Your new movie Architect of Chaos - in a few words, what is
In a nut shell, God goes crazy and sets into motion events designed to
end civilization. Jesus is "hired" by those in the "Holy
Hierarchy" to stop this.
With the film dealing with God,
Christ, the Devil and such, how close do you remain to the actual
(official) mythology, and how much research have you put in that aspect of
your film? And do you consider yourself at all a religious person?
I am by no means a theological expert of any sort,
but have done extensive reading of various religions. In this film,
there are references to Biblical writings, but there is obviously some
theatrical embellishment if you will. For instance, we talk about the
"Cosmic Order" and handbook for beings not of the mortal
world. A sort of guide book for angels and demons in peacetime and war.
My main point in the film was to drive home the
possibilty that such beings would probably have traits similar to what
we human beings possess. I didn't want this to be an overbearing
goody-two shoes faith based movie where everything is, for lack of a
better term, black and white.
In this film each character, good or evil, is
Even in my depiction of Jesus, I based him on the
Bruce Lee character from The Chinese Connection. By nature, a good man,
but prone to do violent or offensive things to restore order.
William Lee as Jesus
IN SHORT, THIS IS NOT A FAITH BASED, RELIGIOUS, OR
Christian FILM. The question posed to the audience is "If Jesus got
fed up with the actions of the human race, what WOULD JESUS DO?"
For the record, I do not follow a set of rules for
my spiritual beliefs, but rely heavily on Zen and the principles of
sources of inspiration when writing Architect of Chaos?
film The Chinese Connection aka Fist of Fury
starring Bruce Lee. The film is also dedicated to my late sister, who died
of cancer during the writing of the film. In the mourning process for her,
I have asked the age old question "Why didn't God, Jesus or whoever
has the power, save my sister's life". SO, In the film Jesus does
take specific action to right wrongs.
can you tell us about the look and feel of your movie?
It is pretty simple and direct, much like Bruce Lee's vision of martial arts and life.
There is one goal, and several
groups of protagonists and antagonists involved in reaching that goal.
Cinematically, I shot with a Canon t3i, t2i and my Windows cellphone. And for those camera geeks who have their lives
consumed with the search for the ultimate high resolution 10k HD BLU RAY
super-perfect ultimate pixel count CMOS HDSLR AVCHD monster camera, keep
on debating what's best. You'll be in your lab with your high priced
fancy picture box, looking smart, talking shit never having shot one
As for our “low rent equipment”... the results
were awesome. I have always been a fan of film noir, and directors like
Fritz Lang, so lots of moody shots, deep rich colors and high contrast
are always a part of what I shoot. And yes, I was the D.P. For the film
when I was not on camera. I also edited and scored the film. Good help
is hard to find, but by the same token, I love being behind the camera
because my complete refusal to do storyboards means that only I know
what the fucking shot is supposed to look like. SO sue me.
movie promises quite a bit of action - so do talk about your action scenes
for a bit, and how were they conceived?
With 40+ years in martial arts training and scholarly research into
eastern philosophy and history, my fight scenes are the result of a
lifetime of work in the field. Having watched action films from all over
the world, time and time again, I have tried to distill my scenes into a
simple formula: attack and react.
American action scenes are always too heavily edited, and the use of
shaky cameras to cover up unskilled actors is a joke. Asian films are
top notch, but some of the sequences become so elaborate American
audiences are turned off. What Bruce Lee did, and why he was so
successful the world over, is that he combined the best elements of east
and west to create emotionally charged action scenes.
In my mind, it is easier to train an actor to be a fighter than the
reverse. Martial artists typical have too much ego and cannot separate
reality from fiction. They want to be "the tough guy" on set.
Bruce Lee Jr! King of the hill! I can beat William Lee in a kung fu
But can you complete this fight scene and make the movie work? God,
I cannot tell you the number of times big name martial arts guys strut
on to set with all the ego and hubris one could fight into an oversized
ego, and when it came time to do the scene, they were lost. I enjoy
asking them “Okay, any ideas for this fight scene?” After ten
minutes of hemming, hawing and shitting themselves, I step in and in
less than five minutes there are, indeed, Bruce Lee Jr!!!
Actors, on the other hand, are more open minded and more willing to
listen to my direction. The bottom line is, you are always IN character,
EVEN AS you fight. Some how some way, you as an actor have to synthesize
all of these elements into your role. Just to FIGHT, with no part of
your being involved is unacceptable, it shows on screen when you can see
an actor thinking about fighting, as opposed to immersing his being into
the fight. As Bruce Lee once said:
“We need emotional content.”
You'd better believe it.
You have cast
yourself as Jesus
Christ in your movie - now have you written the character with
yourself in mind, and always assuming you're not really the Son of God,
what did you draw upon to bring your character to life?
