View Full Version : Making a short film, hopefully featuring Aikido (DC, No. VA area)

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Michael Neal
08-28-2009, 08:41 PM
Hi, it has been a very long time since I have posted here. I have decided to do a short film and I am thinking about featuring Aikido sword, jo, and open hand technique in a fight scene(s). The film is going to have a post apocalyptic mixed with a medieval theme.

It will be shot in High Definition 1080p with a high quality 35mm digital video camera as well as a rented XHA1 professional camcorder. Professional audio and lighting as well.

This is going to be a low budget collaborative film where it will depend on a group of volunteers to help see it through.

For most of the actors needed you won't need acting skills, only a few characters will have some dialogue. There will be a need for a lot of bad guy ukes as well as a core groups of heroes and villians.

Also I am looking for people to collaborate with: filming, producting, writing, directing, costuming etc.

I am hopeful there is some interest in this, I really want to feature aikido since I think it is the best martial art for this type of action.

I don't have any set schedule, it is just at the concept stage at the moment.

Location: Northern Virginia, Washington, DC.

Kevin Leavitt
08-28-2009, 09:03 PM
Hey Michael. Happy to help out anyway I can. Sounds like it might be fun. cept I don't have a ponytale to sling around after the action.

Michael Neal
08-28-2009, 10:15 PM
That would be great Kevin, even if all we can muster is a 5 minute fight scene with a few people it still would be pretty cool. But of course more people and a longer film would be better for the story and character development. We'll see what happens.

I definitely need people like you with a lot of experience to choreograph the fighting.

Cool blog, I didn't know you had one. Interesting stuff.

Michael Neal
08-28-2009, 11:02 PM
here is some sample footage that was filmed with the main camera I will be using. Not my film but shows its capabilities. This is significantly better resolution than the digital cameras used to film 28 days later.


08-29-2009, 07:02 PM
Hi Michael,

I forwarded it to some of my friends at Oki-Aikikai in DC. You might get a better response from people once you do have a concrete schedule...


Michael Neal
08-30-2009, 05:32 AM
OK great, unfortunately I can't really schedule anything until I know how many people are going to be involved and what scope this will end up being. There is a lot of planning that needs to go into it first. If 2 or 3 people get involved it will be just a small scene if I get 20 it could end up being a longer more developed project. This is basically Guerrilla filmmaking, making do with what you can get and being flexible enough the change with the circumstances.

Also, you don't necessarily have to be from the area to get involved, people could come in for a weekend and shoot then return home.

L. Camejo
08-30-2009, 08:03 AM
Also, you don't necessarily have to be from the area to get involved, people could come in for a weekend and shoot then return home.Living in Toronto now, but lived and trained a lot in Maryland some years back. Got some skills in script and plot development and have acted in at least one Aikido instructional DVD.

Would be glad to come down for a weekend if you don't mind a Shodothug in the mix.:)



Michael Neal
08-30-2009, 12:03 PM
awesome Larry, your skills would very much be appreciated

Michael Neal
08-30-2009, 12:44 PM
I am going to start a new blog for this project soon so we can discuss the details there. I hope to keep this aikiweb topic going for a little while to allow more people to get involved but move it over to the blog after a little while.

I was thinking of reaching out to some more martial arts in the area, especially the kendo and jodo groups. I will also try to get some folks from my Judo class.

Kevin Leavitt
08-30-2009, 01:51 PM
Shodothug...but of course...I would think that "aikibunny" would not make for a very exciting film, although I like comedy as well.

08-30-2009, 04:29 PM
I am going to start a new blog for this project soon so we can discuss the details there. I hope to keep this aikiweb topic going for a little while to allow more people to get involved but move it over to the blog after a little while.

I was thinking of reaching out to some more martial arts in the area, especially the kendo and jodo groups. I will also try to get some folks from my Judo class.

The kendo people are kind of wary of this sort of thing. We have had people in the past want to borrow bogu for filming.

That being said I am interested.

Michael Neal
08-30-2009, 07:41 PM
I completely understand weariness about someone wanting to borrow your equipment and go make a movie with it.

I want to assure you my intention is a lot different. I want to collaborate with people who not just participate but also contribute creatively to the work. People will most likely have multiple roles, actor/writer being one example. I don't want to try and pretend I am an expert in Kendo, I will leave that to the Kendo people to lead and choreograph so that their art is represented faithfully.

I just have a camera and an idea and am looking for people to work with to do something cool on film.

