Thursday, August 10, 2017

My First Sensory Deprivation Float


Eleven uses a DIY sensory deprivation tank in Stranger Things
to access another dimension. 

So not too long ago, while I was teaching teaching fight choreography at the ISS in Seattle, I was having a conversation with fellow stuntie, Greg Poljacik about the best way to unwind and relieve aches and pains during our downtime. Having arrived a bit before I had, Greg had somehow managed to find a Sensory Deprivation Float Wellness Center, and ranted and raved out how the process was not only extremely relaxing, and made you sleep better, but also relieved a lot of muscle pain. 
Some of the listed benefits of doing a sensory deprivation float
The chamber I did my float in.


Up until this point, I had only heard of Sensory Deprivation Floats because the character Eleven used them in the show Stranger Things to achieve a meditative state and access another dimension. Given the fact that I have yet to figure out how to access another dimension on my own yet, (and that may turn out to be a useful job skill later in my career), I thought I should give it a shot.

Along with the other instructors, we all paid a visit to Seattle Float as it was only a mile or two away from the U of W campus where we were staying.



How it works:


The way a sensory deprivation float works is they put you in a tank of hyper salinated water, so that you have the same kind of buoyancy as a life vest. (ie. You can float with your face above water naturally). Both the water and the air are heated to be exactly your body temperature so that once you are in, and still, you no longer feel either one of them. Each tank also has a light-sealed door, and comes with ear plugs to deprive you of all visual and audio stimulation, so in effect, you see, hear and feel, well, nothing. When you initially enter the building, it smells a lot like a Japanese onsen, but the aroma was really light, and once you were used to it, you cease to notice that as well. 

As for my own experience it was really fascinating. In my particular tank, they had dissolved over 1,000 pounds of epson salt, so, you had resistance even putting your hand down to the bottom. (The water was only about 10 inches deep). As it was my first time, it took me a minute to be able to relax my head and hips and simply let them float… (but suprisingly they do float just fine)… and my face stayed fully above water the whole time. Initially, I couldn't achieve perfect deprivation however because it took time for me to relax and stop searching for something to “feel”. For example I would twitch, and I could feel the line of surface tension that separated the water from the air. Other than that though, I couldn’t feel the air above or the water below. That in and of itself was bizarre. Also, due to my size, I actually took up the whole tank which meant I only had to drift a few inches before my head bumped into top of the tank (which happened about 3 or 4 times during my 60 min session) again, pulling me out of the deprivation. Apparently, there is a technique to getting in and laying out motionless; but it takes a session or two to perfect. 


The Interior of Seattle Float; a sensory deprivation float center near the University of Washington in Seattle
I could however still get it just right for about 15 min or so, and that was enough to have an interesting experience. After a while, I started to see bizarre patterns, and had the feeling that I was lifting out of the water, or spinning when I knew I wasn’t. I also had phantom tactile sensations in my toes, as I kept thinking they were brushing against the side of the tank, but if I wiggled them, they weren’t actually touching anything.

While it only happened a few times, I also completely lost my sense of time (which means I had begun to touch on a meditative state).

Finishing up:


At the end of the experience, music comes on to tell you that your time is up. As everyone has ear plugs in, it comes on fairly loudly, but it still wasn’t too shocking. After that, you take a shower to rinse off the salt water, and you are done. After finishing, you do feel really relaxed, and calm. It was actually more refreshing than taking a nap, because there is no feeling of grogginess afterwards. You are just sharp, and calm. Also, given the fact that I was soaking in epson salt for an hour, most of my soreness was also gone, which was a plus. All in all, Id say it was completely worth the $40 I spent to try it. As a lot of traditional martial arts are tied to meditation, and meditative practices, I have wanted to know how it feels to “lose time” in a meditative state for a while, so I was really glad I did it. Until now, the closest I had come to the experience was through yoga; (which leaves you feeling calm and refreshed the same way) but in this case as I was “gone” for up to 15 min at a time, so it was a far richer experience. Really makes me wish I had the time to go back to the same place again for a 90 min session. I would love to perfect the floating motionless technique so I could really explore accessing that kind of consciousness and that “place” I went to again…  Unlike Stranger Things though, there were no monsters from another dimension there. Probably a good thing ;) 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2017- Looking backward...and (more importantly) forward.