My concept of Jesus has always varied greatly from the commonly accepted
notion of a man in white robes, walking around spreading prose and
poetry to huddled masses. Generally, the most popular stories of his
life are relegated to happy, shiny things and then suddenly the exterme
Jesus spent a lot of time with the lower rung of civilization, it was
NOT a squeaky clean life, and it is a joke that most filmmakers and
pundits tend to ignore the reality and totality of his existence. Jesus'
life cannot be told without dealing the the violence, conflict and anger
he endured and in fact, he experienced and used (the money changers) to
spread his word.
The image of Jesus as a man of words and not action is to me a fallacy.
In the more than 100 years few film portrayals of Jesus, few have been
of a man of color and or action and of humor, wit or commonality with
humans. So, I decided to go in a completely opposite direction. In my
film Jesus is a man possessed with one thing: stopping evil by any means
necessary. And he does not have blond hair and blue eyes, nor is he of
Germanic descent, nor is he tending sheep, or praying for people.
He is an extremely upset black man, killing demons, taking names and
kicking ass. Deal with it. With that said, Jesus used FORCE, VIOLENCE
and ANGER to achieve his goals. his relationship with women is also a
major part of the film.
It's not your granddaddy’s Jesus by any means. Some people will not
like it. That is their choice. I choose to be more realistic than the
others who have told this story in the past 2000 years.
What can you tell
us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Joe Estevez was the main cog in the wheel, so to speak. Once he was
involved, the film gained enormous legitimacy. While most people only
know him as Charlie Sheen's Uncle, or Martin Sheen's brother, Joe has
established quite an amazing film career on his own. Many people do
not realize that when Martin Sheen experienced a heart attack on the
set of Apocalypse Now, Joe actually filled in for a great number of
scenes in that film.
As for the rest of the cast, I can only say that the talent was
extraordinary. It amazes me most of these people are not working in
Hollywood. But from all indications, they will be. Soon.
talk about the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere for a bit!
film took three full years to complete, obviously complicated by my
sister's death, and the typical egos, infighting and mutinies expected on
any film project. One day last year, in the depths of depression and
doubting the film would ever get rolling, I had a phone conversation with
my UPM Cherokee Hall and Claude Miles, a Los Angeles Filmmaker, and after
the optimism and support they showed, the film was finally on course to
completion. From that point on, we never looked back.
idea when and where Architect of Chaos will be released onto the
general public yet?
We just had our world premiere in
Newport, Kentucky and it was a smash! WE MEET WITH OUR PRODUCER'S
REP THIS WEEK TO FINALIZE DEALS FOR DVD, CABLE, SATELLITE AND OTHER
As far as I know, with Architect
of Chaos not yet out, you're already preparing part 2 - so you have to
talk about that one for a bit!
The plot picks up right
after the end of the first one. This time, there are seven treasures at
seven locations around the world. The first person or group of persons to
locate and possess all seven has the power to save or destroy the world.
Actress Debra Lamb [Debra Lamb
interview - click here] will be playing the archangel Gabriel, who attempts to
seduce and then destroy Jesus. Joe Estevez will be back as God, of course!
Another upcoming project
of yours is Crak'd Pipes - what can you tell us about that one?
of"Goodfellas meets It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad
World. I play a Black / Italian mob guy named Vinny Vincenzo.
It's a film I wrote back in 1995, and have been waiting to do since that
time. It's an action comedy, and comedy is something I have always been
told I should do. I always hesitated, because it seems that the public
tends to pigeonhole many black actors into comedy. But this film is much
more than a slapstick, stereotypical stepin' fetchit laugh fest. It still
maintains the high octane action and adventure of my previous efforts.
other future projects you'd like to share?
Redemption - a Black woman from the inner city is killed by sinister
forces. She is resurrected by an unseen force to wreak havoc on the bad
guys. Now, to find a Black woman who wants to star in such a vehicle! For
some reason, I have the utmost problem finding black actresses for my
What got you
into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
BORN IN NEW YORK, Lee's father A World War two
veteran and aircraft engineer moved the family westward when William
was 6 years old, but not way out west, as in La La land (rumor has it
that Lee's father was a staunch New Yorker who hated phoniness and
superficiality, ahem.) AFTER seeing kung fu legend, and martial arts
movie legend BRUCE LEE on screen for the first time in 1974, Lee asked
his father to purchase a movie camera so that he might replicate the
famous martial artists' exploits--albeit on a smaller scale. Within a
year of picking up a movie camera, Lee received his first film award
at the Eye Music Festival of San Francisco. Since then, he has
directed over thirty film projects.
"I would have directed quite a few more
films if I had had the financial backing," Lee explains.
