Write Your Own IMDb Review

We’ve been thrilled to see so many positive reviews for Death Grip on IMDb, that we wanted to share some of the highlights with you. And maybe these will also inspire you to go and share your own review of Death Grip on IMDb as well!

Alex P Smits says Hollywood Should Be Ashamed:

If there’s one thing that Eric Jacobus and The Stunt People consistently do, it’s embarrass big budget Hollywood action filmmakers, who are generally clueless when it comes to fight choreography and cinematography. “Death Grip” is a fantastic micro-budget action film with a genuinely engaging plot and cast, and quite possibly the best American made martial arts film since Steve Wang’s “Drive” (1997).

DFX praises it as A blood-stained glimmer of hope for the action film industry:

San Francisco-based amateur action pioneers The Stunt People return with a vengeance in Death Grip, a sophisticated action- thriller that glimmers with professional polish and demonstrates the considerable progress the outfit has made in their mission to reclaim the art of the action film for a new generation of audiences jaded by the uninspired output of mainstream cinema. Boasting impressive sets, a cast of capable dramatic actors and staggering technical prowess, Death Grip is a Stunt People production unlike any previously seen.

Matt Kinsman calls it a Gritty action drama with heart:

From the very first frame you can see the improvement that Eric Jacobus and the Stunt People team have made from earlier efforts. The cinematography is now beautiful and crisp, gritty grey’s and smooth camera movements make this a joy to watch and to top it off, the story is engaging and practically hole free with the Stuntpeople’s signature frenetic choreographed fights and action (which are always clear to see unlike most Hollywood movie’s) complementing the story rather than make a boring film with a couple good action bits like most B movies these days. So congrats to these guys for giving us hope for the martial art action movie scene 🙂

kwonkicker@yahoo.com claims it A great, story driven film supplemented by excellent action:

Within the first 5 minutes of pressing the play button, I found myself looking forward to seeing more of the interaction between the two lead characters than I did with seeing the action sequences.

Of course, that’s not to say the action wasn’t great. In fact, it was outstanding. Not only that, but it featured new & creative physical elements that I haven’t seen from The Stunt People in the past. In other words, they kept it “fresh”. Which was a pretty big challenge considering the amount of action they did in their previous feature, “Contour”.

Nathan-Maul shares his view of Death Grip:

Death Grip is defiantly the action packed movie for all martial art fans. The fight scenes will keep you at the edge of your seat from start to finish. Eric Jacobus, Johnny Bosch, the Stunt People and the rest of the crew give the fans what they want, that is ACTION with a little fun comedy in the middle. Every move, fight and stunt had been practiced and timed right on the spot. What Hollywood does with wires and CGI, this movie is all natural. No fancy wires, no CGI, everything you see done in this movie is done by the fabulous actors, actresses, stunt people and crew. They bring the blood gushing, face pealing gore that other movies use high tech equipment to produce. The fights are fast, crazy and an adrenalin rush. If you’re a martial arts fan, Death Grip is the movie to own.

John Davis raves that The Action Kicks Back: The Stunt People continue to impress:

While Death Grip is less campy than some previous efforts by the SP crew, it has moments of drama that are surprisingly real and you can’t help but feel the bond between the Zemacus brothers. The supporting cast shines with memorable performances, Alvin Hsing’s in particular. Add a healthy dose of a very sinister Johnny Yong Bosch, and you have a multifaceted gem of action kickback called DEATH GRIP. I can’t wait to see what comes after this.

And Joe Ochinero describes it as Realistic and Engaging:

One of the best to come from The Stunt People thus far! What is more engaging is the fighting moves the story along and has character – something that is nearly impossible to achieve in current martial art films with meteoric budgets. This filmic art has heart and a conscious eye on the realism of conflict – the social as well as the physical. This is a “Must See” for anyone who’s a martial art film buff as well as those who want a good “Non-Formulaic” story.

Now it’s your turn!

