By: Danny Templegod
Greetings Valued Dan’s Movie Report and Action-Flix.com readers. Byron Gibson always has innovative and creative ideas in the film business. Due to the 2020 pandemic, large crews and huge action sequences were not allowed. Byron adapted his style and form to work on a brand new film entitled ‘Bet Dead Casino’. He shares his thoughts on working during the pandemic and discuses his recent efforts ‘Haphazard’ and ‘English Dogs in Bangkok’ Always honest, looking to kick ass, while being creative, Byron is never one to shy away from a fight, or a detailed, action packed interview. Sit back and prepare for a textual beat down, take it away Byron!
Above Image:Ron Smoorenburg and Byron Gibson on the set of English Dogs In Bangkok (C)
Danny Templegod: Chat about the development and working with Taffy and Brent in the creation of your character in English Dogs in Bangkok.
Byron Gibson: When the idea first came up, we had a limited budget but a very good business plan which we are implementing now. Taffy asked me to form a team of reliable people in two different countries. I knew it would be difficult because of the budget, and a new frontier for me, so I was up for the challenge. I got down to business and I put an ad in a film website and had over 138 people come forward just to edit the film from the UK alone! I interviewed 10 editors I liked on Skype. Then I had various meetings with editors and we chose Brent Zillwood, who was on a very famous TV show in the UK called Undateables. We met had a few beers at a pub near Liverpool Street Station in London. We got on very well and bonded and had the same goals and he got the job, simple as that. We loved his editing and work he had done previously. We had over 300 actors willing to work on the film too, even though it was a low budget indie film. So that gave us a lot of confidence. I then had to recruit the camera guys, I was recommended a guy called Jack Everitt who had already done a film in the UK and some documentaries. He was the camera guy for some of the UK scenes and for Thailand I used Yan Frame who was building up a great reputation as a good cameraman. He now has gone onto film another 4-5 films since English Dogs and I think 2 have been with Daniel Zirilli. So then we had a small team in two different countries. The UK scenes Taffy directed and for the action sequences Ron Smoorenburg was the man in charge.
The next thing was the casting, and I put the word out for the people I wanted to work with in Thailand and the UK. We wanted to create a small team of willing people to take part and thankfully everybody we approached was willing to work on the film. I think we got some of the best Actors in Bangkok. You may recognize some of them from various films from ‘Never Back Down,’ Strikeback’ and many other films. And from the UK we chose from the people who came forward from the castings. So it was overall a team effort.
Regarding the music wee approached Danny Diablo from New York, he had a track called ‘Sex and Violence’ which we all liked, it includesTim Armstrong and Everlast singing! He was more than welcome for us to use it, he has a big Hardcore and Rap following in Queens. Also from the UK we had Nave who supplied much of the soundtrack, there will be a music video for the film performed by Nave coming out shortly. We had Jay Turner from the underground scene from Brighton who supplied the tracks Big bad Boys..
The story is based on an English Guy who was part of a gang calling themselves English Dogs, he fell out with gang because of his own ego and wanted to be the leader The Alpha male, so some of the dialogue is based on the life of dogs. This led him to doing a runner to Bangkok Thailand. He went on to become one of the biggest steroid dealers in Asia. So we developed the story doing research on this guy from personality to lifestyle to where he started and finished. He became very powerful in the world of steroids so much so he was worth 8 million within 3 years. When he was arrested by the DEA he had a list of celebrity’s actors he was supplying and to acting agents, I wish we could have expanded on that but because of the obvious we couldn’t and also budget. So it was a very interesting story, and plus in the story there are no winners, it’s all dog eat dog there’s no heroes and no anti-heroes. With the steroid dealer we managed to work out where he used to hang out in Bangkok and in London etc. We did a lot of research on him. Also I know so much about steroids now even though I have never taken them. This guy was quite a funny guy in a dark way and we wanted to portray that in the film, so there is a lot of dark humor in there. It’s not all violence in fact the film is really a Drama Comedy in the dark form. Ron Smoorenburg has his biggest speaking role to date.
