The Search for The Female Stunt Actor

I went and saw “Haywire” today, and I’m sorry to say I was very disappointed. Despite hearing reports of weak fight scenes and uninspired acting, I still had my hopes.

You see, I’ve been waiting for a film like this for a while – an action film with a female in the starring role who is played by a woman that can both act and do all her own action… essentially a female stunt actor. We’ve learned through the many eras of male action leads that the only true successful “stunt actors” are those who start out as fighters and then learn to act. It’s much harder to have an actor learn how to do all those complex and dangerous stunts themselves, which is why most all actors have stunt doubles. Even today, as more actors are starting to do some of their own stunts, they still leave the really complicated stuff to the professionals.

But a stunt person who can also act? Now that’s something, and very highly in demand. Directors and fight choreographers alike love it because they don’t have to restrict the camera movement for fight scenes in order to hide a stunt double. Producers love it because it saves money – not needing to hire a separate stunt man. And audiences love it because it’s cool to know that guy did all his own stunts. That’s why Jackie Chan became such a household name – that and because he was GOOD.

But we’ve yet to see a strong example of this from a female. And now as martial arts become more universally acceptable and understandable, and the market for female fighters on screen grows, I think it’s about time we had one.

This is why I had hopes for “Haywire,” and particularly for Gina Carano. She has the right background – a long time MMA star who can really fight and just needed to add the acting component.

But alas, “Haywire” was not going to give her that opportunity. Granted it wasn’t all her fault. The story lacked originality, the writing lacked emotion, and the characters lacked depth. So she didn’t have much to work with anyway. But then you could tell just how uneasy she was on camera, which made her seem very stiff and one-dimensional, very hard to relate to or care much about.

So another hope dashed. I guess I will just have to wait for another chance to see a good female stunt actor take the lead. Or I’ll just have to do it myself! 🙂

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Staying Ahn Beat

The me from a year ago might not recognize the me of today. My closest friends continue to remind me of how material a change they’ve seen me undergo in the last year or so. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come, and where I used to be.

For nearly all of my life prior to this massive change, I had a hard time facing my reality, and didn’t yet understand how to take control of my life. I am one of those people who lives to work  and needs to feel that I’m living fully at all times. And when my current employment didn’t give me that satisfaction, I had to find it elsewhere. So I had a lot of outlets, and I needed them.

Perhaps the most prominent outlet I’ve had for the majority of my life was writing poetry. It’s what got me through the first rough patch in junior high, and everyday afterwards. At first, they weren’t very good poems or very well kept – scribbled on loose paper and shoved into one giant red binder. But over time I developed a voice, a style, and a better system. Eventually, they found their way onto blog I now call Ahn Beat.

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I started this blog a few years ago, both to transfer those old cherished poems from their pages as well as continue to share more. And up until a year ago, I continued to write new content pretty regularly.

But here is the interesting part – I haven’t actually written a new poem in about a year.

I guess you could say this new life I’ve found, this new path I’m pursuing with all my heart and soul, is giving me the greatest outlet I could have ever imagined. And now I don’t need to write poetry anymore. Oh I still love the art of it, and may yet write more from time to time. But I don’t need it like I used to. And that feels pretty damn good.

I guess you could say I’ve found a new way to keep myself Ahn Beat.

Chaos is the Mother of Invention

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Well if you think about it, what creates the necessity for change, for improvement, for invention? I’d say it is Chaos which first makes the mess that then creates this need. And so it would follow that Chaos is in fact the true origin of invention.

I do believe Chaos should be given more due respect that perhaps people give it now. But that doesn’t mean it should be allowed to run rampant through our lives as much as it pleases. Given its way entirely, Chaos is capable of doing great damage and bringing great danger. So it deserves great respect, but it does require a bit of control.

A dear friend once told me that you must first build deep structure in order to hold deep Chaos. Honestly, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with structure. On one hand, I do have a natural tendency to organize things, as well as to always expect the worst, so it is reassuring to have a plan in place and anticipate something of what the future will hold. But on the other hand, I desperately love change and crave the feeling of adventure that comes with mystery and spontaneity. Perhaps my greatest fear is becoming numb to my surroundings and too comfortable in routine. So I very frequently have these very strong urges to do something crazy that changes my structure in a very real way.

