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To start with, could you tell us about yourself and your background? Where were you born? What was the chain of events that made you come to live and work in the Philippines? In a few words, how did you start working in movies, and what are your memories of these first experiences?
I Was born and raised in Redford Township Michigan. I attended High School at Lee M. Thurston. I quit school when I was 17 and joined the Navy. I had spent time in the Mediterranean as well as Vietnam. I used to come to the Philippines to have fun when I was in the Navy. I ended up in Manila after my Discharge, and worked with a guy who's uncle was a Still Photographer for Motion Pictures and Television Commercials as well as Print Ads. He got me into my first acting job with Kinavesa.
Apparently, the first film you acted in was a 1973 Chinese kung fu flick shot in Manila, in which you had a small part as a Western bad guy. As the Hong Kong movie industry was sometimes shooting its productions in the Philippines (notably for its low prices and nice settings) did you act in a lot of HK pictures?
No, we didn't do that many films for HK outfits. These were more of the once in a blue moon deals. They preferred to shoot in Hong Kong or Taiwan.
Max Thayer and you come from the same place in Michigan, are about the same age, did the war in Viêt-Nam before meeting on the set of Kinavesa films. You played the bad guys opposite to Max's character in "Deadringer" and "No Dead Heroes". Max said in an interview he granted our webzine he visited you in the Philippines when he was on his way to Bangkok for "No Retreat No Surrender 2". You two seem to have been very good pals, right? Would you have some anecdotes about the films you played with Max?
Yes, Max and I both come from Redford Township. We went to rival High Schools. I was in Vietnam, and Max I believe was in France at a NATO Base. Yes, Max did stop over to see me with a bottle of 12 year old scotch and a hit of acid! (hahahahahaha) I wrote "No dead Heroes" and recommended Max for the part. I loved working with Max as he is a very likeable guy, and a real pro when it comes to acting. He really knows his craft very well!
I loved working with Max as he is a very likeable guy, and a real pro
The one incident that will remain in my mind forever was while we were shooting "Deadringer" We were at the entrance of the Mt. Makiling rain forest, and we were shooting a scene where Max was inside a small building with the cops outside. They SFX guys were supposed to have a smoke grenade to simulate tear gas. I was studying my script when fellow actor Willie Williams asked me if I saw the grenade that the SFX guys were getting ready to use. I told him no, and he said I should take a look. I went over and had a look, and saw that it was what we called a Willie Peter or White Phosphorous, a very deadly weapon. I asked the SFX guy if he really planned on using it, he said no, they would just throw it in thru the window, and use a smoke machine. I told him that I hoped that was all he would do as the grenade could kill everybody in the small building. I went back to where I had been sitting, reading my script. Willie and I just sat reading while the lead SFX guy was digging holes to put blast mortars in for our respective death scenes. All of a sudden there was a loud snap bang! Anybody who has been in combat knows the sound I mean. Willie and I looked at each other, then we saw a greenish white glow coming from inside the building, and white smoke billowing out of a window. Max and others came out. Max was wearing my jungle floppy hat, and burning phosphorous had hit the brim and burned thru, and burned his face and neck. Christine Lassiter had her hands burnt. Our stillman Jun Agravante got it worse than anybody else. His whole back and the calves of his legs had third degree burns. I went inside the building, surprised that everybody had survived and saw the reason why. The grenade had just cooked off and blew in half. The top portion was stuck in the ceiling, and the bottom half was laying on the concrete floor sizziling with burning phosphorous. Had it exploded they way it had been designed to do, everybody would have been dead!
Willie Williams, Christine Lassiter.
Could you briefly tell us about your experience on big-budgeted American films made in the Philippines, such as "Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon"? Did you often work as a local assistant (line producer, casting director) for foreign pictures shot in the Philippines?