Sunset in my hometown at the end of 2016; looking forward
bright sunrises in 2017. 
First blog in over a year. Actually two. But with 2016 and all of it’s perils behind us, I thought that it was time to push forward, and in doing so, actually reach back- back to the source, the original motivation, and the “f*ck this, no excuses” attitude that has gotten me this far. 
At the beginning of 2016, I listed out ten goals that I had for the year, and publicly stated them on Facebook so that I would have everyone to hold me accountable. So what I would like to do now is take note of those goals, what I could do, what I could not, and why. 

First off the ones that are completed: 

Pay off all of my credit cards- DONE. 
Reach 1,000,000 Hits on Youtube- DONE. (Currently at 1.3 Mil)
Work on my first International Film Project- DONE (Wrote a Thai action feature film)
Get a Japanese Driver’s Licence- DONE


The ones that are not, progress report, and reason for failure:
 

Goal: Get down to 87kg (from 93kg)
Progress: Currently 90kg- halfway there.
Reason for Failure: Having Ty meant a general lack of sleep. Lack of sleep equates to laziness at workouts, higher cravings for sweet foods, and and far less physiological efficiency in fat burning. (If you don’t sleep well, you don’t burn fat well). 
Goal: Get my Ariel and TKD 720 kicks back
Progress:  landing them both again… but not consistently. 
Reason for Failure: Fine tune Athletic performance goals and weight loss goals are at odds with each other. The latter means you have less energy to work with; the former means you need to be running at your peak. Also goes back to the lack of sleep, and the crazy work load that goes with trying to feed a kid. Need to sleep more, and earn more per hour of work done. 
Goal: Create an extra $500 a month of passive income through video production. 
Progress: A little under halfway there- adding two more revenue streams in the next few months. 
Reason for Failure: One income backfired- in the short term cost more than it made- had to work more to compensate for the loss; consequently had less time and resources to produce. 
Goal: Complete the Kumon Japanese Grammar course, and move into the classic literature section. (2000 pages of work)
Progress: 1800 pages down. 100 pages into the classic literature section. 
Reason for Failure: Was waiting on the last package of notes to arrive before I left for Michigan, but they got lost in the mail and arrived after I left. (><)
Had I completed the previous section on my timing target there would have been time to get the last packet- even if it got lost in the mail. Shouldn’t have relaxed once I got near the finish line. 

Goal: Finish my current Korean textbook
Progress: Halfway there. 
Reason for Failure: Korean teacher’s husband got sick, and cancelled classes indefinitely mid-year. Didn’t find a new teacher. Ultimately no excuse. 

5/10. I don’t see this as a passing grade. Life always has challenges, and there are always roadblocks; but successful people are like sharks; they can only swim forward. As such, I have every intention of completing the remaining 6 goals, and as I complete them, add in several more:

1. Learn how to use the Tonfa, Sai, Western Single Sword, (Currently I can use Nunchaku, and Bo staff, and sword), as well as at least 3 firearms. 
2. Fully graduate from Kumon (complete the 600 pages of classic literature study).
3. Produce my next film or series. (4 projects currently in the works). 
4. Rebuild my person branding (which suffered a lot in the last year). Get back to Youtube and blogging and hit it hard. 
5. Rebuild my action instruction program, and (investor willing) open a brick-and-mortar gym. 
6.Reach a personal savings goal. (which I won’t publicly state so as to have the time and financial affordance to move in the right direction). 


2016 may have been a rough year (seemingly for everyone), but at least for myself, I plan on seeing 2017 at the opposite end of the spectrum. Day 2 now. Enough rest. Time to hit it hard. YOSH. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Getting a Head Mold: An Actor's Crazy Experience

The completed molding of my head.
...I Felt like Han Solo
So, as I mentioned on Facebook some time ago, I finally hit a milestone in my entertainment career that I had been hoping for for some time- the lead role in a reinactment drama. While having a lead in a reinactment drama isn't exactly a big deal, (in Japan, they are dubbed over and half the time they just chose people purely on looks), it is something that has mysteriously eluded me for a decade now, so I was happy to finally just have it on my resume. Oddly enough however, as the character was obsessed with plastic surgery, this particular drama also meant hitting another milestone- doing a make-up intensive role.