Search for “Death Grip IMDb” in your browser and write your own review of our movie! You can also rate how many stars you think it deserves. But a word of caution – don’t give it 10 stars even if you think it deserving – apparently IMDb frowns on that sort of thing, assumes they are exaggerating ratings, and won’t weigh them as heavily.

And if you haven’t seen Death Grip yet, then buy your copy from our online store today. We ship quickly, so you’ll have it to watch and review in no time!

The Difficulty of Making 1,000 Death Grip Blu-Rays

A few months ago, we set about the difficult task of authoring a Blu-ray version of Death Grip, which you can now buy on our website. We wanted to have them ready in time for our theatrical premiere in June, and definitely by the time we exhibited at Comic-Con in July.
But we didn’t realize how difficult this task would actually be, or how close we’d be cutting it as a result.

A lot of folks have been asking us about the process, so we thought we’d blog about what to expect when replicating a small order of Blu-rays. Because it’s nowhere near as easy as you’d expect, given what it’s like to replicate DVDs.

When making a DVD, you go through an “authoring” process where you take your edited product and drop it into an authoring program (DVDit, Encore, DVD Studio, etc.), where you make menus, playlists, Easter eggs, and all that fun stuff. The authoring system then takes your DVD “program” and translates it into a standard format that every DVD player can understand. Despite the occasional glitch popping up, it’s amazing that, given the diversity of DVD players on the market, these authoring systems basically have a 100% success rate at making compatible discs. If you work in software, you understand how improbable this is.

You then have two options for distributing your freshly authored DVD. Either you burn or duplicate your own DVDs, buy the sleeves and package them yourself – or – you can send a DVD or an ISO (a file of the DVD) to a factory where they replicate your order onto discs and do all the packaging & shrink wrapping for you, all for roughly $0.99 a piece.

Now the mistake we made on Death Grip was assuming that making a Blu-ray disc (BD) would be the same process. Run the authoring software, burn a disc, deliver to a replication facility and get a thousand made. The authoring part seemed much the same as making a DVD. So we just authored the same menu structure as our DVD, burned a BD out, and it worked on the first try. Great. Now just deliver it to the replication plant and we’re done, right?

Wrong.

Here’s what you don’t know about replicating your BD: you can’t just send that burned BD to a replication facility. They actually require it in a specialized format called BDCMF. So you have to put your Blu-ray disc in a folder with that format, and then send that folder to them on a hard drive. And what’s more, your authoring software probably doesn’t export to this BDCMF format. Encore CS5.5 and CS6 and DVD Studio will not do it. As it turns out, Sony owns the licensing rights to export this proprietary file structure and hasn’t granted it to most authoring programs. So you really only have 3 choices to export your BDCMF file: Rivergate’s BluStreak Tracer for $600, Sony ‘s DoStudio Indie at $3,000, or a third option that’s $1000, but I won’t even bother with a link. Just get Rivergate.

Then there’s the other hurdle of AACS, or Advanced Access Content System. Unlike CSS, every BD disc has a unique encryption key supplied by the AACS Licensing Distributor. You have to pay a fee for it, and you can’t replicate a Blu-ray without an AACS key. (DVDs may be similar with regards to CSS, but the hurdle is far smaller.) This is a bureaucratic step, so you’ll need to budget another couple days so this can be done. Your BD replicating facility deals with it all and wraps it into the cost of the replication. Sony, BD players, and studios came up with this hurdle because of piracy concerns. Blame whoever you want, the fact is this is the reason AACS Keys are now a necessary extra step toward getting your BDs made.

OK so you’ve got all that down, and you’re ready to go through these hurdles with a BD replicator. Good for you!

Now you get to face yet another obstacle – finding a replicator. The number of Blu-ray replication facilities is extremely small, so we had a hard time finding one. And once we did, we found out they would only do single-layer BDs (maxing out at around 2 hours of content), and also required us to get the sleeves printed at an external facility. You see, since the costs of going HD and making a BD are so high, the majority of orders these replicators get are from major studios and distributors, and in quantities of 50,000+ units. Ours was only 1,000 units, so you can imagine how excited and motivated our sales rep was about walking us through every step mentioned above.

