Recently I reached out to a few contacts to see if they had any recommendations for interviewees, Mike Leeder was the first to respond with an actor who had impressed him on IpMan4, Ken Law. Always one to respect Big Mike’s opinion I contacted Ken with the below set of questions.
From his answers I think you can see this actor’s dedication and drive shining through to his art and film-making. Dropping everything for a chance to work with master Yuen Woo Ping for no money or terms says so much for his character and ownership of driving his career in a respectful way.
From one writer to another, I would like to wish Ken all the best with his script and for all his future projects. Thank you being part of the interview collection here on The Mighty Dragon.
Vikki: Could you tell us more about how you became an actor?
Ken: I was participating in a contest for the tae kwon do gym that I was training in. During 2007 Jackie chan hosted a global search for his disciples, and I entered. I was chosen to represent Canada to compete in Beijing for the finals, even though I didn’t win, but it got me started on my path as an actor.
Vikki: Who were your inspirations as a child, and have they driven you to be where you are now with your career?
Ken: I have had so many inspirations as a child, it ranges from action actors all the way to fictional comic characters. Then as I grew up I also learned to appreciate professional fighters and movie directors. I think Bruce Lee inspired me a lot, because it was the first time I really felt the impact of a good action movie.
Vikki: You appeared in Squattertown, an apocalyptic web series. Are web series the future in film-making?
Ken: I think web series will be huge in the near future, it is the reason why Netflix is so big. People are hooking up their TV to the internet now, and I think it will only get bigger from here and on.
Vikki: Can you tell us more about your work on IP Man 4?
Ken: I was called up by a senior stunt coordinator name Money (yes that is his real name), we met a long time ago but rarely work together. He called and asked if I wanted to be an assistant for a few days, hence they are doing some reshoot for Ip Man 4 in Hong Kong. Knowing the master Yuen Woo Ping would be there I agreed without asking any terms or payment, I just really wanted to work with master Yuen. During the shoot he gave us a lot of freedom to choreograph and do our design. He actually listened to my pitch for a sequence and shot it exactly how I showed him. He has so much energy on set and often come up with crazy angles to shoot. I have learned so much from him.
Vikki: You were a finalist in Jackie Chan’s The Disciple, can you tell us more about that experience?
Ken: It was a very special experience for me, I had to leave for Beijing just two days after my father passed away. I had to hide my sorrow and focus on the competition because I promised him I made him proud. The competition was filled with talents from all over the world so it was super competitive, I had to change my performance every min to make it look more promising. In the end although I didn’t get to the final, but It got my career started.
Vikki: Will you stay in action or do you have ambitions to move into other genres?
Ken: Action will always be my main path, but I do want to try new genres. I have great interest in crime thriller or horror suspense. I am actually a very comedic guy so comedy is also something I like to explore.
Vikki: What level of training do you have to maintain as a martial artist and actor to stay one step ahead of others at auditions?
Ken: I train 5 times a week rain or shine, I do strength and conditioning to keep my stamina required for long hours of shooting. I also do MMA training which is great because it combines all the modern fighting styles into one big session. I also spend a day or two doing martial arts tricking which is a mix of acrobatics and tae kwon do kicks. It is mandatory for action actors to train wether you are working or not. This is part of your work.
Vikki: As a Canadian-Chinese actor, what are the strengths and weaknesses of both their film industries?
Ken: I think Canadian films have lots of potential to explore and it has a great location to shoot, however it requires too much time and process to get the ball rolling. Chinese production are more smooth when it comes to these situations. If a Canadian film wants to shoot a tree but there is no tree they plant one and wait for it to grow, but a Chinese production will get a man to pretend to be a tree or simply change the script. There are gives and takes on both sides but I really wish Canada will devote more time and resources to their film industry.
Vikki: What advice would you give anyone taking their first steps into the acting world?
Ken: My best advice is that you have to be willing to sacrifice your time, and don’t compare yourself with others. After the Jackie Chan’s disciple competition I became an extra, then a stuntman, then a stunt double, then finally a chance to be an actor, it literally took me 8 years to land my first speaking role. During that time Jackie already helped launch the careers of many of the disciples, and many of the people who started with the same motive as me left because they don’t see a future. I chose to stay because I know I belong here, and is up to you to make it work. Always seek to improve yourself, even as an extra if you are an outstanding extra people will notice. If you are a hard working stuntman the camera will show. You keep drilling until finally someone notice you, and thinks you are worth their time. Is not going to be easy, but nothing is.
Vikki: What’s coming up next for you?
Ken: I am currently writing my own script and is hoping to get a small funding so I can shoot my first featured film. I am trying to write an action comedy, I know I can control the budget because I will personally handle the action sequences and play one of the roles myself. Again is not easy because I never learned script writing before, but I rather be proactive then sit around and wait for casting calls.