Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sex and Violence In Video Games.... Just Another Issue

Just when you think something is over, just when you think that the government has given up the fight against something that doesn't need to be fought against, they are now putting the pressure on Game Developers. Hilary Clinton made a statement on a Special on G4tv "It is becoming more and more simple for our youth to gain access to pornographic material."

You know even though this is a little off topic, I hate it when they say "our youth" because we aren't their youth, "Their Youth" are getting the good life. While "Our Youth" is always getting budget cuts in education, while "Their Youth" is going to private schools and getting feed with the silver spoon. I guess this is the reason why it makes me mad whenever the government tries to take Video Games away from "The Real America", and I say "The Real America" because their is a big difference between most of our lives and the lives they live up in D.C. So why the fuck can't the government just stay out of our problems?

Back to the subject at hand, I have heard arguments from some of the activists that are against video games that game developers only use sex and violence as a marketing tool to try and sell more copies of their games... So instead of arguing with these ignorant douche bags I decided to scout out some interviews to build actual PROOF that video games developers are just artists trying to expose their vision... sometimes violence is in their vision, sometimes when they have a strip club cinematic the girls show off some thong, they do this to keep the games realistic.

The first interview that I did was with an independent game developer Mat Dickie, Mat Dickie owns MDickie Games, he is sort of a word of mouth developer, and his games just happen to have a tad bit of violence in them, so that whole thing about using violence to sell a few extra copies is right out the god damn window. I personally believe that Mat Dickie is just an artist trying to show his vision in the form of video games. Here is the interview with Mat Dickie:

Joe: On average, how many copies do you usually sell of a game when it is released?

Mat: Experience has taught me that there is no right answer to that question! If i say too little then i'm a loser, and if i say too many then i'm some sort of millionaire that doesn't need anybody's support. The truth is that i'm playing to thousands rather than millions. Tens of thousands visit the site; mere thousands translate into paying customers. Nobody operating on word-of-mouth could hope for more than that...

Joe: Do you feel that as an independent game developer, that you need to use violence as a "marketing tool"?

Mat: Violence has grown to be a (rather regrettable) trademark of mine - especially with the wrestling games. That's not from a commercial perspective though. Nothing about my work is. It's more because that's what i find to be entertaining. I like that destructive gameplay of being able to smash through anything and emerging with the scars to prove it! It's not necessarily "violence" as in wishing another harm; it's just the fun of chaos. The "Big BumpZ" concept that got my work on that vibe is a good example. It was all about performing stunts for entertainment. There was never any ill will...

Joe: Do you believe that sex sells?

Mat: In my experience, controversy is somewhat over-rated as a marketing tool. I mean, The MDickie Show is one of the most "controversial" games that i've ever made - but it's also one of the least successful, so there's got to be more to it than that. Controversy only made an impact in the 1990's when it was new and exciting. Jerry Springer, Eminem, and a raunchier WWF were cleaning up. But nowadays everybody can see it for what it is. Now the WWF is a laughing stock that's constantly derided for being too shallow. Same thing with gangster rap. People are tired of the negative nonsense, so they're looking to Kanye West and co for some substance. There's a lesson to be learned there. If you attract fans for the right reasons then they stay forever. I'm a firm supporter of that route. I'd rather fail for the right reasons than succeed for the wrong reasons...

Joe: Have you received any hate mail saying that your games are too violent?

Mat: I get hate mail about everything EXCEPT that! 99% of people that write to me are obviously players, so all they're passionate about is enjoying the games. I can count on one hand the number of concerned letters i've had from parents, and even then i've always managed to win them over. Deep down, my work is perfectly honourable - so i find it very easy to defend. It was actually swearing that used to be the biggest headache. When i first started, i was cussing all over the site and in the games - and people of all ages would regularly pull me up on it. They must have had a point, because i haven't done it much since...

Joe: Do you think that the government should have the right to tell gaming artists how much violence they can use in games?

Mat: I don't particularly think game developers (or artists of any kind) need to be reigned in. I think we should be motivated to draw that line ourselves. It's all about responsibility. My stance is that you should have the freedom to do what you want, so long as you're responsible for the consequences. If you want to make controversial content and it backfires, step up to the plate and defend yourself. Explain where you were coming from. If you can't do that then it really was an empty-headed endeavour. That's what got me mad about a scandal here in England. A game called "Manhunt" was accused of copycat murders, and the developers ran away like kids that had let off a stink bomb! I would have been all over the media the next day talking people through it and defending my honour. They obviously couldn't, so they didn't. They exposed themselves as weak artists that have no method to their madness. That's the real punishment in my view. Unfortunately, it's a punishment for us all because it brings shame on the profession...

Joe: Do you think that violence in games causes violence in real life?

