Friday, December 28, 2007

Recap of my 2nd year with this dastardly film!!!

Happy New Year to all!!!

In the course of making this film I have had adventures i never imagined. I knew I was in for a wall of "secrecy and plausible deniability" but I was not prepared for the high level of obfuscation and crap I have encountered along the way. I am talking to people in the witness protection program, former specials ops people from the military, mob-connected individuals and occult masters and faced with attempts to stuck me up to see archives that may or may not exist for large amounts of money. This is in no way a typical documentary. This is the bed I have made and I am in it to the end.

Most recently, I am shocked at how new faces continue to appear. This past Saturday, I interviewed Ben Nevarez, a Mexican immigrant to Chicago in the early 1960s who started his study of karate in Mexico and joined Dante's school in 1962. He traveled with Dante to a tournament in Canada held by Mas Tsuroka in 1963. More on this in my next blog entry.

I made a decision about this time last year to go to Fall River and try to see what I could do to get them involved and come to some kind of a deal regarding their archive. Aguiar had already told me he wanted money for an interview and $10,000 to look at the archive site unseen. I had already been in touch with his lawyer and asked for paperwork proving their claim of copyright and never got anything but questionable documents attached to cease and desist orders. I tried to make peace and an opportunity for us to move forward in a positive manner.

I accepted the invitation of John Creeden III to come to Fall River. He said he was breaking away from Aguiar and that his father, John Creeden, Jr. had film footage that they had rights to. I asked about meeting Aguiar while I was in Fall River and they said it was not a good idea.
They said Bill Aguiar was not the owner of the footage.

I went there to interview John Creeden, Jr., and I did. I never put it online. I was waiting to see how things panned out. One thing led to another and I got involved with Barron Sheppard, who wanted to come on as an investor in the film. The first time I heard froim Sheppard , he offered to pay for a headstone for Count Dante's grave. That is how we got to talking.

Sheppard is a martial artist, martial arts historian and business man. He was looking for angles to do business on the novelty of these martial arts oddities, and saw the Black Dragon Fighting Society as a marketable commodity for t-shirts and fight wear due to Dante's early advocacy of mixed martial arts.

Playing no favorites, he sought to buy out both Ashida Kim and Bill Aguiar. I introduced him to the Creeden's. Creeden sold film footage to Sheppard for $1000.00 with the understanding that he was purchasing it to do with as he pleased. One of the uses would be for the film. I was specifically interested in the wrestling footage and the poison hand demonstration by Dante himself. Creeden III tried to go into business with Sheppard. Creeden, in trying to go it alone even went so far as suggesting making peace with Ashida Kim to capitalize on his international connections. After numerous delays in recieving the footage from Creeden he had a dubious feeling about doing business with Creeden. When the footage arrived it was very poor quality and had been shot off of a TV screen, it was not produced from the 8mm film footage as agreed.

My trailers had been up since Fall of 2006. I put up another in February of 2007. When Aguiar would not answer my emails back in 2006 I made it clear that I was claiming Fair Use of materials from the 1968 book by John Keehan/Count Dante. At the same time I contacted the Fair Use Project for Documentary Film, explained my dilemma and was taken on by them as a pro bono client.

I interviewed Master Ronald Duncan while I was out there. For me that was highlight of the trip. He was someone I had always wanted to meet. Critics can say what they will about Duncan, all I can say is they no idea of his skills and experiences. I leave it at that. Talking smack over this internet has no value and is very easy to do as we continually witness.

Sheppard, not realizing the virulent hatred the Fall River Black Dragons had for Ashida Kim, explained to Creeden he had bought up all of Ashida Kims footage for the same amount of money. Suddenly it because a contest to be paid more then Ashida Kim was being paid. When some of the footage showed up on YouTube associated with video featuring Ashida Kim, Fall River went ballistic.

Sheppard then soured on the whole idea, he no longer wanted to deal with drama that came with these "novelties." He dropped the idea after Creeden's crap. Sheppard pulled out, he ceased his business with Ashida Kim also. So Creeden is the only person to receive money from Sheppard in that deal.

