September 23, 2004
“It’s like porno but with Kung Fu instead of sex!”: Wherein Josh Jabcuga talks bloody nipples, smokin’ hermaphrodites, and dropping $100 grand on directing your own kung fu movies with Todd Roy, creator of the KWOON series and the coolest hombre on God’s green Earth.
Josh Jabcuga, Squib Central:
First off, for those that are in the dark, what the hell is KWOON?
Todd Roy, Kwoon:
KWOON is a Chinese word that means "training hall or kung fu school." The show I made, KWOON, follows the adventures of five kung fu students trying to survive in Silicon Valley who attend a kung fu school called KWOON. So in the show, the name of our kung fu school is essentially "kung fu school." Funny stuff, eh? Maybe? Yeah? No. I guess if I had been taking Karate instead of kung fu the show would have been called “Dojo.”
Todd, give me a little background on the project. Was this concept, and filmmaking in general, something
swimming around your head for awhile, or did it present itself to you after you got funding? Oh, and
for those that haven't heard, there's an interesting story behind how you got funding for this---the
stock market, right?
Ever since high school I had been earning a living doing laser shows. I loved lasers (thanks Lucas) and
built my own company up over the years after high school. However, by 2000 I really started to hate
lasers (thanks Lucas). About this time I came across the "10-min film school" on a ROBERT RODRIGUEZ DVD. He made it look so easy to shoot movies. So I figured I could do that. I told my friends, who I was taking kung fu lessons with, that we should make a kick ass kung fu movie. How hard could it be?
So I wrote a 2-hour script, got my crappy home video camera and found out that making a movie is friggin’
hard. And my friends sucked as actors. The idea of trying to make a 2-hour movie was just not possible. Plus I needed money. That's when I got some good luck.
Remember that laser company? Well I had been putting a little bit of money away each month in a Bio-Tech stock. After a while this Bio Tech stock I was invested in went through the roof and I made over a
$100K. So instead of paying of my crushing debts or securing my financial future I blew all that money on
getting KWOON off the ground. I basically hired a crew and went on a huge spending spree at Fry's Electronics and bought gear. If we could not make a 2-hour movie, I figured we could make some 1/2 hour ones easier. So I started writing "episodes" and wanted to film them backwards so by the time we got to making the pilot, we would know what we were doing. So I filmed episode 4 first, then 3, but after I shot episode 2, I ran out of money. Which sucked because we have yet to film the 2-hour movie. That's how KWOON started.
Do you have any background in film, or is this trial by fire for you? They say the best film school
is skipping it altogether and simply making your own film. Do you think this holds true?
That’s hard for me to say. I did not go to film school nor do I know anyone who has so it’s a tough
call. However, if you consider my ineptitude, bad calls, mistakes, blunders, crew mismanagement, poor
planning and lack of skill an example of what not going to film school leads to, well, then maybe you should
go. However, had I gone, then I never would have done what I did because what I've done is completely
contrary to logical reason which is the cornerstone of high education and therefore would not have been
encouraged. So I don't know.
Now, people are gonna think KWOON places an emphasis on action, which of course it does, but I
gotta admit, man, your antics had me laughing my ass off. I'm sure you and your crew have your action film influences, but as far as the comedy bits go, do you have any conscious influences, or is this just you
taking the "class clown" thing to the next level?
I was definitely influenced by RED DWARF. For those of you who have not seen or heard of it, it’s a low
budget slick sci-fi comedy from Britain. There is just something really charming about that show that really
works for me. It has a tone that I really want to re-create for KWOON. I'm not saying we are fully
there yet but it’s the goal. Also, I guess maybe the PRINCESS BRIDE in a way. That film had a great tone.
PRINCESS BRIDE was not a yuk-fest, but the movie was damn funny with complicated, lovable characters.
That's how I try to write KWOON. That is what I strive for and hope to achieve…someday.
The KWOON DVD has a few episodes on it, and you filmed them in reverse order correct--so by the time
you get to the pilot, things will be running on all cylinders, right? That's an interesting approach.
Most pilots suck. No one knows what they're doing really. Since none of us knew what we were doing I
thought if we filmed the later episodes first and worked our way to the pilot, we would make a really
good pilot. Then when you the viewer watched the series in order, you would think, "Wow, that was a
great pilot and I did not mind that the rest of the episodes gradually got worse. I still like it." That
was the plan anyway.
You are, in fact, pursuing this as a TV series, right?
Yes. That is the goal. During the process of writing these scripts I tapped into a part of my brain that
has hundreds of KWOON scripts. I can't self finance these things so TV seemed like a good place to take
What's been the toughest part about pitching this? It's such a clever, no-brainer concept, I can't
believe it's taken this long for a network to snatch it up. Why the hell is this not on Comedy Central,
Fox, hell, even MTV? Are these network people clueless?
