Interview with Beat Down Boogie

Interview with Beat Down Boogie

 


Interview by: Roxy Lee GG
Hey everyone, Roxy Lee here with another awesome interview. This time I am stoked to have the chance to chat with a group that I myself have been a fan of for a while now. It is the you tube sensation “Beat Down Boogie” I am joined by Micah Moore, the director of the series “Mario Warfare“among others, Matthew Sumner who played Mario in “Mario Warfare” among other videos, Brian Lee who played Toad in “Mario Warfare” among other videos and finally Alena Koch who also was in “Mario Warfare” as Princess Peach and has starred in other BDB videos as well.

“I used to own a little video store near a college campus in Greensboro, NC that specialized in foreign, cult, indie and oddball films and I hired Micah to work for me. We just spent all day talking about films and that eventually led to us going out and trying to make films. Most of the Beat Down Boogie regulars were either friends that we meet through the video store (Matthew Sumner, Anthony Robinson) or people that Micah knew back in Raleigh, NC (Brian Lee, Alena Koch). After making a few short films together we decided to tackle a feature film but we quickly learned that the traditional film industry might not be for us. We mainly wanted to make films that we (and hopefully an audience) were interested in seeing but it seemed like the industry kind of got in the way of that so from there we took our ideas to YouTube. We've been making short films for YouTube for 2 1/2 years.”

Interview with Beat Down Boogie

Roxy: Ok so first things first, what was all of your very first videos with Beat Down boogie?

Micah: It’s actually the first video on our YouTube Channel, “Beat Down Boogie – Stunt Practice.” When we made that video, we didn’t have plans for a YouTube channel. Beat Down Boogie was the name of a feature film I’d written. I wanted to team up with indie stuntmen around the country to make a wild action comedy movie. Blake and I produced the practice video to show to potential investors. Once we started talking to industry people, we got pretty disillusioned. We wanted to focus on satisfying an audience instead of satisfying distributors, investors, agents, all the suits. I walked away from traditional film-making, and I didn't make any films for a couple years. Then when the video SLR's came out, Rick and I started playing around with them for fun. We started the Beat Down Boogie YouTube channel to have a place for our little films, and our first project using the vSLR's - Modern War Gear Solid - blew up.

Alena: My first time working with them was on a sketch called The Truth Behind The Street Fighter Movie. The “leaked footage” video shows the actual Hollywood board meeting where the Street Fighter films were green lit! I play the male studio head in a very interesting used car salesman wig! There were some very funny improvised moments on set. Brian: I think the first one that was officially labeled “Beat Down Boogie” was a stunt practice video. A few friends from Lazy Brown Productions in Chicago and the Stunt People in San Francisco flew in to help us out. This was back when we had planned on making a movie called Beat Down Boogie.

Matthew: Well, as a few hardcore fans know, we've been working on films together for 10 years. BDB started as a film that Micah wanted to produce back in '08. So, before BDB was the YouTube production that it is now, it was just a name for a film. We all got together and shot a teaser trailer for BDB the movie. This was then going to be shopped around for investors. That was the first real BDB video. The first film I ever did with Blake, Micah, and others was called “Superhuman” in '02 lol that shall stay hidden and locked away... forever...

Roxy: How did you meet the gang and decide you wanted to be a part of this awesome group?

Alena: I first met the gang at a Dogs of Chinatown showing. After the showing, I chatted with a bunch of the cast and crew. After talking with Director Micah Moore, I knew we’d be instant friends. I told him I was an actress and gave him my headshot and resume and the rest is history!

Brian: I met Micah a long time ago when we trained at the same martial arts school. One day, after he moved away to college, he e-mailed me and asked if I could help with a project. He wanted to add a baton fight scene to his video and no one in his area had any experience with stick fighting. It was on this same project that I met Matt Sumner for the first time (who, by the way, kicked a hole in the set). After that, we just kept in touch. I’d drive out a couple times a month to attend his crazy parties, and inevitably we’d end up talking about martial arts and movies. We worked on a few more projects, including the feature length Dogs of Chinatown, prior to Beat Down Boogie being formed. Whenever he needed someone to get kicked or punched, he called either Matt or me. Good punching bags are hard to find apparently. I never decided to be part of BDB. It just happened. Micah sort of enveloped the people around him then said “By the way, we’re Beat Down Boogie.” I don’t think any of us were shocked or surprised. He finally put a label to what we were all doing. We just said “Cool” and went back to work.

Matthew: I met Blake back in college when he owned a video store near campus. We filmed a few things together, soon after; Micah was introduced to Blake and started working in the video store. That's when we sat around watching classic martial art films and planning on filming things ourselves.

