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A UNCG film series and an online series that’s anything but serious

by Mark Burger

Get ready, America – The Corporate Assassin is coming for you!

All of us have, at one time or another, worked with or for someone whom we’d like to kill. Someone who never shuts up, or acts like a big-shot, or thinks they’re smarter than they really are. Then there’s the worst of all – the know-nothing, do-nothing boss.

I’ve had a few of those in my time, including one guy whose nickname was the “Lying King,” another guy whose nickname was “Bozo” (probably still is) and the gal who would promote her off-hours endeavors while on company time – when she wasn’t taking two-hour lunches, that is.

Boy, you say to yourself, it sure would be nice to get rid of them, wouldn’t it? (I know I have!)

That’s where The Corporate Assassin comes in. The brainchild of Greensboro-based filmmaker Andy Coon (who made the acclaimed documentary Greensboro’s Child), The Corporate Assassin is a series of short films starring Brian Lee in the title role, that of a fearless and highly skilled killer who makes it his business to put an end to monkey business – permanently.

When the Corporate Assassin downsizes, he knocks ’em dead. But, make no mistake, he’s on your side. He’s fighting on behalf of the little man – the worker who’s just trying to get through the day amidst rampant bureaucratic ineptitude. Who can’t identify with that?

As much a satire on corporate America as an action showcase, The Corporate Assassin is an imaginative black comedy and not a random bloodbath. Our hero doesn’t kill with standard weapons, but with items commonly found in any office. His victims are strangled with phone cords or Venetian blinds, stabbed with scissors or otherwise dispatched with what is close at hand. What’s more, they all deserve what they get.

According to Coon, the inspiration came several years ago when he and some buddies were discussing some of the losers and jerks they’d worked with over the years, and joked about doing a film about it.

“We wanted to take it to extremes,” Coon recalls. “We wanted it to have very dark humor, to make people laugh and have a good time… and also to have a cathartic effect for them, to help ’em get rid of the stress of the workplace.”

Other projects came up in the interim, but the idea kept percolating, and when Coon and Lee found a window of time late last year, they jumped right through.

Thus far, Coon has posted some of the Corporate Assassin teaser trailers on YouTube to drum up interest in the series. He explains that the first installment should be about 10 to 15 minutes long, with subsequent episodes clocking in between 5 and 7 minutes each. Depending on the response, more will follow.

Coon wants to make Corporate Assassin an interactive online experience. He envisions one scenario, not unlike a video game, in which the viewer can choose who to kill and how to do them in. In addition, “we’re trying to get people to incorporate their ideas and share their own horror stories.”

Also, he says, “we’re not limited to the same corporate office. We’d like to expand it to other businesses, like restaurants or radio stations… we’d like to make it something different as we go along.”

Uh-oh, could a newspaper be far behind?

“Now there’s an idea!” Coon laughs.

Coon also hopes that fans of the series might consider allowing his film crew to use their own offices – during off hours, of course. He would be more than happy to thank them in the credits, and he jokingly promises to clean up the bloodstains and debris after shooting is completed.

Should The Corporate Assassin draw attention to Coon’s filmmaking abilities, so much the better. With so many independent filmmakers using the internet to promote, and in some cases produce, their projects, it only stands to reason that the local filmmaking contingent would do likewise.

Among the other local filmmakers involved with The Corporate Assassin are those “usual suspects” themselves – Blake Faucette and Micah Moore of All Aces Media. They’re the producer and director, you might remember, of the martial-arts extravaganza Dogs of Chinatown. Coon is also a member of the production team.

Late last month, the cast and crew of Dogs of Chinatown reconvened in Greensboro to shoot some additional footage and a few pick-up shots. Unlike a lot of Hollywood movies, however, the filmmakers knew specifically what additional material they needed.

“It’s going really well,” according to Coon. “We knew ahead of time what we needed to get and what we wanted to re-arrange, and that’s just what we’re doing now.”

For more information about The Corporate Assassin, check out corporateassassin.com. As mentioned before, you can also view the early teasers on YouTube.

And feel free to share your own tales of corporate woe. Who knows? You just might see it depicted in a future installment.

••••••••••••

UNCG has cooked up a new film series with a distinctly international flavor.

Titled “Everyday Passions: Imagining Central Asia and the Caucasus,” the series will include films from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Georgia (and we don’t mean the US state) – all of which are former Soviet republics. And isn’t Kazakhstan were Borat is from?

The films will be screened at 7:30 p.m. in Room 1215 of the Moore Humanities and Research Administration Building, located on the corner of Spring Garden and Forest streets, on the UNCG campus.

The lineup includes: Aktan Abdykalykov’s award-winning, semi-autobiographical 1998 drama Beshkempir (Adopted Son) on Feb. 12; Darezhan Omirbaev’s award-winning 1998 thriller Tueur A Gages (Killer) on Feb. 26; Jamshed Usmonov’s award-winning 2002 drama Fararishtay Kifti Rost (Angel on the Right) on March 18; and writer/director Otar Iosseliani’s award-winning 1996 political epic Brigands, Chapitre VII (Brigands, Chapter VII).

Each film will be introduced by a member of the UNCG faculty and shown with English subtitles. Refreshments and an informal discussion will follow each screening. Best of all: All screenings are free and open to the public. For more information, see uncg.edu/ure/news/stories/2008/jan/FilmFest012908.html.

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