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One Shot Sam - A Zen Film

Donald G. Jackson and I developed the original concept for, One Shot Sam near the conclusion of principal photography for the first Zen Film, The Roller Blade Seven. The initial idea for the film was to be based around a private investigator, located in Hollywood, California. The only weapon he carried was a single shot Thompson Contender pistol. The tag line was to be, “One Shot is All He Needs.” In fact, a couple of years later, when we were filming the movie Shotgun Blvd., which evolved into Armageddon Blvd. and then 9mm Sunrise, I used that line as I face off with my nemesis, a character played by Roger Ellis, named Jacob Rinaldi, while holding a Thompson Contender. “You only have one shot, Jack.” “One shot is all I need.”
 
In preparation for creating the film, near the end of Roller Blade Seven production, Don and I went into a gun shop and purchased a 44 Caliber Thompson Contender firearm. As California has a two-week waiting period for firearm purchases, we did not pick it up at that time, however.
 
Soon after this, Don and I fell away from one another due to various circumstances that are well documented elsewhere, so I won’t go into it here. For the next couple of years, we only sporadically communicated via the Pager/Voice Mail system that we all used back then. Don went on to film some of his scrip-based movies, and I went on to do,
Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell, and the other Zen Films that followed.
 
In the interim, we both held onto the idea of doing the film, One Shot Sam. I purchased another Thompson Contender, which is the one that was used in Armageddon Blvd. Don kept the one we had originally purchased. 
 
Though we both had the idea to bring the film up individually, this never happened, at least not back then. Don planned to replace me with Robert Z’Dar and he even had a poster series designed for the film. When we began to work together again, a couple of years later, he profusely apologized for doing that. But, it never really bother me as I always considered Z Man, as we called him, to be the ultimate character actor. He would have been great in the role!
 
Thus, the film, in its original concept was never created.
 
By 1999, Don and I were making one movie after the other, and had been for several years. Somehow Don got the idea that he should be One Shot Sam. And, though this would not be the feature we had originally envisioned, he would be a Private Eye that drove around Hollywood discussing the music industry from times gone past. With that, I began to film his character as we trekked around to the various iconic locations of music in and around Hollywood.
 
By this point in time, Conrad Brooks had moved back to his original homebase in Maryland. But, Don still wanted to work with him. So, whenever there was a film project in the works, Don would buy Conrad a train ticket, (as he refused to fly), and in a few days Conrad would arrive, where Don would put him up in a motel.
 
It cannot be expressed enough how horribly Don treaded Conrad during this period. He used him as a punching bag. Don being Don always needed to take out his frustration upon someone, and Conrad, being the good natured soul that he was, became the willing patsy as he never fought back. In the Zen Documentary,
Diary of a Michigan Migrant Film Worker, I document one such incident. But, that one was tame compared to many of the situation that did not find their way onto film.
 
In any case, Conrad was in L.A., and we incorporated him into the plotline. His character was constantly trying to find Sam, but never could. Though Don's character does talk to him, supposedly in the back seat of his car, but he was not there.
 
You can see Conrad proudly wearing his, One Shot Sam hat in many of our productions of that era.
 
Though the original 44 Caliber Thompson Contender was never used in One Shot Sam, it can be seen in various other Zen Films, like
Yin Yang Insane.
 
When Don passed away in 2003, his wife gave me that firearm. I thought that was a very nice gesture on her part. Eventually, however, the Thompson Contender became outlawed in California, so I really couldn’t use it. A few years later, I was offered to sell it to a film memorabilia collector. So, in association with the other one I had purchased, I let them go.
 
Sometime after Don’s passing, I got to work and edited the film, One Shot Sam. Though it was not based upon our original concept, I believe it did turn out to be a great example of Zen Filmmaking and was one of the best improv acting performances Don ever presented.