1. Tell us about who is Mark Stas, and how you came across with cinema?
Star friends
My name is Mark Stas and am Belgian but born in South-Korea. Martial arts became my biggest passion since I was very young, and I train now since more than 38 years.
I was discovered in the movie business by the action actor, Ron Smoorenburg ( who became famous with the movie Who Am I, where he played the jacket lifting fighter and fought with Jackie Chan ) thanks to my martial arts skills. And could play in action movies thanks to Ron.
“Emerging from the Shadows”, is your first film, and it’s your director debut. Why you decided to make a film at this point, and why you didn’t do it earlier? 
First long-suffering project
Yes this was my first project I directed. I wrote and produced already a personal biography, the award winning “At the Edge” together with director Lorenzo Vanin, which is a more motivational and inspirational story. 
I was very busy with my personal training, but I wrote many movie ideas and kept them aside. So after the action movies, like English Dogs in Bangkok or Haphazard where I did some fight scenes with Ron Smoorenburg, there was a great fusion between Ron and myself. Some years later, we wanted to make again a good fight scene, but I wanted to create a story around it. I used my phone and didn’t have a budget for this personal idea. Since I wasn’t happy about the result of this short movie, I left it aside some time. In between came the pandemic period.
Sadly one of the actors, Max Repossi died prematurely. And it was here that I was thinking again to edit and finish this project in his memory. Due to a PC crash, I lost some footage and originals, and I had to edit it with the material I had. I wrote and created a deeper story around what I already filmed, made the intro and together with was filmed before, I could realise a 15 min short movie. Thanks to some good friends who did the colorimetry and music, I obtained the best possible result I could have. 
"This short movie was a project which originated out of passion. Although it's my first project with a real minimum budget, we all put a huge effort and love in it. My thank goes to every single person who helped me to realise it. Although not satisfied enough to release it, I decided to modify and nevertheless to finish this humble project as good as I could in memory of one of the actors, Max who tragically died prematurely". 
Action movies – are not often chosen by indie filmmakers, as they require a good budget. Why have you decided to start from this genre?
I have a goal, I see no obstacles
My specialty is martial arts. And when I played in these action movies, I thought it’s a great feeling to show my martial arts skills, but I wished also to bring a personal taste in it. So fight scenes are great but only if there is a story and good script. Since martial arts is my strong point, I started to write this story woven with these fighting skills.
I didn’t think about a budget at the time when I wrote and made this short movie. But I thought, why not to take action and make something small. The few articles written about Emerging From The Shadows were very positive about the result and the combination of fight scenes and the drama they saw in it. So I am satisfied about the result thanks to my friends who helped me and the little budget ( no-budget) I had. 
Mark Stas, and his martial art skills
Read review on film "Emerging from the Shadows"
In your opinion, what are the main things, that a director needs, to make a good action movie?
Recipe for a good action movie from Mark Stas

I think to realise a good action movie, of course budget is necessary, but above all a good script, story are mandatory, which has different parts in it. The main actors need to bring something strong so that viewers are attracted to see them in the movie. All persons involved are of course important and advice during the filming is always a plus. Personally the action needs to fit a purpose and therefor I believe in a good story, great fight scenes without being exaggerated. The final showdown has to have a great ending.

I would like to note the excellently choreographed action scenes in your film. Did you arrange them yourself? 
Main ingredient
Thanks a lot! Yes my the fight scenes I did, I created them together with Ron. I had the ideas of the different fight scenes, and together with the actors, we created the separate parts. Both main fights with Ron, we had again this fusion ( I recall the two fight scenes Ron and I did in ‘English Dogs in Bangkok’, which were considered the highlight fights ), where we created the fights, verified and improved the movements. Thanks to his professional experience about filming fight scenes and his help in editing of the fights, it gave me this extra touch.
A shot from film "Emerging from the Shadows"
It is obvious that you are proficient in certain martial arts, can you tell us more about it?
The path of the director or the warrior
I was since my childhood very passionate about martial arts and practised very intensive.
Daily training became my motto and after many almost 4 decades of dedicated training, I reached my actual level.

I practised traditional martial arts such as Karate or Taekwondo, studied also with books and internet. I was a Youth Kata champion in Karate Shotokan and did with success competitions in Taekwondo. After more than ten years martial arts training, I discovered a southern Chinese martial art in Germany. I decided to live and study many years abroad where the best European Wing Tsun schools were at that time. My dedication and passion led me to create the brand new martial art, Wing Flow System.

I entered 4 times in the Hall of Fame as Master of the Year in 2016 or as Grand Master of the Year in 2022.

My interests went to various arts such as boxing, grappling, Judo, … but my focus was more in the southern Chinese direction, which has for example the Yin and Yang aspect ( soft and hard ) which is also in my Wing Flow System, considered a derivation of Wing Chun, although the expression is quite different.