This is my Chaos, and it keeps things interesting. Without it, my life would be significantly less thrilling and less creative. Without it, I’d still be in that comfortable corporate bubble, with little ambition or mind to break out of the norm and carve my own path. Without it, I would be nowhere near where I am today, building the very picture of my life’s dream. I’d be nothing like the person I am today.

In fact, I imagine that most of you would also be nothing like the incredible and unique characters you each are. So it stands to reason that we should all feel some gratitude for the Chaos in our lives. That said, we must also recognize it’s limitations, and how to harness the power it gives without suffering from it’s distractions.

This is why I’ve started a new project called The Chaos Whisperer. It’s something inherent in everyone’s life, and I fear that too many of today’s experts encourage methods that try to ignore or even destroy your Chaos, rather than understand and utilize it. Chaos can be a powerful force in the effective evolution of your life’s goals, if only you can properly embrace and empower it.

I’ve been fortunate to find balance with my Chaos, and now I want to help other people do the same with theirs, to seize its full potential and see what great results can come of it. This project may have been born out my Chaos’ desperate urge to try something new, but it was also born out of a necessity to address this lacking perspective I’ve observed.

If you agree with any of what I’m saying, or feel the necessity for a new approach to your own life’s Chaos, I encourage you to check out my new The Chaos Whisperer blog and follow me on Facebook. And if we’re lucky, maybe we can help you build the deep structure necessary to hold all your Chaos.

Thank you and a Chaotically beautiful day to you!

A Dream In Need

I hate to admit it, but I’m scared. I’ve been telling you all about my new indie action film Rise And Fail, the dream I had to take a huge leap of faith to realize. Well we’re in post-production now, and basically out of money! I’ve been desperately trying to raise the rest of the necessary funding, but we are still at least $10,000 short. And that’s no easy sum to come by.
We did recently launch a new Kickstarter campaign, with the hope that folks will indulge their holiday giving spirit and contribute to this remarkable breakthrough film. But we are already 17 days the campaign (out of 60 days, or 28% through), and have raised barely 8% of our goal! So you can understand why I’m starting to panic.
I’ve put my heart & soul (not to mention sweat & tears) into this film. And in return, it has given me the truest sense of fulfillment I’ve ever known in my life, and could ever dream of. So it would literally break my heart to see it fail. I do fully intend to do everything in my power to see this thing through, but I cannot do it alone.
And so it is that I place my dream in the hands of you all — my friends, family and readers. If you’ve already donated, please know that your contribution is immensely appreciated. But if you haven’t yet had the chance to give, or feel inspired to give more, please know that you’ll supporting more than just a film — but also a revolutionary action film movement, a dream, and me.
Plus you’ll earn awesome rewards in return such as signed copies of the DVD, tickets to the Bay Area premiere, and even a private 1 hour martial arts lesson, all of which would make excellent gifts, for either someone else or yourself (I won’t tell).
I do appreciate all the love and support I’ve received thus far, and I hope you will help me finish making my dream a reality.
Thank you dearly. Rebecca.

To Get Away

I re-watched the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” the other day, and as usual, found myself moved to emulate the main character’s courageous journey. I often dream of traveling to some distant exotic place like Italy and languishing in luxury for a few months, or maybe even a year. But if I do that, I don’t want to let myself become another one of those hopelessly lost dreamers, caught up in the romance of her 20’s, wandering aimlessly through the streets of Paris. I want to have purpose when I go abroad, and everywhere else I am in my life. Wherever I may roam, I want to know why I’m going there.

I do often find myself romanticizing the idea to get away from it all, to up and leave life behind, and just disappear for a while. And while this is always a tempting proposition, I don’t think I could actually do that unless it meant something completely differently. I don’t want to “get away” from it all as a means of escape, but perhaps as a means of getting closer to it all – taking the opportunity to get closer to myself while seeing more of what the world has to offer. If that is the goal, then yes, I do think I could just get up and leave and go exploring.