Shodothugs and aikibunnies are welcome, there is definitely a mystical element to the idea that would appeal to the more spiritual people as well as fighting and gore that will appeal to the jujutsu minded.

Just to give you a very rough idea of the concept I have, think Lord of the Rings meets Mad Max. Not a perfect description but good enough for now :)

Michael Neal
08-30-2009, 07:59 PM
the main characters being, for a lack of a better description right now, apocalyptic knights

08-30-2009, 09:35 PM
It's good to see that your intrested in creating a film of what I, and those of my path consider to be our Culture, way of life, and not a hobby or weekday affair.

I wanted to bring the Idea of creating a film of Budo and introducing it to the mayor film industries as a means to shine the real light of the Art amongst the people of Today,.

Budo and Aikido, is not about a pony tail affair like i saw someone write infact if you really look at Segals stance or technique from an experienced Master's eye you'll notice the many flawss in his harsh attempt of a demonstration, yet when u put him on the mat i heard he is a whole different person and actually executes technique in an amazing gracefull way.
Non the less if your looking at this art wanting to be wat your not, you'll only get hurt and miss the meaning of its true essence wich is brought to light through O'Sensei's teachings of a Universal Path.

Budo is more then just technique there is a Spiritual level that is needed to become great in this Art. Which is something that people of today know nothing off.

I would Sincerly love to help you out with everything involving this film, it would be a great project to carry out not only for the viewer but also the Spirit of all those whom participate.

If there is any one in this World today whom still carries O'Sensei's essence alive unlike any other, it would be me, and have been recognized as such by our most influencial Masters and leader of our Art today.

Budo was taught to me not buy paying a local dojo and recieving a Dan in 3 years, oh no no no and those whom do so hold no place in the eyes of those tradition.

It takes a life time to master such Art and it takes an avarege on no less then 10years to be considered of Yudansha level. Most high ranking students of today know not how to sit, nor stance, or are familier with the Original Japanese names to what they think they know.

Budo is a gift that becomes and is a part of you since birth, no different then and artist of paint, music, or opera, so does the sword keep it's rightfull place amongst those of warrior traditions. Budo is an Art passed down to me from father to son under the privacy of my masters, and their families home.

My references are many and not only found in the public dojos but amongst those of the true path and family traditions of Budo.
You can read my Biography for more info.
Though i only visit public dojos to teach and sharpen their skills, I keep much of the Arts true nature to myslef hidden and reserved for only those whom are dedicated and trust worthy.
It has been a long goal of mine to introduce the correct and proper way of our Art AikiBudo, and the meaning of Aikido.

Lets not forget Aikido was created for the public, in a time when humanity was in the path towards its end, and was left upon Kisshomaru and those of the Aikiaki to continue on.

AikiBudo is the True Essence of O'Sensei's Art, and is a path held tightly to its traditional ways, where in todays Aikido much has been lost, and hence fourth you cannot come about saying you are of the true path if not blessed by a dirrect decendet of O'Sensei.

Lets get together combine our thoughts and wisdom, so we can help the world of today capture the Arts true Essence, and that of Aikido which is to bring fourth World Peace.

You can send me an Email so we can have a true heart to heart, and see if we can help realize what you've invisioned.

Luis F. Alba
Sekai Sokeshi, Hanshi.

08-30-2009, 09:36 PM
Hi Michael, my younger brother is a fairly successful filming editor in LA, but is young enough to enjoy this sort of work. He also trains in a martial art, but not aikido. that will have to wait until he tries to whomp on me come christmas time.

His scheduling is kindof random, but I would not be surprised if he would be interested in cutting/timing/finishing matching, etc, etc, as long as you don't mind working with someone remotely.

I will speak with him tonight, and then pm you with contact info after he gets a chance to read this thread.

L. Camejo
08-30-2009, 11:15 PM
Hi Michael,

To be clear - the plot of this film is set in a post apocalyptic / medieval theme, correct? It is a fictional production whose fight choreography and other pertinent elements will be taken from Japanese Budo such as Aikido, Kendo etc.?

This is not planned to be a documentarty piece that will "help the world of today capture the Arts true Essence, and that of Aikido which is to bring fourth World Peace." Correct?

Please let me know if I am wrong. Wouldn't want your plot to be overrun by another's idea of what should be presented in the production. :) Hoping that the politics will be kept to a minimum is all.

Just my thoughts.


Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 06:45 AM
Essentially that is the general idea Larry. I think the whole thing could lose focus if it becomes just an effort to show the true meaning of aikido and budo. Although this could be portrayed by the general struggle of good vs. evil and some element of mystitcism.

Luis, I am all for portraying Aikido/Kendo etc. in a positive light and being respectful to its principles just so long as that doesn't not become the subject of the movie. I do envision characters who are spirirtual, warrior monks and mystics but nothing specific to any religion or spirirtual belief. I would appreciate your help if this is OK and still interests you.

Mike, that would be awesome, I need all the help I can get and people with editing skills would add a lot of production value. I can edit and such but have not done it professionally.

Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 06:59 AM
Also, I am probably going to officially register the project as a nonprofit corporation. I want to stress from the very beginning that safety will have to be paramount. No live blades or weapons can be permitted anywhere near filming locations and everything will have to be done with safety in mind.

Ron Tisdale
08-31-2009, 08:15 AM
hey good luck! As things flesh out let me know the schedule and if I can shake some time free maybe you can add some YoshinOrc(tm) to the mix! :D I've also been told I add color to any event! :eek:

Kevin Leavitt
08-31-2009, 09:13 AM
I hope it is not a documentary about budo per se. I am really not up for being that serious about things and the amount of research and meticulous detail that would have to go into such an endeavor.

I am more interested in the creative aspects of doing a simple plot/story and simply having a good time experimenting with different things. For me it would be about having fun.

I just finished watching "The Good, the Bad, The Ugly" haven't seen it in years, but wow, what a film!

Also, Seven Samurai. I like the cinematography, the capture of the essence of feeling, culture, storyline.

I think with an HD camera and some creativity it could be fun!

Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 09:39 AM
yes Kevin I agree, it can become too complicated. It is mainly about having fun and keeping it simple. I definitely don't want to go into the details of budo and its background and spirituality and philosopy. Any mysticism will have to represented in a simple manner such as a warrior monk or somethig.

But I also don't want to limited any creativity at this point, the end product is going to have to be simple but we can develop a rich background to draw from and then remove stuff that is not pertinent. It is all just brainstorming right now.

Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 10:59 AM
I started a blog at http://monasticdigital.blogspot.com/

We can keep this alive here to let people see the project and decide if they want to be part of it. The blog can be for a more detailed discussion.

Kevin Leavitt
08-31-2009, 11:09 AM
cool...I can't reach your Blog at work, cause it gets blocked by big brother. Will look at it tonight Michael! BTW, are you back at Judo yet? I took the summer off.

Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 11:24 AM
I will be back in Judo this fall, so very soon. Take it easy on me, I am very out of shape :) I was also thinking about Aikido too, I really like Jim Sorrentino and ANV and miss training there.

Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 11:28 AM
Ron Tisdale, yes we could definitely use some YoshinOrcs :)

L. Camejo
08-31-2009, 01:09 PM
Ron Tisdale, yes we could definitely use some YoshinOrcs :)This appears to be quite an Epic gathering - the Aikibunnies, YoshinOrcs and Shodothugs all in one place at the same time. :D

What fun. :)



08-31-2009, 01:24 PM
I'm not too far from DC or NoVA. Depending on schedule, I might be able to help out in some way.

Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 01:47 PM
Great Mark, very cool.

I am getting very encouraged I was almost sure this would get no interest but decided to try anyway just in case.

Kevin Leavitt
08-31-2009, 03:55 PM
Come on, yudansha, a HD Camera, and the chance to dress up and make fools of ourselves and possibly get attention? are you serious?

Michael Neal
08-31-2009, 07:53 PM
Anyone have any ideas for locations? This will help a lot with the writing. We also have to consider the impact of people running around with costumes and weapons, we have to be out of sight or notify the police that we are shooting so we don't all get thrown in the slammer or shot accidentally :)

08-31-2009, 10:50 PM
Sugar loaf mountain on rte 270 could offer both panoramic views of sunrise or set, and has a nice flat space at the top, along with a spooky sort of stone watch hut for one of the mountain's sides, there is parking somewhat toward the top and the peak approach is doable by 3 routes. I recommend it to anyone, but it might be great for the locale of a fight scene.

Also, you could consider great falls park at the potomac river and RTE 495(clickety) (http://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm). There are a few foot bridges with stunning scenery on either side, and I believe both are out of sight of the other.