They do seem clueless don't they? The hardest part about pitching it is getting the right person to
actually look at it. Then if you do get it to the right person and they do look at it, the next hardest
part is getting them to do something with it. Plus it takes a lot of time. Which is nerve-wracking since I
feel my creative biological clock is ticking. I don't want to be a 50-year old man running around with
bloody tits. But we have made some amazing progress in this area in the last couple of months. So we shall
Well, since this thing is heavy on the action, we should probably talk about that some. How long have
you and your buddies been doing martial arts?
Well I've been doing kung fu for a few years. I suck at it. Lucky for me, and all of you, Onassis Parungao
handles all the fights. (Onassis plays “Onassis” in the show.) He's pretty much been doing martial arts since
he was a fetus and when we started KWOON he wanted to create fights and sequences like they did in the old SHAW BROTHERS movies. Lots of action, few edits. He's the one that comes up with the fights. Thank God because if it was me …well there would be a lot of girl punches and kicks to the groin.
How friggin' cool is it to day, "Yeah, I make kung fu movies"? The chicks have got to be rolling in left and right. You're the mack daddy, Todd. You're my hero. You're the wind beneath my wings, Todd.
God, I wish you were a hot chick.
OK, what's the deal with the bloody nipples? For the record, I think you're a genius. Bloody nipples
is one of the funniest things ever put on film. And not just once either.
Yes, the nipples. In every episode of KWOON something traumatic happens to my nipples. In the "as-
yet-to-be-filmed Pilot", we encounter a witch and she curses my nipples. The curse is that they will attract pain and trauma but heal quickly. So something bad always happens to them. It was also something I was inspired to do by SOUTH PARK, you know with KENNY dying in every episode. I wanted to have a recurring gag. Nipples seemed like a logical choice for a gag. Also, nipple comedy is really hot right now since the JANET JACKSON thing you know.
Seriously, though, as far as scripting goes, is it collaborative, with your buddies, or is it mostly you?
Mostly me. Only two of my friends can actually read.
Are you planning on making other projects, non-KWOON-related, or is it too early to even think about
something like that? Would KWOON live on if it didn't get picked up by some network?
I'm pretty much focused on KWOON. Regardless of if it ever gets to TV show status I would like to think that KWOON would live on. Part of the reason we did this in the first place was to have something we could show our own kids someday. We never planned on having a DVD out in stores. That just happened almost by accident when we ran in to a rep from one of the biggest DVD distributors in the country who liked what we had done and offered us a deal (hilarious). But originally I did this, and spent all that money, to just have an experience with my friends. Although, by the time we have kids, DVDs will be like 8 Track tapes and most kids will be raised by robots in giant tanks awaiting personality downloads for their empty minds.
Promise me that in future episodes of KWOON, you'll never resort to the lame JET LI wire fighting
crap. JET LI is bad ass. He doesn't need puppet strings, don't you agree?
I can promise you that will never happen with KWOON. Onassis wanted to keep all the fighting grounded and in styles like the old SHAW BROTHRES movies he grew up watching. Plus most of the cast is way too fat to get wired up.
Oh, and as far as the DVD goes, there's some hilarious bonus stuff on there too that people should
definitely check out. You included a clip of an actual martial artist who used his, uh, dick, to pull
a pick-up truck. That's priceless footage, man. That blows away pretty much anything on the CKY videos. I don't know, Todd, maybe you're not my hero anymore. Maybe I should be worshipping the man with the golden, uh, arm? What discipline of martial arts is that anyway?
I think it’s called Iron Penis Kung. He was something. Later on we played baseball with him.
So if people want to support KWOON, they should buy the damn DVD over at your website, right? They
should support KWOON because KWOON is a beautiful thing.
They should support KWOON because it's a TV series created outside of the Hollywood system and that alone should be encouraged. Also, I can honestly promise that KWOON would not be the worst DVD you ever bought. It might not be the best but I can promise it won't be the worst. So please order it off of www.kwoon.com or go seek it out in a store like Borders, Tower or Fry's. They may not know what you're talking about but don't give up. We are out there on shelves somewhere.
Can I get a cameo in the next episode or something, with a hot chick, or three or four? Did I mention you're my hero Todd?
We have this episode you could be in but it’s all hot hermaphrodites. Hope that's OK?
When not spending time on the casting couch “practicing dialogue” with hot hermaphrodites, Josh Jabcuga can be found writing Squib Central, usually published every Thursday, exclusively at www.moviepoopshoot.com.
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