There’s so still much out there to explore, and still yet so much inside of me unexamined. It could be considered a journey of similar proportions just to “get away” from that which I’ve come to know in myself, and trespass through the parts of me I’ve not yet dared enter. This is almost harder to do than getting up and leaving the country. And it can be just as rewarding.

Life is a journey, and sometimes that journey manifests itself as a mental rather than a physical one. I do look forward to getting away and seeing more of the world someday. But in the meantime, I think I will set my sights on a destination a bit closer to home that equally aches to beheld.

More Boring or More Alive?

I know I intended to use this blog for more fictional expression ongoing. But such a wonderful burst of thought and emotion came upon me this evening, and poured out the following sentiments, that I felt an old familiar inclination to share them here. So hope you don’t mind this temporary divergence from the fictive freeway I’ve recently begun accelerating, and enjoy a moment’s pause for my real life.

~

See, I was walking down College Ave in Oakland tonight, and it being around 11pm on a Thursday, it would strike any normal outgoing person to be a prime night for social activity. In fact, as I walked I passed many a fun looking group of persons who seemed to be out and about on their night excursion. And then there I was, walking back to my friend’s apartment (where I was currently crashing), slightly drunk off one beer I drank while waiting for my pizza order for one, now carrying said box of To Go pizza under my arm on my way back. And let me tell you, I’m not the hermit type. You may already know this about me, but if you don’t, let me assure you I am quite the opposite… or at least I used to be.
Thursday nights used to be my excuse to go wild, get in a night of crazy adventure and let really loose before the mad dash at the end of the week. Thursdays were the new Fridays for partiers, and I was no exception. There were specific late night dance events I used to attend on a weekly basis on Thursday nights. People would even come to ask me what was the haps that night, as I was usually in the know.
And now look at me. I’m walking alone at 11pm on a Thursday night, to an apartment where I will be alone, and will eat my newly purchased small deep dish pizza alone, while I madly type out my feelings into a computer. How did I become this?
Have I become boring?
No, no that’s impossible. I chose this life on purpose to avoid the boring, to escape the uneventful routine my life had become. Working at a corporate desk job, I had found such lack of creative stimulation and freedom, that I’d turned into a machine of boredom and stagnation. Sure I had a great social life then, but that’s because I only had that to look forward to upon leaving the office each day. I had to party harder than my brain suffered everyday. It was like playing eternal catch-up, and I never quite did.
So I made the leap. I left the world of comfort and security, which had its motivations for a spicy social life, but no life besides. And I’ve arrived here, where my day-to-day work and life are one and the same, and more invigorating and exciting than I could have ever dreamed. True by the time the social hour rolls around, having spent all day exchanging emails with lawyers and insurance agents, reading and negotiating contracts, defining and redefining marketing goals and analyzing distribution platforms, it’s understandable that I’d be pretty burned out. It’s honestly quite acceptable that at that point, all I want to do is get a nice juicy deep dish pizza to myself, curl up with my computer, and type out all the non-work related thoughts that have been bouncing around patiently in my head all day. It’s forgivable that I’d prefer to give my brain a break, rather than force it into interactions with strangers, and often fruitless attempts to extract meaningful and worthwhile conversation from them.
So perhaps it is quite a natural ending to my day to sit here typing away, having spend the bulk of my day expressing more creative passion, and experiencing more autonomy, than most people garner from their entire career. Perhaps it is not that I’ve now become boring, but rather the opposite. Perhaps now I am actually more alive than ever.

Flash Black: A New Story

As pre-production ramps up on my exciting new indie action film, Death Grip, the little wheels inside my writer’s brain have launched into high gear. The result? I’ve begun writing a new script of my own! The goal is to eventually turn this into another action screenplay, for a potential future The Stunt People project.

But for now, it’s just an idea in the earliest infancy of development. As it matures, I will share bits of it here for your amusement and my assessment (in the best attempt at screenplay format I can manage on this blog). So now to kick it off, here is the opening scene of…

FLASH BLACK
by Rebecca Ahn

INT. SMALL ROOM

The sound of a gun cocks.

