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Sitges Film Fest premiere done! The Proposal reviews kick in!

Marc Natoli and I were at the Sitges Film Festival to premiere the retro action short film The Proposal (beautifully Directed by Ben Whimpey and Produced by Antonio Raiola). Marc was producer, fight choreographer and lead actor on it while and I wrote and co produced the thing.

The main reason I got onboard The Proposal was to introduce newcomer Marc Natoli to an international film audience/industry. The man can act, has 25 years of martial arts experience under his belt, has the right mindset and is a certified 3rd Degree Bruce Lee instructor. And what better place to break Natoli in the biz on a high level than the Sitges Film Festival!

I am happy to report that The Proposal was well received and it achieved what I wanted it to achieve. Now to build off it! In fact, Natoli and I presently have an action feature in development, so stay tuned on that! A huge thank you to the Sitges Film festival for their support. Still the best festival in the world. Here are some of the Proposal reviews that surfaced after Sitges!

Sitges Red Carpet

THE ACTION ELITE
“Once Natoli is on screen you know he will be capable of bringing the pain to all comers… and he doesn’t disappoint.”

“I’ve always been a fan of John Fallon’s writing as he hearkens back to the Grindhouse/Exploitation days in his movies like Deaden or American Muscle however, The Proposal almost feels more accessible for the casual viewer and fans of old-school action fare.”

“The Proposal left me hungry for more and I would love to see it with a bigger budget and longer runtime but as it stands Marc Natoli is one to watch.”

-FULL REVIEW HERE

ACTION FLIX.COM:
“Marc Natoli takes center stage for the first time and with it, he announces himself as the new contender in on screen martial arts action.”

“Ben Whimpey, keeps everything moving at a brisk pace and never lets anything lag from beginning to end. If he can do this with 12 minutes then he should definitely be allowed to helm a bigger action spectacle. “

“Producer and writer John Fallon’s script is chock full of awesome action one liners.”

FULL REVIEW HERE

FILMESETAL.COM
“The Proposal’s production values feel very high budget. All the great qualities are there. The action scenes are top notch (better than a bunch of movies and Netflix shows – cough Iron Fist cough.), the comedy is there. All around great writing. 

Fallon was able to pack a lot into so little. That takes a lot of mastery. This script could easily be turned into a game, a full-length movie (I could see a franchise being born from that), or a kick-ass series. The director, Ben Whimpey was able to get what Fallon crafted and shot it beautifully. “

“Natoli is poised for greatness, an action star in the making!”

FULL REVIEW HERE

FILM COMBAT SYNDICATE
“The fight scenery isn’t too far off and neither are some of the quips and one-liners that will give you a chuckle in between.

“Narrating between select scenes for the suited affect, Natoli delivers both in fine form, particularly having serviced the fight choreography.”

“It puts Natoli on the map for all of us to be aware of!”

FULL REVIEW HERE

WE CAME FROM THE BASEMENT
“This is a slick little movie that has the look and feel of a larger production. The camera work and production values are top notch, as are the performances. “

“Natoli is a martial arts expert, and it shows. The fights are fluid, but not too showy. They look real, and painful, and are a lot of fun to watch.”

“Fallon’s script hits all the right notes, taking a 90-minute concept and making it work in a short amount of time. “

FULL REVIEW HERE

ARROW IN THE HEAD
“The film is all about sporting an 80’s action vibe and I dug the hell out of all the details. THE PROPOSAL knows (for the most part) just why those films were as badass, charming, and enduring as they were. This quick flick doesn’t forget to sport a sense of humor, and the subgenre-required after-kill punchlines and puns are right on for this kind of film.”

“Marc Natoli as our main hero, Mason Stone, is just right for the part; brimming with muscle for days, the man handles the action with ease. But being that this is equal parts 80’s action throw-down and light romantic comedy, Natoli also handles the charm, and comedic touches, with just the right amount of pizzazz. Kahli Williams is beyond gorgeous and possesses more than her fair share of acting skills to boot”

FULL REVIEW HERE

Presenting The Proposal before a packed house.
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80’s-90’s action film homage The Proposal has World Premiere at the Sitges Film Festival!

Od ton80’s-90’s  action short film THE PROPOSAL (which I wrote and co-produced) will be having its world premiere at the prestigious Sitges Film Festival (see its page here) in Catalonia Spain.

