This particular interview was quite the long time in the making as I had been following Distinctive Light Entertainment for several years now. Its in-house creatives, Felix Betancourt (the gentleman you see getting slammed in the reel above by The Rock himself at :25 and :40) and Yadi Nieves
have both become two of the industry’s most fitting and talent stunt professionals and highly recognized at select festivals and online audiences for their efforts.
Felix, who began as a breakdancer – inspired by his father, no less – and went competitive for a time, was actually the first I discovered several years ago while I’d spent a good portion of my time looking up hit list content.
“I was always active in sports since very young, and in high school I decided to try out wrestling.” he said. “I molded quickly because of my breakdancing skills to the point of ranking second in the state of florida and a match away from becoming an “All American” so I would say, it’s been in me since very young.”
You can now see King apply his craft aptly in a number of video shorts on YouTube or Vimeo with other performers as he travels between Florida and in the city of Atlanta. If you’re into the film festival scene, you might have even gotten the opportunity to bump into King and the lovely Ms. Nieves when they hit the road earlier this year with their 2016 shortfilm hit, Self-Defense, the third in a string of shorts that began in 2016.
“For the first one, Yadi came up with the story wanting to lend awareness to womens’ self-defense skills.” he says. “It received thousands of views and comments of people wanting to see more, and so we followed up with a second. By then, we believed it was a great topic to take further and Yadi brought this great story to help build off of the first two – with this one focused on single mothers on high alert in the wake of a string of suspicious mob burglaries.”
|Felix in NYC, Spring 2018
Felix went for an instinctive, feral and fast look to the style of action. Of course, putting it all together was no easy feat, though made very possible with the help of three of Felix’s fellow live Indiana Jones Spectacular performers, Victor Bryndine, Mikail Sadkov and Ruslan Khusyainov. It also helped to have Yadi and her on-screen nephew, both share a respective and noticeable background in martial arts; Yadi’s own acumen goes without question which makes watching her on film exhilirating everytime, including with her on-screen nephew, Angel Rosado.
“It was great having Angel in it,” says Felix. “This boy has a solid black belt TKD background. It was his first time acting in a film but had no hesitation on doing it. He gave a great performance in both fighting and acting.”
With its premiere earlier this year at Women’s International Film and Arts Festival in New York City earlier this year, Self-Defense became a high mark for Felix and Yadi, and their respective endevaors to specialize in action and stunts, and directing. It’ll certainly help that future venture have the cushion of a budget despite their unified film savviness and Self-Defense
was certainly not without its uphill battles.
|Felix and Iko on the set of MILE 22
“I’m grateful that Yadi is very committed to her projects, and we always find the way to make it happen.” Felix says. “We did have issues with location change, costumes, sound and lighting, and production are manned mostly Yadi and I, so it can be difficult, but we pulled through.”
At least two other titles remain pending on the feature stunt and acting front for the pair. Lee Thongkam’s upcoming dystopian action survival thriller, The Last One, has an Asian release pending in which Felix has a principle role among the cast with Yadi performing stunts. Also on the roster is Peter Berg’s Mile 22 on which they got to train with some of the best fight and stunt professionals ever to blow minds online, Lateef Crowder Dos Santos and Sam Looc, as well as action star and actor Iko Uwais.
“It was an honor to be surrounded by these guys but also to learn and observe so much in that little bit of time.” he says “But IKO? That n#$(*@ is the MAN! He flows so naturally and it’s so second nature to him. Very inspiring!”
As for all else at Distinctive Light, I have my eye on several projects from this group in both short and long form. Self-Defense
is especially one of them and as it stands, he and Yadi haven’t let go of hopes of turning such a rich and fantastic into an independent, action-packed feature film that is equally compelling and riveting in drama some day.
“We are very excited for what the future holds at DLE.” he says. “We have some great plans to step up our game in the filmmaking area and bringing a different style when it comes to stunts. The most, I’ll say, is a feature film.”
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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