On "Apocalypse Now", I was just an "Extra", and either drunk or messed up on drugs (as mostly everybody else was) most of the time. When I finish my book "Fish Heads and Rice" I talk about it a little more. "Platoon" was hard work, but on the other hand I learned so much from Gordon Boos, Oliver Stone, and Dale Dye. I will be forever thankful that I was able to work with them on that project! All of the hard work was well worth all of the aggravation and harsh shooting conditions especially on the mountain top in Maragondon Cavite. We had to walk up the mountain which took us about three hours, and if you left something at the bottom in one of the trucks, you could run down in about 15 minutes, and haul your ass up again. Whew! All of the actors were really great people, as was the crew! Yes, I did a lot of production work with both local and foreign outfits. I read, speak, and write Tagalog fluently.
Was your work in movies your only professional activity in the Philippines?
No, I did a lot of other jobs as well. For a while I rebuilt and sold Harley Davidson motorcycles. I worked in the Construction business, managed a Security Agency, worked in a "Boiler Room" (sold stock over the phone hahahahahaha). I did many jobs, and worked with a variety of characters over the years. After I finish "Fish Heads and Rice", I will start another book dealing with the other part of my life.
How (where and when) were you hired for Kinavesa International ("Silver Star Film" abroad)? What kind of person was Mr Lim, the owner of Kinavesa?
As I said earlier, a guy I worked with had an uncle who was in the business and he got us the jobs. Ah yes... Mr. Lim! A very misunderstood and much maligned individual. If it wasn't for Kimmy Lim I might have starved at times. Most of his films were shit (I smile as I say this), yet he provided us with work on a regular basis. I can't really say anything bad about the man or his wife. A Kinavesa shoot was always the bare essentials, but they were fun.
A Kinavesa shoot was always the bare essentials
On the shooting of Kinavesa flicks, the making of stunts sometimes seemed quite rudimentary. We read you once broke a rib and your nose "during a fight routine" and on your site, you comment a photo of you standing next to a car this way : "Me after a stunt on Dead Ringer where I doubled for Max Thayer. The bullet hole was from a 5.56mm round. They used a live M-16 to shoot at me as I crawled up on the roof while the car was moving!" Were you particularly willing to do the daredevil or, in a general way, was it just risky for every actor to act in these movies?
Well, it was always best to do your own stunts. Robert Patrick got his job for Terminator II as he had picked up this attitude from us while shooting with Cirio. He is a member of "Pigs in Space" (Our local acting group). In "Deadringer", I was asked to crawl up the back of the car, then a guy in the front seat would shoot at me. The gunshot would be simulated by using a .45 bullet (Just the lead) fired from a slingshot. We tried it three times and the slug just flattened out on the glass. Then Gapo (the SFX guy) said we would have to do it live. By this time I just said "Fuck it! Let's do it!" and we did. I got 100 pesos [US$ 5] for the stunt and Max spent the rest of the day laughing his ass off! It was pretty risky for any actor here as we didn't have any set safety standards that anybody had to follow.
We are fully aware this may be quite fastidious for you, but we would really appreciate if you could elaborate a bit about these other Western performers who seemingly lived in the Philippines. They probably all have different stories : do you know how each of them came to live and work in the Philippines? What became of them? Every bit of info from your part could help us!
About Romano "Ron" Kristoff, Mr Baron told us : "He was Spanish, ex Legion Etrangere, and a serious Martial Artist. He worked very hard at having a film career, and seemed to work a lot. The fact that he was able to survive full time in Manila, without seeming to get stuck in the mire, was always a source of wonder and amazement to me..." while Mr Harrison said "I truly like Ron Kristoff, and will never understand why he didn't get out of the Philippines. I tried to get him to leave Manila as he has looks and talents, but the life there seemed to be to his liking." Ron was usually involved in script writing or production in Filipino films, as you were too. Did you get involved in production (or cast and crew) jobs following Ron's example or was it some kind of a tradition for low budget quickies actors to have side parts in production team?
Okay, Rom, Mike and Myself, basically made a living from film. I believe that Rom now owns a restaurant. He was quite active on the "Social Party Circuit" and I will leave it at that. Mike did films in Italy before coming here. Both Rom and Mike had an advantage with the Italians as both spoke Italian fluently. I have worked with them both for a long time. I was doing production work on many films. Rom or Ron as you call him was basically just an actor. Survival is the reason I got involved in production work. I did my job well, and producers liked my no nonsense attitude. Further out of all of the "actors" I am the only one who was a member of KAPP (Philippine Screen Actors Guild) and the Associate Directors/Production Managers Guild, and Film Academy of the Philippines. I really don't know what "example" Rom was setting as I did everything on my own, and I don't really remember him in any capacity on any production staff. Even further, I did a lot of work on local films as well.