Mat: Only in a "straw that broke the camel's back" kind of way. Whether it's a game, a movie, or a song, these things simply dictate HOW an evil mind dramatizes itself - not whether or not it happens. It's a very easy connection to make, but that doesn't mean it's a valid one. Sometimes the weakest links are the most easily made! It comes back to responsibility again. Expose yourself to whatever you want, but if you're stupid enough to act on it then you have to accept the consequences. Your life can't go in any one direction without your consent...

Joe: What do you suggest to parents that don't want their kids playing video games with excessive sex and violence?

Mat: My stance is that you should raise a child (or raise yourself) to be impervious to corruption. Instead of wrapping the outside world in cotton wool, wrap yourself in armour! Expose your family to the real world, but make sure they know what the score is. Give them the intellect and strength to survive any situation. That's pretty much what my upbringing was like, and now i'm invincible. It's impossible for me to be misled by any game, movie, or song. I can listen to the grimiest rapper, watch the most horrific film, and still keep my integrity intact afterwards. That was a glimpse into somebody else's life - it wasn't a manual for my own. Some kids find it hard to make that distinction when they're raised by the TV. Fiction becomes fact, and suddenly there's no benchmark. That's the real problem...

Joe: Do you think that the government generally cares, or do you think that they are using video games to push the blame on something else (other then themselves)?

Mat: Yeah, it's just one of many scapegoats for politicians and parents alike. We live in a world where everything is somebody else's fault, and entertainment provides the easiest targets. That said, i'm sure any self-respecting politician needs be seen to be doing the right thing. It's good that they're on the case of dishonourable content, but to imply that it's responsible for anything else is a little melodramatic. The only crime controversy commits is against its own industry! It's a civil war in my view...

Joe: Do you believe in the FCC's right to censor?

Mat: I don't really believe in censorship of any form when you're dealing with adults. We should be able to censor ourselves. If you don't like to indulge a certain aspect of life then demonstrate the discipline to leave it alone. If you're too weak or stupid to do that then it's your entire life that needs to be "censored"! The exploits of a civilized man should never be compromised by the weaknesses of others...

Joe: What are your views on the FCC?

Mat: Living in England, i'm not exactly aware of the "FCC" - so i'll have to assume that it's like any other censoring body. I suppose my stance would be that i support their tenaciousness, but feel it's misplaced. Divert that energy into teaching people how to handle powerful material instead of dictating that they can't...

Joe: Do you think that we need things like the FCC and other rating systems?

Mat: I support rating systems as a means of communicating the content of our entertainment. I have warnings and disclaimers all over my site to that effect, so that nobody can claim they were being misled. If a product is portrayed as being designed for an adult mind and you step in there without that equipment, it's your fault when it backfires. Once again, it's the issue of responsibility. The media has to market products responsibly, and the public has to consume them responsibly. The first party to drop the ball loses! It's all just a game...

As you can see, gaming artists don't really like to use sex because controversy makes them devalue in the long run (but they use it to show their artistic vision), they hate censorship, but they believe in rating systems (because they don't want kids too young playing their games).

The next interview I did was with a highly known artist for the video game development company, The Behemouth. His name is Dan Paladin, but you may know him as Synj (for some of his early work with, I had the pleasure of interviewing him about the hit game Alien Hominid. Now this is a 2d game where you run around with a little green gun and shoot up FBI agents (or you can bite their heads off.) Now I have heard arguments about AH, just because of the fact that he looks like pokemon's "Pikachu." Some people believe that this is even more dangerous then the Grand Theft Auto, because its like a children's animation running around killing people.

I asked Dan about his thoughts:

Joe: If you could have personally gave Alien Hominid a rating (Mature, Teen, etc.) what would you have given it?

Dan: i guess i'd keep it teen.. although i never saw any of the hundreds of parents object to their young children playing at any of the comic-con's.

Joe: Have you received any hate mail from Alien Hominid?

Dan: nope.

Joe: Were there times when you guys where in production of Alien Hominid, when you said to yourself maybe this is a little too violent?

Dan: no. we never self censored.

Joe: What do you think makes Alien Hominid a fan favorite?

Dan: I think it's a combination of people's love for oldschool games with the charm of the character. he maintains a certain level of innocence in a hail of gunfire.

Joe: Let's talk about Newgrounds, Is it not true that you got your start on

Dan: If you're talking my game development career, no that's not true. i got my start by making friends on art forums and posting that i was looking for work back in 2001.

Joe: How did you find out about Newgrounds?

Dan: A friend showed me the tupac animation where tupac had stolen mr. T's cheetos. maybe around 1998?

Joe: Do you think Newgrounds is associated with animated porn?

Dan: i don't personally associate it with that since the vast majority of the content is not pornographic. it's a good place for talented people to get a boost!

Joe: Do you think that it was Newgrounds that made Alien Hominid a success?

