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  • Chuck Johnson

A Lot of Awards... and One Regret


So a few months ago, I was contacted by some friends in the Canadian stunt community about the new Crank International Action Film Festival. They had reached out to see if I had something that I would like to submit. When they initially asked, all I could think to submit was Fists of Absinthe, the film that I made to launch Quiet Flame Productions and at the time, QF’s stunt team. Thinking further, I decided to do a re-edit of Yutaka’s Bad Day, (one of Quiet Flame's Fight Days, and the one that I thought had the clearest character arc) and I submitted both of them. The hard drive both films were on were destroyed in an accident, so I had to submit with lower res versions on my PC, but out of curiosity, I decided to go for it anyway.

Despite not having the original high res versions, Fists went on to earn an “Honorable Mention” and Yutaka’s Bad Day ended up making it to “Finalist”. This lead to other festivals reaching out and asking me to submit and I did. All in all, I submitted Fists to eleven festivals and Yutaka’s Bad Day to three. YBD was a finalist for 3 out of 3, and so far, Fists has won awards at everything I entered it in. In addition to being recognized at Crank, it’s gotten “Best Short Film” 4 other times so far.


As I’m currently moving forward with producing my first feature this is extremely encouraging. Both Fists and YBD were more or less made on a whim (Fists because YouTube reached out to me and gave me the opportunity, and YBD because I just wanted to play with editing techniques) so it’s going to be really interesting to see how well I can do with Eastbound, which I’ve been planning meticulously for the better part of a decade.

The recognition for Fists of Absinthe is also nice because Brian and I knew that for the budget we had, we had made an excellent film. It’s nice that everyone else is finally beginning to see that as well. 5 years late is certainly better than never.


Looking back, when we first finished Fists we were asked to submit it to the Urban Action Showcase in NY. Even though it was an official selection there, it just never occurred to either one of us to push it further. I really wished we had.

At the time, the film had so much energy around it; newspaper articles, mentions on Japanese news stations, etc. Had we had these wins then, we really could have added even more fuel to that fire, and who knows how far it could have taken us. It’s also heart-breaking that we lost Brian one year too soon for him to see any of it. Having directed it, edited it, created the soundtrack, etc, Fists was as much his baby as it was mine. He even created the label for the absinthe bottle. It was that kind of attention to detail that made it as good as it was.


Originally, Eastbound Traffic was supposed to be the project that put both of us on the map in our respective roles; and even though I’m pressing forward solo, it still feels like I am only doing so as half of a team and I really feel his absence this time around.

Thankfully, I’ve still got Sam (our DP for Fists) and we both knew Brian well enough that we can shoot Eastbound the way that we knew he would. In his honor, we gotta kill it. And we will. Watch Fists of Absinthe:

Watch Yutaka's Bad Day


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