Newport action man Jake from Flawless Films talks about filming and producing martial arts scenes for his YOUTUBE Channel.
WARNING: The embedded YOUTUBE clips contains strong violence and should only be viewed by persons over 18.
Flawless films is the product of a lifelong friendship and mutual passion for film making between Jake Rogers and James Hayman . The award winning visionary team from Newport has the likability of Ant and Dec but with a sprinkle of the Jay and Silent Bob edge. Every Saturday, the pair pump out a new piece, hitting YOUTUBE with an action, adventure, comedy or fan film. The lads then follow it up with a ‘making of’ video, normally released on the following Wednesday.
The company initially came to notice of CMA News with ‘Jake vs James’ (see below). It’s a short movie that pits them against one another in a martial arts scrap. The ‘making of’ highlights just how difficult fight choreography can be and the effort it takes to get that one good take. James found this out the hard way by getting kicked in the chest ……just once or twice.
“Twenty two times” sniggers Jake.
“It felt great, who doesn’t want to kick their best friend!? James has never done any martial arts at all. We went to the gym and choreographed it in less than an hour on the Wednesday, then shot it on the Saturday. The problem is that James has never been able to frown. He just can’t look angry. In this video when he gives me the angry look, I said, ‘Yay, James, you did it!’ I was really proud of him. It may have been genuine anger though!”
JAKE VS JAMES VIDEO
“I am quite happy with it because when we had our old channel, our very first video was a fight scene between me and James, so it felt that it was only right to make this the first video for our new channel.”
Flawless Films in its old form had an excess of 5000 subscribers but following an issue with a company that they had signed with, they had to leave and start from scratch.
“We had lost all our channels, all our subscribers. We’re only couple of months old (as Flawless Films) but we’ve already got 500 and something subscribers at the moment. “
It is easy to forget when you see actors on the big screen swinging planet sized fists at each other, that there is a huge amount of effort that goes on behind the camera as well. Although Flawless Films is a small independent company, this rings true for them if not more so as they are not compensated by the huge wedges of cash at the end of it. Well, at the moment anyway. But their efforts do pay off, such as in their video of Batman vs Spiderman.
“Lasts week’s video? Yeah, we’ve already had something like 29,000 views. We shot it all in one night. It was by far the most demanding shoot that I have ever done. It was ridiculous. We started about half nine, ten. We were going through it but when we got to about two, three o clock it started raining. We thought, right stop here, put the equipment inside and start again tomorrow. The fight that me and Aaron were doing, we were putting a lot of effort in to it. We were covered in bruises. Aarons foot was all bruised up. My nose got popped. There was blood everywhere, it was horrible. The rain eventually stopped and we thought that we should just get it done so we ended up staying to 6am. It was a good one though. “
BATMAN VS SPIDERMAN VIDEO
Jake is referring to friend Aaron Gassor aka ‘The Ginger Ninja Trickster’. This Newport martial artist has been in videos with some of the most premium MA Tricksters, that includes film star Scott Adkins and the Kwon Kicker.
“Aaron choreographed it himself. Our styles worked out really well for the characters.”
Aaron plays the gymnastic Spiderman, while Jake, the hard hitting Shotokan Karate man plays Batman.
“I’ve played Batman before in another one of our videos, Batman: Beyond Darkness. It’s always so much fun. I am such a huge Batman fan.”
I’ve seen this atmospheric video, as well as the ‘making of’. The fight scenes are short but intense and includes a frankly awesome flying kick directly into a thugs face. In reality, this thug didn’t get injured but another member of the cast did. I asked Jake about how he came to assault another friend and colleague.
“Yeah, I threw one of my best mates into a car head first! He dented it. We managed to pop it back out though, it’s alright. (laughs) We we’re really getting into it though. He’s used to it. He’s an MMA fighter so he can take it. We had run through the choreography for about an hour, filmed it, and then on the day, ran through it with everyone else. We then split it into four chunks and filmed it from different angles.”
BATMAN : BEYOND DARKNESS VIDEO
“James is away in New Zealand for five months but still very much part of the company. It’s lucky that I’ve got Aaron. We’ve got the common interests in film making and the Martial Arts. Towards the last few months, we were doing a lot together anyway. We’ve got a few plans. We got a Matrix parody and Power Rangers-with the proper costumes and everything. They’re really expensive! Plus a few other cool things planned.”