Dan: newgrounds is where it all started. the exposure was phenomenal. without newgrounds, you don't have alien hominid. newgrounds + alien hominid + word of mouth = success!

Joe: Lets talk about other video games, do you think that some of the latest games coming out, such as the Grand Theft Auto series, are sometimes a little too violent?

Dan: No. i think people forget they are sitting down with a form of entertainment. entertainment is allowed to be violent. it doesn't matter. all males, and a lot of females, enjoy seeing things blowing up or fighting for what is right.

If i was wrong about that we wouldn't have all seen braveheart because we walked out during: the bloody battles, or the ripping out of braveheart's intestines, or the part where his wife's throat is slit in front of him. some of the leading brands are based on violence. star wars, lord of the rings, texas chainsaw massacre, the ring.. it's all entertainment. we cheer for heroes on our TV the same way we do in books the same way we do in videogames. in my personal opinion i feel like i'm there helping the character rather than being the character.

This scare is similar to how rock music on the radio was "the devil" and how our children shouldn't be around it a few decades ago. Then it was violent shows on TV like power rangers. Now its videogames. Somewhere else in there was the scare of d&d pen and paper roleplaying to be the devil, too. See the progression? I guess all current entertainment = the devil. Then about 30 years later the devil packs his bags and inhabits another electronic device.

I grew up on violent videogames. I chopped barbarian heads off constantly and listened to them hit the ground sounding like empty melons. Then I waited for the next one to slash to death. I shot at least 589023 aliens an slayed 15,000,000 enemies in different wars. i can't even crush ants in my house because i feel like that's mean.

Joe: Do you think that the government has a right to try and regulate video games?

Dan: I have no gigantic problem with the government treating game ratings like cigarettes and alcohol, although i don't find it necessary in the slightest. as for banning videogames.. that's just wrong.

Joe: Do you think that the government is trying to step in to the video games because they actually care or do you think that they are doing this, to cause a problem, just so that they can solve it and "be the hero"?

Dan: i think that is a bit of a stretch. the government's main job in all areas is to regulate things and that's what they are doing.

Joe: Is your next game/project currently entitled "The Behemoth's Next Game" going to be more violent or less violent then Alien Hominid?

Dan: A good amount of people find slashing things with swords to be more violent than shooting things with rayguns. i plan to dismember my characters the same way i did in alien hominid if not more. they are ham waiting on the choppingblock and we're all going to laugh because its in a humorous and stylized manner. go ham!

Now after that interview you might be asking yourself, what the hell is newgrounds, and what do they have to do with video games? Well is a website where amateur animators and game designers can submit either games and movies on the internet. It is run by a man that goes by the name of Tom Fulp (interesting fact he was also the lead programmer for Alien Hominid).

Over the years Newgrounds has gotten its fair share of horse shit, basically Tom makes a "Whack a seal game" (much like the old fashion Whack a Gopher game), Tom got hate mail from Pro Animal activists (AKA PUSSIES!), a few flash artists post some violent flash games and movies, then BAM... the Columbine High School shootings occur (automatically Newgrounds is blamed.)

All of these reasons are why I decided to interview Tom Fulp, not just because the fact that there are controversial flash animations on Newgrounds, but because Tom has had the finger pointed at him (both index and middle) on more then one occasion.

Here is the interview:

Joe: What do you think makes non flash artists go to Newgrounds?

Tom: People enjoy entertainment and Newgrounds is about as entertaining as you can get! Every day we have a new supply of games and movies from across the world, thanks to the open submission system. Television is predictable; it’s very rare that something catches you by surprise. With the web you never know what will pop up from some budding genius out there.

Joe: How many hits does Newgrounds get per day?

Tom: We receive around 500,000 unique visitors per day.

Joe: Do you personally believe in the philosophy "sex sells"?

Tom: Anything on the front page with a mature theme gets at least twice as much attention as everything else. It’s not an exact science, however. Putting adult content on the front page generates a lot of traffic for the adult content, but it doesn’t seem to generate more overall traffic for the site. Overall it is best to offer a variety of content

Joe: Many parents have concerns about how easy it is for children to see pornographic images on the internet, as a webmaster to a site that has (literally) thousands of flash movies and games that have sexual material, what are some of the things that you do to TRY to keep minors from seeing it?

Tom: We added a ratings system so that you can anticipate what you are about to see before you open the content window. I’ve also been making gradual efforts to further segregate the adult content from the mainstream content on the site, although you can never please everyone. Newgrounds is blocked by every form of parental software on the market, so anyone with a filter is already safe from content on the site. We were actually blocked years ago, when our content was criticized for being too violent rather than adult in nature. We do remove hardcore pornographic material from the site, but we can’t get too crazy with policing content. Everyone has their own idea of what crosses the line and any attempt to please everyone would result in a very lame site. People even complain about the ads we have on the front page – featuring models in t-shirts. They aren’t naked. They aren’t doing anything perverse. They are just “sexy” and that offends people. We’ll never win if we try to cater to prudes and preschoolers, that isn’t the Newgrounds audience. Sorry, I know I just went off on a rant there. Sensitive subject.