It will screen at the Tramuntana Meliá Sitges Theatre on October 10, 2018 at 4:00PM. You can get your tickets here! Star, producer and martial arts expert Marc Natoli and myself will be in attendance to support the picture. My Sitges friends better be there, belly well fed with beer, ready to have a good time! 😉

The film is Directed by Ben Whimpey (producer of Quanta and Arrowhead), Produced by Antonio Raiola, Edited by Elizna van der Walt while the Juzzy Kane was the DP.  The Music is by Dmitri Golovko. It also stars Kahli Williams (Neighbors), action star Paul Allica (Trigonal) and actor/stuntman Lincoln Barros (The Wheel).

Synopsis: When gun for hire and all around tough customer Mason Stone (Marc Natoli) takes his long time girlfriend Emma (Kahli Williams) out on the town with the intent of popping the big question, he finds his proposal plans rudely interrupted by a group of highly skilled assassins who are after him. What’s a man to do in this kind of situation? Only one thing: kick butt.

Natoli Productions, ARR Productions, Indimax Productions and Bruise Productions are behind the film.

You can follow the production via the Official Instagram page here:
https://www.instagram.com/proposal_film/

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First poster and details for ambitious and brutal action packed short The Proposal! Now in pre-production!

Marc Natoli (Mason Stone) practicing a fight choreography.

The action driven THE PROPOSAL, a short film that I wrote and that I’m co producing is presently in pre production set to roll under the camera this coming July, 2018!

I thought I was done with short films, but when Marc Natoli, a fighter with superior skills to the norm came to me with a story idea for an action short, I was intrigued. And then when I learned what his team’s intent was technically – to basically “out-Crank” CRANK – I was sold in coming onboard to write the script. The Proposal can be perceived as many things, a short film on its own, a proof of concept for an impending feature (the potential is there IMO) or a show- off piece for all involved –but one thing is for certain – it will kick that ass like ass hasn’t been kicked since The Raid in 2011!

Here are the details!

Synopsis: When gun for hire and all around tough customer Mason Stone (Marc Natoli) takes his long time girlfriend Emma (Kahli Williams) out on the town with the intent of popping the big question, he finds his proposal plans rudely interrupted by a group of highly skilled assassins who want him dead. What’s a man to do in this kind of situation? Only one thing: kick butt

The film stars newcomer actor/martial arts expert Marc Natoli (The Siege of Robin Hood) and Kahli Williams (Neighbors). It is written by John Fallon (American Muscle, The Shelter) is Directed by Ben Whimpey (producer of Quanta and Arrowhead), Edited by Elizna van der Walt while the DP is Juzzy Kane. The Music will be by Dmitri Golovko.

Actress Kahli Williams doing our photoshoot. She plays Emma.

Star and Producer Marc Natoli had this to say about his approach to the action: “As far as the fighting and choreography goes, what we’re aiming for is to be

different than what’s been done before. The 25 years of combat sports and Martial Arts I have under my belt has made my fighting style quite unique. Everything will be as realistic as possible. I’m going to bring together the speed and flow of Jeet Kun Do, Kali escrima, silat movement and the aggressiveness of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and Thai styles. They will be defined and as technical as possible while staying true to realistic kick ass movements. I want people to see every move and be like f*ck that’s how it’s done!”

Some of the crew, testing out the drone!

And here’s Producer Antonio Raiola’s take on aesthetics:

“Our aim is to fill the film with bold and unique camera moves and we have all the toys to do so! Free Fly Alta 8, 16 feet Techno Crane and more! In some of the fighting sequences, the camera will be choreographed to go in tandem with the action and it will look like it was all filmed in one take. We’ll even have a gimbal operator on roller blades at some point. Yes, we’re going above and beyond!”

Marc Natoli and Antonio Raiola also act as Executive Producers on the picture. Natoli Productions, ARR Productions, Indimax Productions and Bruise Productions are behind the film. You can follow the production via the Official Instagram page here.

 

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My 2017 in short and my top personal moments!

2017 was a challenging yet rewarding year in the sense that although things didn’t go the way I wanted them to go film biz wise, by the time the year was over, I had some solid foundations laid out, I connected with talented/hungry people and am pumped to build on top of that come 2018.