It’s simply not worth a replication plant’s effort to do your crummy order of 1,000 Blu-rays, unless you do it perfectly and require no further attention after sending them your hard drive. We went through hours of troubleshooting, multiple overnight FedEx deliveries, and a lot of wasted authoring time because the information simply wasn’t out there or well communicated to us.

Even in making 1,000 BDs, we’re still considered very small fish, and barely knew what we were doing because nobody’s really done this stuff yet. So hopefully our experience can prove a valuable lesson for you, in case you ever decide to take on the BD beast yourself someday.

 

 

Host Your Own Death Grip Screening

Following the success of our Death Grip premiere, we were recently honored with another, more intimate screening of Death Grip, hosted by our good friend and avid fan John Chisholm. Thanks John!

As more friends and fans express interest in hosting their own screenings, and as the remarkably favorable press keeps rolling in, we thought we’d send out a note of our own to encourage more of these events!

So if you have your own DVD or Blu Ray and wish to host a screening at your home or local theatre, please feel free to do so – and do let us know about it, in case we are free and able to come join you as well!

If you don’t have your own DVD or Blu Ray yet, you can purchase your copy at our online store, and THEN use it to host your own intimate screening!

And if you are on the fence, let us leave you with another recent glowing review from Curt McCarter on Death Grip‘s IMDb:

After a grueling six years since the release of their last proper feature film, San Francisco-based amateur action pioneers The Stunt People return with a vengeance in Death Grip, a sophisticated action- thriller that glimmers with professional polish and demonstrates the considerable progress the outfit has made in their mission to reclaim the art of the action film for a new generation of audiences jaded by the uninspired output of mainstream cinema.

Boasting impressive sets, a cast of capable dramatic actors and staggering technical prowess, Death Grip is a Stunt People production unlike any previously seen. Grim, suspenseful and superbly atmospheric, the group has at last found a vehicle that has enabled them to consolidate all their strongest attributes – unique storytelling, local flair, humor, concussive fight sequences and a distinguished filmmaking acumen that can only be the result of a devoted group of passionate aficionados investing countless hours to studying and honing their craft – into a cohesive cinematic package in which nothing feels derivative or out of place; you very well may see something you’ve never seen before in this film.

Each of Death Grip’s key players – Eric Jacobus, Nathan Hoskins, Rebecca Ahn, Johnny Yong Bosch, Alvin Hsing, Ray Carbonel and Chelsea Steffensen – fit their roles comfortably, and deliver engaging performances that provide the narrative’s fundamental substance. This is, at its core, a character study, and the events of the story are driven as much by the motives of each character as the necessity of indulging action-craving viewers. Death Grip succeeds where so many action films, independent or otherwise, fail: by placing its plot line at the center of its narrative focus and utilizing deftly-constructed action scenes as a device for heightening tension and elevating the stakes presented by the major complications, rather than as the primary spectacle, devoid of emotional gravity, through which characters become clumsy appendages. Everyone who fights does so for a reason, and, consequently, the foray’s participants are imbued with a sense of depth and credibility that make it easier for the audience to understand and get behind their actions.

And action is of course the arena in which The Stunt People shine the brightest. Forget the Coin of Judas, the group’s familiar brand of incredible martial artistry is what is really on display here. For the uncharacteristically sober tone, a blend of hyper-realistic violence and lavish stylization is employed, carried out with stunning athleticism and an impeccable amount of detail by Jacobus and the rest. Individual action scenes are like microcosmic narratives all their own folded into the larger fabric of the film, with special attributes that lend them novelty and distinction. One fight places Kenny in a darkened room with a blinded enemy, neutralizing the advantage of sight and forcing the combatants to rely on instinct and cunning to prevail; in a later scene, he is pitted against a knife-wielding henchman in what is, without exaggeration, one of the most intricately choreographed and nuanced encounters I’ve ever witnessed in film. For the grand finale, Jacobus has staged a climactic and devastatingly hard-hitting showdown between out-of-his-league Kenny and enigmatic cult leader Torch (veteran stunt actor Johnny Yong Bosch). All are exceptionally well-shot and executed, astonishing for a crew predominately comprised of DIY filmmakers and stunt performers with limited professional experience. By the conservative ninety minute mark, Death Grip is sure to satisfy the appetites of even the most voracious action fans, with lasting appeal for those grown accustomed to the latest bloated, all-filler offerings from larger, more commercial industries.