Joe: I looked at the "literature" section of and I noticed that some people actually thought you were responsible (in part) for the tragedies of Columbine High School... When you got this hate mail, did it hurt, or make you feel responsible?

Tom: It irked me, I didn’t feel responsible. I have seen a lot of troubled kids come to Newgrounds and find a lot of friends. I’ve seen kids come in with angry, violent Flash movies but later find happiness in the art and grow into fine individuals. Heck, I started by making violent games. I hated high school, too. I think the web is a great place for kids to go when they don’t feel like they relate to anyone. I feel that way especially about Newgrounds.

Joe: I know that you guys probably still get your fair share of hate mail over at Newgrounds, so I have got to know, what are people blaming for now?

Tom: Haven’t been getting blamed for a whole lot lately. Either we’ve gotten too laid back or the rest of the web has gotten too crazy.

Joe: Now there have been a few flash artists that submitted to newgrounds, who have done things like kill police officers and shoot up schools, have you been blamed for these incidents, and have you received hate mail regarding these incidents?

Tom: Actually, I haven’t. Kinda odd, eh?

Joe: How many non violent submissions do you think are on Newgrounds?

Tom: There are thousands upon thousands. A majority of the submissions on Newgrounds are clean and non-violent, it’s just that people are more likely to talk about the violent and mature ones.

Joe: Do you think with the government attacking the gaming industry that they will soon go after

Tom: Not Newgrounds specifically, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the web has problems. The FCC has already redefined the rules so that ISPs can pick and choose what sites to allow their customers to visit. For example, Comcast could now legally make Newgrounds inaccessible to Comcast subscribers. Considering Comcast and Verizon will soon account for most of the US internet traffic, that’s a scary thought.

As you can see by all of these interviews, game developers aren't angry little men trying to make people blow eachothers heads off, they are just trying to make good games in which they can show off their vision. But will the government shut down the gaming industry and win the fight? The answer is no, here is why... Taxes.

That is right big gaming companies get the crap taxed out of them every year and with games like Halo 2 (which are making literally hundreds of millions of dollars) I don't think that the government is going to shut them down anytime soon. So in a way politicians themselves are just bitching (even though companies like Bungie, Electronic Arts, and Square Enix) help support this countries economy. Scary isn't it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

An Interview with Kenflo...

Recently I have had the priviledge of having an interview with UFC fighter Kenny "Kenflo" Florian, I talked to him about his fight with Alex Karalexus, and I also asked him about his opinions to the upcoming UFC event (UFC 55.)

Now if you don't know who Kenny Florian is, he was on the hit reality show "The Ultimate Figher" and made it to the finals at the 185lb (middleweight) weight class. Recently Kenny has been fighting at 170lbs. and let me tell you, he looks like he is going to be feared at 170lbs. Just a few weeks ago he fought Alex Karalexus and kicked his ass... Kenny won the fight due to a huge cut that he put above Karalexus's nose.

Now without further ado, the interview:

Joe: How do you feel you performed against Karalexis?

Kenny: It was a decent performance but there were times where I got too excited, too emotional perhaps. This was the first time where I really made the decision before the fight that I was going to stand up with him and go hard at him. I wanted to use my BJJ as a backup plan. Having this as a new experience got my mind and adrenaline a little too worked up and got me tired for some reason. Overall I think it was a good performance thrown in with some technical mistakes. Mistakes are ok because I can always go back and correct them. So I think it was a good fight for me to improve upon and learn from. I am rarely happy after my performances. I always want them to be perfect. That is what drives me. I have only 7 MMA fights total under my belt. I have so much to learn and I love going to training everyday trying to get that knowledge and experience.

Joe: How did you train differently for your fight with Alex?

Kenny: I basically found partners that were more like him in size and strength. But the actual training stayed the same. Still trained BJJ, Muay thai, boxing and wrestling like I always do. The conditioning was pretty much the same as well. The only thing was, I trained way too hard and did not give myself any rest days. This led to a lot of little injuries and a lot of fatigue everyday.

Joe: I noticed in your fight with Alex Karalexis that you were focusing more on your Muay Thai skills and less of your ground and pound abilities... are you focusing on becoming more of a stand up fighter?

Kenny: Being a BJJ black belt I do like to use the ground to get a submission on my opponents or get a good position on the ground to strike them but I wanted to show a different part of my game. Having the reach on Alex and him being a dangerous striker, I wanted to show people that I am becoming a MMA fighter and not just a BJJ guy who fights MMA. I am not focusing on one thing over another. Just focusing on being the best MMA fighter I can be. I want to be dangerous at it all and be able to keep the fight where I want it. I also want to be as exciting as possible in my fights as well.