This year, I’ve also re-dipped my toe in the Montreal Film Industry. I had left it behind  after my last local production left a bitter taste in my mouth in terms of the avalanche of BS that fell upon me.  And it was groovy to partner up  on a film prod with locals again. I did a lots of traveling too (as usual) which expanded my horizons culturally and spiritually and also gave me the “breaks” from the battle that I needed to keep coming back to it with replenished vigor.  And my film The Shelter locked further territories (still have some key ones to nail down) and opened up new doors for me.

On the negative side, I spent more time at the doctors this year than I like (bum knee, messed up foot, ear problems) which interfered with my training.  Moreover the Boxing Gym I used to train at burned down (arson) and I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I loved that f-ing place, the vibe  was right and I enjoyed the people I trained with. It kept me sane and I have yet to find a suitable replacement. So it was a huge bummer for me. So for now, am just weightlifting and hitting the bag at home. But I so miss sparring and the camaraderie I had at that Gym.

The loss of this Gym affected me way more than I thought it would.

Moreover, I lost 4 of my cats this year (they went outside and never came back), which broke my heart, specially Jon Snow (below) whom I loved the most .

Now the first 8 months of the year were trying. I believe in the old adage: you pose actions – you get reactions. But in the film biz it’s you pose actions, you get strung along, and it can take years to get the proper reaction. But the tail end of the year spun that around for me out of the blue and just kept on giving. Am starting 2018 with lots of options and that’s a good place to be. Nothing is done, but I am just happy that my my hard work and constant pushing got me on the playing field. You can’t win a fight if you’re not in the ring.

I walked through bigger doors within the film industry this year, made more prominent contacts and things fell in my lap out of nowhere (which never happens to me). I made new friends in the biz as well, with many that I now consider to be brothers and educated myself further in terms of editing, film sales and the art of crowdfunding/social media know-how (my last, last resort  – good to have in your back pocket).

Losing this guy broke my heart. One of the most affectionate and cool as f*ck cats I ever owned.

As an aside, one thing that I recently realized that I’ve been doing unconsciously is teaming up with peeps that are cut from the same cloth as me.  Folks with strength, a sense of honor, loyalty, biz smarts and that are driven to succeed and achieve like motherf*ckers. Am starting to have a very strong circle around me. People that I’m stoked to work with next year and I’m mucho happy about that. You’re only as good as the folks that surround you. And one thing that I have been doing consciously this year – is leaping out of my comfort zone to try things that I normally wouldn’t for the better of the whole.

So yeah, I’m feeling good right now. Stronger, wiser with more knowledge under my belt.  I’m on the right path… so lets go 2018! I’m ready for ya! On that, here are my top favorite moments of 2017! In no particular order…

After years of talking about doing it, my bro Berge and I finally hit Amsterdam and went NUTS down there. NUTS! Loved it! The varied settings, the partying, hanging with my brother, the broads, and finally switching off for a week to  just “be” was much welcomed. An effortless trip. What a great time!
Took a trip to Rome (my second time there) and for a guy who is fascinated by Christian history, man was I spoiled! I explored the countless sights, got blessed by the Pope, enjoyed the night life and got so much out of it on a whole. My fav place to visit was Saint Paul’s Cathedral Outside the Walls, the resting place of St. Paul, hence the pic! The energy there was palpable. I didn’t want to leave!
Got to hit Paris again, see some friends, biz contacts, meet new people (like the great Julien Seri) take in the sights and hanged with bro David Cholewa and his wonderful family. Paris always does good by me! In my perfect world it would be yearly thing! It almost is at this point.  Viva Torrente!
Finally got a new dog after the passing of my girl Toby. Although he’s a freaking handful (part Lab, Part Golden, part Husky) and is now huge for a puppy (80 pounds at 8 months old), it’s a pleasure to have Caesar be part of the family. And yeah I got him right after Rome – which explains his name.
Got to go to Australia for 3 weeks and helped produce (and acted in) a Medieval action film called THE SIEGE with hungry as the wolf actor/producer Paul Allica (pictured).  It was a rewarding experience, it was enthralling to be on set, I saw it as good training ground for my Templar film Heretic, I learned more about action directing from Master Paul Adreovski and gained further experience on every level. I left there  feeling fulfilled and with a handful of brothers in my heart (Siege actor Marc Natoli and I are already working together) – You can’t ask for better than that!
I got to spend some time in Bruges, Belgium this year. Gorgeous, peaceful and a still very Medieval (much to my pleasure) city. I’d love to get married there some day. And I was so happy when I found a Templar site known as the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Hypnotizing  place, filled with a transfixing vibe. LOVED IT. And I saw finding the place by accident as a sign, being that I am developing a Templar film. Yeah I’m THAT guy 🙂
My end of year trip to LA was a success personally and professionally! It was AWESOME to spend time with my bro Eric Red and his lovely wife Mer, (and their doggies),  got some big meetings under my belt and got to see some of my friends out there like this f-ing guy Paul Sloan.
Spent some time in Philadelphia this year! Eric Walkuski and I got an Award for our work on my site Arrow in the Head (Eric W is the Managing Editor on it). But the highlight was getting f-ed up with Eric and just cutting loose with the lad. Even though I’ve known him for eons, I felt that I got to know him more on this trip.  It was also gnarly to meet some people whom I’ve been talking to online for years and finally get to interact with them in person. You bet booze and arm wrestling went down. Fun times!

