Though Alvin Ecarma is very forthcoming about his art, his past is a horse of a different color. To call him enigmatic would be an understatement.
After some sleuthing, however, I came across a short bio of Sir Al on the back of a Jack Chick tract. Please keep in mind: The information below is most likely spurious in great measures and wildly out of date.
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What’s the last great movie you saw at the theater?
I thought the first half of CAPTAIN AMERICA was great, but the second half of Action Montage Highlight Reel, not so much. DRIVE was good; who thought Albert Brooks was so bad ass? And that pixie-haired blond girl was cute.
What’s the first movie that changed your life?
As a child, my tastes were probably shaped by late night monster movie Creature Features, first coming out of Channel 2 in Baltimore, Maryland and later Count Gore De Vol on the Saturday night Creature Features broadcast on Channel 20, WDCA.
As a sort-of-adult, first seeing the trailers for A BETTER TOMORROW, BLONDE FURY and OPERATION PINKSQUAD when I was visiting the Philippines was a revelation and when I got back to the USA, all I could do was rave about Those Hong Kong Gangster Films. When THE KILLER got its domestic release about a year or two later, I saw it with my high school cronies and it drove us batshit crazy with its awesome. I think we left the theater doing the two gun thing at each other. About a month after I got my membership at the local Chinese Video rental place and started to front load my cinema menu with John Woo, Jackie Chan and anything that looked remotely interesting.
Working within a small budget, how often are sacrifices necessary to get the ideas in your head onto the screen? Do you see this as a detriment to the final film, or more a test of your creative mettle?
With LETHAL FORCE, the concept was fairly flexible so when it became obvious that there was a difference between the movie in my head and the movie I was making, it was possible to change things up and turn any negatives into positives. That said, that creative/artistic/improvisational model is not something I would like to do again.
After setting the bar so high with LETHAL FORCE, do you find the task daunting to try and top yourself with the upcoming GUN FU OPERA BLUES?
I believe it is counter-productive to think in those terms. It’s been a while since LF so I’m pretty divorced from it. GUN FU OPERA BLUES is its own beast and is going to be a relatively slicker, more expansive production. The only real similarity is that it will be shot on film. The main reason is to emulate the undercranking i.e. the speeding up of film, that was a hallmark of the Hong Kong New Wave of the late 80’s/early 90s. I have yet to see really effective undercranking with digital; people always end up throwing on some weird After FX filter that just calls attention to itself. The playing with film speeds, along with fast cutting, gave classic HK a hyperactive twitchiness and was key to their very unique vibe.
Rumors run rampant of a tumultuous onset relationship with your star, Cash Flagg, Jr. Despite the adversity (or perhaps because of it?), LETHAL FORCE turned out to be a triumph. Long story short, is Mr. Flagg the Kinski to your Herzog?
Under advice of counsel, I decline to answer this question at this time.
What’s your take on mainstream and indie cinema today?
When it comes to mainstream cinema, it makes me sad that today’s movies are either Big Noisy Blockbusters and Art House Oscar Bait with ‘tween/kid movies at the center of those two extremes. When any of those categories is done well, they are done extremely well but when they are not (which is most of the time), it seems like a terrible waste of talent, time and resources. However, with the way the Theatrical Release model has evolved in the last 25 years, I don’t see any of this changing.
Regarding Indie Cinema, and by that I mean films that don’t have stars or significant budgets and are more often than not genre films i.e. action, horror, urban, sexploitation, I have no idea where it’s going. Back when you still had the brick and mortar retail and rental outlets, there was a business model that could be monetized and number crunched. But with their demise, the change to streaming, not to mention the fact that there is so much product out their because of the affordability of digital, how indie films are supposed to succeed is up in the air. The days of seeing incredibly odd ball films get a nationwide, high exposure release right next the latest Hollywood release are gone. At the moment, Netflix has become wide open for indie films through their streaming services but I don’t see that window lasting more than a couple of years before they wise up and shut the barn door. And those Redbox kiosks don’t carry the wackier stuff unless it’s cookie cutter SyFy Channel Picture Original crap.
In any case, the resources are out there for indie filmmakers to make whatever they wish, but they should bear in mind that final distribution of the end product will be another mountain to climb. Have some monies set aside or at least a PR strategy set up to get the word out about your film. And remember to have a film that’s commercially marketable; a horror or sexploitation title is going to be more market-friendly than a dramedy about the love lives of twenty-somethings that takes place in various apartments and bars. Not that I’m saying going genre is a sure bet, but you will be making things harder for yourself if you go the comedy or drama route. Admittedly GUN FU OPERA BLUES is something that skirts the line, but it should be noted that I am deeply crazy.
Give Sir Al a shout at Divergent Thinking Productions!
All Sir Al, all week! Trailers! Exclusives! Reviews! Podcast! Sgt. Pepper!
Stay tuned, Bastards!
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