Joe: How did it feel to have your hand raised in victory (as two million people were watching)?

Kenny: Honestly, I did not really think about the people watching. For me, it was important to get the win and be technical, effective, injury free and exciting.

Joe: Who do you want to fight next?

Kenny: There are no specific people that I want to fight. I will fight who the UFC thinks I should fight.

Joe: When do you plan on fighting next?

Kenny: Probably in a few months.

Joe: I heard on Joe Rogan's commentary that you would be more dominant at 155lbs. is there a chance in the future that you will go down to the lightweight class?

Kenny: The UFC does not have a 155 lbs division right now. So that is not possible right now so long as I am with the organization. If they bring that division back then yes, I would love to do that. Everybody does that with all the weight classes in the UFC. They cut a lot of weight to fight in the lowest division possible so they can be the strongest in the division. It is obvious from watching me that I am the smallest 170 lber currently in the UFC. I would best benefit from doing the same thing and cutting weight to fight at 155 lbs.

Joe: Do you want a rematch with Diego Sanchez?

Kenny: I would love to have a rematch with him at 170 lbs. But like I said in another interview, I feel it is important for me to prove that I deserve a rematch first. I need to get some impressive wins under my belt to show that I am a threat to him again. What happened to me in my fight against Diego was just a total disaster. I will stop with the excuses but I will say that the fight should not have gone down that way.

Joe: Do you think that at 170lbs. you would have a greater advantage against him (if you were ever to fight again)?

Kenny: Diego is going to be stronger and bigger than me at 170 let alone 185 so yes, 170 gives me a greater advantage in my opinion.

Joe: Did you catch the premiere of the new Ultimate Fighter (if so what did you think of it)?

Kenny: I did catch the first episode. I thought the production of the show was very slick and I am looking forward to the next episodes. I was very disappointed with the attitudes of the contestants that dropped out because they really did miss out on an incredible opportunity that other fighters could have taken advantage of. I also felt terrible for Kerry who was forced to drop out due to injury. I mean, they did not show all the hard work and training that we did mainly because our house had so much action and drama but we worked our asses off. I don’t think quitting was even on my list of options. I thought the whole process was so cool and fun. As overmatched and overworked as Jason Thacker felt, he never gave in and quit.

Joe: Who do you think will win the Arlovski/Buentello fight at UFC 55?

Kenny: Jeez, I think this fight is a lot closer then a lot of people think. Buentello has some dangerous hands and he is very agile and strong. I think we have all seen more of Arlovski and we have seen the path of destruction he has left. I think due to his experience and momentum, I think Arlovski will probably win by KO but I would love to see Paul do well and get the upset. I mean this will be only Paul’s 3rd fight in the Octagon I believe. I think Paul will be a guy who will come back from this though and be a big threat to the title later on.

Joe: Who do you think will win the Griffin/Freeman fight at UFC 55?

Kenny: I gotta go with my man Forrest on this one. This has all the makings of a war though. Freeman is a guy who loves to strike and he has dynamite in his hands. Forrest needs to utilize his reach and his thai clinch if Freeman gets on the inside. I definitely feel that Forrest has the superior ground game though. Forrest could make this an efficient and quick fight if he takes this fight to the ground.

Joe: What are some of your hobbies outside of the Octagon?

Kenny: I hang out with my girlfriend, play chess and read books. I like to travel as much as possible as well. When I am not fighting, I am teaching students or training myself. I usually do not have too much time for too many other things in my life. I am not a big party animal or anything like that.

Joe: When did your MMA career begin?

Kenny: My first MMA fight was in Feb. 2002. I fought one of the best and most experienced guys in the area with around 15 fights and I won by TKO in the first round on the ground.

Joe: How did your MMA career begin?

Kenny: It was always something I wanted to try. It was more me wanting to test myself and my BJJ skills more than anything else. I was always teaching, doing BJJ tournaments, doing submission wrestling tournaments. I did this for the next 3 years maybe taking 1 mma fight a year. I have not really started training MMA seriously until the Ultimate Fighter Show.

Joe: Who inspired you to get into Mixed Martial Arts?

Kenny: I guess that would be Royce Gracie back in the first UFC. Today, it is guys like Chuck Lidell, Randy Couture, Fedor, Cro Cop and Vaderlei Silva who inspire me.

Joe: What advice would you give to teenagers that want to become Mixed Martial Arts fighters?