"But, sad to say, a lot of done deals unraveled before I saw a
penny. I met people who promised me unbelievable sums of money, or
Hollywood stars who agreed to be in my films, then would disappear
like the wind, leaving me looking like a complete fool. So I made up
my mind to do it myself, no matter what the cost or struggle. My work
has been financed with my own sweat and what little cash I could
earned a B.A. and M.A. from Ohio State University's now defunct Cinema
Ohio State is on my shit list for closing down the Photography and
Cinema Department. Totally inexcusable given the new age of digital
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to Architect of Chaos, and your evolution as a
My best action films were made as a teenager in
the 1970's and 80's. The New Chinese Connection, Seven
Bold Dragons and Dragon Vs. Ninja are classic films shot
on Super 8. I hope to have them transferred to Blu-ray soon. As a teenager
I could not separate the Chinese influence from the real world, thus you
had black people with Chinese names fighting in Chinese battles (Ice., no
guns). It was a dichotomy that hounded me until my college years. then, I
spent a few years trying to solve that riddle in dreadful films like
Kung Fu Nitro, Edge of Tolerance and Soulripperz. Then, with
Room 13, a film about terrorism in the
modern world, I gave up the idea of being a leading man, and decided
to just direct films. Now, ten years later, I've come full circle to being
a leading man and fighting on film.
How would you describe yourself as a director?
simply do not take shit, waste time or kiss asses. If it ain't about
business and selling the film, then fuck it.
who inspire you?
Fritz Lang, Melvin
Van Peebles, Ivan Dixon, Erich von Stroheim, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira
Kurosawa, Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Walter Hill, Howard
Hawks, Sam Peckinpah, Sergei Eisenstein and Orson Welles.
Your favourite movies?
Chien Andalou (1926), anything by Chaplin, A Clockwork Orange, Training
Sunset Boulevard, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Bicycle
Thieves, Battleship Potemkin, Birth of a Nation (yes, I said
it), Across 110th Street, Dr. Strangelove, any film by Jerry Lewis,
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Master
of the 36th Chamber, Scarface
(1932), Public Enemy (James Cagney),
Blow Out ( Brian De Palma), JFK, Mama Mia, Singing in the
Rain, Django, Reservoir
Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Kill
Bill Vol 2, Spook Who Sat by the Door, Mantis Fist
Fighter, Five Deadly Venoms, Day the Earth Stood
Still (original), the Die Hard series, the
Rambo and Rocky series, Best Years of our Lives,
Under Siege 1
& 2, Nothing but a Man, Black Sister's
Revenge, Coffy, The original
Predator, obviously all of Bruce Lee's
and of course, films you really deplore?
Soul Plane - The epitome of plantation negro film making. Absolute
Paper Soldiers - The prime reason rappers should be banned from making
films. Complete shit. An embarrassment to black people the world over.
of two films that ever gave me a migraine. Jodie Foster was awful, and
Matthew McConaughey was irritating.
The Octagon - Second of two films that ever gave me a migraine. Big misstep
for Chuck Norris. The final showdown was the ultimate let-down for a
film which was so heavily built up for that last fight. A cardinal sin
for an action movie.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Have seen this three times, and each time
I go "So what?"
Animal House - Uh, really? Sorry, don't get it.
EVERY ADAM SANDLER movie made after The Waterboy.
Any film other than The Scout featuring Brendan Fraser. How he
continues to get multi million dollar films, while better actors can't
get jack, still eludes my understanding.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I've merely forgotten to ask?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I have never watched The
Wizard of Oz all the way through, Never
saw Cool Hand Luke, never saw one JAMES DEAN or MARILYN MONROE FILM.
views on Marlon Brando's acting (outside of The Godfather and Apocalypse
Now) are not favorable.
last 30 minutes of Kill
Bill Vol 1 AND 2
COULD HAVE BEEN
REDUCED TO 10.
who do not like black and white films are morons.
Fellini's 8 1/2 bored me to tears. Highly pretentious and far
too self aware. Trying to be too clever is a big turn off for me.
Jackie Chan, but all of his films made for American audiences are
awful, sellout cinema. Armour of God, Meals on Wheels and
Fearless Hyena, however, are required martial arts cinema.
Dicaprio is the best American actor of this century.
Day Lewis is highly overrated. Doesn't mean he isn't a superb actor, but
Lincoln was not a masterpiece of acting.
current trend of teenie vampire films is proof positive civilization
has stepped back about 1000 years.
Lee's people did not want to produce one of my action films back in
the 90's, which is curious since now Spike has done films like Inside Man and
Kane IS the best motion picture ever made. They should give up
changing that "greatest" list every year.
once walked out on a film called Ninja Turf. Besides the
shitty cinematography, and bad acting, before one of the poorly staged
fight scenes, some non-descript guy yells: "I want the black
for the interview!