Jake is no action novice. He started Shotokan Karate at aged eleven and now at twenty two years old, has managed to achieve second Dan at Burleys Shotokan Karate Club, instructed by Mark Kupsz.
“After I got my blackbelt, I was teaching for years. Jean Claude Van Damn got me into it. I was a huge fan and found out that he did Shotokan Karate and thought, I’ve got to do this. Literally that week, I had a leaflet through my door, advertising Shotokan Karate in the local church, just across the road. I thought ‘no way!’ It’s meant to be. I went to the very first lesson there and became the clubs very first blackbelt and first assistant instructor. I have also been doing Kickboxing at Gary Gassors martial arts and fitness centre. Gary Gassor is Aarons Dad. Obviously, I don’t call him Gary, I call him Master Gassor. I’ve only been doing it for four or five months, so haven’t got my black belt in that yet! (laughs)”
Jake is certainly into his fitness and manages to train six days a week in the gym in the mornings and then martial arts in the evening. His Saturdays are taking up with sparring sessions and once a month attends squad training. At the moment he is currently preparing for a Kickboxing competition in Barcelona in November.
“They say it’s semi but there are normally broken noses and stuff. It’s the first time that I’ve fought abroad actually. It’s the British Championships a few weeks before that too. That’s for Taekwondo. I’ve got a warm up competition a week Sunday (the 5th of October) only a local inter-club tournament in Newport, just to get warm up. I’ve got no expectations for the British or Barcelona but for this one I would like to win (laughs).”
I asked Jake what the difference was between competitive fighting and fight choreography. He said,
“It’s a completely different game. Some of the things that you would do in competition or street fighting would look ridiculous on film. It’s just about making moves bigger and selling the hit. Selling getting hit, that’s really always at the top. It is just as much down to the person getting hit than the hitter. Obviously, I definitely think that having martial arts experience helps with this. Learning Kata’s is also a big help in learning the choreography. That’s why I was so pleased that James had done so well in the Jake vs James video, because he has no martial arts experience. He’s literally half my size as well. He had to really convince the audience to make it believable. We always joke about his height. Like when we do filming in front of there (FLAWLESS FILMS logo in the studio), he always has to stand on that (fireplace stepped outcrop) to make it look a little better. Have you guys seen the behind the scene of ‘Call of Duty’ we’re talking and he’s on a log but then he falls off and you can see the height difference. “
(Jake plays the video clip)
“Oh, he gives as good as he gets though, I don’t think its bullying just for being short! He gives it back. Have you seen this one? (Plays a video ‘Little Jake’) that was extra funny to me as, I was the short one in that!”
“We put one (video) out every Saturday. The next five weeks is just going to be Nightmare. We’ve got the episodes coming out on the Saturdays and the making ofs on the Wednesdays. So that’s five weeks of stuff taken up. This will be out in a couple of weeks. (Plays out takes from ‘Nightmare’) This is the fight that Aaron and me worked on. He’s got amazing skills and a huge fan base. He brought this fight scene to a different level. I wore jeans that were so tight, I couldn’t raise my leg at all! I couldn’t even knee him in the face. It was driving me insane the whole day. The other two were wearing those stunt jeans. They are like skinny jeans but they are really stretchy.”
Jake shows exclusive footage of Nightmare. An actor dishes out a reverse hooking kick to the back of another’s head.
“And that was VERY real. He really got hit. This is the bit where Aaron says ‘Looked good though didn’t it!?! Oh and this is Aaron doing the Guyver kick. That’s the kick that Scott Adkins made famous in Undisputed 2. It’s never really landed on film. They tend to land on their backs. I’m a huge Scott Adkins fan. The first time he came down to Aarons club, was the day before I joined. I was devastated. He seems like a really cool guy and he’s a big fan of Aaron. He filmed a little video message for me.”
At the time of this interview, Nightmare hadn’t been released yet and so I asked for a little bit of back story.
“Do you know the Marvel character The Punisher’? It’s kind of based on that. This bad ass guy and his family get killed. It’s a revenge thing. It’s called Nightmare because he keeps having Nightmares about it. This is the opening scene.”