 As an actor, you always hear about big actors going through the process of having extensive prostheics make and applied (Like Jim Carrey spending 6 hours a day getting it applied to his body for the Grinch movie), and I also felt as though having that experience was another milestone as well. In this case, as my character would be going through various stages of plastic surgery, it meant I would need various prosthetics bring applied and removed from my face.... And that first those prosthetics would have to be fabricated.

 In order to get that done, I was sent to a Zombie make-up specialty shop called Zombie Stock. While I thought they would just be taking molds of various parts of my face, upon arrival, the full scope of what they were about to do became apparent- they were going to make a mold of my entire head all at once... Meaning that they were going to encase my entire head in plaster. As someone who is fairly claustrophobic, the idea wasn't exactly appealing. Out of fear that I may be the first one, I asked the shop owner, "So... Do people ever freak out when they do this?" And he responded, "Oh yeah, all the time." That wasn't exactly encouraging.

In any event, I was bound and determined to maintain my professionalism, and show that I was a serious actor and keep my cool.

THE PROCESS 

The process begins by their putting you in old clothes and covering you with clear plastic... Kinda like the wrap they put on you when you get a haircut, but more hardcore. From there one person sets about the process of making the material, which is kind of like pancake batter... Except it solidifies faster and into a rubbery kind of composition. While one person was doing that, the other person was preparing cotton for something. After the "batter" reaches a certain kind of consistency, (hard enough to pick up, but not solidified) the assistant grabbed massive glops of it and started piling it onto my neck before it began to solidify. While that was happening, the other person started stuffing the cotton into my ears- cueing me that my hearing would be the first sense to go.

 One of the things that you never really think about is the fact that 4 out of 5 of your sensory organs are exclusively on your head. (Skin being the fifth). What that meant was that by covering up my head they were basically putting me through complete sensory deprivation. The batter continued to be piled on. From my neck, it traveled up and over my ears. As I usually sleep with ear plugs (aside from the fact that the material was cold), thus far this experience wasn't so different. Until they started to cover my mouth. Then it started to get a bit intense. Particularly since while one person was working up from the mouth, the other person was coming down my forehead and making their way to my eyes. I felt the cold heavy "batter" weighing down on my forehead. Then I heard a barely audible, "Close your eyes" in Japanese. Then blackness. At that point, I just freaked out and grabbed the arm of the assistant (which I'm guessing she was used to)... She gently touched my hand I regained composure and they continued. One going down my face, the other going up. They placed drinking straws in my nostrils so I could breath, and then they started to cover my nose last. The smell was odd... But not bad. I could feel that the enclosure was becoming complete.

 Suddenly, I heard muffled dialog between then and it was all coming off. I don't know if it was because of some other issue or because of my sudden jerk, but they told me they needed to start over. At first I was really irritated, but at the same time I came to realize that this was a blessing. Now I knew what to expect, and could prepare myself mentally. They started over. No jerk this time, and no flinch. They completed the mold completely encircling my head.

Before we started, they told me that in order to make the mold correctly I would have to remain perfectly still for about 15-20 minutes. I came to realize that that's a very very long time when you have no sensory input. There were very faint sounds... But nothing discernible. To keep calm, I thought of classical music... And tried to find the same kind of peace and inner silence I learned during my taekwondo meditation training. No active thoughts... Just listening to whatever passed through my mind and body. As I couldn't do anything else, I tried to swallow to remind myself that "I'm still here"... But I realized I couldn't because the batter had hardened around my throat and my Adam's apple was locked into place. That was bizarre.

 As I couldn't see, a lot of bizarre imagery passed through my mind. Lots of Palm trees and beaches, but in a weird acid trip kind of way. I noticed that my heartbeat also became deadeningly loud. Seems like I could hear the rush of blood moving through my veins. Suddenly, while lost in my thoughts, I felt touching on the mold... And then heat. It occurred to me that they were encasing it again in plaster. I thought the layer of rubber was all, and I didn't know they still needed to do that... But it was logical. All of a sudden the mold got much hotter and much much heavier. Again, I just had to focus on staying calm, so that I didn't move or flinch. As odd as it may sound however, after a while (I have no idea how long it actually was), I simply got used to this new bizarre world I was living in, with trippy imagery running through my mind's eye, and the sound of my heartbeat and blood drowning everything else out.

