Punches, Kicks, Falls, Wire and Gun Work. I’ve Always Assumed That Stunt Reels Should Show a Little Bit of Everything by Dennis Ruel of the Martial Arts Comedy UNLUCKY STARS

Dennis Ruel — Writer/Director/Actor/Martial Artist from UNLUCKY STARS — Above Photo from the film AMERICAN BRAWLER

(Read more of this Q&A on FilmCourage.com here)

Film Courage: Where did you grow up?

Dennis Ruel: I was raised in San Francisco CA. Life at home was pretty normal. Mom, Dad, and Sister.

Film Courage: What were you like as a child?

Dennis: I played sports: Baseball, Basketball,Soccer and I thought I knew martial arts before I started officially training. I would fight all types of imaginary opponents at home and throw all sorts of kicks at friends trying to be like Bruce Lee.

Film Courage: Favorite or first ever martial arts movie?

Dennis: Tough question! Drunken Master 2 as it was such an epic story and featured such out of the box choreography- at least to me at the time. The whole idea of an unorthodox style becoming more powerful during intoxication is just hilarious! Those fights still make me laugh even though I’ve seen them a million times. The match up with Jackie and Ken Lo is maybe my favorite all time match up in a finale (maybe tied with Jackie and Benny in Wheels On Meals). The first martial arts film I remember was “Enter The Dragon” and I remember that cave fight really impressed me to the point of mimicking every move!

Film Courage: Which began first, your love for martial arts or film?

Dennis: Martial Arts was first presented to me through film so I really developed a love for both at the same time! I wanted to pursue each and learn how to do both since I was a kid.

Film Courage: What were your plans after high school?

Dennis: I wanted to go to college for film and I did for a few years but had a lot of trouble getting the classes I wanted. The prerequisite classes I had to take before getting into certain film courses had repeat curriculum from my high school years and I felt like I was wasting my parents’ money. I started teaching Martial Arts full time and decided to make my own short films and learn how to shoot and edit as I went along.

Film Courage: Did your family support this decision?

Dennis: Fortunately yes, my parents (although divorced by that time), both agreed with my plan to pursue film while teaching Martial Arts.

Film Courage: Did you go to school for either one? How did you learn either?

Dennis: Yes, I formally trained in Hapkido and although I took a few film classes, they didn’t help me as much as actually going through the film making process on my own.

Film Courage: Do you currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area? How does the area view/embrace filmmaking and acting?

Dennis: I’m now in Los Angeles as the cost of living in the SF Bay Area is INSANE nowadays. The housing and small business climate has been extremely unforgiving as the Tech Boom has reached the Bay. Last year it exploded in my face when I was forced to close my Martial Arts school due to a ridiculous rent raise. It wasn’t long after that I found out I would have to move out of my residence, too. But as this was a recent HUGE change in my life, I can honestly say that San Francisco was extremely friendly with film making. The city is full of people pursuing the arts and there seems to a pretty wide acceptance of anything associated with the film, art, music and theatre. On the other hand, in other parts of the Bay Area, there has been an unsettling trend in robbing film crews for their equipment — Sad to say that no matter where you are, it would be safe to hire security for your set no matter how “low or no budget” the project.

Film Courage: Are there acting opportunities in the Bay Area?

Dennis: I’ve had an acting agent in San Francisco since 2008 and while there have been a few TV shows and Films, the majority of acting opportunities come from indie films, industrials, voice over and commercials.

Film Courage: What prompted you to open a martial arts school? How does it parallel making a feature film?

Dennis: I was given the opportunity as the previous owner wanted to sell the business and I figured running a MA school would be the perfect compliment to my pursuit in the film industry as a martial artist and actor. As Martial Arts schools usually operate in the late afternoon it allowed me to make auditions and work on my own projects during the day. Not to mention that teaching can be a great way to continually train. But unfortunately, things didn’t work out as a business owner so I’m focused on a career in film now.

(Read more of this Q&A on FilmCourage.com here)

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