The clip shows a pleasant family scene with a husband and wife sitting with a child in a field. Soon, the mood turns. There’s blood – a child crying. A grizzled anti hero wakes up in a darkened corridor, locks and loads, ready for action.
“It’s a bit creepy, it’s a creepy scene. There are obviously quite a few action scenes. This was a fun shot (shows CMA News a man angrily pushing over a table) Oh yeah! His name is Chem, he’s from Turkey. English is his third language. It’s such a good laugh on every shoot. That’s our aim. Sometimes, it may sacrifice quality though! If people have a good laugh on set, then they remember you and promote you.”
Jake shows another clip of fight scene where he gets smashed over the head with a bottle made of sugar glass.
“They are so expensive! We paid £30 for two. So we had two chances to get it right. Luckily we got it in the first take, so we got a spare bottle somewhere. They don’t taste like sugar at all!”
The collaboration between Flawless films and the Ginger Ninja Trickster certainly appears to produce great results. I asked Jake if there had been any other previous team efforts and how martial arts action is different to regular film.
“We’ve done Aaron vs Jake. It’s a parody of Hong Kong Kung Fu films. The dubbing was my idea. Originally, my character was going to be Wing Chun-ey but it was too complicated so I changed it. We stuck with a very wide angle. I don’t know if you know Isaac Florentine – the director of Ninja and Undisputed 2 . (Editors note: Come on now – read our reviews!) I love the way he films fight scenes because he uses real martial artists. He stays on long takes from wide angles, so you get to see everything, where as when you’ve got films that use people like Matt Damon in the Bourne films or Keanu Reeves who aren’t actually martial artists, they go in close. If they can do the stuff, you want to show it, so you use wider angles and longer takes. In fight scenes, I love long takes. When it’s me and Aaron, its fine because we both know our stuff. We can do it and so stay on those longer takes. What I want to do in the next couple of months is a one shot fight scene. A whole minute long fight scene shot all in one shot.”
JAKE VS GINGER NINJA TRICKSTER
I asked JAKE about one particular video that caught my eye with the action hero, JCVD.
“Oh, that was so funny. When I showed my mum that video, she was looking around then clicked and said, ‘That’s in this room!’ I had told her that I had a special guest that week. She really thought it was real. It was actually a competition for film makers and he supplied the footage of himself against green screen for anyone to use. Unfortunately, to enter the competition, you had to be in America. We applied for the footage anyway and got it and done our own. The man is hero. I love him so much. He got me into martial arts. My favourite films are Kickboxer and Bloodsport. I’ve got every single one of his films that he has ever made though.”
JEAN CLAUDE VAN DAM FILM CLIP
Flawless films has a reputation of fast paced film production, often rehearsing in the morning, filming in the day, editing in the evening and posting in the night. The impressive man size pyramid of energy drinks neatly packed in to the corner of the studio is perhaps a reflection of their full on work ethic. At the moment, they are a successful business conducting local bread and butter filming, for weddings etc, but they have also produced music videos including one for Newport Reggae metal band Skindred. I wanted to know what the ultimate goal was.
“Speaking for me and James in the terms of what film we want to make would be to do something not medievally but Lord of The Rings inspired. Swords, magic that sort of thing because Lord of the rings was what got us into film making in the first place, by watching the behind the scene on the special features. Just seeing that blew my mind. Same as James. We spent hundreds of pounds on swords . We’ve got axes, everything, because we were going to do something this summer before he went away. We were going to do a big half hour film but we didn’t get around to it. We filmed Nightmare instead but that’s our goal. That will be our first feature film, definitely.”
“As a company, that’s a bit more of a tough one. Some people make a good career out of YOUTUBE. They can make hundreds of thousands off it. Obviously, you can be your own boss, release what you want. Yes, actually, I want to be the next generation Universal Studios (laughs) You know, if an opportunity came up where someone said I want to hire you and James to direct this movie but its under whatever company, I’m not going to say no. At the end of the day, I want to be Flawless Films. I want to be producing films. If it doesn’t work out that way, it doesn’t. Flawless films is always going to be around whether it’s YOUTUBE stuff and making money off of that or doing things for other people on the side.”
EDITORS NOTE: Nightmare has since been uploaded by Flawless films. I have embedded the first three below.