Kenny: I would tell them that it is not as great as it looks on TV. There is so much hard work involved with so little payback. You just don’t start fighting in the UFC. It may take years and years and even then, you may not make it. The pay is terrible up until you get to the biggest shows. Even then, when compared to other jobs, you realize, the pay is still not great. You have to fight MMA because you love it and live it. An open mind, passion, amazing determination, heart, superior skill and an incredible willingness to win are all needed to be an MMA fighter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What Ever Happened to....? (1)

Well today I was watching one of the greatest movies of all times, none other then "The Karate Kid", and then my mind went off to ask myself, what ever happened to Ralph Macchio? I mean The Karate Kid is still huge, in fact I have not meet anyone who hasn't seen the movie, and I haven't meet anyone who hasn't used the "wax on, wax off" stitch.

Well I was on and there I found my answer, after Ralph did the Karate Kid he went on to make a film with Nick Nolte called Teachers, IT BOMBED. I ask neighbors who were in that generation about it and they said that the only reason that they went to see Teachers (a movie about a Teacher trying to teach the unteachable) was to see "that guy from the Karate Kid."

After teachers bombed, Ralph did an afterschool special called The Three Wishes of Billy Grier, the film was about a boy (Ralph Macchio) who had a disease that made him age at a fast rate. It may not have been a Masterpiece, but it did a lot more for his career then Teachers ever would have.

In 1986, two years after two of the worst movies to ever be put on celluloid, Ralph went on to make Crossroads which actually wasn't that bad of a movie, and it is also a movie that you can see even today (if you have all the movie channels, I think I saw it on Encore 9069.) But in all seriousness this was quite possibly one of Macchio's greater "non karate kid" movies.

After Crossroads, Macchio came face to face with the fact that he would never leave the shadow of the Karate Kid. So Danny and Miyagi goto Japan so that Danny can fight off new bullies, and Miyagi can continue Daniel sons training. Was the film good? Yes. Did it come close to the greatness of the first one? Don't bet on it.

Okay... well after that he did another Karate Kid movie... and then his career went on a downhill spiral and he never really did a big name movie after that. But he did get a guest spot on Entourage where he played himself.

And thats what happened to Ralph Macchio (AKA The Karate Kid)

Interview with Justin Channell

Do you remember a little film called Raising The Stakes? Thats right that badass little independent film that I reviewed a few days ago, well I got an interview with the man who made the movie... Justin Channell. Here is the interview that we did earlier today:

Joe: What kind of a budget were you working with when you made raising the stakes?

Justin: The production budget was $110, but that was used up fairly quick andwe didn't count gas and such, so it was probably closer to $150. Ifyou want to count the equipment, since we've only used it for Raising The Stakes, it'd be around $600. The best part about the production budget is that around $80 of it came from spending money for a school trip to Disney World. I just held off on buying useless crap with Mickey Mouse printed on it forthe few days I was there, came back, and made a film instead.

Joe: Well who needs useless crap anyways, so how long did RTS take to make?

Justin: We shot about eighteen days spread out through seven months. Shootingstarted in July 2004, but we got delayed by about a week when Josh gota job at Wendy's the day after the first shoot and have to shave hisgoatee. The final shoot was in January 2005 and we wrappedpost-production in February. Actually, the film was edited duringactual production, since there was so much downtime, sopost-production was mostly just putting the finishing touches on thefilm and doing some necessary ADR work.

Joe: Damn that must have been hell, so where did you get the idea from?

Justin: Well, it started when I found out about some kid at my school whobelieved he was a necromancer. He would talk to TJ Rogers (who playsChad and a homeless guy in the film) about how hard it was "to keepdown the dead" and such. I guess one day he brought a knife to schoolto keep his friend "Blade" who had multiple personalities from doingsomething and two girls who were witches turned him in, because he wasa necromancer and that wasn't part of their witch beliefs. I wascompletely amazed that this was actually happening and wanted to basea movie around it.

However, I was also talking to Conrad Brooks about making a movie andI had two vampire scripts setting on my hard drive. One was a seriousshort about a kid who buys a potion to become a vampire and can'tbring himself to kill and the other was about role-playing nerdsmasquerading as vampires. I combined the two ideas and then Conradsuggested I make a feature instead. So I used the insane actions ofthose necromancers and witches and my 30 page script to expand it outinto a full-length 87 page script.

Joe: Very interesting story, we got a great film out of it though... Did you have anyone else in mind for the role of Steve and Bob, other then Josh or Zane?

Justin: Nope. They were my best friends and I knew they had the chemistrythat would make it work. I actually wrote most of the main characterswith all of my close friends in mind for the parts.

Joe: How did you get most of your locations?