Aguiar began reissuing the Cease and Desists to get the Videos taken down off of YouTube due to copyright infringement. He was successful in that momentarily. All of my videos were reinstated eventually. He even managed to get footage by Tom Palazzolo removed. Tom's footage was from the 1964 2nd World Karate Tournament.

Aguiar filed suit against me, Barron Sheppard and his wife, and Ashida Kim in September. We go to court in the beginning of 2008. We have a date of January 11, but have asked the court for an alternate date of Feb 11 as a key attorney in the case is having a baby a week before that date and as we who have children know, babies have a habit of coming when they feel like it. I will know the exact date this week.

The whole point of this film is to illuminate the social history of martial arts on the one hand using the implausible story of John Keehan/Count Dante as it's center piece. On the other hand it's purpose is to demystify the character of Count Dante and bring some clarity and closure to his urban mythology and accompanying controversial histories.

I have managed to make many discoveries on my own. I am eternally greatful to the late Ken Knudson for opening the door for me to begin my research in earnest and being my first interview.

The Fall River people are engaged in undermining me by interfering with my efforts to interview people in Fall River. It is quite clear that they have none of the control they claim to have over people that are creditable interviews, people who were alive and active during the pertinent time periods I am investigating. They are blowing just so much smoke. This will become apparent in the coming months.

I was in Pittsburg in November and I met members of then International Black Dragon Society courtesy of Dr Lawrence Day. Master Michael Felkoff was there and I got to see a kinder more friendly International BDFS.

I continue to make good progress with things thus far. Recently the Green Dragon Society has lifted it's head on YouTube. They are presenting all of their dirty laundry in public as well as spinning tales and lecturing me in absentia on how I should do the film to put attention on them, yet, no one wants to come forward to give information or to present their theories on what happened April 23, 1970. I have asked anyone when pertinent information to come forward. No one but Pat Garrison, an individual who was there that day, has come forward and told his version that even the most die hard Green Dragons do not agree with.

The contemporary Green Dragons clearly have no firsthand knowledge of the Dojo/Dragon Wars. It was thirty seven years ago. Yet they speculate who my sources are and I have stated clearly that I had dinner with former members of the GDS that were there that day. No contemporary GDS people would have first hand knowledge of the organization from 1966-1972. I have been seeking older people. The only information I can could get from the present day GDS is how they see the events of April 23, 1970 in hindsight. No one from the Devon Ave school ever responded to my inquiries. People speculating about my informants in the GDS have no idea who they are or how far up it now reaches and they will not know until the film comes out.

I got a letter in the mail today, from someone who has done a limited edition reproduction of The World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets. The letter with the limited edition explains how Count Dante, as a cultural icon, belongs to us all, is part of the collective memory of thousands of early to late middle aged men who lived with the idea and the images of the promise of invincibility. It is a myth come to life, truth or false no longer matters, Count Dante is an urban legend from which we draw memories of youth and the promise of power. No cease and desist letter can compete with this notion.

"Let a thousand T-shirts bloom and a thousand lawsuits
for infringement contend."

Da'n Tri'd Ahn Me,
Master of Fei Aah Yuse zhang

In spite of all of what has transpired, I have continued to gather amazing interviews and I will be uploading some of them over the next few weeks to give you a taste of what's coming. For now check out this interview excerpt with Gregory Jaco.

My rough cut is being recut, I will start shooting reenactments in February, I have several more key interviews to round things out. I continue working with a no-budget budget, but this is the miracle of digital tech, knowledge of the software, and pure will. You can actually become unstoppable. My goal now is......I ain't telling...LOL!! Just know I have one.

Those of you who have a stake in knowing will be the first to know. Mystery is good.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays to all of Y'all!

What a month of religious holidays. Eid, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannakuh, St. Nicholas Day, Buddha's Enlightenment all converging at the end of the Gregorian calendar year. After all the mess we got the world in, we all seem to come to a pause around the same time.

