Today I sit down with Jennifer Zhan who is the writer/producer of Street Fighter High and Street Fight High the Musical and Hugh Jardon who was the director of Street Fighter the Musical. The first interview is with Jennifer and the last is with Hugh. So with no further ado THE INTERVIEWS!
My name’s Jennifer Zhang. I hate long walks on the beach, and I like guys that I can make laugh.
No, but seriously, I suppose if I had to distill this mess down to a line of description, it’d be that I’m an aspiring screenwriter/independent movie producer who does what I do only because I’m addicted to the process of creation. PRETENSION ALERT!
As for an interesting fact: I used to think my career would be in publishing, and I actually had the pleasure of co-authoring a book on childhood ADD and ADHD with an amazing and prominent Los Angeles pediatrician to the stars, Dr. Jay Gordon. The book appears in Street Fighter High: The Musical. See if you can spot it!
1 ) OK why a Street Fighter The Musical short?
Well, right off the bat, I have to say I love Street Fighter. It’s hands-and-feet-down the BEST video game franchise ever created. And for whatever reason, I was compelled to express that love through parody. The motivation behind the first “Street Fighter High” was simply, “What’s the most ridiculous context I can put these characters in?” and a TV teen drama was just too bizarre to resist.
And holy smokes, when the first one took off the way it did DESPITE the ridiculousness of the premise, the question I was faced with in contemplating the sequel was, what was the next level we could take it to? How could we push that parody further and present fans with something else they’d never expect to see? A musical was the logical answer.
In time, the Capcom gods will forgive me.
2 ) What is your favorite SF game? If you say anything other than X-Men Vs. Street Fighter I will not post this interview OK that’s a lie.
Super Street Fighter IV, of course, because it’s got Juri in it. And also, it’s just overall well-balanced and gorgeous to look at. I do have mad love for the Marvel vs. Capcom action, but in truth, it’s a smidge too fast for me and I just end up button-mashing out of panic. I’m rapt watching other people play it though.
3 ) How long did it take to dress up Blanka and Hakan?
Since we were always running short on time, we had to put incredible pressure on our makeup artists to get Blanka and Hakan camera-ready in a jiffy. They did each of them in under 2 hours, every day we shot.
4 ) Why was there a lack of fighting in the Street Fighter High and The Musical?
That extends back to a rule I set up at the outset of the original Street Fighter High. I thought that part of the humor would stem from audiences expecting the characters to fight because of who they are, but then it would just never happen. There are other Street Fighter fan films that stage some pretty epic battles, like “Legacy” and “Beginning’s End,” so fans could get their kicks there, after all.
But the spectacular Hugh Jardon, the director of Street Fighter High: The Musical, had mercy on the fans and convinced me that we should put some fighting in the end credits as a nice little reward for people sticking through all the singing and dancing with us.
The fight scenes were choreographed, directed, and edited by the phenomenal Will Magno, who portrays our “Guy”. A special “thank you” to him for taking time out of his day job as a superhero to do those scenes.
5 ) What was the hardest part about making these fan films?
Location scouting and assembling the costumes, which also happened to be the costliest parts. You’ll be surprised how incredibly hard it is to find a high school that will let you shoot a movie on the premises on a shoestring budget. But luckily in my case, Principal Patricia Hager and the wonderful security guard, James Gibson at Whitney High School (my alma mater) came to my rescue. The high school actually offers very strong support to the multimedia efforts of their students, especially now with their Raise the Roof initiative. Check it out: www.whitneyrtr.org
And on a personal level, the hardest part of making the fan film was the constant worry that it would flop. That it might just slip into obscurity and that everyone’s hard work and volunteered efforts would go to waste – that was my worst nightmare. But thanks to our incredible fans, the gaming blogs who showed us love, and the pro bono, top-notch PR work our contact Gerald Hom at Capcom did for us (he guest stars as our E. Honda)… that didn’t happen.
6 ) How many of the fighters are martial artist in real life?
Quite a few! Monique Kim (Makoto) is a black belt in taekwondo, I’ve (Juri) been trained in bak fu pai, a Southern China Shaolin-style kung fu. Matthew Mercer (Dan) trained in taekwondo and hapkido, and Joey Rassool, our Director of Photography studied wushu. Then there’s Milynn Sarley (Sakura) who not only studied but taught shotokan, Tadao Tomomatsu (Gouken) who studied judo, karate and kendo, and Matthew Lewis (El Fuerte) who has taken karate, shotokan, kung fu, capoeira and jiu jitsu. Finally, Will Magno (Guy) is a total wushu master. No. Joke. He will wu the hell out of your shu.
7 ) What fighter would you like to see playable that we have not see in a while?
Elena, honestly. I’d love to see an African American woman represented in the new art style of the games. And with her crazy capoeira and her smokin’ hot costume… can you imagine how fantastic those ultras would look?!
