Monday, May 3, 2010

Chuck Norris Photos at ActionFest Film Festival

The first annual ActionFest Film Festival was held in Asheville, North Carolina from April 15-18, 2010. ActionFest Film Festival is dedicated to the craft of action films with a special emphasis on the stuntmen who risk their lives to create incredible footage for the big screen.  The festival benefited Kickstart Kids, an organization that helps steer trouble youth down the right path and was founded by Chuck Norris.  World premiers of many action films were a part of ActionFest. Merantau won the award for best film and Undisputed 3 won two awards at the ActionFest Film Festival Awards Ceremony, held on April 18 at The Orange Peel in downtown Asheville. ActionFest film screenings took place at Carolina Cinemas in Asheville. The state-of-the-art 14 screen complex offers even more locally crafted beers to choose from than screens. Carolina Cinemas, founded by Bill Banowsky, a co-founder of ActionFest also features optional custom love seats and both film and digital projectors.

Click on photos for larger view.

Carolina Cinemas also hosted the ActionFest Film Festival Stunt Show on Saturday, April 17. Hundreds of people came out to see the stunt show. Highlights included a free fall stunt demonstration showing the crowd a "heads first" fall which is used to create shots for movies where it is necessary to have the appearance of someone being thrown out of a window or similar situation. Stuntman Jeff Habberstad made a near perfect parachute jump from high overhead and landed just a few feet from his mark in the of the middle of the crowd which was impressive because there was a lot of wind. Jeff's son, Trevor Habberstad performed an air ram stunt in which he was catapulted over a hedgerow onto a several-foot-thick blue mat. For most though, the highlight of the stunt show was Rocketman Dan Schlund's rocket belt jet pack flight over Carolina Cinemas to land his 800 horsepower deafening rocket propelled flying device just a few feet from a row of cameramen.

Despite a thorough warning for all photographers to get ear protection, there was no preparation for sound that came out of the thrusters of the Rocketman's jet pack. Dan Schlund launched from the long side of the building and flew the jet pack what seemed to be well over 50' above the roof flying several hundred feet before the crowd. As Rocketman Dan Schlund slowed his trajectory to begin his decent into the center of the stunt show surrounded by the crowd, he first seemed to tilt both thrusters forward which stopped his horizontal movement. Though still nearly 50' above my head when maneuvering for his landing, when the jet pack's rocket nozzles became slightly angled in the direction of photographers, the sound became a huge roar and the thrust blasted every speck of sand or dirt out of the tiny crevices in the asphalt parking lot sand blasting everything and everyone. Rocketman's flight in his "spacesuit" uniform and with the deep purple & blue titanium colored jet pack bedazzled the crowd with no regard for age. Rocketman Kinnie Gibson also made a flight during ActionFest at McCormick Field.

ActionFest co-founder and stunt show organizer Aaron Norris explained to the crowd details about the stunts they were seeing. A big part of the ActionFest Stunt Show was the Kickstart Kids' martial arts demonstrations. Chuck Norris founded Kickstart Kids to help troubled youths' morals and values through martial arts. The program has been instrumental in turning around the lives of trouble kids that were heading down the wrong path.

At the ActionFest Film Festival Awards Ceremony, Chuck Norris spoke to the crowd about his career, his movies and some memorable stunts from his movies including a skydiving stunt in which a small miscalculation could have led to a fatal in-air collision between two skydivers. Chuck Norris went on to explain to the audience that his brother, Aaron Norris had been at the heart of Chuck's best successes including his work as the Director of M.I.A. III and Producer for Walker, Texas Ranger. At that point, Chuck Norris surprisingly told the crowd that he respectfully declined to accept the award and before most could finish their gasps Chuck went on to say that he was going to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to his brother, Aaron Norris. As Aaron Norris took to the podium to join his brother, Chuck had a huge smile and the completely caught off guard Aaron Norris was almost teary eyed as were many in the crowd who realized the significance of the bond they were experiencing between two brothers who had been through so much together, thick and thin, and rose to the top of their league. Israeli director and martial artist Isaac Florentine won "Best Director" award for his work directing Undisputed 3. Also for Undisputed 3 (which is a must-see), Actor, Stuntman and Director Larnell Stovall won the award for "Best Stunt Choreographer".

Stock ActionFest Photos at Performance Impressions
Paul Weston - Stunt Coordinator - ActionFest Paul Weston
Other Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Stunt Coordinator Paul Weston. Also awarded for Stuntman were Rocketman Howard "Kinnie" Gibson and Stunt Coordinator Jeff Habberstad

Sheree J. Wilson and Judson Mills from Walker, Texas Ranger also came up to Asheville from Texas for ActionFest as did many participants.

Chilean martial artist, stuntman and actor Marko Zaror  won "Best Rising Star" award at ActionFest.  Marko Zaror has recently starred in the ActionFest award winning films Mandrill and Undisputed 3.  While waking off the stage, Marko Zaror unexpectedly jump into the air and became horizontal in the air while spinning before landing back on his feet.

ActionFest Film Festival paid tribute to the stuntmen who have gave countless sacrifices to put the action in action films.  During the awards ceremony, it was noted that stuntmen risk their lives daily to make the leading actors they portray, look good.  In the early days of action films it was said that many of the stuntmen were paid very little money and given little credit and no royalties.  An example was given where a stuntman was paid just over $2000 for a major stunt in a movie that went on to gross $150 million.  Visit the ActionFest website to learn more charity film festival celebrating action films and benefiting Kickstart Kids.

Visit ActionFest Film Festival's Website

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