Justin: Well, Steve's room is just my bedroom and Chad's house is Zane'shouse, so it wasn't too hard to find those. I used the parking lotof Warehouse Groceries for a lot of scenes, since it had some fairlydecent natural lighting and I actually had permission to shoot there. For other scenes, I'd just ask around and see where I could shoot,since most people and business owners were cool with it. A littleinteresting fact: all of the scenes that take place inside of variousstores were shot during business hours. We were lucky enough to findcool stores that didn't get much traffic whenever we were shooting. However, a few locations we did not have permission to shoot at and wejust did it late at night when nobody would notice us and usedstreetlights for our lighting. Of course, you can tell by the look ofthese scenes that this was a terrible idea, but it got the job done.

Joe: Was casting for the film difficult?

Justin: Somewhat, especially when casting actresses. It's always hard to findactresses for some reason. That and casting Maxwell Selwyn was abitch. Conrad Brooks was who the role was written for (that's whythere's the haggling scene... it's based off of my first time meetinghim and buying a copy of Plan 9 From Outer Space), but it was going tobe too hard to shoot with him, so I just shot the rest of the filmuntil we figured out what was going on. Then we were going to useDennis Markel, the propriator of the local costume/makeup store TheIllusive Skull, but he was too busy when the time came around. Then,we were blessed to discover Ryan Stocking, the new teacher at ourschool. I was sold when I found out he dove out a second story windowon to a slender ledge to retrieve a Skittles wrapper a student threwout the window and that he made a short film with his friends where hehad his dog drive a car. Like, they had the dog standing up with it'spaws on the wheels while someone ran the pedals and steered the carfrom below... in real traffic.

Joe: That's weird I thought that everygirl wanted to be a movie star, so did your brother want to be in the movie or did you have to force him into it?

Justin: I really don't remember. I know it wasn't hard to have him do thescene, but I don't remember if I had to convince him to do it or not. For the record, he doesn't really sound like that, but he does play apretty convincing irate redneck store owner. He also got his haircuta few months ago, so now instead of looking like a scraggly hippie, he looks like some dude that will come fix your computer.

Joe: How is development coming for you next project?

Justin: Well, we had a script for the film (tentatively titled DIE AND LETLIVE, formerly titled LIVE AND LET DIE, but I wasn't aware there wasalready a James Bond movie with that title... serious, I've never satthrough a whole Bond movie in my entire life) which I think turned outreally good. We were planning to shoot this summer, but I had beenselected to go to Governor's Honor's Academy: a three week programright in the middle of July. That put a big dent in our availibleshooting time, but I thought we might still be able to get it done. When I got back, I discovered most of the cast had started a bandcalled Paddlefoot which was taking up a good bit of time. So to helpthings along, I wrote it into the script. Then I found out one of ourleads was going to head off to the beach, so I tried to shoot as muchwith him as possible. I was only able to get one shoot in before,which didn't go as well as planned, and then another one of the leadstold me he planned on cutting his hair soon. I would've been able towrite it into the script, but there just wasn't enough time to get therest of the film done. Once everyone was getting ready for school,things were really hectic and I just realized things weren't gettingoff to a good start, so I pulled the plug temporarily.

What I plan to do is revise the script to focus on less characters andhopefully begin shooting sometime in 2006. Originally, Josh, Zane,and most of the IWC regulars played supporting parts, but in therevision, they'll be the focus. It's kind of a bummer, because I'mvery proud of the writing and structure in the original script, butI'd rather make comprimises than not get the movie done at all orexecute the script poorly. I'm not sure how much of it will bechanged, but it's going to be an odd mix up of Return of the LivingDead, satire on Degrassi-esque high school situations, and homages tothe 1993 family classic The Sandlot. Trust me, it'll work.

Also, if we can get our shit together this week, we might have asegment in Freak Productions upcoming anthology FACES OF SHLOCK 2.

Joe: Are you going to be in Poultrygeist?

Justin: Unless Troma offers to fly me to wherever they're doing reshoots, no. But you know I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Joe: So did you have a cameo in Raising The Stakes?

Justin: Yes. I actually appear as four different characters: the ding dongditcher, Robert Mesko (TV salesman), the panda guy, and one of thehecklers at the beginning. I honestly hate watching myself oncamera, though. I had only planned on playing Robert Mesko, at theinsistance of Zane Crosby, but when actors don't show up for smallparts, what are you going to do?

Joe: Was it hard to get Lloyd Kaufman or Count Gore de vol in the movie?

Justin: Nope. All I had to do was ask. Well, Lloyd was a bit tougher, asoriginally his scenes were to be shot in New York by Troma employeesduring a DVD intro shoot. But, if you know Troma, you know how hecticthings can get there and the cameo was probably the last thing theywere worried about. So when I saw Lloyd was going to be in Pittsburghfor a Make Your Own Damn Movie master class, I decided to just do itthere. At first, I thought I wasn't going to get to go, since Icouldn't find a ride, but eventually my mother came through and tookus up there.