8 ) Does your boyfriend or girlfriend (if you say girlfriend it will be much hotter) make you dress up as Juri just fun?
What do you mean “make” me? I dress up as Juri for fun anyway. I check my mail in my Juri costume, I return overdue videos in my Juri costume. I go drinking in dive bars and get really belligerent in my Juri costume. Trust me. My version of Juri gets really NOT hot, really fast.
9 ) Anything happen during the filming that almost made the film not happen?
Lots of things happened that could have been major hurdles, but there was NO way this film was not happening. My fellow producers were under strict instruction to make sure the show went on even if I died, somehow. The world was going to have Street Fighter High: The Musical, one way or another!
10 ) What are your plans for future films? Maybe a Street Fighter High Vs. Teen King of Fighter perhaps?
In the fan film department, my cast and crew and I are just flying high on the positive reaction to Street Fighter High: The Musical right now. But the hard fact of the matter is I haven’t figured out a legitimate way to monetize a fan film of this type yet, so sadly, there aren’t any current plans to make another unless we get some serious outside funding. (I’m only speaking for myself and Street Fighter High. I might be helping some members of our crew on their own video game-based movie endeavors, however).
For a while, at least, I’m going to be focusing hard on producing some of my original feature length screenplays, and hopefully, an original comic book series. Fingers crossed!
3 Random Questions
1 ) What would you do if you only have five days to live?
Day One: Outline every movie idea I’ve ever had in detail so that my friends or family members could turn them into real projects posthumously. Like the creator of “Dune” did.
Day Two: Destroy my enemies.
Day Three: Debauchery.
Day Four: Eat way too many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Like, an OBSCENE number of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Day Five: Cheat death.
2 ) Who would win in a fight Superman or Goku from Dragon Ball Z?
Superman. But Goku shouldn’t feel bad, because he would best Superman in a lame hair competition. And that’s what really matters.
3 ) If you’re straight who would you go gay for and if you are gay who would you go straight for?
Any of the members of the girl group “Girlicious” could probably turn me in a heartbeat. Also: Kylie Minogue or Milla Jovovich. Or Tia Carrere. Wow. That’s a lot of women. Maybe I’m a lesbian. THANKS, Justin. Now I’m so confused.
Any social or non-social websites that you want to promote?
Heckyes. Check out the site of Glenn Suravech, a music producer and the man who recorded and mixed all the parody tracks for Street Fighter High: The Musical.
You can also check out my personal website and follow my future projects at www.Jennifer-Zhang.com
Thank you so much! This has been a pleasure!
Here is the interview with Hugh Jardon.
1 ) What was the hardest part about making these fan films?
Definitely making it knowing someone will be upset by it and it will be on the surgery table more than any other film you make. And you really have to do it all out of love (don’t sing the Air Supply song, please) and keeping the enthusiasm up even on hungry stomachs all over your set.
2 ) Anything happen during the filming that almost made the film not happen?
In my experience, there’s always a solution to every problem. We lost a location and an actor the night before shooting, but we ended improvising another scene to go with it. That was tough and the producer and I virtually had a mutual heart attack the night before. I think the heart attack kinda morphed into a tumor.
3 ) Have you done any other flicks or is this your first one?
I was an assistant on a film called Necromentia. That’s where I learned what I could. Personally, the director, Pearry and me have two different styles (and lifestyles). I’m not into the stuff that he likes but to each his own.
4 ) What was the silliest thing you noticed during the making of Street Fighter High the Musical?
That walking on the set, the SF characters were virtually a bunch of monkeys. We have a “making of” documentary somewhere on Youtube. In between shots, people would start breaking out in dances and just having a good time. It’s a rare thing, but a fond memory that I hold for the rest of my life.
5 ) How much knowledge did you have before the making of this fan film on the subject?
Personally, I’m a bigger fan of Street Fighter 2. I’ve played the franchise since it was on the PC Engine and back then it was called ‘Fighting Street’ and the last boss was Sagat. I still have the calluses in my thumbs from trying to do hadoukens with the badly constructed joypad at the time. Memories, I tell you
6 ) What did you learn from the filming of this project?
Filmmaking can be a very fun process if you let it be. Too many times, people take filmmaking too seriously because of ego and money issues. It’s a grueling and tiring process so making it fun is almost essential for the project.
7 ) What are your future plans for movies?
Well, I’m going to continue working as an assistant to Pearry Teo until I can fully support myself as a director making movies. I know Jennifer, our producer, likes working with him. Hopefully, she’ll hire me on the next project instead of him.
3 Random Questions
1 ) What’s the sexiest part of the gender you’re into?
Definitely hair! I love good hair on people. It really tells a lot about how much they care about themselves.
2 ) What do you think of the crap-filled show Jersey Shore?
I think it’s a good premise for a horror film.
3 ) What can’t Batman do?
Beat the crap out of Chuck Norris.