People rented the VHS tapes on a Saturday night, got stoned and watched six or seven of our epics, while eating popcorn, and smoking grass and drinking beer.
About Bruce Baron : I believe you read the interview Mr Baron kindly granted us. Would you have any comments about it, or about Mr Baron himself?
Hahahahahahahahaha! Bruce Baron... well... We did a really shitty film called "The Firebird Conspiracy" together for an outfit called Cinex Films. He whined about this and that thru the shoot, and later the producers asked me to engineer a way for him to die in the movie and they would get a new guy to play Capt Beck. So I had everybody going thru a minefield when all of a sudden, BLAM! Bruce was told to stay down for something like thiry seconds or so, but the rest of the platton was told to stay down for about 10 seconds, then stand up a react to the dead guy. End of the old Capt. Beck and enter the new one in the person of Steve Rogers.
He had an attitude that he was some kind of hot actor and thought he should be paid more than everybody else. I mean... c'mon. None of our names ever drew a huge crowd at any movie theatre Box office. Most people didn't know who we were and could care less. Most of our projects ended up as a video release, and people rented the VHS tapes on a Saturday night, got stoned and watched six or seven of our epics, while eating popcorn, and smoking grass and drinking beer.
Bruce Baron explained that several of these western performers we evoked were stuck with their jobs in movies as actors or extras because regular work permits were too hard to obtain in the Philippines, that most of them were friends but also competitors, with the lead actors getting about 1500$ and others slashing prices by accepting to work for less. Do you confirm?
Bullshit! He was an asshole, not too mention blind as a bat without his glasses. and nobody wanted to hire him! He went to a casting session for one of the Chuck Norris projects, and told the Casting Director, " I only do roles!", the CD asked him, "You see that door?" he said, Yeah..." the CD told him, "Well you can just go ahead and roll out that door!" WE were all friends, who got along with each other. Manila is/was a small town, and if you played your cards right you were guaranteed acting jobs. Cirio Santiago hired me on a regular basis because he liked my work and I knew how to get along with everybody. If you were an asshole, word got around, and you didn't work.
About Mike Cohen : he was involved in many Filipino pictures and used to play lunatic godfathers, corrupted generals or ugly communists in war / action movies. He was notably the great villain of "Deadringer". We are lacking information about him and wonder if you could feed our curiosity...
Mike was a very colourful guy. He had a long history in the military. During WWII he had won the Congressional Medal of Honour for charging a Japanese Machinegun nest on the corner of Harrison Street in Manila and even after a Jap stuck a bayonet in his gut, he continued to kill them all. He was originally from Arizona and was a product of a Russian Jew family. He got a Officer Commission in the army (If you get a CMH and are still alive to receive it, you become an officer) Later he was a full bird Colonel in the Army in the early days of Vietnam. He got into a tiff with the U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, and the Army asked him to retire. They couldn't court martial him or fire him because of the CMH. When Mike retired, he came to the Philippines to live. He married a widow, who died later. Mike actually died from a festering snake bite that he received on the set of "Deadringer" on Mt. Makiling. It was a tiny viper that are all over the place. Mike was so fat that he didn't even know he had been bitten on the thigh. He died a few months later. I always enjoyed working with him. He was one of the kindest gentlemen I ever had the pleasure to meet.
We were writing "Invasion USA" and we were cooking spaghetti. We decided to spiced up the sauce by throwing some weed into it.
About Don Gordon : Mr Harrison told us this American actor was "a nice boy who wanted to be a writer". According to him, Kinavesa movie scripts were so contrived that on a more than one occasion, Don Gordon and he would re-write it. You told me he was now an ordained minister and possibly living in Korea?!
