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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bey Logan Interview (Exclusive) (C) 2015 Dan's Movie Report



Bey Logan has been working in Hong Kong for two decades, from doing commentary on Hong Kong films, to working as a writer and director, Bey has carved his slice of the action. Most recently he wrote and produced Lady Bloodfight and worked as a producer on the second installment of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Bey told me it has been a long time since he has been interviewed, well, here goes, another Dan's Movie Report exclusive interview.



Chat about your childhood, and what made you decide to be involved in

film?


From when I can first remember, I was just obsessed with the moving image and with martial arts. I can’t really explain why, especially regarding the latter. There is one rather metaphysical interpretation. I have a complicated family background, kind of similar to that movie ‘Philomena’, and I grew up with adoptive parents. While I was living my middle class English life in Peterborough, England, my real mother was over in Australia training in karate from her husband, Tino Ceberano, and, later, getting involved in the entertainment industry. And, even though we didn’t know each other at that time, I ended up doing pretty much the same things in the UK and then Hong Kong. So I guess if you believe in these kinds of spiritual connections, that would make sense, and if you don’t it wouldn’t. First time I’ve talked about that in an interview, I think! 

 

Did meeting Jackie Chan inspire you to want to write and direct?


I was already writing stories and scripts before I knew Jackie Chan, but certainly he gave me my first real chance to write and produce movies for him, and I’ll always be grateful to him. I first met Jackie when I flew to Hong Kong for the first time, I was 20 years old, and I interviewed him at Golden Harvest studios for a magazine article. I never dreamt that I’d ever have a chance to work with him. It was more than ten years later that he let me work on his documentaries, ‘Jackie Chan My Story’ and ‘My Stunts’, on the films ‘Gen-X Cops’ and its sequel, and then to write ‘The Medallion’, and then to produce ‘Twins Effect’, in which Jackie appeared. It was an amazing to experience working with Jackie, and I hope to again before either one of us retires!


3) Share a story from working on The Twins Effect, interesting film.


I became involved with ‘The Twins Effect’ right after we finally finished ‘The Medallion’. The new head of production at Emperor Motion Pictures, Carl Chang, showed me these proposals for their upcoming slate, including this concept for a movie about these two young Asian girls fighting vampires. I said that was the one we should make, and that we should bring Donnie Yen back to Hong Kong to action direct. He was living in LA at that time. Donnie and the director, Dante Lam, had very different styles, but we won Best Action at the Hong Kong Film Awards, which was great, and the film was a big hit, which is never a bad thing!


Jackie Chan had a role in the film. I remember one night we were filming down by the waterfront in Hong Kong, and everyone was under these canvas awnings. It was dark and I was trying to write some notes on the dialogue, and I had a pen and notepad and was holding a torch in my mouth as I wrote. Jackie saw this and went to take the shoelace from one of his sneakers, and then he took the torch and tied it to the crossbeam of the awning, and so the light shone down on me as I wrote. And that’s how I’ve always thought of Jackie Chan, a bringer of light to this dark world!

 

 

Chat about working on The Blood Bond, I reviewed that film


Blood Bond was a movie I rushed into right after I finished my first three year tour of duty with The Weinstein Company. Most people who leave a major film company say they’re going to make their own films, and of course most never do, so I felt I had something to prove. It was an interesting script, an interesting project, and it kind of got hijacked by Michael Biehn, who was hired to star in the film and ended up directing it. Michael’s a nice guy, a very talented actor, but he was the completely the wrong man to direct a martial arts action movie in China, at least at that time. It was a good lesson for me that you either have to maintain control yourself as a producer, Jerry Bruckheimer style, or else you find people you can trust and let them shine.

 

Were you happy with the final edit of the film?


I think it has its moments, but doesn’t match what was intended. And we had all the moving parts that were needed to make a better film! It was released in theatres and on DVD in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia, but it kind of got buried internationally. The funny thing is that I watch all these straight-to-video Dolph Lundgren and Vinnie Jones films they make now in LA and elsewhere, and, compared to them, I think Blood Bond actually stands up pretty well. At the time, though, I felt I could do better. And happily I went on to do so!