Count Gore and Lloyd were both great to work with. Count Gore gave usa great bit of advice, which was watch out using the word fuck. Unfortunately, we had already shot most of TJ's scenes, where he saidfuck somewhere around 37 times every take, but it was good advicenevertheless. Lloyd was great and incredibly supportive, as were allthe local Pittsburgh filmmakers who were there. There were a couplepeople trying to help out and I think I was a bit hesitant to letthem, as I was so used to having no crew and doing everything myself. However, I did get some great advice from them and David and DianaSilvio (producers of MEAT FOR SATAN'S ICEBOX) even gave me Toxie's Mopfrom the event after we finished shooting.

Halo 2: Team Slayer Top Five

Here are the gladiators of the week, I am talking about the Team Slayer Top 5 of the week... Here are the Xbox Live gametags of the well deserving few.

Be LikE TiM
Be Like Ryan

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Stupid or Ignorant?

Just recently I have been seeing a lot of Bill Mahlers face on TV (with his show Real Time and his HBO comedy special) and personally I admire a man who is not afraid to call them as he sees them, even when the risk is high. There is one thing that I do not agree with him, that is the fact that he says that George Bust isn't Stupid, but he is ignorant, I feel very differently about this.

For starters lets talk about a popular issue, 9-11-01, the day that we were attack by our own aircraft. Now at first glance, this isn't George Bush's fault, I mean its not like he had documents that just said "Osama Bin Ladin is going to use our own aircraft against us and crash plains into the world trade center." But wait, there were such documents, with titles that sound just the same as that, and in some cases they were even more clear then that.

The documents were going over to Bush, while he was on his private ranch on an eight month vacation, around this time the Hijackers (that crashed the planes into the Trade center and pentegon) were still in flight school. The memos that George Bush was sent did not have names, but intelligence didn't check flight schools, they didn't go for passports, hell they didn't even get off their fat asses, they just sat around and let an event worse then Pearl Harbor itself occur.

Here is the icing on the cake, the cream of the crop, after the attacks occured, Bush knew that it was the Afghans who made the attacks. So what do we do to the Afghans, JACK SHIT! This pisses me the fuck off, yet makes me laugh at the same time, one country attacks us, so instead of going after them, Bush makes us go after another country that had NOTHING to do with the events of 9/11.

Ignorance... no, stupidity.... yes.

You know what, there is this little document, I don't know if you all have heard of it, it's called geeze... what was that document again? You know that one thing that our fore fathers wrote, with the John Hancock, oh yeah the Declaration of Inde-fucking-pendence... well anywho, the D.O.I. gives us little things called civil liberties, you know, freedom of speech, right to the press, and even right to bare arms. Well anywho George W. Dickweed got tired of everyone saying mean things about him, so what he decided to do was make a Bill to take you civil liberties away, just so that the "Terrorists" wouldn't have an advantage. And he had the balls to call it THE PATRIOT ACT even though our fore fathers wouldn't have considered such as thing.

Ignorance... no (I am sure that even a president as dumb as Bush would know what the D.O.I. is)... Stupidity... Yeah I would say so.

Basically, American Voters fucked up... Election time 2004 we could have gotten someone that knows what the hell they are doing into office, but instead we get the big shaft... George W. Dickweed, I just hope that he doesn't fuck things up worse then he already has... but he probably will. This article was just to get a few things off my chest and let me tell you what I feel much better, knowing that since you read this you either hate Bush or hate Bush more.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

UFC 54: Results

UFC 54: Boiling Point was all and all a great event. The fights were spectacular, starting with the Diego Sanchez fight against Brian Gassaway. The fight went to the second round, but about two minutes into it Diego put Gassaway on the ground and started pounding on him, forcing Brian to tapout (due to punches).

The Couture/Van Arsdale fight was one for the books, the first round was world class grappling at its finest, just as you you thought one man was in trouble, he would have the other guy in trouble... But after the first round, Mike Van Arsdale was exhausted and wound up tapping out (due to a Gilly Roll) in the beginning of the third round...

And last but not least we had our main event between Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell vs. Jeremy "Gumby" Horn. In this fight Horn went toe to toe with Chuck, only because he could not take Chuck down. In the first round Chuck knocked Horn down and bombarded him with punches, but Horn still stayed tough in the fight. By the second round the entire arena was screaming for Chuck, who once again knocked Horn down and bombarded him with punches, but Horn wasn't out just yet. In the third round Horn shocked the world as he won the round by giving Chuck some nice leg kicks, with a narly kick to the side of Chuck's head... Would this be the night where Horn proved the Critiques wrong?

In the forth round the crowd switched sides and began to cheer for Horn, but their cheers were meaning less as once again Chuck knocked down Jeremy Horn, this time though Horn could no longer see, so Horn walked up to the ref and into the forth round Horn gave up due to the fact that he couldn't see. Chuck Liddell is still the champ and he avenged his first loss against Jeremy Horn.