Though marketed as an action-thriller, Death Grip is in actuality an experiment designed to test whether a modest band of ambitious young talent is capable of producing, with no backing from professional agencies or studio developers, a cinematic product challenging the best that the corporate world of filmmaking has to offer, and whether such a venture would be received enthusiastically by a viewer base out of touch with what once earned the action genre a respected place among other forms of visual storytelling. The answer to both points is a resounding yes, bristling with fresh creative energy and emphatic as a punch in the teeth. Death Grip is proof-positive of the rewards of vision and hard work, and a glowing testament to the maturity of a team that still has vast potential to improve. A knockout.

Curt loved it – and if you do too, why not host your very own screening and help us spread the Death Grip love!

Film Specific interviews Death Grip

Our fellow filmmakers and Death Grip fans have been asking us what goes down at the American Film Market, which we attended last year (2011) with our beloved film. And with our film only in post-production, many wondered (including ourselves) how valuable the trip would be. We were happy to discover that while the price of admission was indeed steep, the learning experiences we gained there more than paid for it.

Now with this year’s AFM approaching, Stacey Parks of Film Specific asked to interview us for her AFM Case Study series. So if you’re still wondering about our experience at last year’s American Film Market, then read below as Death Grip‘s producer and co-star Rebecca Ahn gives detailed insight into how the market proved beneficial for our own little independent action film, and what we learned to improve upon next time.

Today I’m going to introduce you to Rebecca Ahn and Eric Jacobus whom I worked with as private clients on their film Death Grip.  As you’ll see, even though Death Grip wasn’t finished by the time AFM rolled around, Rebecca and Eric decided to make the trip anyway (from San Francisco where they’re based) and see if they could start drumming up interest for their film.

Every year, hundreds of filmmakers show up on the AFM doorsteps with films in the post production stage in hopes of finding distribution interest for their films. But where I see most filmmakers fail is when they show up grossly unprepared – without the proper presentation materials and without any meetings set up… and as a result, most of them go home frustrated.

In this case study, you’ll see how Rebecca and Eric did things a bit differently by going in prepared…yet learned some very valuable lessons of what they could have even done better.

Enter Rebecca and Eric…

What is the name and log line of your film?

Death Grip

An Action Kickback film by Eric Jacobus, which takes Kenny Zemacus and his autistic brother Mark deep into the deadly world of the mysterious Coin of Judas and the murderous cult that will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.

What is the website for your film (if you have one)?  

www.DeathGripMovie.com

What is the budget (or budget range) of your film? 

In the end, we will have spent just over $100,000 to produce Death Grip.

What stage were you at with your film for AFM and what was your strategy and overall goal going in? 

We were in post-production on Death Grip when we attended AFM last year, so our goal going in was to find either interested distributors or at least a reputable sales agent to take on our film.

What did you do most to prepare for AFM? 

We did our research and identified several distributors and sales agents we thought would be a good fit for us and our film, then reached out and set up several meetings throughout the market. We then worked hard to put together a solid sales one-sheet with great cover art on one side, and cast & other important production info on the other. Since Death Grip was still in post-production, we didn’t have a final screener to take with us. So instead we took DVDs with the trailer and a few rough scenes from the film to show prospective distributors.

What were some of the obstacles you encountered (if any) and how did you overcome them? 

Our biggest obstacles came from the marketability and timing of our film. While the sales agents we met with at AFM seemed satisfied with our content, they continually expressed concern over whether we had adequate name talent. We hadn’t fully understood how singularly essential this one element can be to distributors, pretty much above all others, and this limited our ability to connect with some of the more established sales agents.

