Movies & TV / Columns

Producer James E. Wilson Talks w/411 About His Crowd-Funding The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback, More

February 12, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The 411 Interview: James E. Wilson

James E. Wilson is a master of Kung Fu, a former kickboxer, a former kickboxing promoter, and the older brother of martial arts and action superstar Don “The Dragon” Wilson (James actually trained Don). Wilson is also now also a movie producer, having produced two movies featuring his brother Don, the family action comedy The Martial Arts Kid (check out my review of that movie here) and the martial arts comedy Paying Mr. McGetty (check out my review of that movie here). James E. Wilson is set to produce the sequel The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback, which is currently in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign (check out that here), and he recently spoke with this writer about Payback and movie producing in general.


Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved in movie producing? Was it something you always wanted to do or was it something that you sort of came to later in life?

James E. Wilson: I had never contemplated making a movie until fairly recently. I was inspired to do it during a party at James Lew’s house when I mentioned to a producer that a movie Don and Cynthia Rothrock, with a couple of young actors, in a more realistic type martial arts movie would be a good idea. He was dismissive, and that motivated me to do it. And that’s the beginning for The Martial Arts Kid. Luckily, I was able to call upon the extensive experience and charisma of Don & Cynthia and my friend writer/director Michael Baumgarten. Then Cheryl Wheeler Sanders joined as my producing partner right away followed later by Dr. Robert Goldman as Executive Producer. It’s a great team and I was lucky for that.

BK: What is the most challenging thing about producing movies like The Martial Arts Kid and Paying Mr. McGetty?

JW: The Martial Arts Kid was a movie that we wanted to be realistic and have a message about bullying without being preachy that could still have enough action to be exciting and give you characters that you could relate to and care about. All this is not easy to do but we managed it I believe. With Paying Mr. McGetty we wanted to do something truly different, something quirky, wacky and offbeat with some humor, a little action and we wanted it all to transpire fast in one day. Central to all this was showing a man that messes up and is in some serious trouble, but does something heroic, works hard and is trying to get ahead in life as a hip hop producer, yet against type he is not a wannabe gangster but an everyday man working for a future. R Marcos Taylor was terrific in this. During the day he goes through pretty much every emotion: confusion, anger, fear, sadness regret, hope, courage and happiness. We wanted it also to be part love story which you really don’t get to see until the end. And he needed someone scary as an opponent someone that he could not possibly handle and that became Don Wilson’s character Shota. Don seemed to really get a feel for this character. He’s so casual, so confident, and so deadly that he made every scene he is in work just right.

BK: What’s attractive about making movies in Florida?

JW: Locations that you do not usually see. LA & NY are in so many movies. Atlanta and Louisiana are getting commonly used but Florida is still pretty much untapped with locations rarely seen in movies that it is great, plus the communities are a big help. We get great support from the film commissions in St Petersburg/Clearwater and Cocoa Beach. The local businesses and city/county officials that it really helps make things possible you could never afford in LA.

BK: You’re in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign for The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback. Is crowdfunding the wave of the future for independent films?

JW: Crowdfunding for extra money has been good for us but it is very hard work, stressful and usually they fail. We have a good following and a good team and now with two good movies under our belt it’s a little less stressful but worth it to us. I really cannot speak for others because as I said they usually fail.

BK: When can we expect to see The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback?

JW: End of 2018 or early 2019 hopefully

BK: You’re a martial artist like your brother Don “The Dragon” Wilson. Will we ever see a Wilson brothers action flick?

JW: Sure but not one I am acting in. You will instead continue to see ones I produce and Don acts in as well as co-produces.


A very special thanks to James Wilson for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for helping set it up.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback Indiegogo page here.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid official website here.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback official website here.

Check out the Traditionz Entertainment website here.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid Facebook page here, Twitter page here, and Instagram page here.

James Wilson image from The Martial Arts 2: Payback website.