I am going to take the next few days to look back to how I got my ass into this mess I am in and talk about where the film stands. The gains and shortfalls, the coming tasks and strategy for competition. Things, contrary to rumors from those who do not know, are really good right now. Great things continue to happen. I think, and those, who have seen it, think I have a hell of a film on my hands. It is still rough around the edges, but getting there.

New Interviews I are popping up. It looks like there is some local film footage of Dante around and now I am getting tales of maybe even a copy of 16mm footage of the 1943 Mas Tamura fight. I have become more confused by the police report of the dojo.dragon war. Just what I needed, more mystery. It is great that Jim Konsevic's cousin chose to provide me with a copy of the report.

The press for the film has been heightened by the court case to positive effect maximizes the drama of producing the film. We have date for preliminary motions scheduled for the first of 2008. I will confirm the date when I hear back from my lawyers in the New Year.

For now, I wish you all a happy holiday and best wishes for the New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Cheer?

Well I am back on the blog. Been recovering from some real bad news this past week. A good friend of mine who was also a documentary film GOD for a lot of us passed away last Saturday. His name was St. Clair Bourne. He died of Pulmonary Trombosis, as a result of surgery to remove a tumour from his brain.

I and a lot of the independent film community is in mourning over his death. He was a great man, a serious filmmaker and did not take no shiznit. He was my film guru, our sensei, who gave a lot of us the skills needed to persevere and continue on this road to the prodcution of significant documentary film works. He was of a singular vision and walked a rough road to accomplish his goals. I started up a blog about him here to help me write myself out of the grief. Julie Dash asked if it was too corny for us to name a star after him. I laughed. I was like hell no it is not unreasonable. So I marked one on Google Sky and did a community share with thr marker. At least his close friends will know where it is, The Bourne Star. If you have Google Earth you can see it when you hit this marker. When it downloads just double clik it and when Google Earth starts up switch it to Sky Mode. I will be trying to write myself out of this grief.

I have just come iinto possession of the police reports related to the death of Jum Konsevic. They have been supplied to me by one of his cousins. I will furnish some facts from that report.
As I have said before, I was personally having a hard time trying to work this angle of talking about Jim Konsevic the man. He was mor than someone who died that day. It would be very unfair of me to spend all this time on Keehan and not at least have some mention of Konsevic before this event, to give him his humanity at least in this impossible story.

So I am grateful his cousin Peter has come forward and provided me with this material. More on this later. I am goign to try to blog every day til the end of the year.

Court Case
Well it is still in motion. We have a court date. I will give more details on that later also.
My attorneys are all ready and able. I am confident in their knowledge, abilities and believe they got the mojo to get me the sayso. :-)

I am still shooting interviews but who knows what will end up on the digital cutting room floor. There will be plenty left over for extras.

I could be done with the film right now but for all the controversy. It has stirred up the silt. at the bottom of the jar and new treasures have been discovered.

It is 8:00 am here and I need to get going. I will be back to write later tonite.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

time out chicago article this week

The court case got covered by Time Out Chicago this week.
Hank Sartin did a great article that clearly illustrates what I am trying to do with the film. It is kind of prestigious to be the lead story in the film section of a weekly entertainment magazine like Time Out.

I first ran into Time Out when I moved to London way back in 1975. I have always enjoyed the format and the depth of activity they covered in any given city.

I was very careful to follow my attorney's instructions and not use any photos that may be in question due to the claim of William Aguiar. I used an autographed copy of a photo given to me by the right Reverend Woodrow Edgell.

You can see the article online here.

The Story so far...

So here we are, end of the year and I am not done with the film. I had had some new developments since the infamous filing of the Federal Court case against me for copyright and trademark infringement. First of all, the trademark infringements and violations, a part of their attempted take-downs of my website and YouTube trailers, have been dropped from the actual suit.

What's going to happen next? It is any body's guess.
I am extremely fortunate and grateful for the efforts and services of Foley and Hoag on my behalf and for the existence, services and existence of the Stanford University Fair Use Project. I sing their praises. Without their efforts, I would truly be up a legal creek. I am also grateful to the Independent Feature Project in Chicago for having a seminar on Fair Use that lead me down a path of research that ended in me finding the Stanford folks.

