Filmmaker Daniel Kennedy wants to share Brandon Lee's inspiring story with the world.
Kennedy ("Metal Gear") has plans to co-direct and star in a new biopic that focuses on the life of Brandon Lee, the late martial arts actor who was best known for his role in "The Crow" and was the son of legendary martial arts star Bruce Lee ("Enter the Dragon").
According to Kennedy, the upcoming biopic is not officially endorsed by the Bruce Lee family. However, martial artist Guro Richard Bustillo, who was a father-figure for Brandon Lee and an original student of Bruce Lee, has advised on the Brandon Lee Movie Project.
Kennedy, who recently launched a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help raise funds to produce the movie, took time to answer some questions about the project.
Tell us what inspired you to create this movie.
Ever since I was a teen, people have told me I look like Brandon, which is what got me initially interested in him, but what I connect to is his grief in his relationship with his dad; I haven't had the best relationship with my father and I can relate to that desire to have one, and not understanding why I can't (Brandon lost his dad, Bruce Lee, at age 8). That said, the way he dealt with his loss was simply heroic -- I'm still trying to catch up to his level of recovery -- and yet no one knows anything about it! I want the story to finally be told.
What is your connection to Brandon Lee?
Let me again say that it was that grief, more than anything. We're both Eurasian (my mom is Korean and my dad is Irish) and we have physical similarities; we're also both actors and have encountered difficulties because of our racial ambiguity, but it's his past that practically screams at me. We had different particular experiences, but I can speak to strained father-son relationships in a way maybe most cannot. In Los Angeles, I visited his old haunts like Pig N' Whistle, and spoke with his friends Jeff Imada and Rob Narita, as well as his mentors. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of responsibility; there's just no one like Brandon Lee, and I'd rather die than misrepresent who he was -- but it's going to be difficult! No one is naturally as kind, loving, silly, and fearless as he is -- but God as my witness, we'll get it right.
What do you hope audiences will learn from seeing the film?
That love -- and dreams -- do not end with death. We don't have to stop loving someone when they pass, and they don't stop loving us. The pain eventually turns to joy; the memories eventually bring smiles and not tears. The log line is "Death Cannot Contain Love." People should walk away realizing they can love through the loss and pursue their dreams; the pain doesn't have to hinder them any longer.
What can fans do to help support your project?
This film cannot be made without financing, and I believe none of us wants to compromise or take short-cuts. Fans of Brandon, please be a part of making the film by going to our IndieGoGo campaign www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-brandon-lee-movie-project to donate to the project. You'll find that a lot of our perks are worth more than we're asking. We have a budget of $200,000, but that's shoe-string; the reality is that the more we can raise, the better the quality of the film will be.
When do you anticipate the film will be completed?
Because of Screen Actors Guild rules, it all depends on when financing is secured. Once the film is funded, we should start shooting within three months in order to complete casting, location scouting, and all pre-production. We are hoping to finish the film by March of 2014.
Where will audiences be able to see the film?
Make no mistake, we are making a film for the purpose of sharing it with the world, and that means going to theaters. I'm sure most every filmmaker says that, but this isn't every film; one of the greatest complements my screenplay has received is that Zach Sklar (of "JFK" fame) championed the script to the Sundance Film Institute, who rarely accepts commercial projects. If we could start shooting early 2014, there's no reason why it can't be released Fall 2014.