So all in all, although not as evened as I hoped it would have been – 2017 was a solid year for this guy. Trying for the first two thirds, which went down smoother by all the traveling that I did, and the last third made it all worthwhile with all of the opportunities that arose. So am riding on that last third, going into 2018.

I’ll leave you with a little video that I like to listen to at the end of every year. Give it a try! May pump you up! Happy New Year everybody! Wishing you all health, success, serenity and happiness. God Bless! JF

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Back from Melbourne, Australia! My experience as producer & actor on The Siege action film!

The last two years of my life have been fairly simple in their complexity. Do all that I can for my directorial debut THE SHELTER to be successful, train hard, be in nature and spent countless hours in meetings, on the phone and online in the name of getting two films off the ground and getting on set. I love being on set, the battle, the challenge of overcoming obstacles, having to anticipate/think ahead and I adore the social/teamwork nature of it all. I feel alive on a set. The harder the shoot, the better. Hence, when fate (i.e. great man Paul Allica) gave me an opportunity to jump on board a medieval action/martial arts film in Australia called THE SIEGE (as Producer and Actor), I couldn’t pass it up.

It was a tough shoot and I relished every second of it. Shooting at Kryal Castle was a delight, living in a camper trailer for 3 weeks in the country a trip (even though I often froze my ass off at nights) and the people were for the most part wonderful. That’s one of the perks of my job – I get to travel the world and meet new folks and usually, I wind up coming back home with new friendships locked and that survive the test of time. Some of my best friends live in France, Spain, Los Angeles, Australia and I truly felt that I left Melbourne with a handful of new brothers on my side. Warriors that I genuinely want to work with again with. Blessed!

My character of The Sergeant is one popular guy.

Moreover, it was a blast for me to watch legendary stunt coordinator, Jackie Chan stunt team member, and now action director Paul Andreovski (Rush Hour 2) direct the wam-bam with his talented stunt team. When I had the time, I would just stand on the sidelines and clock the man do his thing. I was soaking it all in, knowing damn well that it will serve me on HERETIC and EVA. And it should be said that being directed by the man in terms of a fight scene for 15 hours in full armor and with a bum knee (long story, who cares) was quite the honor. I couldn’t get enough! Again, Blessed!

Finally, somebody asked me after the shoot if I had learned something new. I thought about it, and other than now understanding why big Hollywood stars who act and produce on the same film wind up getting a CG makeover in Post (hard to look fresh for the camera when you’re hustling 24/7 on everything else with little sleep under your belt), I can’t say that I did. What I did get though was: this shoot acted as firm reminder of how much I do know about this biz at this stage in my life, how good I am at it and how much fucking punishment I can take and keep on trucking full steam ahead with a big smile on my face.

In between takes as The Sergeant! Yeah, not a nice guy.