Danny Templegod: Very cool cool information about how the film came together, Did you have any input to adapt your own personality and dialogue in the script especially that your character name is your actual name Byron?
Byron Gibson: Yeah 100 percent, we had the script to go by but we were allowed to adapt it to our way of saying things to make it more real. I like that way. In the film I have two names because he changed his identity, one is Byron Harrison and the second is Jimmy Harrison. Now the reason for that is we couldn’t use the real character’s name which the story is based on. In the past Jean Claude van Damme liked my name and so did Nicolas Winding Refn they used it in their films when I worked for them, so we used it again, I was told its good marketing too lol. So we thought why not! We let some of the actors write some extra scenes in themselves too. Especially Damian with his pimp scene playing Joe.
Danny Templegod: Chat about production and casting, seems like you were able to get Ron, Dean, Mark and people you trust involved. Chat about your smoothness to work with many of the same people in your films, and your producers to seamlessly transition into adapting, a collaborative effort.
Byron Gibson: Yeah we got Ron on board who then brought in Mark Stas. Me and Ron have worked on loads of projects together. I asked Dean could he help out and he obliged. Dean filmed a few scenes and did a small cameo for me in the film. I like to surround myself with positive people, not wingers, the problem with the acting game is there are many who have big egos and act like bitches in a playground. If there’s any element of any school ground playground stuff I won’t be part of it. Dean is a fine example of a man who has self-financed, produced, written, and completed now 2 films and now is on his third. Most people can’t get past a short movie! I like to surround myself with people like Dean, Ron etc., people who don’t talk and wine but do. That’s why I will always work with these people, that’s the only way you will grow. We had the same with the UK and we will use these people time and time again. Keep your circle tight and you will succeed. We had a lot of people help us out on this first project and we will not forget that.
Danny Templegod: With regards to the production, how many days did you shoot in Thailand and U.K.?
Byron Gibson: Well the film was shot over a time period because of the actor’s schedules, some being away for 6 months etc. so I would say in total approx. 3 weeks.
Danny Templegod: I watched a behind the scenes and said you filmed a fight with Ron, and accidentally fell down due to the tightness of the ally, how did you adapt to the fall, looks like you worked around it. Perhaps share a story from that sequence and angles you wanted to portray, was it always supposed to be shot in the alley?
Byron Gibson: What actually happened there was the cameraman I wanted to use was away working on a documentary in another country. So I filmed both the fight scenes with Mark Stas and Ron Smoorenburg on two separate days. The first fight we filmed in 2 hours and the second fight 3 hours. Now the fight where I fall into the trash, basically what happened there was I was following their body movement and I spun round so quickly as I was looking at the monitor and I lost my balance and smashed into all this rubbish. I thought I broke the cam but lucky for me it turned out alright. I had some very bad cuts and grazes, I was a bit paranoid about needles as it’s a right dump down there. Anyway we carried on. The thing about that alley is, it’s a back street to around 20 blow job bars in Bangkok. A real seedy area. It’s actually where they filmed the Hangover Part 2 which we actually worked on lol, they took over the whole street and paid them a fortune to use the bars. We got it by knowing and paying the local mafia guys on one condition and that was we didn’t upset the trade what was going on down there. So we shot the scene actually in a live street. We wanted to use it as it’s a right dump and looked good on camera. With the angles we wanted to show some great movement especially with Ron’s kicks and Marks elbows I think we achieved that.
Danny Templegod: Chat about the fights in English Dogs, what types of styles were Ron going for, seems raw street-fight purposely unpolished brawling.
