Movies & TV / Columns

Director James Mark Talks w/411 About His New Film Kill Order

February 2, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Kill Order

The 411 Interview: James Mark

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James Mark is a writer, director, stunt performer, fight coordinator, and martial artist from Canada who has been in the movie business since 2006. Mark has performed stunts for both movies and television, working on shows like Nikita, Falling Skies, and Covert Affairs and movies like Pacific Rim, Resident Evil: Retribution, and the Robocop remake, among others. Kill Order, hitting home video on February 6th, 2018, is Mark’s directorial debut and stars his brother and fellow stunt performer Chris Mark. In this interview, James Mark talks with this writer about making Kill Order, his stunt industry career, and more.

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Bryan Kristopowitz: When and where was Kill Order made?

James Mark: The majority of Kill Order was filmed in 2015 in Toronto, Canada.

BK: How long did it take to make Kill Order a reality, from writing the script to finishing post-production on it?

JM: 5 long years! With the majority of the process being production and post-production. Due to the nature of it being a passion-project, we didn’t have the luxury of filming the entire film in one shooting block, so shooting days were spread out over a year and a half when cast, crew, equipment and financing needs all aligned.

BK: What was the hardest part making Kill Order? The easiest?

JM: It’s hard to say exactly which part of making Kill Order was the hardest. Independent filmmaking in general is difficult and given that this was our first film the challenges and learning curves were immense. If anything the most difficult part was maintaining drive and focus over the course of a 5-year period of time in order to overcome many hurdles and complete the project. Making a film is a huge commitment and when you are wearing many hats on a project the dedication you must have in order to finish can be very taxing on your personal life. I can’t say that any one part was easy or the easiest.

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BK: How hard was it to get Kill Order made? It’s an original idea, isn’t tied into any existing sci-fi or action franchise, and it’s chock full of insane fighting and action. Did those elements help make Kill Order easier for financers to get behind?

JM: Kill Order was built and sold around the idea of showcasing my brother’s and Team 2X’s abilities in fight action. Team 2X is a martial arts stunt team we started in Toronto back in 2008 and we have been fortunate enough to build a career utilizing our skills for live stage entertainment and stunt performing in Hollywood features. This was our main selling point when raising interest in investment as the project doesn’t have any A or even B list celebrities and I am a first-time director. However that was still a challenge and we spent years searching for the right partners that believed in us and our vision.

BK: What made you want to make Kill Order your feature film debut as a director?

JM: Chris and I love Japanese anime. This film was really a film for us as fans of the anime genre. I wanted to make a live-action film with an anime feel to it, which is where the Japanese influence came from. However, when making the film I never thought of it as being “my debut film” as a director. It was just something we wanted to do, and a natural progression from the digital videos we had created as Team 2X over the years.

BK: Why was the title changed from Meza? Did you have any input on the title change?

JM: Our U.S. distributor made the title change from Meza to Kill Order, as Kill Order seemed to be a more marketable title. I didn’t have any input on the change and still love the title Meza. 😉

BK: How did you get involved in the stunt performer world?

JM: I performed in live stage entertainment as a martial artist with a group called Team Ryouko for many years. During this time a number of us stumbled into opportunities to work as stunt performers for films and that’s where my career began. Later I went on to form Team 2X (the majority of the cast of Kill Order) and we spent nearly a decade dedicated to learning and growing as martial arts stunt professionals.

BK: How did your stunt performer background prepare you for making Kill Order? How difficult was it to be both the director and the stunt coordinator?

JM: The idea behind Kill Order was to create a film that could support and showcase the talents of Chris and Team 2X’s physical ability, so the focus was primarily on the action and I leaned on my stunt team and stunt background heavily to accomplish this. Given our history together it was fast and easy to make exciting choreography even with our limited time restraints. However, in retrospect it was both an advantage and disadvantage as often times I would sacrifice narrative for greater action by letting my action voice overpower my director’s voice.

BK: Who are your movie making heroes?

JM: Tough question but I would have to say James Cameron, John Woo and Jackie Chan.

BK: Any upcoming projects beyond Kill Order?

JM: I directed an independent film called On The Ropes starring some very talented German action actors from Reel Deal Action. It should be coming out later in 2018.

BK: When can we expect to see Kill Order 2?

JM: We will have to see how the first one does. However, Kill Order was always meant to be an introduction to David and a prequel to another film.

BK: Is it difficult making a movie starring your brother or is it a plus?

JM: I think working in a high stress environment with any family member can be difficult as outside emotions often can come into play. However, the end product is so rewarding. I’ve always been happiest in my career when creating with my closest friends/family.

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A very special thanks to James Mark for agreeing to participate in this interview and to Tatum Wan for helping set it up.

Check out the Kill Order Facebook page here

Check out James Mark’s imdb page here

(1)James Mark image from Film Combat Syndicate
(2) Kill Order image from Amazon.
(3)Image from Cinema Axis
(4) Image from Geek Chic Elite