The trouble is that it may be difficult having undisputed access to these spaces (sugar loaf might be much easier post season)

Some sugarloaf images
fort (watch house)
top of fort

steps at the fort

nice path,

there are more images at this link: Sugar Loaf Mountain gallery(click) (http://www.sugarloafmd.com/mountain_gallery/index.html). By the way, sugar loaf is only 42 miles from downtown arlington; exit 22 RTE 109 off of RTE 270

hopefully not too many people will mind how hard i am geeking out on this. :crazy:

Michael Neal
09-01-2009, 07:19 AM
very very cool location, there are other potential spots in the Appalachian region but not with those cool stone features. Not sure how we could get permission to film here, is it run by a park service?

09-01-2009, 08:14 AM
It seems to me that sugar loaf is a registered natural landmark, maintained by a non-profit corporation. It is outside the MD park system, so the beauracracy to deal with should be less by comparison. A letter, and perhaps a donation to help fix a fence or stair-way might go a long way. Their main website is fairly informative. I will read up on the organization.

Michael Neal
09-01-2009, 09:08 AM
This is great, very medieval. Maybe we can contrast this scene with another one in an urban/industrial setting.

Great Falls is good too but will be difficult to get permission, might have to do something quick and Guerrilla style there, like people simply walking over the bridge then next to the river. The scenery there reminds me a lot of Last of the Mohicans.

Michael Neal
09-01-2009, 07:50 PM
Right before I was going to buy the Panasonic GH1 the new Canon 7D was just announced, that means much better picture quality and versatility.

Now I will have my Canon HV30 HD camcorder, the Canon 7D, and with a rented XHA1 or something similar we can shoot 3 perspectives of each scene at the same time. Won't have to shoot scenes over and over with different camera angles each time.

Since we should probably only have about a 5-10 minute run time, it should be a snap.

Michael Neal
09-01-2009, 08:17 PM
I definitely think sugarloaf mountain would work for shooting a quick dialogue scene which we can then cut to another location that has the same type of rock features minus the stone fort.

I don't think they will allow us to run around with swords and stuff there, LOL. But a quick scene shot in stealth mode would be great, have to have those visuals.

09-02-2009, 12:24 AM
It is very important not only to capture the essence of the Art, but a mix of everything so that in a short, yet captivating way the viewer can capture the true meaning behind our Arts.

Know you can count on me bless your Heart, fell free to Email me at any time, I've sent you a message on your blog.

Michael Neal
09-02-2009, 07:50 AM
Luis that argument you have been having with Dennis Hooker really gives me pause, most of the people involved in this project are part of the same organization and know him well. I am not sure it would be a good idea for you to be involved in this project.

Michael Neal
09-03-2009, 06:54 AM
Hey guys, please send me an email at mtaneal@gmail.com if you want to be informed of the major updates to this project. I am putting together a distribution list, I won't email very often I just don't want to bother people at Aikiweb with this indefinitely. I will send announcements about a shooting date, location, and other important details like props and costumes (if we use any).

I am also thinking we need to start simplifying already, I think all we should aim for right now is one small fight scene. If it it turns out good maybe more people will want to get involved for part 2.

You can also keep up to speed at http://monasticdigital.blogspot.com

The working title for the film is Knights of the Cataclysm

Michael Neal
08-22-2013, 09:25 AM
It has been years since this was originally discussed but this is actually going into production this fall as a web series based in the Washington DC area. We are still looking for people: actors, fight choreography, extras, film crew, and martial arts consultants (especially in the subject of Japanese sword).


08-23-2013, 09:30 AM
i could be an extra. most action films now a day, the asian guy usually gets kill first so i am willing to play that part of dying a horrible creaming death. and usually, there is a screaming blond bimbo get killed in the middle somewhere. i am pretty sure i haven't seen a u.s. based movie that the asian guy got the girl or even remotely near a girl other than trying some ninja moves which usually ended up with him dying in some sort of horrible death. so ya, i can be the extra. :D

Michael Neal
08-23-2013, 10:44 AM
Haven't you seen The Walking Dead? The Asian gets the girl man, and a white girl too!

Movies suck right now, and Hollywood is suffering. The big thing happening now are these cable shows like Walking Dead, Dexter, Breaking Bad, etc.

Our web series, Swords Of Insurgency, has 2 Latinos in major roles and we would love to have Asians as well, just haven't had any Asian express any interest yet. The 2 main protagonists have a distant family connection to a samurai clan in Japan. If we had Asians in the beginning to fill these roles they would be there for sure. We now just have to play off the Latino leads as mixed race.

You are more than welcome to be something other than a dead extra!