Byron Gibson: The fights from me we wanted them as close as possible as to a real fight. I am not a big fan of over the top martial arts fights, there is far too much of that now. Keep that for Marvel and big budget movies we wanted something raw! I like old school fights, Bronson etc. A lot of these martial arts films you get the guy being hit with kicks jumping thru the air like a ninja superman and the other guy waiting there to receive this amazing blow. It’s not reality I know we are making movies but this style is not for me, I am a fan of the old school action stars it’s more raw. If it happened for real and the guy received a solid blow he would be down. If you have a real fight you get injured, you come out with a shiner or broken bones, I wanted this for me in English Dogs.
My character is no hero and no superman either so we needed to portray that. I am a big fan of Bas Rutten, I love his style. My main opposition in the film was Crazy Dave. Now Dave walks around at 130kgs, the guy is a monster, a former Australian Champion Strongman winner. I walk around at 85kgs. The weight advantage is huge. So we came up with a plan to use my characters trade mark in the film the knuckle duster on two occasions. We needed the weapon to be used because I would never be able to beat him and this evened out the equation. I think we did well to achieve that. Dean Alexoundrou filmed these scenes with Ron Smoorenburg.
With the Ron Smoorenburg and Mark Stas Fights we liked the concept of the elbow master fighting the kick master. Ron choreographed the fights. But we needed it to be raw. We got some nice hits in that one.
Danny Templegod: Always interesteing to chat with you about the action. Any funny behind the scenes stories from English Dogs?
Byron Gibson: The alley fight was quite interesting. There’s all kinds of stuff down that alley, at the front of it you have all these over the top bars with girls offering blow job services outside but behind it where we were its like they take a tea break, or chuck out bad punters, chuck trash, there’s rats, bones, dead animals, and trust me its Dread central! You even see some of the girls taking a pee standing but really they are men. You see a lot of Fat sexpats leaving from the back entrance of these establishments. I don’t know what they thought when they saw Ron and Mark fighting when they came out the back entrance. I could have made them a movie star put them in the shot of the film! In between the fights we had some of the girls coming out asking would we like to have blowjobs after we finished filming, I kid you not, it’s a crazy location at times it was chaos. We actually used it 3 times in the film.
Another time we were shooting in England in a garage when a guy walked in asking to move some cars as they were blocking his entrance to his premises. He walked in just has Jungle was pointing a gun at my head, he didn’t know we were filming a movie. So I had to explain lol. This scene was cut from the film.
Another odd story was we were filming outside a house in the UK and some kids had stolen a sofa from a house and they were taking it down the road. We actually filmed them and put them in the movie!
Danny Templegod: Cool stories, always entertaining, chat about working with Leigh Barwell, I really think she brings a strong female character to the film. Also chat about the powerful dynamic and importance of having a strong female presence in films you are involved in.
Byron Gibson: Leigh has been my acting coach over the years and now she wants to get back into acting as she had been involved in the film industry before. She has been a top level dancer and choreographer for years and she auditioned for the part as Tracey in the film. We all agreed she would be good to play Tracey. Now Tracey character is full of personality and she is this Chavy Gold digger who was out for what she could get. You need a strong female in all films especially one who is an antagonist too. I think she played her very well.
Danny Templegod: Regarding the movie, I really enjoyed it, I saw that you are possibly doing a second film, what are some things that can be improved upon with a larger budget and possible increase in visibility? I mean if you had filmed the first film with say double the budget, give an example of locations, sets, props or additional star power.
