DEFENDERS BEFORE PRETENDERS: Bloodshot, Shots, And Marvelous Post Con Bliss With Mason Sharrow And Friends

The fallout from Saturday night's events at New York Comic Con couldn't have been more epic after a day of total fandom with so many movie trailers and other jewels from around the web. One of the biggest items worth mentioning is the current coverage of Marvel's activity with Netflix for the upcoming series, Iron Fist which recently wrapped filming, and its forthcoming follow-up, The Defenders, for which news in the last twelve hours broke of the addition of actress Sigourney Weaver in the video above.

I only learned about that bit later in the evening in conversation long after I arrived at a bar & steakhouse in Manhattan called Mustang Harry's where I eventually met up with Mason Sharrow, an actor, stuntman and filmmaker who I first learned of back in 2013 when he was working on Micah Brock's hit miniseries, Slug Street Scrappers. Since then he's been traveling and working between the U.S. and China while writing and producing some of his own indepemdents projects in the making, and just recently he's hit the road with fellow stuntman and traceur, action actor Joel Coryell to film some content of their own, as well as lend their services to the good folks at Bat In The Sun and Valiant Digital to promote Ninjak VS. The Valiant Universe, in addition to Iron Fist.

By the time I arrived, I had only seen the trailers for both upcoming series which premieres in 2017. Much to my delight, however, Mason and I hooked up and I was eventually sat down with Joel and about seven other people who happened to be at Comic Con representing Valiant Entertainment, including Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, his wife, May, and Valiant's Associate Director of Digital Marketing and Development, Josh Johns, who graciously shared the terrific Comic Con footage of Jason David Frank in the role of Bloodshot from the Ninjak series. From there, Josh and I talked for a bit about what I did and how Film Combat Syndicate came to be, and he offered me his card before long so we could stay in touch about the series. And that I will.

Some minutes passed and I downed a sweet cocktail while chatting it up between Mason and Joel, who drove forty-one hours before arriving in town and will be hitting the road once more after the weekend. Joel's craft is one that has only just begun its progression within the last few years after being physically active most of his life, and now with a career at Universal Studios in Hollywood as a stunt player. He'll soon be appearing in an upcoming ensemble Marvel fan film short directed and coordinated by none other action actress, stuntwoman and budding filmmaker Cassie Lee Minnick, and you can view the trailer for that one by clicking here.

Party hat-approved!
As for Mason, you can't not be interested in some of the things that have been inspiring him as of late, including the latest Netflix sci-fi series, Stranger Things, Nickelodeon series Avatar, a Street Fighter x Tekken project and others. I won't go into the details of what Mason shared with me with regard to his brainstorming and conceptualizing for these, including Stranger Things, but I can humbly testify that any anyone who is anyone who has ever grown up watching and adoring 80s sci-fi adventure titles, as well as this show, would be hugely interested, and I hope he's able to advance his ideas into reality.

After a while, some of the Valiant team departed for the evening for other matters, including Shamdasani who I didn't get to talk to as he was already engaged with everyone else at the table, and I had just sat down with Josh, Joel and Mason who was going around the table and sharing stories his career history. It was a pretty big crowd but dwindled down a bit to the five of us or more, including May, Valiant Sales Manager Matthew Klein and Joel, and myself and a few others; it was a slow rollout of people, and only because we were minutes away from officially celebrating Mason's birthday, and the obligatory bad singing eventually comsumed the room. Ears bled, tears shed and people fled. It was festive!

Finally it was just the three of us as we sat at the bar celebrating Mason's birthday and talking about the stunt industry including the community here in New York City. Joel actually mentioned some recent plans to connect with local Sambo instructor Stephen Koepfer who will be presenting a film documentary about New York City's stunt community next month at the Urban Action Showcase and Expo. In addition, the two also mentioned other major projects that are now active here in the Tri State Area and their current networking efforts as well, including with Billy Bussey who I first started covering a few years ago with Paul Nicoletos's sci-fi action short, Kill Shelter. Again, I can't mention those projects either, but I'll be discussing them eventually as any other site that follows film and TV content in due time.

A little more on Mason, however, with regard to working with Micah. Plans are currently in motion to revive an earlier project announced a few years ago but remained shelved as Micah tended to other priortities, including a rollout of martial arts tutorials on his own YouTube channel. Needless to say, if you've been following this blog or Micah, you might have an idea on what that project might already be. Otherwise, I'm pretty confident that it will be just as fantastic as Slug Street Scrappers in its current iteration.

Weekend: Confirmed
Saturday night was a pure blast. It was full of fun, excitement, friendship, music, stunt talk, fandom, "Corn!" (inside joke)...and most notably, beer. Point in fact, Saturday night was probably the first night I've ever gotten properly toasted; two cocktails, two Fireball shots with Bailey's ice cream, Jäegermeister and whatever the living hell else was in it - I liked it - and two shots of Vodka between the three of us. In all the commotion and joy, I further continued to murderdeathkill the Happy Birthday song much to Mason's chagrin, and I got it all on live video on Facebook while wearing this amazing cowboy hat being passed around. Not to mention, an impromptu viewing of Eric Jacobus's brutal, red-band action comedy musical, Wake Up Juice - also a bit of required viewing for Joel to finally introduce him to Eric's work.

Incidentally, Saturday night was also a much-needed event for me, both as a writer and a day-in/day-out, all work/no play native New Yorker looking to expand his social circle. Several failed attempts to convene with a few folks ensued late last month coming into October and my morale was taking a beating, and the last time I gathered with anyone was with three other cool folks to catch Salman Khan's movie, Sultan back in July. Moreover, lots of stunt professionals who do make it here don't always have the time to hang out and shoot the breeze over a few beers as they are constantly on the go with work and settling in their own space, which speaks highly to what Mason and Joel do for a living, with forty one hours on the road and they almost weren't able to get back to their place in New Jersey. Gladly they found a way just before we said our goodnights and gave our biggest, drunken and happy brohugs. I didn't even know Mason was going to be here until he messaged me about it and asking if there were any good parking spaces.

Further setting things in stone was a Facebook mention on one of Aaron Schoenke's posts by stunt professional Sonny Sison ahead of some possible press coverage for the Ninjak series. As always and ever since 2004, Comic-Con was a no-go for me with my other work/family obligations tying me down, which essentially makes Saturday night even more opportune. Were it not for Mason's invite, I wouldn't have had the chance to at least shake the hands of those at Valiant or even see Jason's thrilling action sequence as shown at Comic-Con. I wouldn't have been able to meet two more stunt professional working their way up, and nor would have I been able to unwind and have one of the best Saturday nights I've ever had in my life, and with some of the best people to ever want to work in stunts and entertainment.

Some of these folks are the most generous, genuine and kind people you will ever meet in life, and Saturday night was a reaffirmation of that fact. I got about two and a half hours of sleep before going into work on Sunday, and yet behind these tired eyes is a man who is still smiling, and ever thankful.

Happy birthday Mason, and my best wishes to the lovely girlfriend Kate and Mason's son, Hunter!


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