I recently got the chance to talk to Steve Coleman about his role in ‘On The Ropes’. Here, Steve talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on the film, and what really grinds his gears right now…
Hey Steve. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘On The Ropes’ has just had it’s DVD premiere on 8th August 2011.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘On The Ropes’ is a mockumentary style look at two “rival” gyms that both teach fighting in their own style and looks at how they deal with each other’s presence in the fighting world.
The film focuses on boxing and martial arts – yet it’s listed as a comedy film….how would you say the film is funny? How is it unique?
The concept for ‘On The Ropes’ actually came from the stereotypes that we find in modern-day martial arts clubs and fighting competitions. These stereotypes are in themselves very comical. Martial arts “experts” are now in the hundreds of thousands and they take themselves very seriously, when in fact they are rarely nothing more than average in terms of athletic ability, skill and actual combat. In ‘On The Ropes’, we have used these elements to show how silly the martial arts world has become. The film is entirely unique in that there has never been a mockumentary about martial arts made by and starring martial arts champions.
Tell us a bit about your character in the movie…
My character is Shane Powers. Shane is a young, determined martial arts athlete. He focuses all of his time on training with the goal of becoming a world champion. Unfortunately Shane is rather naïve and hasn’t realised that his instructor is phony who is only using him for his own glory.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I met Mark (Noyce) during a short film shoot where by I was choreographing the fight scenes in it and had a small role. Almost immediately Mark and I began chatting about martial arts, typical instructors and their egos within today’s martial arts community. As a result Mark decided to write ‘On The Ropes’ and invited me to act in the film as one of the main characters. Whilst being at university studying a BA (Hons) degree in Acting, I thought it was a great opportunity to test what I had learned and I agreed to take the role.
The film stars Joe Egan, Ben Shockley and Steve Perry – what was it like working with the cast and crew on this film?
Working with these guys was great! They were very professional and determined to hit every scene as close to perfect as possible. They all responded well to the fight scenes that I had choreographed and were extremely down to earth. The crew was also very hard-working and never settled for less than three takes per scene.
Who is your favourite boxer or martial artist?
Good question! And one that has been difficult to answer over the years! When I was much younger Jet Li was definitely my favourite (hence why I began Wushu). As I have grown up I have met many great martial artists whom I respect for their abilities and dedication. Nowadays I would have to say that my favourite martial artists are Sam Mak and Luke Scott from the Derby School of Chinese Martial Arts. They both display the best qualities of a martial artist as well as the physical and mental ability to become incredible world champions.
Let’s talk a bit about you Steve. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
Well I began training in karate when I was 9 years old. I was inspired by watching martial arts films like ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ and ‘Bloodsport’. Films continued to inspire me in my teenage years and after watching Jet Li I became interested in Wushu. I began learning from books that my older brother Andrew (who was also a martial artist) brought home and then when I was old enough, I began travelling to London to train at a Wushu club. It is during my time training in London that I became involved with film and TV work. Initially I was performing stunts and martial arts for games shows (‘Masters of Combat’, 2001), music videos (Elvis Presley vs Jxl’s ’A Little Less Conversation’), and TV commercials (McDonalds Bigwin Monopoly, Panasonic Viera, Ninja Warrior and others). However I still felt I wanted to be more than just a stuntman. So I began taking acting classes whilst training in Wushu for the Great Britain Wushu Team. I eventually went back to university as a mature student to study a BA (Hons) degree in Acting, at the University of Northampton. Since then I have been working steadily as an actor for films, and as a fight choreographer and personal trainer to other actors.
If you could recommend a film or TV series to someone, what would you choose and why?
Wow! There are so many! Of course it depends largely on whether you enjoy action, comedy, horror or drama etc. Personally I recommend anything with Tom Hanks in as I feel his performances are very moving in a variety of different characters. But if you’re looking for something that keeps you entertained week in week out, then something like ‘Fringe’, ‘CSI Miami’ or ‘Bones’ would definitely be a good choice.
In 500 words, or less – what really grinds your gears right now and annoys you?
Haha! Not a great deal actually! I feel I’m quite relaxed about situations and people! But I guess like anybody there are things that irritate me. In particular, young people being exploited in the entertainment business - bothers me greatly. From music to dance, acting to presenting, young and in-experienced hopefuls are frequently being used for little or no reward and then cast aside when they’re no longer needed. It’s a sad truth about this business and it happens everyday to many young people. Since the entertainment industry is heavily dominated by financial reward there is little or no time for thought for those who aspire to become greater than anyone’s expectations. Hence why friends and family frequently tell children that becoming an actor, a singer, a dancer or any type of entertainer is a silly dream goal that only the “lucky” can achieve. I believe that anything can be achieved through correct application of knowledge and unwavering determination to succeed. If it wasn’t for all the bigwigs that exploit young contenders, the industry would be credited as a decent career path like any other.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
The most interesting news? I would have to say the recent riots around the country. It is absurd and dangerous. Why people think that they won’t get caught is ridiculous, and what is it they aim to achieve? There is no goal for these rioters, only the thrill of troublemaking. Which unfortunately for them only ends in despair.
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
For the remainder of this year I will be working on a new film called ‘Shaniqua’ alongside Mark Noyce, as well as co-writing with Mark on another film called ‘The N00bs’ which is planned to feature myself, Mark and Alex Vincent (from ‘Child’s Play’) and will go into production in 2012. I will also be working as the stunt co-ordinator and fight director for a short film called ‘The Extraction’ from Eagle House Pictures/ Cupsogue Pictures. And will be attending the premiere of ‘Superman:Requiem’ for which I had a small acting role and Associate Producer involvement in. Of course I am still frequently auditioning for many projects, training in my spare time and working as a personal trainer. As you can tell, I like to be busy!
Thanks for the interview!