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Big Sister 2000 and Women in Prison Films
Interview with Scott Shaw for a French Cinema Magazine, 2008.


How did you become involved working with Donald G Jackson?
Don Jackson and I met in 1990. Somebody sent him a photo of me holding two samurai swords. We never found out who sent that photo to him. But, he had always wanted to meet a westerner who had extensive martial arts experiences to put in his films. Prior to my emersion in the film industry, I had spent a lot of years in Asia and I have been involved in the martial arts since I was six years old. So, after he received that photo, he called me and cast me as the lead in a film he was about to create. But, the film fell apart. About a year after that, he got financing for another film and we made our first movie together, The Roller Blade Seven.

You Co-Directed Big Sister 2000. How did that come about?
Anytime Don and I did a film together he wanted me to take co-director credit. Sometime I accepted, sometimes I did not. In regard to Big Sister 2000, there are various versions of the film in release. In some, I have Co-Director and Co-Producer credit, and in others I used a different name or took no credit at all.

The reality is, I did not and do not like the movie. Initially, I didn’t want my name associated with the film. There were a couple of reasons for this. Big Sister 2000 film was based on an idea Don had. Then, a friend of Don’s, Mark Williams, wrote a script for it. The problem was, this script took Don’s original idea in a totally different direction.

As you may know, I never use screenplays for my films. In fact, I am completely against using them. That is the essence of Zen Filmmaking—No Scripts.

On the first day of shooting, Don knew I didn’t like the script that had been written so he told the actors to forget the script and go ahead and improv their lines. But, they had memorized their dialogue, so all they said was what was written in the script.

I really felt the subject matter of the script was far too negative for my tastes. So, I left the set and pretty much had very little to do with the actual filming of the movie. I directed a few scenes that were eventually added to the movie.

I am in possession of all of the original footage for the film, however, and someday I plan to go through it, reedit it, shoot some additional scenes, and produce a movie more based upon Don’s original idea.

Was it difficult to produce that movie?
It was actually a very easy movie to produce. When you already have all of your locations and you work with actors and crew that you know, production is very easy.

Your filmography is big, would you like to make a real Women in Prison (WIP) movie?
No, I do not like women in prison movies. They are far too negative and I do not like the physical and mental abuse that takes place in them.

As I mentioned, I have spend a lot of time in Asia and I have known some women who were actually in prisons. When you hear about the torture that takes place in those places, you do not want to glorify it on the screen.

My films are always about good overcoming evil and people overcoming adversity. They are about the Good Guy (or Good Girl) winning. I do not make exploitation films.

How did you get the idea to make a WIP movie merged with Sci-Fi? (Maybe from the movie Star Slammer / Prison Ship by Fred Olen Ray)?
I know Fred and he is a great filmmaker. You have to understand, however, his movies have fairly high budgets, where I find it much more artistic and artistically challenging to make a movie with little or no budget. So, the style of movies Don and I made are very different and, no, Big Sister 2000 was not based upon a Fred Olen Ray film.

The reason Big Sister 2000 has a bit of a, “Sci-Fi,” as you put it, or a Post-Apocalyptic theme is that many of the early films that Don and I made together revolved around this theme. The reason is that when a filmmaker uses this theme, the movie does not have to be based around current reality—anything can happen, which really frees you up as a filmmaker.

How did you cast Julie Strain ?
Julie originally auditioned for a part in Don’s film, Hell Comes to Frogtown. She also auditioned for, Return to Frogtown. Though she didn’t get a part in either of those films, Don knew her and simply called her up and asked her if she wanted to be in the movie. She did. In fact, since Big Sister 2000, Don and I did several films with her and her husband, Kevin Eastman, the co-creator of, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—though they have recently divorced.

Do you think WIP movies are typically fantasies for men?
Yes.

What do you think about the genre WIP movies?
As stated, I don’t like them.

What souvenir do you have of the shooting of Big Sister 2000?
A weekend with one of the actresses in the film. I’m not going to say which one.

Have you any anecdote to relate me?
Perhaps the most interesting anecdote is that after making Big Sister 2000, and seeing the final edit, Don also realized that it was a very negative subject matter and he never wanted to make another movie like Big Sister 2000 again. And, until his death in 2003, he did not.

Copyright 2008 — All Rights Reserved