A VOICE from the darkness: ‘Any last words?’

A black sack is pulled off of BRYNA BLACK’s head and the scene slowly comes into focus. Bryna sits in the middle of a small dark room on a dingy metal chair, her hands tied behind her back. The rest of the room is empty, except for one hanging lightbulb shining straight down into her face, making her squint. Through the light’s bright beam, she can barely see the outline of a dark figure in a long cloak and top hat. As Bryna stares at the figure, her face adjusts to the light, and her features settle into an indifferent expression.

BRYNA: ‘Nothing clever comes to mind.’

MAN IN TOP HAT: ‘That’s a first. Nothing you want to be remembered by?’

Bryna cocks her head to the side, looking away from the light to scan the empty darkness around her.

BRYNA: ‘There’s nothing here I want to remember. So why should it remember me?’

MAN IN TOP HAT: ‘Interesting choice of words. I’ll just count those then, shall I?’

The figure in the top hat turns and nods to someone next to Bryna, off screen. A fist comes flying in from the side (off camera) and punches Bryna across the face. She whips her head back from the impact and spits blood at her unseen attacker.

MAN IN TOP HAT: ‘Tsk, tsk, tsk. You’re going to have to learn how to play nice.’
Bryna’s expression gives way to her brewing anger. (CLOSEUP – Bryna’s Face) Her nostrils flare and her eyes open so wide they seem to swallow all the light coming from the one blinding bulb. Her breath quickens and her pulse races madly, so loud the beating seems to fill the room with its ominous rhythm. Her body knows the end is near, and is trying to squeeze every last heartbeat of life into the time it has left.
(BACK TO SCENE) The man in the top hat laughs, then turns to walk out of the room. He pauses at the door and turns back to Bryna.
MAN IN TOP HAT: ‘Oh, and give my regards to your sister.’
He closes the door behind him, its square of darkness slowly growing larger, pressing the outside light into a smaller and smaller sliver. The door is so heavy that when it finally shuts completely, it echoes a loud thud around the small room that causes the one remaining lightbulb to start swinging.
Bryna’s anger has doubled now, and her fierce features are lit up like fire each time the bulb swings past her face. She sits there stewing under the swaying light for a second or two. Then suddenly, the swinging light clicks off, and the looming darkness swallows up the rest of the small room. Nothing can be seen, and the only sounds are the pounding of Bryna’s thumping pulse and her heavy breaths. Bryna is alone.
~.~.~
Stay tuned for the next installment of Flash Black!

It’s a Fictional Life

Lately, I’ve been noticing my own increasing hesitation to write on this blog, and subsequently longer delay between posts. It made me stop and think: why might I be feeling this way? I don’t think it’s for lack of content – I still have plenty to say about my journey’s progress – nor do I think it’s for lack of wanting to share it with you all.

So what is it then?

Perhaps, I thought, it goes beyond the content itself, and beyond the concerns for the audience or the writer… perhaps it’s something even simpler and broader than that.

Now as with all truly intriguing questions into oneself, it took a great deal of introspection for me to answer these above. But the truth was ultimately found out, to my great relief, and here’s what I found.

I realized that I don’t actually enjoy writing non-fiction… any of it. I don’t enjoy writing about the humdrum details of real life, be it mine or someone else’s. Yes, true I did find it very valuable to post to this blog early on in my journey. But the motivation there was much more about using writing as a means to process my recent growth, to get it all out of me into something more concrete, and less about having a record of it for others to absorb.

In light of this, I have now in retrospect considered that posting such personal thoughts on a public online blog was perhaps not the best choice. Given the purpose I’ve realized this self-non-fictional type of writing serves me, the posting of it anywhere but where I alone can read it seems superfluous now. It now seems rather silly to have shared it with so many other people, when really the value of the writing itself was merely only in the act of writing it, and thus loses its appeal and importance once written.

I realize now the decision to start this online blog may not have been made for the best reasons, fueled more by a hope of gaining others’ acceptance and recognition than of giving others a window into themselves (as previously mentioned). Perhaps it was a selfish decision to create this blog, and share all my self-indulgent scribblings with all of you.