Chat about Covert Operations, AKA The Borderland, has the film been

released yet? Perhaps discuss the plot and more about the film.


The film has been released in the UK, North America and Japan, and probably elsewhere by now. This was a project that came about when I was producing a short film, ‘SOLIID’, for a director called F. Manga. This was something we did at a studio in China I used to have a deal with, the same one where I shot Blood Bond. Manga’s project was brought to me by Seydina Balde, an old friend of mine who had been 5 times world karate champion. ‘SOLIID’ never got made, but Seydina came back saying he had an investor and a director and a script for a film called ‘Borderland’, which was kind of ‘Die Hard’-in-a-North-Korean-bunker concept. So we made that movie, and it turned out very well, in my admittedly biased opinion!


‘Producing’ is such a generic term. On this film, Seydina, as a producer, brought in the financing (very important!) and found Mathieu Weschler, the director, and Vincent Viellard-Barone, the DP, and himself as star, then, when they moved to Hong Kong and China, I took over so Seydina could focus on the acting and the action. I think it was the perfect team, and the look that Mathieu and Vincent got was so great. It’s so imaginative, such a ‘go for broke’ movie, stylistically, where it could so easily have been a generic video actioner. I’m very proud of the film. I kind of thought that it would be a stepping stone for everyone involved to do bigger films, and I hope that happens in time. I’d certainly be very open to doing another movie with the same team. Maybe even ‘Covert Operations AKA The Borderland 2’!

 

Chat about the idea of Lady Bloodfight, how the concept and idea came

about.


I felt that there was an increasing interest in female martial artists, with these characters being used in side roles in these big franchises like The Expendables, Fast and Furious, though the leads were still men… I thought it would be interesting to do a whole film about an American girl who comes to Hong Kong to compete in a secret tournament, basically the kind of film you would normally make with a guy in the lead! As a producer, I always have a decent writer on staff, myself!, to hammer out a first draft, and that’s what I did here. 

 

 

Was it hard to get the project off the ground in the beginning? Chat

about the casting and challenges you had to go through on the initial

stages of Lady Bloodfight?


I was very lucky in that Voltage Pictures, who are a highly regarded LA-based production company, who have won Oscars and so on, responded to the script. This was Nic Chartier, who started the company, and Zev Foreman, who was responsible for developing Lady Bloodfight, and also Babacar Diene, who was very involved in developing the script. They had a lot more ambition for the film than even I did! They brought it to a different scale. They were the ones who signed the incredible Amy Johnston to star in it, and they got Chris Nahon (Kiss of the Dragon) to direct and Michel Abramowicz (Taken) as DP.

 

 


Lady Bloodfight promises full force action, I noticed that several of

the ladies in the film are fitness people or body builder types, so a lot

of new fresh faces, was there a lengthy audition process? I saw that there

was a few weeks of training prior to the filming,


That was what we thought would be the real challenge. You had to find a female martial arts star that could carry a film, both as an actress and a fighter, which was Amy, who is just amazing. I was so impressed with how good of an actress she is. It’s not really fair to compare her with the other female martial artists who’ve starred in movies, she’s that good. Then you needed all the other women warriors to participate in the tournament, and what we found was that there were a lot of really talented, very physically gifted performers out there, just waiting for someone to make a film like Lady Bloodfight! We had people like Jenny and Kathy Wu (who are not actually related!) and Muriel Hoffman, who came from a conventional acting background, and they really threw themselves into the martial arts training under Hung Yan Yan Shrfu. Then you had Jet Tranter, who already had an on-line following as a fitness icon and for whom I think this is a break out movie role. Jet’s a very interesting actress because she has this very formidable physical presence, but then she’s also, as a person, very funny and also very sensitive, and this comes across on screen. And then you’re only as great as your villain, and we got really lucky with Mayling Ng, who I had first met when I was working on the film Twins Effect. She is a martial artist/bodybuilder and was such a ‘good’ bad girl. Stanislavsky said there are no small parts, just small actors, and I’m happy to say there are no small actors in this film. I cast some people I knew, like Rosemary Vandenbroucke, Nathaliea Ng and Lisa Cheng, and they really surprised me with what they could do, in terms of both acting and action, and there were some players who were new to me, including Lauren Rhoden and Sunny Coelst, who were just as stunning. In total, we had 16 fighting femme fatales in this, and they all gave 100% and more, every day.

