Thursday, July 13, 2006

Full Speed Ahead...

It has been a busy month and things ain't 100%. We got the new Jazz in Chicago Guide laid to rest and out to our first Millennium Park concert. General distribution starts today. My work buddy Dan Melnick and I got the first Jazz in Chicago Podcast done and are trying to catch up on the others today.

The new business partnership languishes while we get organized on another front with more projects starting to come in and I am invited to expound on technology and identity at University forums not knowing what the hell I am going to talk about or present as of yet. Maybe I can unearth something from this process I am engaged in, making The Search for Count Dante.

More funding and services are now in place, still not enough to finish, but I can keep shooting. People are hearing about the project, the 1st trailer really had some major repercussion in gauging interest in the subject. I am going to LA for the Black Belt Magazine convention end of the month. I missed it last year. But it all works out. I know so much more now than I did before. My hunches are now supported by facts. The truth hurts sometimes but I figure it is like a toothache. Pull it or the pain keeps coming back. It eventually poisons the body. Thus is the story of John Keehan/Count Dante. Painful truths that have never been extracted, the body of the history of martial arts suffers for it. The tale is not told, is not complete.

Someone accused me of being obsessed with Keehan. Yeah, I am obsessed with telling his story. I am like any person dedicated to telling a story, any good writer, filmmaker or researcher. There is part of me in this story, of so many people I knew. We skirted the multitudinous peripheries of Count Dante's life. He was out kick ass Charles Atlas who would just about say and do anything and ultimately he tried to do it for a few bucks mail-order.

This story is part of the volitile 60s. Keehan gets accused of teaching self-defense to the Blackstone Rangers, SDS and trouble-makers at the 1968 convention. Well I did not see him there. Maybe I was running too fast???? :-)

For a minute Keehan gets accused of being a "mother-country radical" lighting the path to black revolution by an ex-girlfriend Playboy Bunny who may or may not end up in the film.

The projects goes into over drive between now and October. I plan to be cutting this film in late November. Is that confident and boisterous? Yep, some things you have to will into being.

I am getting both my son's involved. Jason, 29, just graduated from Columbia College, Djibril, 15, is going to be my personal assistant when he is available. I may also have him work on some music for me; he is bit talented with sequencers. We have been talking about a soundtrack for each historical period, the 40s, 50s, 60s and ass-kicking 70s, with original music. I don't want to be paying lots of royalities on popular music unless an Angel dive bombs me with loads of cash.

I have been talking to my producer friend Dave Allen who was with the Cure for all those years and composer Edward Wilkerson of 8 Bold Souls and Shadow Vignettes. I can make a clean financial deal with them(I hope). I need some strings too. Some dramatic, kinetic, Kronos kind of sound. Keehan was a gifted, classical man, born into wealth, stepped a bit outside his element and could manage the span of the abyss generated by not yet explained anger...he fell along the way.

I feel like all the questions I have in the film are ready to be answered. One of the music instructors in my building, who also works in custodial engineering, told me I should call John Keehan's name before I got to sleep and ask him to come to me and help me answer my questions. I have not done it yet. I will do it in a few days. Now I am a bit superstitious about this kind of stuff.

My mother dreams and I dream, but not as effectively as my mom. So I am careful what I wish for. I know you are thinking this is getting really weird. Hell, what else is new??? So yes I am going to do just that.

I still have people turning up in my email box who have seen the trailer, heard about the blog heard about the project. People are coming forward and they are ready to forgive ready to share. This is a good sign.

Quite a few people in the martial arts community get it. It takes me back to my very first interview, Ken Knudson. Ken vilified Dante for the death of his friend. But he was willing to give his side, but also give Keehan his due. As we talked I think he felt the history unfolding. He helped me catch a glimpse of what this project would eventually become.

I am always amazed at how people assume that Count Dante is black when I first explain the project to them, even after I have already said he was an Irish kid from Beverly. I guess it is the Afro in the advertisement, the swarthy intensity, those five fingers of each hand clenched in an Asian Armada of crushing, snatching, grabbing destruction. I have had people assume I am making a "black" film and call me back days later telling me they did not realize the depth of the story. Well, DUH! LOL!

Many others have told me that it is not a black film, not that I asked them. It is a great story and a potentially GREAT film. That is my first concern. I want to illuminate a marginal world that I participated in, to tell stories that heretofore are urban legend. We can figure out all the rest after the film is done.

Race is a mitigating factor in our ability to communicate. The subject of race is what we as Americans are still coming to grips with because we still make presumptions about the "other."

The film is a great exercise for me because it causes me to confront my own past and I have become more comfortable about adding my voice to the narrative of this film.

After Ken Knudson, Bob Wall has been a great supporter. Through World Black Belt
Bob has been very helpful in providing me with contacts and info and allowed me to use his name.

I am feeling great about the project. I got a lot of moves to make these next few weeks; 8 cities and 3 counties to obtain footage and interviews from; archival footage to dig up.

One of the great things I have uncovered in this is Charles Grusanski, Keehan's first teacher. His story is interesting itself. His influence has gone unmentioned, but then he was a very classical man who literally grew to adulthood in post-war Japan and came back home to become a policeman. Grusanki was one of the organizers, along with John and many others, of the 1st World Karate Championships in 1963 at the university of Chicago Field House.

Keep watching, things are about to speed up. I thinks there will be lots of good news about the project, some twists, bumps and turns along the way. In the end, we will have a great film on the life and times of Count Dante, not straight out of a comic book.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Dear Floyd,

This is Steve; I emailed you recently concerning Ashida Kim. Your movie project has made notice at, where Dante is a definite figure of interest. You can promote/discuss the film there. Do a search for "Dante" and you should be able to turn up the appropriate thread.

Hope to see you there. This project kicks ass.