Don is a founding member of Pigs in Space. He was formerly a member of the US Marines 1st Recon. Don went to college with a Filipino after he got out of the marines. He came with the fellow here for a visit, and ended up staying as he found there was available employment as an actor. This was during the heyday of filmmaking here. I don't think Don ever came here while he was in the Military. He was with 1st Marine recon and they were flown directly to Vietnam from the States. I first met him on the set of "Apocalypse Now", and at first I thought he was crazy. I started to work with him, and then I knew, he really was nuts! He and I became very close friends. He is half Korean. He was put up for adoption by his Korean mother, as during the Korean War it was considered shameful, for a Korean woman to have a baby by a white man. Don left the Philippines as his mental health was deteriorating at a rapid pace. Too many drugs, too many doses of the clap. Then he found God, went back to the States, went to Bible School, and became an Ordained minister. He was an Army Chaplain during the first Desert Storm, then returned to civilian life. He became a missionary in Korea as he was desperately searching for his real birth mother. Don loved to write! He did a lot of the writing for Kinavesa scripts as they were all crap, and Mr. Lim bought them really cheap.
Don and Romano used to share an apartment that they sublet from a real live Witch! I remember that Don and I had just come back from a shoot in Baguio City up north. We had brought back about a half kilo of grass. We were writing "Invasion USA" for a guy named Ed Murphy (a white guy) (and we never got paid for either) (And Chuck Norris ends up with the script), and we were cooking spaghetti. Rom and Don were supposed to go to their Dojo for their Black belt exam, but Don begged off saying we had to finish the script. Don and I started making the sauce. We decided to spice up the sauce by throwing some weed into it. We put about a hundred grams in the sauce. Dinner was ready, and the three of us sat down to eat. Rom had 3 hefty helpings of the pasta and sauce. Don and I spent the rest of the night wondering about Rom and laughing about the sauce as we were pretty stoned! Rom came back later that evening and just said, "I was one with myself" We just started laughing again as Rom didn't know we had laced the sauce with grass.
About Jim Gaines: he seems to have mixed origins (half-Afro-American, half-Filipino?) and appeared in loads of movies shot in the Philippines...
James, is another close friend, and you are right, his father was a Black American and his mother a Filipina. James was directing the last time we worked on a film together. Now, he is a Investment Advisor. It is hard to pin him down as he has many, many girlfriends...
Would you have a personal message, or maybe a slightly mean anecdote to tell us about Mike Monty?
I haven't seen Mike for quite a while now. James Gaines has an address or phone number for him, but once again, it's hard to find James. If you have a project going, he will find you. That's how he is. Mike is not really a big guy, but when he goes thru the food line on a set, a large plate isn't enough to hold all of his food! I never saw a guy who ate as much as he did, and still remained in shape! Maybe he was doing steroids... I just don't know!
What about Jeff Griffith who often played in Cirio Santiagos productions...
Jeff is back in Pennsylvania and I haven't heard anything from him in more than 15 years.
Jim Moss was employed as a supporting actor, we can see him on some behind the scene pics of your website. A friend of yours?
Jim is a close friend of mine. He was with the Marines in Okinawa as Military Police. One day he was bitten by a viper that is common to Okinawa and almost died. He was left with a gimpy hand and received a Medical Discharge with disability pay.
What about Ronnie Patterson? He used to play small parts in Kinavesa pictures...
He's back in Canada.
Eric Hahn lives in Mexico. He might be working on some werewolf film in Texas right now.
Do you remember Paul Vance? He was also an actor and wrote some scripts, like "Deadringer"...
Paul Vance was a good friend of mine. He is Flemish, however, if you were to talk with him, you would think he was an American from Wisconsin. I believe he is back in Belgium. Vance is not his real last name.
Bruce Baron told us about a guy named "Mad" Mel as a crappy figure of Filipino movie sets. Do you confirm?
Mel D.? A multiple personality homosexual paedophile! He was not well liked here. As a matter of fact everybody hated his guts, so much so, that somebody asked him to take 3 kilos of grass into Japan. He actually went around asking if it was safe, and everybody said "Yeah, sure Mel!" So off to Japan he went and upon his arrival at Narita Airport, he was arrested for smuggling drugs! He was a crafty devil, and was able to get out of prison after three years. He came back here but was deported as he had been from various other counties.
