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HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Interview with Media Blaster's Richard York: Shaw Brothers and Beyond!


HK Films

1. Richard, can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do at Media Blasters?

I moved to New York in 2004 from Oklahoma City where I was a writer/producer for an advertising agency. I learned that I had a mutual acquaintance at Media Blasters that I wasn't aware of. I eventually got to visit the office and one of the producers, William Hellfire, and I hit it off and was able to get my foot in the door. I immediately began doing press relations for them. Eventually, a producer position opened up, which I was offered. That's what I've been doing for the past year or so.

2. How many Shaw Brothers titles has Media Blaster licensed from Celestial?

We've licensed ten titles from Celestial (in order of their release).

HEROES TWO

THE MASTER

CHALLENGE OF THE MASTERS

THE DEADLY DUO

THE BRAVE ARCHER

MARTIAL CLUB

TEN TIGERS FROM KWANGTUNG

BLACK MAGIC 2

THE FLAG OF IRON

FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS

3. Is the plan to release a title once a month (as August does not seem to have a title being released that month)?

I think initially we planned on releasing a title per month, but it's not going to happen that way. But rest assured they'll all come out eventually.

4. Linn Haynes work a great deal on the Shaw Brothers DVD in terms of providing extras, helping to find materials, and even doing a commentary for Heroes Two before his untimely death. Are there any plans for others to do commentary tracks and also for the uses of material that Linn may have prepared for other titles?

Linn was a great help in the early goings. He helped me choose the available materials for all titles from Celestial, put me in touch with Mike Leeder and provided some nice extras. I loved his commentary and wish he could've done more. Plus he and other people provided some great video and gallery extras on HEROES TWO. Otherwise, we didn't get too far on subsequent titles before his untimely death. But I've since been in contact with collectors and are looking into what they have for the remaining titles and what Celestial will or will not allow us to include. Future commentaries are not out of the question and I'm talking to people about it now.

5. Can you talk a little about the work Mike Leeder has been doing for the discs?

Mike is a true professional and has tremendous access to some of these great Shaw Brothers stars. He did a great job with the first round of interviews with Chen Kuan Tai and we're currently looking into future interviews.

6. Some fans were a bit surprised about the fact that The Master DVD was only letterbox can you explain that situation to us? Also will all other titles be anamorphic?

I think it was erroneously reported early on that all our titles would be anamorphic. But other than THE MASTER, that is true. The situation is simply that Celestial didn't have a true anamorphic master to provide us.

7. Also there has been concern about interlaced transfers and the suggestion that all that is needed to make the disc progressive is for a changing of a flag during the authoring stage. Can you comment on it?

For our HD titles, Celestial is providing us with PAL HD D5 50i masters. HEROES TWO was our first time working with this format so it was a learning experience both for us and for the lab converting these masters for us. There's an apparent misconception that whether or not a disc is progressive is a simple matter of remembering to push a button. It's a lot more complicated than that. But I can tell you that we've worked out the kinks and all remaining titles will be progressively encoded. I will say however that HEROES TWO looks great and plays fine on most setups.

8. Will all of the films be mastered from HD and have English dubs? Also how is Media Blasters handling subtitles and translations?

THE MASTER, BLACK MAGIC 2 and TEN TIGERS are the only titles without HD masters. English dubs are not available from Celestial for BLACK MAGIC 2 and MARTIAL CLUB. However, we're aware they exist somewhere out there in the world and hopefully we can work something out with Celestial to include them in some form. As for subs, we're working off the Celestial-provided scripts, but we have our own translator as well who goes over them, making appropriate changes and so forth. Then they're proofread for grammar and to make sure things make sense.

9. Does Media Blasters plan on licensing any other Shaw Brother titles and how has Heroes Two been doing?

I understand our Shaw titles have been doing pretty well. If the others perform well, acquiring additional titles is a definite possibility.

10. Does Media Blasters have any interest in licensing any titles from Fortune Star (which contain the Golden Harvest, Cinema City, and other classic HK film studios)?

I'm not aware of any activity on the Fortune Star front as far as Media Blasters is concerned. I certainly wouldn't mind working on some of those titles though.

11. How is the threat of bootlegging effect MB’s release efforts caused by Red Sun and its dummy sister companies? How is MB planning to combat this problem?

Bootlegging is difficult to combat and would probably be a full-time gig to try and track them all down. And even then, it wouldn't go away. We go after who we can, but we also just have to put our faith in the audience that they're going to want legitimate releases of a higher quality.

Euro-Cult

1. Is anymore Fulci perhaps on the horizon from MB, even if in the form of a low price collection set?

A Fulci three-pack of previous releases is a possibility down the road but right now we have no plans to release additional Fulci titles.

2. How about Bruno Mattei? Bruno Mattei’s last three films have yet to be released anywhere in the world. His other films before that popped on budget Russian labels or Japanese labels and even Snuff Trap in the US without any menu and indicating it was copied from another source. Obviously Media Blasters can do a lot better with these titles.

3. Related to that what about some of Bruno Mattei’s action films he made with Flora Films? Some of these where his teaming with the “amazing” Reb Brown such as Strike Commando, Robo War, and others like Shocking Dawn (using the Vincent Dawn name).

4. Any chance of Ruggeo D’s Raiders of Atlantis (directed under Roger Franklin)? It has previously appeared only on a old Goodtimes VHS release and the only uncut print was a hard subbed VHS from Northern Europe?

5. Do you think there can be a market for Euro-Cult Action films in the US, (especially since there was often overlap with many famous horror directors)?

6. Somewhat related any chance MB might want to release some of the crazy action films of the Philippines (such as films made by Silver Star) or Indonesia (like Intruder aka Rambu)?

2-6

Shriek Show is finally making a comeback, and dipping into the Euro-Cult well is not out of the question. I'd certainly be happy about that. There is a list of potential acquisitions including many gems. All I can say right now is we'll have to wait and see. I don't want to jinx anything or give anyone false hopes. But hopefully we can get back into that stuff. If anything happens on that front, I won't keep it a secret.


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