Roxy: Mario Warfare is an epic action packed series, how long did it take to film the first episode and how many more parts are expected?

Micah: The first two episodes on our channel didn’t take too long. Maybe about four or five months to film and edit around our day jobs. But we actually started a different iteration of Mario Warfare a year ago, and spent a lot of time on that version. We ran into so many ridiculous problems that we eventually had to scrap that version and start over. I’m glad we did, because the version people are seeing now is way better.

Matthew: Eek! Not including the first botched version? Hehe hmm, I believe the current version of episodes one and two took 5 weekends to shoot.

Interview with Beat Down Boogie

Roxy: How many videos have each of you worked on with Beat down boogie to date? Which has been your favorite?

Alena: Besides the Modern War Gear Solid Series and now Mario Warfare, which is my favorite, there’s also, the one I mentioned earlier The Truth Behind The Street Fighter Movie and Modern Warfare 3 Starring Ghost http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iZpAehLBFw. Plus, I’ve been in a bunch of other videos, too if you are counting DragonCon videos, contest videos, the wedding video, KickStarter and such! I’d say we love working together on BDB videos and other projects.

Brian: I believe I’ve worked on most of them in one way or another. We all tend to wear several different hats depending on what’s needed, so even if we’re not in front of the camera, there is a good chance we’re somewhere behind it. Since Mario isn’t finished yet, I’ll say the Modern War Gear Solid project has been the most rewarding, but Modern Warfare Starring Ghost is my favorite short.

Matthew: I've lost count lol. I love being a part of and helping out with the videos where I can. If I'm not in front of the camera, getting thrown around, I'm helping out behind the scenes. ={D. Currently Mario Warfare is beating Modern War Gear Solid by... say 3% ={p shhh, don’t tell Snake or his box... of course “Snake and Ghost- After Dentists” always makes me laugh.

Roxy: Mario Warfare has over 2 million views at the moment! How does it feel to see that? That is an incredible feat. Do any of you ever get recognized by fans? And how do you handle that?

Micah: To be honest, it’s sort of like turning 22. 1 million is such an iconic number and we really celebrated that benchmark when it first happened. Now we’re just happy that more and more people are getting some enjoyment from our work

Alena: I love working with and alongside these guys and I am super proud by the response our videos get. I get recognized quite a bit, particularly at conventions and auditions for other projects. It’s a nice feeling to have someone come up to you and want to have their picture taken with you and tell you how much they love your work. I really do appreciate it.

Brian: Unless we’re at a convention, it usually doesn’t happen, but over New Years Eve I had someone recognize me at a bar. Granted, I was wearing the Toad hat, so that might be considered cheating.

Matthew: It's pretty amazing to be a part of something like this! When you put blood, tears, and sweat into a project then see the comments from people who love it and even fight to defend it... it's just a great feeling. I have been recognized before, but usually at conventions. When I'm on my home turf no one really knows. I'll walk around with a MWGS shirt on; fans will talk to me about the series assuming I'm just a fan with the shirt and not the actor who played Snake! Hehe, that's the power of the stache!! ={D. I was in a video store and a kid was shouting to his friend, “Ghost...get in my box” and “Why!!?? Why did you kill dolphin!?” lol, I looked at them and smiled. They had no idea who I was hehe. If they do know me I'll talk, sign, hug, take pics, I'm pretty laid back and will go out of my way to let fans know how much we appreciate their support.

Roxy: Brian Lee you play my favorite Mario character ever Toad, and it was such a brilliant take on him. How long have you been acting for and do you have a stunt/martial arts background? How did it feel to be such an iconic character?

Brian: Thank you! A lot of the credit for the character direction goes to Micah, but I am very happy that we went with the Seraph/Leon version of Toad. Some of the other variants were...interesting. At one point we considered making him a wedding planner. I first worked with Micah in 2004 on a video project called The Key, so I’d have to say my “acting” career started then. I didn’t have any lines, but I was brought on for my martial arts background primarily. I’ve been training in Sil-Lum kung-fu and Modern Arnis since 1995. About three years ago I started practicing parkour with our lead stuntman, Stephen Carr. Even more recently I’ve started learning aerial silks. In my opinion understanding body movement in all its forms is extremely important. It allows you to adapt on the fly. He’s always had solid stats in games, but I had no idea there was so much Toad love out there! It felt great! I was a complete and total bad ass all the way to the end, and I’m extremely flattered that everyone enjoys the portrayal. However, had I known that so many people were Toad fan, I would have be nervous.

Roxy: Same for you Matthew Sumner. Mario is quite possibly one of the most well known and loved characters in video game history. How does it feel to get to play him in a live action series? What did you do to get into the role, did you do any research? And how long did it take to perfect the accent?