David L. ?
Another paedophile but of the straight variety. He lives in Subic someplace.
Several movies we watched featured Willie Williams as supporting actor. You both played in "Deadringer" and "Mission Terminate"...
Willie, like myself was a former member of the Navy. He had several Filipina wives, and I believe when I had met him, he had just gotten out of jail from the states. He told me once that he caught some guy screwing his wife and had shot him with a .357 magnum. Willie seemed to have been in jail as he had a daily regimine of waking up at 5:30 am and then would do situps and pushups for a couple of hours. He would drive me nuts when we roomed together as he would be doing jumping jacks while I was trying to sleep. I think he now lives in San Diego in California.
What about director Jun Gallardo (alias John Gale)? Was he the son (or brother or cousin) of Cesar Gallardo who directed FAMAS awarded films featuring President Joseph Estrada in the 60's? What about Danilo "Jun" Cabreira (alias J.C. Miller)? Apparently, you worked yourself as a casting director / assistant director in some movies. What about these experiences? Did you encountered such problems, or had to cope with others?
Everybody in Film sharing the same last name is either a son, brother or uncle. It was always kept in the family back in the old days. I believe Jun and Ceasar were brothers. Danilo or Danny Cabreira is the younger brother of Jun Cabreira. Both are directors. They also have a half brother by the name of Joey Pineda who owns movie theatres. I have worked with them all except for Ceasar. On any production there will be problems as the people you work with have egos the size of the Grand Canyon. I never had any real major problems. My major complaint on some sets was the food. Ergo, Fish Heads and Rice!
About Teddy Chiu (alias Teddy Page), a young Philippine Chinese director on Kinavesa productions, Richard Harrison told us he was "a very sweet person" but lamented the fact he was "treated so bad by Mr. Lim". Do you agree?
Working with Chinese is never easy. Further, Teddy would often make mistakes that cost Mr. Lim money. And yet even further, it was Mr. Lim who gave Teddy his breaks at directing. Teddy started out as an apprentice without any salary.
Working with Chinese is never easy.
Concerning Kinavesa movies and Filipino war flicks starring Caucasian actors, we heard these films were especially shot for Occidental market and were often unreleased in the Philippines as the Filipino audience (and politics) doesn't like Occidental heroes. Is that true? Were the Kinavesa actors famous (or at least well known) in the Philippines in the 80's?
It was more of a thing that Filipinos would recognize the locations. They love western actors, as foreign films usually get more at the box office than the local films do. Local filmmakers are always complaining about that. But if a Filipino paid money to see a foreign film only to see that it was shot in Manila or the Philippines, they felt cheated. All of our stuff is available on VCD or VHS, and they do get rented a lot.
How to Americanize your product thanks to Richard Harrison and star spangled banners.
On the credits of "Slash", you can be found under the name of "Nick Nichols". Is it your real name and "Nicholson" an alias? Do you know that, in France, some videotape covers of your films (like "Deadringer") highlight your name (and ignore Max Thayer) to trick customers, as "Nicholson" can be a source of mistake with your homonym "Jack"?
My real name is Daniel Nicholson. I use the screen name "Nick" as that is what I was called in the Military. How the credits are done, and how the film was marketed was beyond our control. Blame it on the distributors. We didn't have a clue!
Surfing on your website, we stumbled across a photo of you posing with other guys on the set for a jungle movie titled "The Fighter", a Tony Maharaj film starring kickboxer Richard Norton. According to the caption, one of these guys appears to be... Bruce Le, one of the most famous clones of Bruce Lee (oddly credited as Bruce Li, which was actually the name of another clone) ! What was he doing there? What are your memories of him?
I think Bruce was a Co-Producer and he and a couple of other guys played the Vietnamese characters. My memory of him was that he and Rex Cutter were constantly at each others throats during the shoot. I didn't like either one of them. Bruce use to look down on us who were based here in the Philippines, and he was kind of a racist.
Bruce Le .