To me a martial artist is a dedicated artist, who loves training in all honesty. I never deviated from that path to become the best version I can be in my martial arts practise. Social media and internet are actually so much present in our lives, and influences many practitioners. Many people comment, even when they don’t have training nor are specialised in martial arts. And this cannot influence our behaviour nor let us deviate from our actual goal in martial arts. The path of a martial artist is not an easy one and requires really dedication, continuity and progress is not always as quick as we want. 
To me martial arts training is still a more personal and individual activity which can grow into a passion. It may not be influenced by other people’s comments. Each person is different, tastes are different and never wrong. There are so many martial arts, it’s important to choose wisely where to invest time and energy, cause the years pass by very quick. You can master a lot martial arts, but you will excel only in one. There is a saying: one martial art for one lifetime. If you take your martial arts training serious, it will give you in return a beautiful gift. 
A training session with Mark Stas
Is the knowledge of martial arts preferred for actors in an action movie, or it’s easy to teach them?
I would say, it’s not mandatory if the person can move well and has good body control. With a lot repetition, one can master fight scenes, but martial arts training will help a lot and one can also see when someone is a practitioner or not.
In your statement you said, that “The Belgian TV” nicknamed you Belgian Bruce Lee, canyou tell more about this, and did Bruce Lee inspire you to make this film, or maybe some new projects?
The Small Dragon
Ah, the first time I was invited in Switzerland, there was the local TV, which did a reportage and wrote about me ‘a Belgo-Korean Bruce Lee’
In Belgium, I was interviewed for the Flemish national newspaper and Walloon TV, where they called me the Belgian Bruce Lee. Maybe because I do martial arts, am asian too. And Bruce Lee is the most famous asian martial artist. It’s an honour of course, but Bruce Lee is THE one and no one can take his place for sure.
Bruce Lee did inspire me a lot when I was a little boy. Later his physical training and unique back muscles inspired me a lot. Although I didn’t really practise his martial art, Jeet Kune Do, I owe my dedication and inspiration in martial arts training, definitely.
His movies are really timeless and examples for martial arts movies. What is more, many martial arts movies are good, but to have his aura, this awesome energy Bruce Lee could let you feel: rare are those action actors who have it. I loved to watch Bruce Lee on TV when I was young, but it didn’t attract me at that time to make movies. There were different proposals for movie projects about Bruce Lee, but he is too unique to be imitated and honestly I would be a bad imitator. My martial arts skills are also different, and there were already so so many imitations in the movie world…
How is it being an indie filmmaker in Belgium? Does the government help somehow?
First steps as a director
I am really a fresh filmmaker and not professional in it. I think people know me more of martial arts, and now also as an actor, since I could play in various movies. 
There exist a government help for the French speaking community as well the Flemish community in the audio-visual area. I didn’t reach out to them, since I created this first small movie out of a passionate idea without thinking it would become a short movie and have this success.
Mark Stas with his "Award Of Prestige - Best Choreography" at Vegas International Movie Awards
“Emerging from the Shadows” was also dedicated in memory of Max Repossi. Can you tell us a bit more about your relationships with Max?
A fitting tribute to Max Repossi
I was introduced by Ron to Max. It was a hazard to let him play one of the characters in my short movie, cause one of the initial actors for this small part didn’t join, and Ron proposed Max instead. He was a very kind person, very dedicated and eager to make movies. He had good martial arts skills and loved the martial art I do. After the movie we kept in contact, but due to a very busy period, I couldn’t answer all the time his messages. I got suddenly news he passed away. One can see that in life, sometimes later can become never… I was very honoured to work with him, which was also his last work, and this first part is a dedication to him, which I am very happy I could finish it in an honourable way.
As written in an article of movie reviews, Action Elite: “Emerging From The Shadows is a fitting tribute to Max Repossi who would be proud of the finished product”
Max Repossi, and his world class skills
What are your next steps in cinema? Maybe some insides?
About future
There are movie proposals I received, a follow up story of this Emerging From The Shadows is in the pipeline. So it’s a matter of time to see which project will be the first to start. 
Are you more concentrating on directing, and producing, or you would like to act again in future?
Choosing sides
The directing and producing allows me to use my personal taste and create something of my own, but to act and evolve as an actor is also something I want to continue, as long as the story is good and I am attracted by the personage. Especially in the suspense, detective direction. ( with also some action).
Best action film of all time in your opinion?
Many captured my attention, so it’s difficult to name ‘the best’. For example, Enter the Dragon, Rapid Fire, Nico, Jason Bourne, Kiss of the Dragon, the Kingsman I really like, or some more typical martial arts movies such as Bloodsport, Ip Man 3 or the excellent Prodigal Son or Zatoichi.
Cinema evening with Mark Stas
Mark Stas
You can find more information about Mark Stas on his IMDb page

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