Matthew: Yeah, and here I thought Snake was going to be hard... There was even more pressure to get Mario right. I mean EVERYONE loves that plumber! My Niece and Nephew LOVE the Mario games! I feel extremely lucky to be the only live action tactical Mario in the world. For fans to love what we did with the Mushroom Kingdom and who those characters have turned into... it's pretty amazing! To get into our rolls we did a lot of painful research... *hangs head low* we watched the old Mario Bros movie lol. On the plus side I've played just about all the Mario games, so that was a plus. The hardest part was deciding what voice we should use. The classic Mario voice was a little too distracting and took the audience away from the story. Then I thought about the Mario/Ezio voice that was used in the teaser trailer; Micah liked it, but felt the levels would be too low and didn't fit his current vision. Micah then approached me with trying a Tony Danza voice. So I downloaded some clips from “Who's the Boss” and played them in my car to work on the Tony D./Mario voice; which ended up being just an “ok” voice. But, as the story changed Micah felt that keeping it real and having it be my voice with the Brooklyn accent was perfect and he was right.

Roxy: Micah Moore, you have managed to capture the fantastical and crazy Mario world in a modern live action series. How did you manage to do this? How did you approach filming that gave it its videogame quality? What else have you directed and would you say this was sort of a dream to be able to direct something like this?

Micah: Mario is tricky, because the heroes and villains don’t have an overflow of characterization in the games. Unlike Snake and Ghost in our other series, we can’t just riff on how they act in the games. But there are some big concepts in the games like the bond between brothers, a protector's loyalty to his Kingdom, and the King's responsibility of ruling a just Kingdom. I wouldn't call it dream gig - every film we make is just a matter of sacrifice and dedication. Then it's just a reality. A dream job to me would be a lot easier with a much bigger budget.

Roxy: And finally Alena, we appreciated seeing a fresh and modern take on our beloved Princess Peach. How amazing was it to be able to play Peach in a more realistic dramatic sense? I know things got emotional on set in the one scene, how hard was it to make yourself cry? What tricks did you use?

Alena: It’s just Peachy playing Princess Peach! Ha-ha! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It is so awesome to be able to do a modern day take on Peach from her look to her character. Yes, things got emotional on set in the scene between myself and the King. When I have to make myself feel sad or cry in a scene, I use a trigger from my past to bring myself to that point. Once I’ve gotten myself to that emotional state, then I bring myself back to the scene at hand and imagine what the character would feel like in that particular situation.

Interview with Beat Down Boogie

Roxy: What sort of Geek hobbies are each of you into? Do any of you cosplay or attend conventions?

Micah: in the late 90's I was a DJ. I feel that was one of the early social roles for geeks. Now geek culture has become a lot more social, which is pretty cool. We all go to Dragon*Con. It's definitely my favorite convention, and now Blake and I are kind of known for filming it.

Alena: Well I consider myself more of a Geek Girl in Training, but I do watch a bunch of geeky movies and go to conventions. I hope to hit some more conventions this year, but DragonCon in Atlanta is my favorite. I’ve gone the past 4 years in a row. Cosplaying there has been a blast!

Brian: I don’t get to do it as much as I used to, but at my core, I’m a gamer. I’m a huge fan of PC and tabletop games, but a console is so much more convenient given my limited free time. I’d love to find a Shadowrun group to roll with! I’m not a hardcore cosplayer, but I’m trying to get more into it. My preference is for random, lesser known characters. If things work out this year, I’ll have a cool outfit from the Marvel universe for Dragon*Con 2013. Oh, so I guess that answers part two. We’ve been attending D*C under the Beat Down Boogie name for a couple of years now. In January we’re heading to Maryland for MAGFest. We all work 40 hours a week jobs so fitting in a lot of conventions can be tricky.

Matthew: I'm into gaming on my Alien Ware PC and the PS3 at the house when I can. Hmm, I really like Cosplay and admire the talents of those who do it. But, I mainly go to conventions as the characters from BDB. I do have a Mandalorian that I'm 85% finished with; he showed up at Dragon*Con 2011. I've also cosplayed an Umbrella U.S.S. Agent that was seen at The Walking Dead Season 3 Premier in Atlanta this year. And yes, I try to hit up Conventions when I can. ={D

Roxy: What can we expect from each of you in the future? Are there any more Beat down Boogie projects in the works for you all? ;)

Micah: Well, the biggest lesson we learned from Mario Warfare is not to announce projects too far in advance. What I can say is that Beat Down Boogie started as a film script for a project that involved indie screen-fighters from around the country - even some in Europe and Asia. We've had the chance to work with a couple of them, but not on the level we'd like to. I'm hoping that one day we will be able to work with all of them.