In 1988, you appeared in the Italian horror-movie "Zombie 4 : After Death", directed by Claudio Fragasso and produced by Bruno Mattei. How do you remember your work on that film? How was it to work with the Italians? The lead actor, Chuck Peyton, was actually gay porn star Jeff Stryker (using his real name). Do you know how he got cast? Fragasso later said that he didn't know he had hired a gay porn star, do you know if that is true?
I loved working with the Italians! The food was great, and they treated us with respect. They were "real" people. I will talk more about this in the book! Chuck was the boyfriend of the German Casting Director. About Claudio knowing if he was gay or not... hahahahahahaha, we all knew he was gay. You could see him in print ads in Hustler magazine. But Chuck was basically a nice kid who kept to himself, and I can't say anything negative about him. I think Claudio was just being nice, as that is what he is, a real nice guy.
In 1989, you acted in "The Siege of Firebase Gloria", from Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith, who did many enjoyable films ("Man from Hong Kong", "Stunt Rock", "BMX Bandits"...). How was the work with him, and what memories do you keep of this film?
Firebase Gloria was one of the most difficult pictures I had ever worked on. We worked in a rock quarry in some real hot sun everyday, and got low pay because the producer Marilyn Ong, was shooting another film using half of our budget. Firebase Gloria was a pre sold deal, and we all got ripped off by that Chinese cunt! Brian on the other hand was a real pleasure to work with. I really liked him a lot! He had to put up with Wings Hauser who was always on downers and a real asshole. My buddy Lee Ermey on the other hand was what made the picture worth working on.
Brian Trenchard-Smith (right) on the set.
I loved working with the Italians! The food was great, and they treated us with respect. They were "real" people.
You did several films with producer / director Cirio H. Santiago, a great figure of Filipino movie industry who notably made flicks for B-movie emperor Roger Corman. What kind of person is he, and how was the atmosphere on the sets? Sometimes, "post-nuke / Mad Max rip-off" films like "Equalizer 2000" or "Raiders of the Sun" make strange impression. Look like they were shot in one week in a quarry with no script... Was there actually a script with accurate dialogue lines or were the films more or less improvised right on the set?
Cirio was a lot of fun to work with. He worked our collective asses off, but it was worth it as everything was fun. The man has an incredible sense of humor and makes you feel like you are part of the family. We had real scripts, with real lines, and usually we shot within 30 days. The dialogue was usually terrible, but as the famous actor Spencer Tracy once said, you learn your lines and get out there and do it! Believe it or not, one of Cirio's films called Stryker, played in Paris for six months. There was a real cult following for the post Holocaust genre. Don't ask me why, but there was!
Nick, in Equalizer 2000.
As for Kinavesa productions (with Harrison, Baron, Kristoff, Monty, Gordon, Thayer, Gaines...), it seems there was a group of regular actors in Santiago pictures (Rick Dean, Joseph Zucchero, Blake Boyd, Henry Strzalkowski, Steve Rogers...): how is it that Don Gordon and you were the only ones to act intensively in both Kinavesa and Cirio H. Santiago productions?
Don and I made our deal with Mrs. Lim and stayed with it. We loved filmmaking and we didn't make unreasonable demands on these people. That is how you survive. This is your price and you stick with it. Again, we were not under any illusion that we were some big Hollywood stars! We knew what we were doing was crap, but it was work just the same.
Don Gordon (left) in Equalizer 2000.
In "Dune Warriors" (1990), there is a village boy credited as "Daniel Nicholson". According to the IMDB, he appeared before in "Heated Vengeance" (1985) and in "Jailbreak 1958" (1986). Is he your son?
Yes, that is right he is my youngest! He is now in his 20's and a computer technician.
Nick, in Dune Warriors.
In 1994, you acted in "La Casa del Piacere" from director Joe D'Amato. What was this film about? Joe D'Amato had the reputation to be a very professional, but sometimes a bit unscrupulous, director. Would you agree with that opinion? How do you remember him?
I had no problems with the man at all! It was a soft porn film, and the actress was a Russian model with huge tits. It was a gas to do one of these. It was a fun shoot is all I can say. I can't understand how he could be labelled unscrupulous.