In addition to that, we went to AFM while still in the early stages of post-production on Death Grip, which meant we didn’t have a polished looking product and our trailer wasn’t as strong as it could have been. This also hurt us in our AFM meetings, and though some sales agents were able to see past that to the film’s potential, we definitely would have made a stronger impression if we’d brought a completed screener, or at least an extremely solid trailer.

What were some of your biggest mistakes or wastes of time with regards to AFM? 

Going into AFM, we were still a bit fuzzy on the difference between a distributor and a sales agent. We realize now, looking back, that it was not as realistic to pursue deals directly from distributors there (especially not foreign) given the package of our particular film. So I do feel we wasted some of our time in contacting and pursuing distributors who would rarely give a film of our level their precious time. In the end, our conversations with sales agents were far more rewarding than those with direct distributors, so that is an area where we could have used our time more wisely.

What resources or tools did you find most helpful in preparing for and attending AFM? 

FilmSpecific.com was by far the most valuable resource for our AFM preparation, as well as for producing Death Grip in general. We were also fortunate to work with Stacey Parks on our marketing and distribution strategy. Beyond that, we just researched every site and resource on film markets and distribution we could find, and talked to everyone we knew who had been through it before. So we felt very well prepared going into AFM.

What was the outcome of your trip to AFM and did you accomplish your goals? 

At the end of the market, we left with a good number of positive leads from sales agents, which later developed into several full offers. Our hard work at AFM was rewarded, and we were able to compare and negotiate these offers and select the very best one for us. So in the end, we did indeed accomplish our goal, and now have our ideal sales agent WonderPhil representing Death Grip.

If you had to do it all over again what would you do differently?

How you brand yourself is just as important as how you brand your film. Although we had prepared solid materials for our film, we didn’t focus enough on materials about ourselves – namely our business cards. We did have some on us, but they were hard to read and a bit outdated, since we made them for an older company. I sometimes wonder if we would have had more success had we brought more professional business cards with our current production company and roles.

Armed with these, we also might have had more courage to make more frequent introductions. We didn’t quite realize the importance of impromptu introductions until the end of the market, and therefore missed out on a good many additional opportunities. We had our schedule of meetings, but didn’t take as much initiative between them to pop in and introduce ourselves at other companies we hadn’t reached out to yet, but were still a potentially good fit. The few times we did do this, it lead to something more. So we left feeling like we could have done more there.

What are your next steps from here? 

We are proud to say we finally released Death Grip a few weeks ago with our own theatrical premiere, which was extremely well received and has already been earning numerous glowing reviews (http://deathgripmovie.com/press). It is also now available on DVD and Blu-Ray at our online store (http://stuntpeoplestore.bigcartel.com), where sales have really been taking off!

So next, we will be working on building up more press, trying to get into a film festival or two, and helping our sales agent sell rights to more territories around the world. At the same time, we are also developing our next two projects, which we’ve gotten to the script stage and are now packaging with financing and cast. So it’s onward and upward for us!

Comic-Con in Review & More Glowing Reviews

Now that we are back from San Diego, and have had a full week to catch up on sleep, we’ve had some time to reflect on our very successful Comic-Con exhibition. Death Grip received a very warm and enthusiastic welcome, and numerous fans (both new and old) walked away with their very own copy of the movie to take home.

 

Our sales were so good in fact, that we actually sold enough to pay back the costs of our booth, and come out of Comic-Con in the black for the first time in years!

And what’s more, we did so well that the glowing reviews have started to roll in again. And here’s what some of them are saying now:

Fugu Talk saw our preview at Comic-Con 2012:

There was one Donny Yuen film, some awful stuff that ranged from fun to unwatchable, and a really impressive indie effort from The Stunt People that reminded me of the old Jackie Chan films, both in terms of action and physical humor. I liked the clips so much that I searched out their booth on the exhibit floor (turns out they were adjacent to Troma) to buy the DVD, which has a lot of interesting and inspiring special feature bits on the history of The Stunt People and the development of Death Grip (the star/writer spent six years on the script!)