Alena: I’m a fulltime actress and will continue pursuing that. Mario Warfare is a huge priority right now and I will continue doing that as well. There are some other Beat Down Boogie ideas that have been thrown around, so we’ll see.

Brian: Bigger and better things, of course! We’re always bouncing around new ideas, but the only thing that’s concrete at the moment is Mario Warfare.

Matthew: You can count on more craziness from BDB (I'll let Micah answer the top secret projects). I'll be working, writing, and filming YouTube videos for Distractotron with Blake, Justin, and the BDB gang. We've got some big action projects we want to shoot for that channel. And even more outside work is popping up.

LIGHTNING ROUND!

1. Favourite movie:
Micah: Interstella 5555 and Leon
Alena: Pulp Fiction
Brian: Aliens
Matthew: Raiders of the Lost Ark

2. Favourite TV show:
Micah: Cowboy Bebop
Alena: Currently, it’s Revolution.
Brian: The New Batman/Superman Adventures (I guess it’s not so new now…)
Matthew: Breaking Bad/ American Dad

3. Favourite Geek celebrity:
Micah: Daft Punk
Alena: Felicia Day
Brian: Jewel Staite…shiny!
Matthew: Nathon Fillion

4. Favourite Superhero/Villain:
Micah: Hellboy
Alena: Dr. Horrible
Brian: Tossup between Batman and Wolvie
Matthew: Batman/ Punisher / Villain = Boba Fet

t 5. Favourite game (Pc, console, table top etc):
Micah: Fallout 3
Alena: Dance Central 3
Brian: Fallout on PC, Shadowrun tabletop
Matthew: Currently is Skyrim

6. Favourite Super power to have:
Micah: The ability to speak all languages fluently and immediately know what languages other people speak
Alena: Using the Force
Brian: Teleportation ala Nightcrawler
Matthew: Magneto's powers

7. Favourite Character to dress up as:
Micah: Jareth the Goblin King
Alena: Princess Peach, of course!
Brian: Crying Freeman
Matthew: Modern Gear Snake

8. Favourite comic book or book:
Micah: Muktuk Wolfsbreath: Hard-Boiled Shaman
Alena: Dr Seuss’ Oh, the Places you’ll go
Brian: The Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman
Matthew: Punisher

9. Favourite Artist or director:
Micah: Too many to choose
Alena: Quentin Tarantino
Brian: Michael Whelan
Matthew: Antoine Fuqua/ Peter Jackson

10. Favourite website:
Micah: I'm a video game news junkie so I'm always following Destructoid, Kotaku, GameInformer and a couple others.
Alena: Facebook
Brian: Nerd Reactor (or pretty much any other game or geek oriented site)
Matthew: Beat Down Boogie of course!

Roxy: Some amazing answers there! Alright finally please take this moment to give shout outs, plug sites, pages and projects and also give thanks to the fans!

Micah: There are a lot of people who believe in us and have shared their support. We have a KickStarter right now to help make more Mario Warfare episodes and we're really grateful to all our backers. Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, the witty and philosophical author of "Leave the Birds Alone" is helping us with future episodes of Mario Warfare. Ehobbyasia.com are fans of our work and got us hooked up with lots of prop guns. And specter-studios.com helped us with safe foam weapons. And anyone who watches or shares our YouTube videos…they are why we keep going.

Alena: I LOVE interacting with my fans. They totally rock! I appreciate all the support and love they continue to give me. Please feel free to “hang” with me on my sites and keep up with my acting adventures. It really brings a smile to my face! Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and AlenaKoch.com

Brian: Micah covered all the important bits, but I don’t think we can thank our fans enough! We do what we do because we enjoy it, but knowing that our shenanigans entertain so many people really gives me a warm fuzzy. Thanks for your support!

Matthew: I want to take the time to thank the fans for their outstanding support!! I'd also like to throw out names like Stephen Carr, David Goldfarb, Andy Boucher, Josh Holben, Mike Leonard, Christopher Moore, pretty much all the crew and Shyguy stuntmen that show up and put themselves through torture to make his project even better!!

Roxy: Thanks so much for doing this interview with us; I am sure the fans will appreciate getting to know the folks behind the magic we see in the videos. I wish you all the most success and luck in the New Year and hope to see tons more content from each of you!


beatdownboogie.com - facebook - youTube

Alena's photo credit:(Peach)Elysiam Entertainment

Brians photo credit: (Toad) Blake Faucette.

Matthews photo credit:(Mario)Justin Reich and Blake Faucette

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January 29 2013

























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