 

 

How were the local crew to work with? What was the name of the stunt

crew you used, have to give them their props.


The local team were a mixed bag. We made some decisions early that created challenges for us further down the line and a very experienced American line producer, Justin Bursch, came on, who had worked on some Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren films, which was the perfect background for this film, and Justin proved invaluable. Our action coordinator was the great Hung Yan Yan, who kung fu film fans know from the Once Upon a Time in China series, Tsui Hark’s Blade, Seven Swords… Yan Yan put a good team together, and everyone trained at my now legendary kwoon in Cheung Sha Wan. I also want to mention my local producing partner, Uri Schwarz, who had done just one low budget movie before, Stories Forelorn, but proved such a great asset. I think we’ve now lost him to Hollywood!


I was just blown away by Chris Nahon, who, amazingly, hadn’t made a film for about five years before working on ‘Lady Bloodfight’, and this guy is simply incredible. I’d been lucky enough to spend the previous year working with various Oscar nominated directors, and Chris is their equal in every respect. ‘Lady Bloodfight’ is going to be an unusual martial arts film in that the non-action scenes are shot in a way that’s just as exciting and revolutionary as the fights. He and (DP) Michel (Abramowicz) created this extraordinary style for the movie. I’ve actually never worked with anyone who has a more total grasp of the medium than Chris, and I hope and believe ‘Lady Bloodfight’ will bring him back into the film-making mainstream. Also he’s such a kind and loyal person, both Chris and his wife Cecilia. They both showed their appreciation for me creating a project that can show the world what Chris Nahon can do as a director, and you don’t always find that kind of loyalty in this industry. I really miss spending so much time with them in Hong Kong.


Amy Johnston. I predict is going to be an A list action star soon, how

did you approach her for the lead in Lady Bloodfight?


I have to give Voltage Pictures credit for seeing the full potential in Amy. She came to us having been Scarlett Johansson’s double on Captain America: Winter Soldier, so we knew she had the action down. What blew me away was what a great actress she is. Amy could completely hold her own in a straight drama with no fighting. She and Muriel Hofmann, who plays Amy’s teacher in the film, are a great double act, on camera and off.


Now that the film has completed principal photography, are there any

ADR shots left, or is it all ready for post? When is the release

anticipated for? I am assuming this is going to be a hard R rated film?


The film is in post now, Chris is cutting away and this is where we benefit hugely from having Voltage produce the film, because they have a great track record in making sure their films get the post they deserve and the distribution and so on. So it’s in good hands!



Ok, time to get on to CTHD2, How did you become involved in the

project?


I actually can’t talk about the specifics of CTHD2, other than saying it was an honour to be invited by the producer, Harvey Weinstein, to join the team. It was genuinely an amazing experience, truly, uniquely, extraordinary.


With Woo-Ping directing the film seems to promise more action, and

conflict. I know the plot and such is under a tight wrap, I hear there are

some amazing action sequences with Juju Chan's Silver Dart Shi character,

she is like a protector and fights with Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh? Is

there anything you can chat about with regards to other action in the film

now?


It’s going to be amazing. Juju Chan worked very hard on the film. We actually wanted her to be in Lady Bloodfight, but she was apparently too busy working in LA on a new project. The whole team in front of and behind the camera on CTHD2 was just world class.


Perhaps share a cool or funny behind the scenes story from CTHD2 shoot,

any pranks or silliness happening?


