FIST PLUS FACE: A Formula For Action And Laughs In The Spirit Of Jeet Kune Do

Following successful crowdfunding efforts by executive producer Justin Chambers and writer/director and former Jeet Kune Do student Travis Laidlaw, online netizens can now view Laidlaw's latest contribution to the action genre in the form of the brand new shortfilm, Fist Plus Face. The project is a culmination of Laidlaw's fifteen years of experience in the industry, which didn't come easy as he ended up finishing his law degree between his earlier film endeavors, and before ultimately choosing greener pastures in cinema upon moving back in Toronto. "I have always had a fascination with the camera, filming everything I did from personal short films to school projects. I never went anywhere without it.", he writes. "I had wanted to be an actor for some time but soon I decided at this point that it was behind the camera that really interested me.".

Fist Plus Face features actor and martial arts stunt impressario Jonny Caines, whose latest feats of action saw him perform in the Jabronie Pictures action short, Do The Damn Thing In Canada, and in a recent short fight demo shot by Leo Kei Angelos. In Laidlaw's new shortfilm, Caines stars as a daydreaming restaurant patron whose affections for a register girl (Nikki Grant) leave him walking a line between a fantasy where he gets the girl after singlehandedly neutralizing three thugs trying to rob the place, and an unfortunate, smelly reality.

Film Combat Syndicate reached out to Caines, who initially started cutting his teeth in martial arts through his early teens, and fully embracing the world of film acting and action performance just within the last few years, particularly during his membership with Canadian martial arts stunt troupe, Team 2X. "Training martial arts has allowed me to continue being active while pushing myself both mentally and physically.", he says. "It has also allowed me to pursue my dreams, which I never thought possible, especially growing up in a small town in the middle of Saskatchewan.".

Importantly, Laidlaw never intended to do a martial arts movie, and simply wanted to make a comedy with some kind of action he knew he would include. However, it was not until he found an old copy of "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do" by Bruce Lee, that martial arts was route to take, incorporated with futher inspiration from films like Army Of Darkness and the comedic stylings of Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle. This particular vision  was something that definitely drew Caines's attention upon pre-production and working with Laidlaw and the film's first-time fight choreographer, Jeet Kune Do specialist and founder of Combative Concepts in Scarborough, Steve Ferreira. "After reading the script I immediately wanted to be apart of it. I'm a huge fan of comedy and have always wanted to do a project like FPF!" Caines writes. "It was also really cool being able to learn some Jeet Kune Do as I've always wanted to. But, most of all it was just great to work in such a fun environment with friends and professionals alike.".

"Steve Ferreira is amazing. The guy knows his shit, and then some!", says Laidlaw, who at one point studied under Steve's instructor, Peter Chassikos. "I actually trained in Jeet Kune Do years ago and knew from the get go that this was how I wanted the fighting choreographed.". Laidlaw then shared his perspective on the process it took to create what he was envisioning for the action. "...We spent a lot of time discussing the basics of what we were going to need from each other to make sure we were on the same page. When I went to Steve, I had a rough idea of the types of things I wanted to see in each fight sequence, but I needed his input on what exactly these would entail. And since I had done some training in JKD, I knew of a lot of the movements, or at least some of the vocabulary to transmit my ideas effectively.".

Laidlaw continues: "I would say 'Okay, I really want to see some trapping here...' or 'Can we include a destruction sequence or something cool here?...' and Steve would come back with a million different options for me on the spot with the actors. It was a great collaborative process with Steve, myself and the actors as we all had so much input. The actors did pick up on some things quickly and other things took a lot of repetition to get right. In the end, we spent about 12 hours in choreography over 4 weeks with Jonny being the only actor with any previous fight training. It's easy to assume that anyone could pick up on things easily but it really is a difficult process.  Sometimes even just learning how to throw a simple jab properly can takes ages to learn the proper mechanics. And we were flying through this stuff at break neck speeds. The actors had a LOT to learn in a short amount of time, and I am super proud of them and Steve for getting the result that we did.".

"I really enjoyed taking direction from Travis and would totally work with him again," Caines tells Film Combat Syndicate. "He is very easy going and friendly, so he was a real pleasure to work with. Travis is quite open to jamming it out and seeing what works best.".

On top of music videos, preparing a pilot later this year and designing graphics and VFX for MTV, Laidlaw also plans to return to his Jeet Kune Do roots with a sci-fi action shortfilm that will hopefully see its shoot start before 2015, with further reconsideration for reviving his old traning regimen with Ferreira at the helm.

As of this month, Caines now holds additional stunt credits in the recent releases of Robocop and Pompeii, and the upcoming action horror thriller, Wolves, and is also expected to pop-up in an upcoming issue of "Inside Fitness Magazine" by April or May, all while sharpening his skills as an actor. Other independent action projects will also feature Caines collaborating with fellow indie filmmaker and actor Yung Lee, as well as seeing to Team 2X's current production and forthcoming release of the team's martial arts sci-fi action feature-length debut, Meza (formerly known as Genetix).

Watch Fist Plus Face below, along with an hour-long behind-the-scenes featurette just beneath.

FIST PLUS FACE -- Short Film from Travis Laidlaw on Vimeo.

Behind the Scenes of Fist Plus Face from Travis Laidlaw on Vimeo.


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