phones. I had an idea for a short anthology series called 'Action Theater', that would focus on 5-10 minute action films. The model for the series would be BMW's short series 'The Hire', starring Clive Owen, directed by a number of the world's leading directors, ranging from Ang Lee to Tony Scott to Guy Ritchie. However, our budgets would be a bit smaller and rowdier.

The online space is truly the new frontier. No one knows what will work yet, which makes it difficult to monetize. But it's been my experience that this is the time when it's most exciting. It certainly was the weekend we shot 3 Bullets.

One of the many things that made 3 Bullets special for me was that I had an opportunity to work with 2 very good friends on a project for the first time. Mike White co-directed with actor/director/writer/choreographer Ron Yuan. I've known Ron for about 15 years and Mike for nearly that long. Ron introduced me to Mike when we were going to a comic book convention the day after Mike's starring role as Mike Tyson aired on HBO. I didn't see the film and had Ron not told me, I would have had no idea that Mike was an actor. He just seemed like a regular guy, as he does to this day. As an aside, I was honored to serve as Best Man in his wedding.

I found out quickly that in addition to being a fine actor, Mike is a scary martial artist. Black belts in several disciplines, fast and really strong, Mike is as legitimate an action hero as you'll find working today. Until recently, he's never really had the best showcase to demonstrate what he can do. But it looks like that's all going to change this year. Keep an eye out for 'Blood and Bone', a hard edged street fighter flick with some of the best executed martial arts action on film in years. But the one that I think is going to make people take a hard look at Mike is a film that he conceived and wrote, called 'Black Dynamite'. I don't want to give too much away, but it's one of the most original and entertaining films that you'll see this year. Currently in the editing room, keep an eye out for it.

Ron has been a consistently working actor for years and over the last few years has branched out into directing and action choreography with great success. He's always working on something and once he finishes the movie of the week he's shooting, the voting PSA he's directing and editing 3 Bullets, he'll be going to work on the first of several shorts that he's writing and directing for Action Theater. Best of all, Ron is one of the best friends anyone could ask for. Heart as big as his talent is wide.

3 Bullets is in post production now and when it's finished and available for viewing, I'll be sure to pass the word.

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