On your website, there is a photo of you captioned : "Steve Rogers, myself and Matthew Westfall on the set of Equalizer 2000. We were all stoned in this pic!". It seems there was no shortage of San Miguel nor other exhilarating substances on the sets of Filipino films... So, honestly, were most of you, Westerners, living in the Philippines for the love of Cinema or rather for the opportunity to get drunk, stoned and laid for next to nothing?
We didn't drink on any set ever! We smoked a lot of grass, but we didn't drink. I can only speak for myself, about living in the Philippines. When I came back to the States from Vietnam I was suffering from Culture Shock and I hated it. Early on I fell in love with the Philippines and made it my home. If I stayed in the States I might be in Jail or dead now! There was an abundance of grass here, yet that had no impact or bearing on my decision to stay here, as I could also get good grass in the States.
Steve Rogers, Nick and Matthew Westfall.
The Filipino has shot itself in the foot.
Life of debauchery is a discussion board where users talk about their decadent experiences. As youre a member of the community, what would you say about it?
As far as Lifeofdebauchery.com goes, it used to be a real fun site with good cyber friends. I used spend a lot of time at the computer at my former business, and even now with my cyber café, so it's kind of a nice place to waste time. Some people take the place way too serious at times, but every now and then you can get into a good debate. I am not as active there now as I used to be.
As you were involved in the production process of several movies, did you ever contemplate on doing your own films, like Ron Marchini did with RoMar Inc., for example?
It was a dream I had that never came true due to lack of funding.
The Filipino film industry seems to have declined after 1990 : did they totally stop doing the made-for-export action flicks you used to appear in? Is there a specific reason for that? What is the situation of the Filipino film industry nowadays?
Good question! The Filipino Government has little by little shot itself in the foot! Back during the Marcos era, Imelda Marcos was a true patron of the arts. She made sure that foreign producers had an easy time while shooting here. If they needed military equipment, she facilitated the request, and at the same time producers had to pay for the maint and upkeep of that equipment. Now you have to go to Dept of Defense and you have to pay everybody from the General all the way down to the private who sweeps the floor. Further, previously there was an abundance of "White Extras" available. But Fred Lim put a spanner in the works when he shut down the red light district in Manila and had immigration round up the guys hanging out there. Imagine, during the Marcos regime an average of 40 foreign films were shot here in a year. The average budget was between $450,000 - $300,000. Whatever the extras earned from a film was shot directly back into the economy. I blame the government first, and second a glut in the market. Too much garbage with no one to buy!
Did you ever have echoes from the US about your Filipino career, or the kind of reactions these films got there or elsewhere?
Max used to send me regular news items from Variety magazine... the reviews were mostly bland, yet not really unkind.
Your last movie is apparently "Birds of Passage" (2000), with Stacy Keach and Charlotte de Turckheim, the latter happening to be a fairly famous stand-up comedian in France. How did you get into that venture?
Oly Laperal from RS Video got me that gig. Oly was trying to set up a servicing section with his company. Along those lines, anybody who might want to shoot here should check him out, as he as the most and the best film equipment in Asia, and he is a real easy guy to get along with.
Will we ever see you acting in a film again? Did you completely stop working in the movie industry?
Unfortunately, I can't work in film anymore due to heart disease. I have a had several heart attacks since Birds of Passage and my doctor made me retire.
We know you're writing a book, "Fish Heads and Rice", about B-Movie making in the Philippines (which just means that any visitor of our website would be a potential reader!). Could you tell us a bit more about it?
It is a "no holds barred" book about making "B" movies in the Philippines. This will deal with in depth descriptions about what it was like to work in these films, as well as the more than colourful characters who worked as actors, extras, or staff. Some who read will say, "impossible!" but I guarantee everything in the book is true!
Well... here is the end, so, to conclude, in the name of all the members of our team (and for all the people who will be truly glad to find this interview on our website), I would like to thank you warmly one more time for having been so open and so friendly Mr Nicholson. Best wishes to you and those you love!
Please, just call me Nick! It was a pleasure to do the interview, and thanks for your interest! It means a lot to me!