“Godfrey Ho is so magnetically fascinating that Ed KNEW he wanted to do a project based on him, and NTMF was the way to do it…“
Describe how you discovered Godfrey Ho’s works and how it influenced you to create NTMF?
The easiest way to discover Godfrey Ho is to hang around Ed Glaser. It’s kinda an organic process from that point. My love for the stuff grew fast and deep. Ed actually wanted to do some kind of Godfrey Ho-mage for awhile and was worried about getting someone to write it who really got the madness.
The cut-and-paste idea came together for him, and at one point Ed was talking about using movie footage to send a ninja into space. He was speculating about how the kind of series he wanted to do would have a perfectly regular ninja in his office told by his boss that “I need you to go into space.” I immediately replied “okay I will” in my best Richard Harrison voice. That’s when Ed was convinced I got his concept. I pretty much begged for a chance to write up a treatment for the series at that point and the rest is pretty easy to figure out.
So I guess the short answer is that Godfrey Ho is so magnetically fascinating that Ed KNEW he wanted to do a project based on him, and NTMF was the way to do it that he figured out. I knew I needed to get it on this, so I wrote my butt off to audition as the writer.
Have you ever met Godfrey Ho? Are you sure you’re not secretly married to him?
No. I assume he is unstuck in time, being spliced into our dimension over and over by film buff aliens looking to save money on human clone puppets.
I have often wondered just how self-aware GH really was when creating his movies. Do you think his tongue was slightly in cheek?
I strongly believe in the possibility that movie fans often forget – he was making a product. Movie making is a business, and movies are commodities. So sometimes telling a story or making art is not motive number one. I think GH was focused on putting out as many sellable movies as quickly as possible, for as cheap as possible. He hit on a method that worked, and within those constraints probably tried to do the best he could.
How much of the weirdness in his films he thought was good and how much he just thought was good enough, we may never know. Personally I think it’s funnier if he was not all tongue in cheek, so I will believe that until proven otherwise.
How self-aware do you believe GH is of the unintended hilarity of much of his work?
I don’t think he was aware of it at all while making the movies we love him for. That’s what makes them amazing- there’s a real earnestness to them. They aren’t very good, they are ridiculous as hell, and GH was kinda being a cheap cynical bastard to do the cut-and-paste thing so blatantly. But they are exactly what they are. For rainbow colored ninja carnivals of crazy, they actually seem to take themselves seriously.
Were the talented fight scenes in GH films the result of where he filmed, where he must surely have been tripping over talented, cheap cinematographers and choreographers? Or did his insertion of these elements show intentional effort?
I think any quality in a GH movie can be chalked up to where he was filming. He shot in Hong Kong, where slamming out action movies quickly and cheaply was a serious industry. The place was a martial arts movie factory. So getting his hands on martial arts movie crews for low budgets there was probably like getting your hands on ambitious, inexperienced pretty blond waitress/actresses in LA. It’s an abundant resource.
“I think GH was the first to really do the actor-exploiting trick of filming “one” movie with a big-name western actor and then splice it into a dozen pictures. Nobody did it quite like him. And I’m sure it ticked people off…“
Is it correct to say that GH was the only person doing what he was doing back then? How were his movies received by his contemporaries?
I don’t quite understand the tangled credit/blame to be assigned to IFD, Godfrey Ho individually or other cohorts of his. I think GH was the first to really do the actor-exploiting trick of filming “one” movie with a big-name western actor and then splice it into a dozen pictures. Nobody did it quite like him. And I’m sure it ticked people off (besides Richard Harrison and European distributors, who we know were ticked off by the proliferation of low-quality pictures). But I bet there was a certain admiration for the potential this technique opened up. I doubt that his movies were appreciated as movies so much as money-making techniques.
Richard Harrison appears to be quite resentful of his time working with Godfrey Ho. What are your thoughts on his involvement in these films, and his B-Movie legacy as Gordon the Ninja? Is he being a stick-in-the-mud, or do you think he’s entitled to hold a little resentment?
I think it would be great it he could embrace it, but I cannot blame him at all. He was lied to and arguably exploited, and that can be very hard to let go of. I believe him that he had no idea his footage was going to be spliced into so many cheap movies. I don’t know how much it affected his image/brand/career but he certainly felt that it did. Actors are always worried about their choices of projects. Will it be a success? Will it open up more work? Will it get the kind of attention they want? Will this make them more in demand or less? Acting careers are fragile and hard to protect, so I can’t blame Harrison for being upset about the whole thing. But it would be nice if he could cash in the silver lining of the whole thing now and embrace a new kind of stardom.
That ‘Richard Harrison meets Thomas the Tank Engine’ YouTube video may well be the funniest thing I personally have ever seen. Are you familiar?
I am familiar, yes. Frankly I don’t get why there aren’t more videos using that footage. Just think of all the movies Harrison could be calling into. I like the idea of Liam Neeson in Taken calling Harrison.
“I have a particular set of skills.”
“NO, I DO!”
“I will find you, and I will kill you.”
“NUH-UH. I’M A NINJA!”
What was it with Godfrey Ho’s use of Anglo-Saxon Christian names such as Steve, Gordon, Janet etc for his characters?