Where am I with the film. No major financing yet. I can't expect any with this law suit pending it seems. Who wants the hassle. I am at dollars end, need new equipment and am absolutely confident that things are going to end up fine. I am still shooting interviews.

Dante Family and friends
I have been in touch with some of Dante's family. Some who are closer than others. I am sworn to secrecy about who they are and will honor that. There are some childhood materials including possible film footage from the family source. I will be getting together with him soon.

I have been in constant contact with one of Dante's childhood friend's. They were friend's since he saved Dante from a beating when they were in 2nd grade at Saint Mary of Scotland's on the South Side. He has tales to share. My policy, just so you new readers know, is I do not reveal names of informants until after I have interviewed them. In the case of the direct Dante relative, we will see.

Jim Konsevic Family
James Konsevic(in flight in the photo) was killed in the April 23, 1970 dojo fight with the Green Dragon Society on West Fullerton Ave. His senseless and tragic death took it's toll on John Keehan and effected him deeply. This was going to be the hardest thing for me, trying to contact his family to talk about this event and it's repercussions.

Fortunate for me, I was contacted by a cousin of Konsevic's. I will respect his privacy and not mention his name until he says it is ok. He is conducting his own investigations as to what happened that day. Being a family member he may be able to find out more than I did. Jim's death lead created a wave of emotional impact that saw his mother dead within a year and one day of his, and his father death a year later. There are other family matters related to the death that I will not discuss here. I will always respect the privacy of my informants and keep their privacy and confidence to heart.

Spiritual Life
Now this has been a sore point with me. I had heard rumors about Dante being involved in the occult and connected to Anton LaVey(founder of The Church of Satanism and was also born in Chicago) and Aleister Crowley. Nothing made sense until someone mentions the name, Choronzon Club. In my youth I had a lady friend who told me something about this club. I looked into it and finally made a connection 2 weeks ago. I found Count Dante's spiritual teacher. Again, until I speak with him in person and get an interview, no names. What I found out from our phone conversation is that Dante was initiated into several mystical societies. And, yes, it is true it does have to do with some Aleister Crowley connections and the OTO. Anton LaVey, I have no idea about at this point. The triangle with spheres symbol on the Kung-fu flags of both the Black and Green Dragon societies lead the way into deep occult beliefs that intersect this occult world.

This is something I was not looking for. It came to me suddenly after I had given up. I followed an impulse, I did a few searches and came up with a phone number in 10 minutes. I called the number, then got a return call by evening. I asked one question and the caller responded in a very lucid manner about "John Dante" and his activities. I had my man.

Whatever his interests were, we see in the Black Belt Magazine photo above a cross around his neck with the Black Dragon Fighting Society t-shirt beneath it. In that last interview with Mas Ayoob he says he was considering the priesthood. I expect this interview will be very enlightening.

The occult and martial arts have always gone together. So this is not really new information. I now have a consultant, a Christian martial artist who is a bit of a lay expert in these things advising me. I am just seeing where the path leads. And yes he has a biased view of it all. I did say "Christian" martial artist, right.

As I keep saying, making a documentary film is a path of discovery. Editing this thing is going to be a hoot.

Black Dragon Fighting Society News
Last but not least, I got a phone call from Mike Felkoff last night. He was calling to let me know that Stoffel Van Vurren had resigned as president of the Black Dragon Fighting Society International. Van Vurren resigned so that his prior associations would not be a hindrance to the organization. Felkoff has been chosen as the new president.

On a final note...I called John Cole, president of the World Karate Federation in Fall River, MA. He was closely aligned with Bill Aguiar, Jr. I called on a Sunday on a whim because I really need his interview. He is the only other person I have seen from that area who was actively in training with Dante and was promoted by him personally. There is a picture in a newspaper article showing he and Dante with Aguiar. Well it turns out that Cole knew my first sensei, Gregory Jaco. They were in the Green Beret together and were member of the Green Beret Karate demo team. That is good news for me. I may get my interview, if he so chooses to grant it.

So that's it in a blogshell.