WEALTH OF ART: A Word With Actor, Filmmaker And Professional Screenfighter Michael Hoad
Covering independent shorts like Shoguns Of Gymbox, Insurrection, The Division and Blood Choke Retribution, the work of actor and filmmaker Michael Hoad extends even further into the mainstream as it has in the last four years, in some capacity or another.
With continued growth in his trade craft which also includes stunts, Hoad is currently looking toward his feature directing debut with indie actioner, The Man From The Mountain, which you can read more about by tapping here. In the meantime, fans of action can expect to catch Hoad, of course, IN ACTION, in the new action thriller, The Gardener, with Robert Bronzi, and action star Gary Daniels.
Hoad took to Film Combat Syndicate to chime in about the film and his goings-on for the moment. Enjoy the read!
Greetings Michael and thanks for taking the time to share some of your thoughts with us. We’ve chatted back and forth but our schedules have both been pretty hectic I reckon. How’s things for you this year?
My pleasure, thanks for having me. Well 2020 has been a crazy year to say the least, but even with everything going on I managed to work on two movies, “The Gardener” in February before the whole virus situation kicked off. Then I was the action director on a horror film called “Rats: Reborn” in August when the industry in the UK started up again.
You have a hand in multiple facets of filmmaking, and you’ve worked on quite a handful of mainstream and independent titles. Tell us how you got into the trade, and about your influences from then on?
The first film I worked on was at University College London film society. A gym buddy of mine was making shorts there and he gave me a role as a villain. That film society is quite prestigious because that’s where Christopher Nolan first started. I remember because they have this incredible film camera in a glass case with his name on it. The students there were really high level, so that was really inspiring and I learnt a lot from them. From there I was training at Carlson Gracie BJJ school and my instructor was Simon Hayes, the academy award winning sound mixer.
He was working on King Arthur: Legend of The Sword with Guy Ritchie and they wanted BJJ guys for some of the scenes. So that was my first paid job. That was an incredible film to work on and since then I just went full force in learning and training. I went to London Film School, learned to edit and started making action shorts and putting them into film festivals. I studied acting using Alexander technique and I’m repped by Twenty Nine Five.
Tell us how you approach a character, and the sorts of things you look for in choosing or preparing for certain roles.
I take my time with the script and look at the character’s motivation in the individual scenes and the story as a whole. I think about their internal dialogue, their likes and dislikes, their background. When choosing a role I look for good stories that stretch my imagination. I like genre films, especially neo-noire and martial arts movies. So if they involve any of those things then I’ll read the script.
Can you dive in for us a little about what you’ve learned with the business end of filmmaking, and the sorts of lessons you now take with you in the era of Covid-19, far as the world market is concerned?
I really don’t think I know a lot about the business side. All I would say to young filmmakers is don’t get to hung up on the business side of things or trying to game the system. Focus on perfecting your craft and realise that your creativity is your wealth. Find the right people with complementary skills to your own and get clear on your vision.
You got to work with Robert Bronzi, and Gary Daniels on the new film, The Gardener, which is coming to the U.S. via Lionsgate’s Grindstone shingle. Tell us about it, and about working with an actor like Bronzi with his impressive likeness to a certain film legend.
Working on The Gardener was a lot of fun. When I heard Gary was being cast in the film I was ecstatic because I’ve followed his career for a long time.
Bronzi is also a beast, I loved working with him. Getting to direct Gary and Bronzi’s fight scene was the highlight for me. When we designed the choreography we brought in a Korean military Hapkido master, Master Kim of Wild Tiger Martial Arts. I really wanted to put a lot of hapkido techniques in the choreography, it looks amazing on camera. Bronzi is an experienced Judoka so he picked up the Hapkido throws really easily. He’s a machine. I put him through some really intense fight scenes and he did an amazing job. I have a ton of love and respect for that guy.
The same goes for Gary. When I did my fight scene with Gary he was very precise with his striking and his kicking is still as good as it ever was. Me and him were geeking out about martial arts the whole time before shooting. He was telling me about his Sifu who’s an expert in Iron palm and he trained Gary well because my forearms were wrecked after blocking his elbows!
At least one other point of hype is the villainy in Daniels’s character according to Grindstone’s Stan Wertlieb who stated that fans “will be shocked to see him take a truly evil turn”. How shocked were you being near such evil?
[laughs] Well Gary is such a nice guy off camera, so it was quite a contrast to see the change in him when he embodied the role. I think you’ll be shocked by his brutality. Gary has a real screen presence and power about him. I loved his scenes with Jon Callaway as his lieutenant. The whole evil crew were epic; AJ Blackwell, Corrine Holt and Arthur Boan.
I’m allowing you to rant about only one Gary Daniels movie you deem as your favorite…and GO.
Fist of the North star. It’s Gary at his best! Plus Kenshiro is the best anime character of all time.
Talk about working with Scott and Rebecca on this project and your prospects going forward. Last I read there was a project called HellKat which sounds interesting.
I love working with Scott and Rebecca. They’re incredible independent filmmakers. No challenge is too big for them. I’ve seen them adapt to situations that would have most people in a panic attack, but they take it all in stride and flow through the difficulties. They are an amazing duo.
Hellkat was the first project I worked with them on. I directed the action and played Furrblud, one of the monsters. Whenever I direct for them, they let me choreograph, shoot and edit my scenes. It’s really nice to get that much creative freedom. My usual collaborators Jon Callaway, Serhat Metin, AJ Blackwell, Fran Katz, Soner Metin and Corinne Holt worked on that one too. It’s out in 2021, and Scott and Rebbeca make things happen no matter the odds. They’re inspiring people, they love film and I love working with them.
Moving forward I’m working on a Detective TV series set in London this November. I can’t say too much about it but I’m directing the fights and I’m doing my best to get my usual friends involved too. Plus there’s The Man From The Mountain and an action horror I’m writing at the moment which I hope to make with Scott and Becky.
As you might have learned with all the news that’s come out, theatrical exhibitors are facing a crisis in the wake of Covid-19, which has put a huge strain on the prospects of commercial moviegoing in local cinemas. What do you think the odds are at this point in time for cinemas in the UK where you’re located? Have some managed to stay open under certain restrictions and safety guidelines, any?
Well the main chain Cineworld, has just closed it’s doors again so things are difficult right now. But I’m optimistic, we can adapt and the arts will preserve as they always have. A lot of industries are facing some very tough decisions right now, but I have faith that things will work out for the best as long as we adapt to the changing times.
Are there any movies you’re looking forward to seeing on the big screen upon release?
I still haven’t seen Tenet yet. But the big one for me is Matrix 4.
Speaking on what you mentioned before, we announced your latest efforts this year with The Man From The Mountain. How soon can we expect more updates?
Covid has slowed things down but hoping to shoot in late 2021.
How beneficial have these quaran-times been for you from a creative standpoint?
I mean a lockdown is the perfect time to write! So I’ve been working on some scripts. An action horror and some other older fantasy scripts I have. My buddies and I shot a short action film called “Double Booked” with two up and coming stunt performers, Marvin Wangwe and Luis Ribeiro. So creatively I’ve had loads to do. During the lockdown I’ve mainly been editing and writing.
And are there any concepts or ideas you wish to tease for us?
I’m working on a TV Show, a detective show. I’m directing the action. It’s going to be on Amazon Prime so I’ll keep you posted on that one.
Are there any thoughts you would like to share with readers as we exit this interview?
All photos used courtesy of Michael Hoad (Instagram)
Lead photo and headshots by Alan Howard (Instagram)
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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