Kelly Miller of Martial Arts Movie Junkie says:

The fights are fast and intense. I absolutely loved some of the longer takes and little stunts that were sprinkled in. What make the fights truly shine, though, are the situations that are created. Each fight has its own personality and feel, and it’s apparent that a lot of thought went into these. One of my favorite fights is one that takes the term “toilet humor” to a whole new level. If you like fights, you won’t be disappointed.

UMUSTBEBORED also raves about DEATH GRIP: A must watch for kung-fu movie lovers!

The fights are phenomenal.  Eric Jacobus not only stars but also directs DEATH GRIP.  He and his Stunt People crew understand how to perfectly shoot and execute a fighting scene.  These guys have it down to a science.  There are no wires or fast edits mixed with excessive shaky cam.  We see everything in sometimes long continuous takes.  The fights are fast and they leave a lasting impact.  You can tell what is happening.  … They are way better than the fights you would see in a Bourne film or any other big budgeted mainstream film.

Sound good? Buy the DVD or Blu-Ray (both are all-region!) today. Domestic orders ship almost daily, and international orders (we ship everywhere) ship twice a week.

All funds go straight back to us to pay for making the film. This way, we can get started on our next projects that are currently underway.

Thank you for enjoying Death Grip!

Comic-Con loves Death Grip!

Today marked the end of Day 2 (not including Wed Preview Night) here at Comic-Con 2012, and already Death Grip has been making quite an impression!

First on Thursday night (yesterday), Ric Meyers honored our beloved Death Grip and Eric Jacobus on his annual Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza panel with a solid chunk of sneak preview time. We showed off 3 classic scenes from the movie, and the crowd went wild!

Then to sweeten the deal, our booth traffic increased exponentially today with folks coming up to buy the DVD after seeing it on the panel last night! We doubled our sales from yesterday, and then some!

Next up is our full film screening for Death Grip tomorrow (Sat) night at 5pm in the Marriott Marina Ballroom D. So if you’re around at the Con, come by and enjoy our movie on the big screen. We’re expecting a really solid turnout, which will hopefully lead to even more DVD sales on Sunday.

But beyond all the great publicity and merchandise sales, we’ve also been fortunate to rub elbows with some amazing celebs and icons at our Booth #4015 (where we’ve been showing off our shiny new booth setup)

including James Lew

Darren Shahlavi

Reuben Langdon

and Rob Van Dam

 

… not to mention our booth neighbor, Troma founder and mastermind Lloyd Kaufman!

It’s been a whirlwind of a Comic-Con this year… and it’s not over yet!

So stay tuned for more updates and recap as we finish off the last 2 days of the Con strong!

Death Grip goes to Comic-Con

This week marks the 9th year that The Stunt People will be exhibiting at the Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego, CA.

It all kicks off tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 6pm for Preview Night, and then continues all day Thursday through Sunday for 4 days of bizarre costumes, exclusive releases, star-studded panels, and wall to wall attendees rushing to catch all the latest and greatest in the world of comics, animation and live action entertainment.

And we’ll be right there in the thick of it, featuring Death Grip at our annual Stunt People booth #4015. So if you are coming to Comic-Con this year, come on by our booth to say hi and buy your copy of the Death Grip DVD or Blu Ray. We’ll also have the movie poster on sale, which you can get signed by the cast right at the booth!

What’s more, our very own “independent action film idol” Eric Jacobus is going to be featured on Ric Meyers’ annual (and 15th year running) panel Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza on Thursday night at 7:30pm in Room 6A of the Convention Center. There, Eric will be showing off some of our exclusive Death Grip footage and talking more about the magic behind the production.

Then on Saturday of the Con (the 14th), we will also be screening Death Grip in the Marriott Hotel – Marina Ballroom D at 5pm. So come join us there as well, and you’ll get to see the full film PLUS be treated to a quick Q&A with our cast!

So don’t miss both chances to see Eric & team featured in Comic-Con’s select schedule lineup, as well as all Con day long at our Booth #4015 in the Convention Center Exhibit Hall!

See you there, in your super duper costume-wear!