The same reason a clearly Indian tech support guy swears his name is Jonathan. He’s not fooling you, he knows he’s not fooling you, but giving you a fake Western name is easier than having you struggle to pronounce and remember his actual name (plus it hides his identity, which for GH movies might help obscure the origin of these movies). It removes a perceived barrier for Western audiences, much like making sure similar looking actresses have distinct hairstyles or wardrobes.
What I want to know is, why are so many girls named Fanny? Did they just want to use names from the turn of the century?
It’s pretty incredible how you took a genuine passion for something and recreated it in the way you did. What advice could you give to someone who really wants to express their love for their hobby in some form?
My advice is take your time. Work out how you’re going to do it, figure out how to do it well. If you can honestly say you don’t have the skills to do what you want, reach out to people who do or take the time to learn – or scale back your project. But, no matter what, don’t let any of what I just said stop you from going out and doing it. If you don’t like the result, do it again!
Thank you for both your role in creating Ninja the Mission Force, and for helping us get to the bottom of all things NTMF, and Godfrey Ho. But before we wrap this up, I have some critical Ninja-related questions that must be answered.
Firstly, please describe for me the colour-scheme of your personal Ninja Warrior outfit, which you obviously already own.
I’ve gotten through several. I started out with a purple camo, but that was a bit too basic. I was working on a chain-mail version of the shiny lame over-piece that the white people in GH movies like to wear, but it was taking way way way too long. Plus it made lots of jangly noise, which is not good for sneaking up on people. I’ve settled on a steampunk theme for now, all in coppers and browns, but I’m having trouble with the jangly thing again.
I’m fond of Prowling Cougar (married to one). What is your favourite ancient mystic ninja technique?
I have a soft spot for the Teleport-While-Cartwheeling-To-Change-Into-Ninja-Costume technique.
I also like the ancient art of using psychic meditation to see what is happening in another movie. There’s also the always remarkable “using nunchucks without hitting yourself in the balls” technique you might have seen featured in other movies.
I (no shit) pulled a muscle in my leg last Halloween when practising the ‘ninja-sprinting’ thing that ninjas do.
Please list the bodily injuries have you sustained whilst being awesome (This is your opportunity to exert your dominance over lesser ninjas. If you say you have never actually dressed up like a ninja and injured yourself, or at the very least embarrassed yourself, then this interview is over)
I’m glad I have health insurance and that “being a ninja” is not (yet) a pre-existing condition they check for. Also, I have a very high pain tolerance and extreme stubbornness, which really helps compensate for lack of strength, skill or coordination.
- I have broken by big toe while scampering sideways down stairs as a child – ninja practice.
- I shattered my foot while setting up for a movie shoot.
- I got some nasty sunburns in places I’d forgotten about while shooting NTMF (advantage to the cast in ninja garb- that stuff covers EVERYTHING).
- I lost a knife fight on top of a speeding train (he cheated) and fell into an open volcano, but a voodoo ritual brought me back.
- And I broke my hand punching a voodoo priestess in her cow bone skull headdress.
I bow before your broken toe, master.
Oh, one last thing…
During my own experience as a ninja, my own gorgeous assistant could never get the eye-liner right. Do you have any tips as it always comes out a mess?
First off, you’re going to get better results if you apply it yourself. Unless you are really used to other people applying makeup to you, you’re going to be all eye-twitch nervousness when someone gets close to your eyeballs. It’s easier when it’s your hand wielding the pointy stick.
I usually recommend liquid eyeliner. Particularly the kind that comes with a felt tip marker style applicator. It is less uncomfortable for most people to apply for the first time, and it is more intuitive to use. We all know how pens work. Now this type of eyeliner gives bold lines, but is prone to smearing. It also doesn’t give that “I rubbed goal around my eye” smoky look that true GH ninjas have. That comes from using hard eyeliners. If you can use those, go for it, but I find them harder to sell beginners on.
The smearing will be less the more you can hold still. But, smearing can also be dealt with using makeup wipes and a good makeup remover. You can clean up the lines with the makeup removal pads or even a Q-tip. If you are a horrible smearer AND don’t want to mess with trying to clean up the job afterwards, use a super fine tip eyeliner and just barely put any on your eye. Then use a Q-tip and purposely smudge it around your eyeball.
Don’t worry about being fancy with your lines or making a mess. The goal of eyeliner is to make your eyes stand out. For a ninja, this is for the intimidation factor, not style. You don’t need to look pretty, just scary. There is the added bonus that if you are a dude, you probably don’t normally wear eyeliner. Having your ninja persona wear it changes people’s perception of your face, helping to hide your identity even more. Plus, if you are doing mystical ninja hypnotism, emphasizing your eyes helps.
If you are using eyeliner to look your best while kicking ass, consider hiring a cosmetology student. Or go to a makeup counter in the mall with a female as a decoy. Have her ask for help with eyeliner technique. “As a joke” have them work on you too. Also, consider waterproof eyeliner to avoid sweating it off as quickly while fighting. Use these ancient techniques and you’ll soon be unstoppable!
Meagan Glaser, your service to the Ninja Empire has been noted. Go now and be one with the wind…
The entire season one of Ninja the mission force can be viewed on youtube. Seasons one and two, plus a crap ton of extras can be purchased from the Neon Harbour website.