 Finally, almost suddenly, I felt the hands on my head again and everything began to come off. It was a tremendous relief to get my senses back, and I was happy to have gotten through it. I couldn't help but think of the kid from "Johnny got his gun" (who lost all of his sensory organs to a landmine), and I wondered how he managed to deal with it year after year. After the process was completed, the make-up artist said he would give me the mold of my face as a gift.. I asked him about how much it actually costs to do this whole process, and it said its about $500. As uncomfortable as it was, I was getting paid well to do the job... and also getting a $500 gift out of it. I guess I couldn't complain. All that being said though, once was enough ;) Lets hope it's not something I ever have to do again.


Pictured- The various prosthetics I wore for the shoot.
Pic 1- Stage 1- Beard shaved and in make-up.
Pic 2- Forehead and Lip Prosthetics 1 (After character's first injection)
Pic 3- Forehead and Lip Prosthetics 2 (After character's second injection)
Pic 4- How the character perceived himself in his own mind that drove him to the surgery (from the directors perspective)



Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Pursuit of Perfecting Intelligence


So, as I said in the last blog, last month, I stumbled on a video about the world's smartest people on YouTube. Out of curiosity, I decided to try an IQ tests to see where I stand myself. While I certainly didn't score badly (top 13% of world average), I was suprised to find out that I was just 9 points short of the 130 minimum requirement to be accepted into Mensa  (an organization for the top 2% of the world's smartest people). Again, out of intellectual curiosity, I decided to create a mental "strength training" regimen and committed myself to doing it every day to see if I could increase my score high enough to pass their entrance exam. (The theory being that the mind would be every bit as responsive to strength training as the body). This regimen consisted of six parts: 


The Mental Strength Training Regiment

1) Turning off the spell check on my phone and PC, so I would have to remember how to spell difficult and complex words from memory. 

2) Never using a calculator, pen, or paper to do calculations; instead doing it all in my head. 

3) Using Luminosity (which I have had on my phone for forever) on a daily basis. 

4) Studying multiple languages daily, back-to-back, WITHOUT FAIL, toggling between them as I study, and focusing on learning and writing as many Chinese characters as possible to build pattern recognition strength. 

5) Reading the book "Intent to Live" by Larry Moss. This may seem like an odd choice...but in general, actors are always searching for means of effective self expression; and as such, I've found that great acting coaches usually have ridiculously huge vocabularies. (For example, words I learned just from chapter 1 are: soliliquy, somnambulistic, prescient, entreat, supplicate, and letch). 

6) Eating more "brain-foods", (in particular, vitamin C, nuts, tomatoes, and broccoli) and napping a lot (particularly after training) to give my mind maximum time to rest, recharge, and re-organize. 


The Results of the Training

Thus far, the results have been far better than I ever could have hoped for.

On the very first IQ test I took, I scored 121, and it took me about 45 minutes to complete. After one month of 3 hours a day of training (approx. 90 hours), I went back and re-took the same test, hoping to see signs that I could increase my score by 4-9 points over a few months. This time I scored 155, and I completed it in 8 minutes flat. It was so much easier, it felt like I was cheating.


IQ Test
The results of my first IQ test after 90
hours of intensive brain training.

As 155 just seems crazy (that's only 5 points short of Einstein), I thought there's probably a good chance that I just intuitively remembered the answers to a lot of the questions. As such, I thought it best to try again on a test (and system) I hadn't done before. Instead, I went to iqtest.com which claims to have the most scientifically valid, objective, and legitimate IQ test on the internet, testing you on a range of 13 different types of intelligence that relate to IQ. On that test, I scored a more modest 138... But that still puts me in the top 00.66% of people on the planet, qualifies me as "gifted", and means I'm "capable of mastering virtually anything". Wish I knew I was this smart when I was in high school. Probably would have tried harder. 

