Shiner is a movie directed by Seo Mutarevic and created by Kevin Bernhardt. It is a movie about Matt, played by Seya Hug, whose goal is to become a world champion fighter. Along his journey he meets Happy McBride who takes him on as his student. Mr. McBride teaches him what he needs to know and should know, but among the training of master and student Matt falls for Happy McBride’s daughter, Nikki, played by Shannon Staller. Seya Hug’s character Matt is not that different from the man who embodies him, according to Mr. Hug he says that “Matt is an incredibly strong willed, determined person. He dreams big and sacrifices a lot by moving out to LA to pursue those dreams - friends, family, the life he's built back home. The same is true for me. I moved out here about 5 years ago with
aspirations of becoming an actor. It wasn't easy starting from scratch and certainly there is still a lot of hardship ahead when it comes to becoming an established actor, but I'm not going to quit until I achieve the things I set out to achieve. Furthermore, martial arts have been a huge part of my life as well. My Dad, Andy Hug, was a world heavyweight kickboxing champion in the world's biggest, at the time, fighting
federation, K-1. He's still regarded as one of the greatest kickboxers of his time. Naturally, I grew up doing martial arts myself. I started doing Tae Kwon-Do at the age of nine and did that for about seven years. After that I got into boxing and kickboxing, which I still do, and recently started practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I've never wanted to fight professionally, like Matt, but practicing martial arts still comprises a lot of who I am as a person.” Mr. Hug already had a foundation for boxing before he got the role as Matt in Shiner making his character seem more real when watching the movie. Also, because Shiner is not just a story of a man wanting to be a fighter, but finding love too how can two actors make a relationship between them on stage look so real? Well, according to Seya Hug when asked in how for Shiner he developed a relationship with Shannon Staller’s character Nikki, was it difficult for you to emulate the relationship at all? He answered “Not at all. Shannon is a wonderful person and we hit it off immediately once we met. We were never romantically involved personally, we're just friends, but emulating a relationship wasn't difficult for us at all. Hopefully Shannon thinks the same.” Making chemistry on stage was not hard for them, but by getting along off stage they were able to make the relationship more authentic.
Amongst the cast was the writer himself, Kevin Bernhardt, who played Happy McBride. According to Mr. Bernhardt his inspiration for Shiner was that he “had written a screenplay about the renowned K1 champion Andy Hug. During the processmet Andy’s widow Ilona Hug, who is also a film producer (in addition to being a well-known sculptor). We developed this story together”. The idea for the movie was created one could say because of the Hugs family due to the screenplay being written when meeting Andy Hug and than working with Andy Hug’s wife to create the movie Moreover, the movie stuck to how the writer wanted by being there, but according to Mr.Bernhardt his character was not just a character written up by him, but it was more than that. In his own words when asked was it easier taking on the role of the character he created, because he created him Mr. Bernhardt says, "it was actually MORE difficult. As an actor I worked to shape a character which goes beyond the words, to breathe life and love into Happy. That's hard to do once the damn screenwriter has decided the words are enough. In short, it is good for an actor to put some meat on the bone of their character - but they must also keep in mind there are limits. First and foremost - their character must serve the story. So my internal struggle went beyond the problems of Happy.” In becoming his character it was more than taking on the name Happy McBride and acting out the character as he wrote him, but to bring his character to life and one that went beyond a character that only acted out the words given to him.
Keving Bernhardt and Seya Hug helped bring the characters to life, but the man who turned words on paper into actions was Seo Mutarevic. When creating films there can be obstacles that Directors face and Mr. Mutarevic had his share of obstacles in filming Shiner. Specifically, some obstacles he had to overcome was that “it was difficult to train actors and choreograph fighting scenes within given time. I had to shot with 3 cameras simultaneously in order to have enough footage to cut around the "rough edges". When staging the fight you have to have right ingredients; athlete actors, choreography and lots of time. I didn't have time so I covered the fight scenes from every possible angle. Also, in some scenes we've used VFX. I shot each actor separately and spliced them together in post as FX shots. This was very useful because we had all time in the world to manipulate mise-en-scène in the computer.” Obstacles and challenges stood in Mr. Mutarevic’s way, but maybe one of the biggest challenges was bringing to life the script of Shiner. According to Mr. Mutarevic in working with this challenge he said “it's all related to the fighting scenes and how to get into a fighter's mind. MMA is very specific while movie making is interpretation of event, sometimes just a flirt with reality. A manipulation. The challenge is how to marry [these] two things: reality vs flirt.” Shiner is a well-worthy movie that keeps you on your toes. The movie is able to be brought to life with such a great cast Kevin Berhnhardt, Seya Hug, and Shannon Staller along with the help of Director Seo Mutarevic.
All photos from: TriCoast Worldwide / Rock Salt Releasing