Perhaps it was… but then, here we are anyway.

And here I am, realizing my dislike for non-fictional writing style. Yes, we are going back to that now.

You see, coupled with that new realization is also the understanding that I quite enjoy writing fiction instead. I love creating stories in my head about the people I see, the names I hear, or the characters I encounter. I love testing my imagination when presented the opportunity to take a story and just run with it. And most of all, I love the freedom in writing fiction to be original and really say something worth reading that hasn’t yet existed in its entirety in reality.

I think I even often imagine my own life as if it were a fictional story, dreaming up scenarios and events that haven’t happened (and likely never will happen) that seem far more significant and exciting than the real thing. Whatever that may say about an inability to face my own truth is besides the point – at least for the purpose of this post – and the bottom line here is that I simply prefer creating and writing fiction from within rather than recording and retelling the non-fiction around me.

Oh, and I can’t tell you how glad I am to have uncovered this. I keep saying how much I need to develop my own voice as a writer, if I want to progress in that adventure. And here is indisputable proof that I am moving forward, slowly narrowing down what kind of writing I want to pursue, what I have to say in that style, and how I want to say it.

So the question now remains, what to do with this blog? Now that I’ve made this discovery, it would seem inappropriate to continue using it as originally intended. However, I feel it would be a shame to abandon the whole practice altogether.

My thought here is then to maybe shift the focus of this blog ever so slightly to allow for a greater deal of fiction in my posts. Perhaps I could use this as a means to practice that developing voice as a fiction writer, and share with you all the fruits of my labor there for further review and feedback.

After all, there are Passages to all matters of life, real or imaginary, and likewise benefit to writing about all of them. So the Writes of Passage title of this blog would still absolutely apply to the fictional writing I would now begin to post.

It also continues to speak to the Passage I am exploring of becoming a better writer, and the necessary writings that must demonstrate such growth. So it’s almost as if the blog title now has a double meaning, and therefore even stronger significance. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

It’s a fictional life I dream of – dream of living, and (better yet) dream of writing. And I look forward to sharing more of that vision with you all as we continue through all such Passages of our lives.

Art + Function

I am a very passionate person. Ask anyone who knows me, and good chances are they’d say the same thing too. It’s something I’ve been proud to say I am for as long as I can remember.

Yet throughout this recent self-explorative journey, I have been attempting to take that inner ‘passion’ and figure out what I really want to be doing with myself. I guess I figured that since I’m such a passionate person, it would be easy to alight on my next productive path befitting such. But as you can expect, that has turned out to be a much harder question to answer than I anticipated.

For starters, I found that I don’t even really know what I am passionate about. I honestly don’t think I have ever known. My whole life, I’ve just been passionate about everything, and nothing at the same time. And as a result, I’ve been sort of good at everything, and really good at nothing in particular. I wanted to be everything, because I never knew (or tried to figure out) what one thing I actually wanted to be or be doing.

Instead, I have developed too wide a range of interests that attract my attention and energy. Even the job I just recently left was working in a field I could say I find interesting.

Each time my boss and I would sit down to brainstorm and strategize, I would get very passionate about each topic in discussion. Each initiative brought out the passion in me, whether about revolutionizing the K-12 education space, or developing engineering research at the university level, or addressing the organizational issues underlying our own management system… I became engrossed in each of them.

Then beyond my former work, there are even more areas that warrant my passion. As an Economics major in college, I fell in love with economic international development, particularly the challenges facing each corner and community within the massively diverse, corrupt and complicated continent of Africa.

After college, I found the subject of psychology more and more interesting (as will happen) as I began exploring my own mental and emotional hurdles. I felt a particular partiality for how the psychology of a professional group can shape its productivity, as I witnessed and tested first hand at my old job.

Beyond academics, I love being active and outdoors, lifting weights and working up a good sweat. And I feel no greater thrill than when I’m pushing my physical limits, and bringing out the fighter in me.

Then there’s the artist in me, who wants to capture the beauty I see in everything around me. Whatever the medium – be it a camera, pen and paper, etc – I revel in packaging the world’s wonders, virtues and vices for others to consciously consume.

