I have began to structure the film in a general way. Who am I to tell this story? How is a chance meeting with a guy so significant in the life of an 11 year old?
For me it starts with film, an awareness of the popular culture of the time. Being of the 60s television generation I watched a lot of late night and after-school films. These were classic films from the 1930s to 1950s. These were scratchy sound tracked films with dramatic lighting and wonderful writing. There is a warmth of style in many of these American films of this period. Full of slang and dialect, it is easy to see how American bravado garners so much attention abroad from these cultural artifacts.
I feel in love with cinema after watching a documentary on the making of some Alfred Hitchcock film. This love was enforced by watching the WTTW(local PBS) Foreign Cinema series on Friday nights. When I saw Melvin Van Peebles' La Permission(Story of a Three Day Pass) I was thoroughly moved and astounded. It was about this time I went to my high school counselor, told him what I wanted to do and asked him what schools I should apply to to study filmmaking.
Well, it was the 60s, and America's baggage of race was wayyyyyy heavier that it was now. This clown told me there were no schools for studying film and why didn't I consider taking up a trade. He told me I should have a more realistic goal????
40 years later the baggage is still there, it's emphasis shifted to become inclusive of agendas that are not wholly in the American ideals.
Among the films I would watch were old war films, spy thrillers, pulp sci-fi. I had moved from a small town in Mississippi to Chicago and one of the features of being a new kid was having to fight. Now, I was told not to fight, practice my Christian values and turn the other cheek. Of course that worked wonders in the street. I fought and lost, a lot. I watched Mr. Moto got from mild mannered Asian to jiu-jitsu maniace in his films. Years before Bruce Lee took on his Japanese opponents after they killed his teacher, James Cagney took on the Japanese(Not Japanese, but caucasian with slanty eye make up and a bad accent)intelligence agency in Blood on The Sun devasting them with judo. Cagney was great...take a look to the right. There were no Japanese in the film becaause they were like in the Manzanar Camps, maybe
More in line with my thinking was Spencer Tracy in Bad Day at Black Rock. The one armed man kicked some butt and I needed to know this stuff. In certain neighborhoods reading a lot of books, not trying to fit in, and having a speech impediment is hard on a kid.
It starts with where I live, the environment, This is where the story begins for me. I had a problem I needed solving. I was getting my ass kicked on a schedule. I turned to Bruce Tegner and his book on self-defense and had a little success practicing with friends. We would try Mr. Moto moves after Sunday matinees on TV when we got home from church.
I worked in Chinatown at Restaurants on Saturdays when I could get the work for awhile. I would catch glimpses of things. Sometimes young menwho worked in the kitchen with as much english as I had Chinese would be playing arm wrestling games in the alley that ended with someone being slapped. Later I would know this as Chi-Sao(Sticking Hands).
As a male child in an agressive environment there is a great concern about honor, face, the need to be "cool." Cool is the face we show to the world, to walk with a confidence that is apart from the everday reality but ever present inside of it. The Yoruba consider cool an aspect of creation a part of character.
I am just rambling now, trying to think it out in the blog while probably need food more than anything else about now.
To sum it up. It has always been popular culture that pushed the idea of martial arts at the public, first for Judo, then Karate, with the coming of Bruce Lee everybody was Kung Fu fighting and with his death came the rise of the Ninja and Ashida Kim's move into mail order infamy.
Time for Yogurt and toast....