Interestingly enough, I outscored 99% of all test-takers on 12 out of 13 of the intelligences tested, but scored far below average on the 13th intelligence: computational speed. In short, I think and process information way way slower than normal people. Intuitively, this seems to make sense for a myriad of reasons:


1) It might explain why I always sucked at avoiding head kicks as a fighter, lol. 

2) It also might have explained the test score of 155. Insomuch as I know, that test wasn't timed, (although it might have been without explicitly saying so). If not, computational speed wasn't factored into the equation, and that could be why I could score so much higher. 

3) From what I have seen, pretty much no one has a "perfect intelligence". Greatness in one aspect often means a deficiency somewhere else. (Such was the case with Muhammed Ali- he was thought to have one of the greatest athletic intelligences of all time, but also had an unusually low IQ).


What I learned


1) Intellectually, I have the capacity to get into MENSA as I had hoped. As such, it's time to try.


2) As I figured it was, the mind is responsive to a regular training regiment. The scores I got before were when my mind was "out of shape". Much like with the body, regular training is necessary to keep it "in shape". Ya don't use it, ya lose it, as they say. Coincidentally, this also tells me that technology makes us stupid. We were a lot smarter when we simply had to do and remember everything in our heads.


3) Having found and isolated out my principle weakness, (at least on the range of things that relate to IQ), now I know what I need to focus my training on...Furthermore, if this process can work with IQ, it can work with EQ as well, and as such, discovering, isolating and attacking my weaknesses in EQ needs to be the next logical step as well. 



Other Observations

After working through this process for a month or so, I'm at the point that mentally I'm constantly "hungry". If I don't push myself till my head hurts everyday I start to feel ansy. I used to be that way in college... but it was a trait that has seriously wained since graduation. As annoying as it is, having it back makes me feel really alive. I feel a lot younger. I guess that's why most gifted people are all focused into academics and sciences... You need to be constantly studying and learning to "stave off the hunger".


Like a lot of things in life, I guess, once you get started, it's self-perpetuating. Just like with the physical exercise, the better the shape you get into, the harder you wanna push yourself. Conversely, when you stop trying, the harder it becomes to get back into it. Positivity perpetuates positivity, and negativity perpetuates negativity.


In any event, whether I pass the Mensa entrance exam or not, I don't see myself slowing down the training routine any time soon. The theatre show is truly a blessing in that it gives me hours of downtime to train every day, but even after it's done, I have every intention of making the time for training, just like I do with physical exercise. If for no other reason, than because, as I said in the last blog, I'm really curious as to how deep this rabbit hole goes. If I can go from 121 to 138 with training, I see no reason why I can't go from 138 to 160... and if it can be done with the body, and with IQ, it can be done with EQ. In short, I see no reason to shoot for anything less than the pursuit of perfection. YOSH. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Going for MENSA

A Typical IQ Bell Curve
So, not too long ago, I was messing around on YouTube and I stumbled onto a video called 10 people with the Highest IQs in History. Nothing particularly surprising there, Einstein, Leonardo Di Vinci, etc.

Out of curiosity though, after finishing the video I decided to check out the entrance requirements for Mensa, an international organization for the people whose intelligence is in the top 2% on the planet. While I was thinking that that would be somewhere around Einstein's level, (around 160), I was surprised to find out that it is only around 130. This was surprising to me because I had scored into the 120s before myself, and I didn't know that that constituted such a high level of intelligence. 

A few years ago, while working at a friend's company to develop a better process for screening employees, I suggested EQ testing,  and then to get a feel for the test, I ran myself through an online IQ and EQ test. On the IQ test, I outscored 87% of everyone who had ever taken the test, and for EQ, I outscored 93%.  At time though, because it was just an online test and not officially administered, I didn't think much of it. 

After seeing what the IQ scale was though, I went back and asked my mother if I had ever scored over 115 as a kid (the top 14% of world average) and she said, "Oh no, Chuckie you were way higher than that. But I don't remember what the actual score was."

From there, I thought it best to take another round of tests online to see how I did. Sure enough, except for on one test, I could score into the 120's, and was generally ranked as having "Very Superior Intelligence". 

If that's the case, then it explains a lot. When I was younger, I often had a hard time relating to people because I was expecting them to make intellectual jumps and grasp concepts that they just couldn't. (Like for example when I would try to talk to people about books I was reading on Quantum Physics and how the concepts relate to psychology and philosophy).