Expanding on that, the writer in me is fascinated with words, and how the choice of them can change how a vision or opinion is received and understood. I am drawn to the challenge of capturing the true essence of a thing in seemingly too simple words, and then how both individuals and communities alike can be inspired and matured by their content.s

I love the way my art and writing have already inspired people, and am encouraged by the possibility to further touch the hearts and lives of others through such. It speaks to my love of storytelling, and the joy I get out of taking someone along on a journey with me.

But here comes the rub. Though all of these here foretold (and many more I’ve omitted) may be passions of mine, I am still uncertain of what next professional direction to take based on them. Naturally, I can’t pursue all of these at once, nor would I wish to. But to simply just pick one and run with it would be to miss the whole point of this exercise, and what I’m trying to accomplish at this juncture in my life. No, the goal now is rather to find where within my ‘passion’ I will feel the greatest reward for my work, and would like to contribute productively to the betterment of society.

So first things first: I need to start by identifying the core values common within each of these passions, and within my core self. And with the help of some very near and dear friends and family, I have finally taken to whittling this list down to two core elements that I truly feel must be at the center of whatever work I take on next.

In short, I must feel that what I am doing is artistic and creative, and also that it has a functional purpose in society. I do love art for art’s sake, but that alone would not give me the satisfaction of practical impact I am looking for. That said, I have also worked in many fields of functional value in the past, and felt they lacked a fundamental element of the arts that I need in my work.

So Art and Function it is – that’s what it comes down to for me.

Now how that manifests into a career is still beyond me. But armed with this new narrowed knowledge, I can continue my journey onward and upward with increased confidence that I will soon find the right next occupational adventure for me. I’ve only just begun, so it would be foolish to be discouraged by any lack of progress thus far, and far wiser to instead look to tomorrow with bright eyes.

So forward I will journey on, into the heart of me. And if you care to join, I’d be pleased to have you travel with me, and share in such experiences as the merging of Art + Function may forge.

The No-Plan Plan

Forgive me Father, for I have gone astray. It has been three weeks since my last confession. The first was spent obsessing and stressing over my final week of work, and then the subsequent two weeks in even deeper anguish, as I stumbled painfully between bed and couch in a flu-induced zombie-like state.

But while this recent detour may not have been the most productive per se, it did at least give me the space to think. And think I did, as think was all I was able to do, with my less-than-able body.

So I thought about life, my life, and this crazy new lifestyle I am crazy enough to explore. I thought about how I’m going against everything comfortable and stable I ever knew or was taught to value. I thought about how I’ve always had every moment of my life planned out. I’m talking about having a one year, five year, and even ten year plan in mind at all times. At every turn, I always knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted it to get me in the future.

And now here I am, in such terrifyingly unfamiliar territory, and I find I no longer have those same plans handy. I honestly have no idea what I will want to be doing, or where I will want it to get me. And for the first time in my life, I’m actually really excited about that fact.

Oh sure, I do have a sort of ‘plan’. Many of you have heard it already. I’m going to simultaneously pursue two new career ventures in writing and stuntwork, but with more flexibility and autonomy, to allow me to fully explore my true passions!

You see, with such massive a change, I naturally had countless inquiries from friends, family, and former coworkers about where I’m going next. And I had to have some sort of answer. I couldn’t very well just say ‘You know, I have no idea, but I’m sure as hell going to have fun finding out!’ No, I had to tell them something. So I came up with a plan that at least sounds like I have an idea of what the hell I’m doing.

Don’t get me wrong, this plan is for real… or at least, as real as I’m capable of at this point. But no matter how nice and neat a plan I draw up, there’s no way I can definitively say right now what I’m going to discover on this new adventure, or where that’s going to end up taking me. All I can say for the time being is all I’ve realized so far, the passions I’ve identified to pursue right now, and then we’ll just have to see where it goes from there.

So that’s the plan I’m sticking to… which I guess isn’t really much of a plan at all. I’m stepping out into the wide unknown with nothing but a no-plan plan in my back pocket, and a fierce desire for adventure and understanding in my heart. Nothing more than that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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