Just like any shoot, I built lots of good memories. Top of my head I’ll always remember getting back to my trailer at 6AM after a night shoot, sitting down, having a glass of whiskey, watching the stars and waiting for the sun to rise (a kangaroo came and said wassup on one of them mornings). Then there was the push-up challenges and eat carbs and get punched in the gut deal I had with actor/stuntman Marc Natoli. My best Ozzie mate Bryant making the trip from Sidney to Melbourne to come back me up was also a treat. Existential and spiritual discussions with Collin Allica. The arm wrestling matches (you know me guys, love that shit). Nailing down strategies and having no BS talks with Paul Allica. Stunt guys Sean Craig and John Et Le aka Little Nasty being initiated to Canadian Whiskey shots and paying the price. Man, Myth Siros Niaros (Assistant Stunt Coordinator) being a class act throughout the shoot and always having my back no matter what. Seeing Jousting live. Rolling on the ground with Dave Beamish in full armor for countless hours. Stimulating convos with Paul Andreovski… so many memories.

In closing, I would like to send out a big THANK YOU to star and producer PAUL ALLICA for seeking me out and including me in his adventure. He put his balls on the line and gave it all he had – I know how that is – much respect. And a big thank you to his family (Collin, Kathy and Julie) for welcoming me into their home with open arms. Finally, THANK YOU to everybody involved in this shoot (cast/crew) for being such great fucking people and staying driven and professional even when wthe going got real tough. It was rewarding to be in your company and be proud! You’ve all conquered one hell of a rough battle.

With Siege star and producer Paul Allica. He’s me but younger and with much better hair.

Find below, the synopsis, cast/crew info on THE SIEGE and some BTS pics of the experience. Expect to hear more about the flick soon. Having seen lots of the footage, am very excited about it! We got some great stuff in the can. I’ll keep you guys and dolls in the loop as always.

THE SIEGE takes the legend of Robin Hood in a new exciting direction; mixing adventure, high impact stunts, action, gore, comedy and even a touch of romance. It’s directed by Legendary stunt coordinator, Jackie Chan stunt team member, and now action director Paul Andreovski (Rush Hour 2) who is handling the insane action sequences with his talented stunt team. While Stu Stanton (Charlie Bonnet) is streamlining the dramatic scenes.

The film stars Paul Allica (Journey to China 3D, Tapado: Fight for Justice), myself as a baddie, Dave Beamish (Charlie’s Farm), Kahli Williams (Blood Hunt), David Macrae (A Night of Horror Volume 1), Peter Roordink (Elimination Game), Tom McCathie (Mutt) and dancer Keanu Gonzalez (Cats the Musical) in his first lead role.

On set with actress Kahli Williams and Keanu Gonzalez.

Produced by Paul Allica at Alpha Rush Productions, Shaun McFadyen and John Fallon via Bruise Productions, THE SIEGE will wrap production early next year.

“It’s a time of chaos and tyranny. The once great country of England is splintering as its people struggle to pay for the Crusades. With the King away, the country is on the verge of revolution. The people need a hero. And one shall rise and fight to restore honor to his people. When his mother and sister are brutally murdered by the Sheriff of Nottingham, a young man named Robin Hood vows bloody revenge on the men responsible. But this is not a war he can win alone. Robin gathers a team of outcasts and mavericks, each of whom brings a unique & extreme fighting skill to the table. Together, they gradually tear down the Sheriff’s corrupt organization, with their most daring assault being a siege on his fortified castle.”

Check out some press we got HERE and HERE. And scroll down for more behind the scenes pics.

Kryal Castle! Awesome location.
Action director Paul Andreovski doing his genius – me learning.
My buddies!
View from my production home/production office 😉
Doing fight rehearsal with actor Dave Beamish.
Mist falls upon the castle.
Work hard – play hard. With stuntees Lincoln Barros, John Et Le, Marc Natoli and Siros Niaros. Great fucking guys.
My head is steaming! Sweat equity.
Proud after that 15 hour shoot fight scene. Thx for putting through the ringer Paul!
Was so happy to have my brother Bryant drop by the set for a couple of days. I missed that mook.
Paul Allica about to do some rooftop jumping.
You couldn’t ask for a better ally on set than Siros. And I love his haircut.
Talking shit and smoking too much with Peter Roordink (Little John) was one of the perks of this shoot.
This fucking guy. With actor/stunt man Marc Natoli. My kind of dude.
Why Nina? Why? With actress Nina Yaroslavtseva.
What is best in life? This shoot was.
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