 It also explains why I've always had at least 3-4 completely different jobs at once, why I've always studied multiple foreign languages at once, and why I can study for 12 hours straight, and love every second of it. That's simply what it takes to keep me from getting bored.

It also explains, why, for the life of me, I could never find satisfaction in doing a regular job. For the longest time, I thought I had ADD or something, because I just couldn't stay focused on it. What I realized however, was that the issue was that most jobs just didn't require enough brainpower for me to hold my attention. Doing regular jobs was like trying to stay focused watching paint dry. 

As I found out when producing Fists of Absinthe, what I am good at is being a leader, not a follower. In order to stay focused, I need to be at the healm of things that are extremely difficult to do, and/or that haven't been done at all. (Which also explains my career as Japan's first foreign action guy). Additionally, in general, I have a really hard time working in pre-fabricated systems, because I always feel as though I could make a better one myself. 

Anyway, looking at my last score, (121) I am still 3 points short of ranking into the top 5% globally, and 9 points away from being smart enough to pass Mensa's entrance exam. 

3 points isn't so insurmountable of a gap... But 9 is still fairly large. And that is exactly why I want to go for it. I want to see if it can be done.

If the human mind is as flexible and adaptable as the human body is (and I'm going to assume that it is - or even more so), than I see no reason why I can't simply raise my own intelligence. If the body can respond to a strength training regiment, why not the mind? If muscles can be stretched, shaped and densified for exacting purposes, why not the brain?

The prospect of the challenge of figuring out exactly how to do that is extremely exciting to say the least.

If nothing else, all the things I learn from the process I will be able to pass along to my son, Ty, in how I raise him and challenge him, so that by the time he reaches adulthood, his intelligence, aptitude, and reasoning skill will be far beyond my own. Particularly since he's got the same kind of genes from his mother- who is the same way I am. 

Thus far, it has taken me 5 tries on the Mensa practice exam to achieve a score of 86%. (Which I am assuming is passing). As such, I am giving myself 6 tries (once a month for half a year) to pass the exam. 4 tries to figure it out, and 2 to try and pass it. If I do get in, I'm certainly not expecting to be the smartest guy (or person, I should say) in the organization. Quite conversely, intellectually, I will be at "the bottom of the barrel". At least in terms of the particular range of intelligences that IQ scores on.

... But I am hoping to be one of the most likable :). 

Will post my mental training regiment as soon as I finish mapping it all out.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Returning to the Stage in Orpheus Descending

Trying on my costume as "The Conjure Man"
for the first time. 
So recently, I was blessed enough to be cast in the biggest Theatre show in Japan of this year. A re-telling of Tennessee Williams’ (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)  story, Orpheus Descending

The producer/director (Phillip Breen) came in for the production from the UK, and while this isn’t my first time performing in theatre (it’s my third), this show has offered me my first opportunity to work closely with an English speaking director. In the states I had the opportunity to work a range of productions as well, (Detroit 187, Batman vs. Superman, SeTup, etc), but I was certainly never one of the main cast, and as such, I had never had the opportunity to see what it was like to be directed by someone who spoke my own language before. 

Thus far, it has been an amazing experience. In the story I play a “conjure man”, a toothless, mumbling character who in the end, proves that he is smarter than everyone thinks he is. We had a solid month of rehearsals leading up to the opening night, and while that was hard to handle with the responsibilities of becoming a new father and doing the pre-production and principle photography for Fists of Absinthe at the same time, it was an amazing experience. 

 Phillip’s depth of character exploration, history, and philosophy of the play has been staggering, and in working with him I really came to realize at heart something that I knew in my head for a long time- when an actor gives an amazing performance, the credit is not just his or hers alone; it belongs to the director as well. An amazing actor can make a decent director look pretty good… and a great director can make an okay actor perform well… but when you have an amazing actor working with an amazing director, that is when you really truly see magic happen. The main actress in the play, Shinobu Otake is an excellent actress in her own right, (she does the Japanese voices for Disney movies among other things) but seeing how she performs under Phillip's direction has been breath-taking. 