Everyone was working too hard! No-one had time for any pranks. And there weren’t any on Lady Bloodfight, either! The funniest thing on the Lady Bloodfight set was Justin Bursch's beard…


Chat about martial arts in US films VS Asian produced movies, do you

find the tendency is to take short cuts and quick edits on US films?


I was infamous for criticizing the martial arts action scenes in Hollywood movies, in the pages of Impact and elsewhere. Over time, American producers realised that Hong Kong film-makers, the people I was championing, Yuen Woo-ping, Sammo Hung, Corey Yuen and so on, started working in Hollywood productions. Now, though, I think the best of the American choreographers, the guys that did John Wick, for example, are on a par with Hong Kong film-makers in terms of modern day action, but I still think we do traditional kung fu fighting better!

 

Perhaps share some advice for up and coming actors.


I think the best advice comes from object lessons, you see who else has succeeded and learn from that. For example, something I remember very well from Maggie Q was still in Hong Kong is her incredible work ethic. When she had to do martial arts scenes, she would put in extra time with the stunt team. When she was going to do a stage play, she took singing lessons to help with her breath control. Her success came because she worked on it. That’s not to say that everyone who works hard can succeed, but you do have some say about how much effort you put it, though not in how lucky you are. As Louis Pasteur said “chance favours the prepared mind.” You also have to be able to recognise opportunity when it’s presented to you. And it always helps if you’re loyal!


After she’d played a lead in ‘Naked Weapon’, I offered Maggie a supporting role in ‘Dragon Squad’, a film I was producing, and her management were telling her not to take it, the part wasn’t big enough, the money was no good and she was just like “^%& it, its Bey, I’m in…” We were filming in Happy Valley cemetery and there was a stunt where Maggie’s character was meant to be swing down on a cable from a tree. The action director, Chin Kar Lok, was suggesting we use a double, and Maggie, of course, insisted on doing it herself. And someone was on set who was involved with the casting for ‘Mission Impossible 3’, and that started that whole chain of events which took her to Hollywood.


So the moral of the story is work hard, stay loyal to your mates, jump from that tree and grab the chance when it comes…!

 


What are some of your future projects?


I feel that, with CTHD2. Lady Bloodfight, shooting a fight with Donnie Yen for Kung Fu Jungle, the first cycle of my career has draw to a close. I’ve been in production for a long time now, if you add together the time I spent prepping Lady Bloodfight, then we had to postpone it and I went to prep and shoot CTHD2 and then prep and finally make Lady Bloodfight... Right now, I’m taking a sabbatical in my hidden fortress, writing a new script for an east-west actioner, finishing my long-awaited new volume on Hong Kong kung fu cinema, waiting the further call to arms from my home studio, The Weinstein Company…


Whatever the future holds, as a western writer, producer and film expert living in Hong Kong, I’ve had 20 years here that no-one came close to matching, in terms of the range of my experience and success, and yes, I am proud of that! There have been up and downs, like there are in any career, in any life, but it’s been quite a ride for a middle class English guy from Peterborough. I’m very aware that I’ve been blessed to live out the dreams of my youth.


The film industry has changed so much, globally, since I joined it and, locally, I look forward to seeing younger non-Chinese, or overseas Chinese, fulfilling their visions, people like Mike Leeder, Roseanne Liang, Uri (Schwarz), Jason (Tobin)… There’s so much talent out there. The tools are now here for these guys and gals to create their own projects, from the ground up, and I can take it a little easier! I’m training with my teacher, Mak Chi-kong Sifu, studying, spending time with my family, with my kids, who haven’t seen enough of me the last year. Living the book of my life, as Stevie Wonder put it…


There you have it straight from the mind of Bey Logan, Get ready for the two Bey Logan projects unleashing later in 2015 and more interviews from the cast of Lady Bloodfight!

2 comments:

  1. If he slapped himself on the back any harder he'd break his spine!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fab Interview.
    Very interesting.

    http://thisgurlsonfilm.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete

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