Byron Gibson: I am glad you enjoyed it, yes we will be doing a second film to English Dogs, and it was confirmed last week. It’s all about the money and risk. This was a test basically to see what we could pull off on a very ltd budget. In fact I am pleased to say there will be a documentary coming out in one years’ time on how we made the film with the restraints we had with uncut footage from the film which we couldn’t use. In the film business you have to prove yourself and create good credit, otherwise your script will be in limbo land for years. No credit no movie it’s as simple as that, create the fan base then the credit will come and that is what we are doing. I have a very good advisor from Sony who has advised us on what we should be doing over the next 2 years. You could build a house with the budget of some films, and as one property developer told me “what’s the point of investing in a film that may fail when I would have a guaranteed income from a house ”It’s a good point. So now we are making ourselves credit worthy. So we can go onto bigger and better things. If you can shoot low and your film sells then you need to expand on that. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it takes patience and planning. The next film we will have a bigger and better budget and so many things will be improved, we will be shooting in the UK, Spain and Thailand and other places for part 2. We may even have a budget for a big named actor. The good thing is the dogs did the trick and that was the game plan all along. Now we have 2 films to shoot within 18 months, which will get bigger and better all round. Better sound, better cameras, better everything! If that goes well then after that we will be chasing the bigger boys!
Danny Templegod: You had a small scene in ‘Haphazard’ with Selina Lo chat about working with her and the professionalism she brings, also chat again about working with Dean & Ron.
Byron Gibson: I’ve worked with Selina a few times, not only is she a great actress and always brings something great to the table but also a very nicely skilled martial artist too. I heard she’s in a new film with Mel Gibson which is great, I wish her all the best she deserves it, hard work is paying off.
Danny Templegod: With regards to home video ‘Haphazard’ is available on Amazon as a premium purchase or rental no physical media, I really like physical media as an option, what is your opinion of the rise in the past few years of streaming and owning films digitally? Do you think the DVD and Blu-Ray will be a thing of the past?
Byron Gibson: I am hoping it’s not a thing of the past. I like dvd’s too, I like to have a collection. This could be due to illegal download streams. Which really is affecting the film market on low budget films.
Danny Templegod: Chat about the upcoming ‘Bet Dead Casino’, I had some fun filming a small video as a crazy gambler, chat about the development of the film on IMDB Leigh is listed as the writer. How was the film developed with the Covid situation?
Byron Gibson: Bet Dead Casino came about because after a month or so of the Covid lock down. I was thinking what I was going to do and with many of us stuck in limbo land we needed to do something. I hate sitting round. So Leigh, Brent, Ron and I came up with this Dark Web Fight Gambling network idea. Leigh wrote the script, Brent came up with the name. We have been getting Ron to choreograph the fights under Covid 19 restrictions in Thailand and film them with a small team. I have been filming in the UK with Leigh and some other actors under these restrictions too, no more than 6 people. So far it has worked perfectly. We got around 30 people to send in videos to play gamblers which will be used on the interface of the fights. It’s not a big budget film but so far we have all pulled together shooting in two separate countries under lock downs and its looking nuts. We’ve copyrighted the name, have distribution and it will be ready for market by February 2021. I have been directing, filming, acting and doing the sound too. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. I filmed a car hit last week, with just two of us!
Danny Templegod: Chat about your character in ‘Bet Dead Casino’.
Byron Gibson: I play a guy called Slick Vic. He’s the boss of an underground fight promotion business which he promotes on the dark web. He’s not a very nice guy. In fact he’s a motherf$%cker!
Danny Templegod: I am sure we can further discuss your character in 2021. How much more is left to film in ‘Bet Dead Casino’?
Byron Gibson: We’ve got about ten more minutes to finish principle photography on ‘Bet Dead Casino’. That will be done within in the next 3 weeks.
Danny Templegod: Finally, chat about your acting and production goals for 2021 and beyond.
Byron Gibson: You will be seeing me in two feature films in 2021. Both with Armande Asante who played the original and the best John Gotti. These are ‘Shooting Paul’ and ‘Serenas Game.’ Directed by ‘Wake of Death’ director Phillipe Martinez. Also I have a role in the CBS show Blood and Treasure season 2. I also had a role in a British gangster film which has not been named yet .The film is due for release in 2021. I have another film to shoot once we get over Covid 19 called ‘BeachComber’ and of course ‘English dogs 2’. Stay safe guys, don’t sit on your backside and dream for your dreams to happen, get up and make them happen. Nobody’s gonna do it for you. Respect to you all..
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