In my own experience as well, I don’t think I could have understood and personified this character half as well if it had not been for the insights into his meaning that Phillip shared and helped me to develop. That goes without saying for the rest of the cast as well, and the fact that we have received a standing ovation for virtually every show so far is a testament to that. 

Just about the only downside of the whole experience is the fact that I got my first ever vocal injury in rehearsals (due to the fact that my character screams at the top of his lungs a lot). At the same time however, that injury prompted me to take my first steps towards proper vocal training (knowing how to warm up and strengthen your vocal cords with daily exercises, produce sound from the diaphragm to lessen stress, etc.) so at the end of the day, I see the injury as a positive learning experience. Live and learn.  


I’ve also started to get greeted by fans after the show and asked for my autograph. Not the first time I have ever signed autographs, but it certainly is the first time people have lined up to ask me for them. Crazy feeling. Looking forward to seeing how things develop for the rest of the show’s run. 

Friday, May 08, 2015

Fists of Absinthe: Coming Late Summer

A still from the upcoming action comedy,
Fists of Absinthe (アブサンの拳)
So this past week, I wrapped on Fists of Absinthe, (アブサンの拳) an action comedy short film that looks to be my next big thing... When oddly enough, a month and a half ago, it didn't even exist as a thought... Well not exactly.

Since about last year, I've had an idea for a comedic intro to my webshow, How to Defeat Dudes, where I play a modern Black Samurai akin to Yasuke. (A character in Japanese history whom I have always yearned to play, but as yet have never had the chance to). In the skit, he is defending his sneakers against Samurai who want them for their lord. Aside from just thinking it would be funny, it would also give me a chance to do some swordplay-  something I have studied for several years now, and rarely (if ever) get a chance to use. I've also been yearning to do some kind of a futuristic Cyber Samurai thing for a while too, but up until this point, the opportunity for it was never quite there. 

Then, near the end of March, while filming the first few episodes of Martial Arts in Slow Motion at the Youtube Studio, one of the staff came in and let me know that they were building a Samurai period set for Youtube Partners whom they thought had the potential to create great content with it... And that they would be partnering with Toei studio as well for sets, costumes, props, etc. As I had recently started a new Youtube channel just for action film work and projects that I and my stunt team were working on, that was all I needed to hear. I applied for the program immediately, and was one of a few people to be accepted.


With only a month to do all of the pre-production, (writing and editing the script, putting together a cast and crew, scouting and securing locations, etc), I set out to create something awesome... And it snowballed into something epic. 

Having a production budget from Google, and support of Toei studios, I felt as though there should be no excuse for this being anything less than a 100% professional production, and as such I felt that the shoes that the story revolves around were important as well. 

As luck would have it, Adidas had just unveiled a new product line, and in particular their newest high end running shoe, the Ultra Boosts. Using a new kind of technology, the shoe offers a new level of impact absorption while also giving the wearer a feeling of "spring" with each movement. 

Given how much action would be in the film  (chase scenes, parkour, etc) I thought that this would be an excellent shoe of choice, and Adidas was kind of enough to supply pairs to the actors and stuntmen involved in all the action, as well as offer social media support.

 With that, everything simply snowballed. 

Completing make-up for the "future" fight sequence.



I contacted an American director whom I was a fan of, and with him he brought the DP, and post-production team. People and businesses started offering us their locations instead of my having to ask for them, etc, and before I knew it, I was at the helm of a major project. 

As great and amazing and awesome as all of this was however, it also made the project incredibly complex... At a time when my wife and I were gearing up for the delivery of our first child, (who was born the week before we started shooting) and as luck would have it, I had also just gotten cast to play a character in the biggest theatre show in the country at the same time. (地獄のオルフィアス)

Needless to say trying to handle all three of these things at the same time made this simply the hardest and most sleep deprived month I have ever had. 

Thankfully though, I had the best cast and crew that anyone could have ever asked for on this film, their work ethic was just phenomenal, and in the end, I think we made an excellent film. Having a cast and crew representing Japan, the States, and Canada, I feel honored and privileged to have been a part of it, and at the end I think we have something that people from both sides of the globe will really enjoy. As they say at Adidas, "Impossible is nothing." ;)