Interview with Kevin Tancharoen

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America

Kevin Tancharoen is the mastermind behind the short “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” and its follow-up web series “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”.  Kevin has rebooted the “MK” franchise and has excited the fans with his amazing vision for the web series.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about his web series and also his plans for the future.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come up with the idea for “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth”?
Kevin Tancharoen: There were two sides of it. The first was I always wanted to make a “Mortal Kombat” movie.  The other side was I had only been known for doing things in the performing arts world.  I always and always will want to do genre films.  Ever since I was a kid that was always the goal.  I got thrust into the world of performing arts, staging directing and that sort of stuff. I thought I needed to prove to people that I can handle that kind of material or know one will ever give me those opportunities.  I saw “Mortal Kombat” as a double sided adventure there.   I could either get the movie made or become known as the genre guy.

MG: What gave you the idea to make “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” in a web series?
KT: It was never planned.  I had no idea anyone wanted to do such a thing.  Of course the original intention was to do a movie, which I would still love to do.  After the short film came out, it was perfect time for E3 and they were going to release the trailer for the new “Mortal Kombat”.  They had known the video game was coming out and my short film got a lot of traffic online.  They decided to make more short films to promote the game launch, do them all live action and I was totally on board with that.

What was your process for choosing what characters where going to be in the series?
KT: Looking at the broad scope of the project and its budget and other stuff.  I wanted to take all of the characters that made sense and we easy to accomplish with our goal.  Also I wanted to make sure I took care of the most iconic characters in the game franchise.  That is why I chose everyone I did.

MG: Do you have a favorite character
KT: I have a few one I love but Scorpion has always been my favorite.  One of the characters I did not get to do was Kabal. I love Kabal and I think he has a really cool back story.  I really like his whole mask and the fact he was burned and has a respirator.  There is a lot of influence there from the either Tusken raiders or Darth Vadar. It is all pretty cool.  I wish we were able to do that episode. Maybe next time.

MG: Since each character has only one or two episodes, do you feel you are still able to give their stories justice in 10-12 minutes?
KT: I think that for the origin type of stories, it is working.  But I think that any director likes more time to flesh out a character or do more fight scenes or have more action battles. I think for the most part that this 10-12 minute mark was good for this first round.

MG: What is your biggest challenge working on “MK: Legacy”?
KT: I think it always comes down to budget, which ends up affecting time.  It ends up affecting your schedule and how much time you have to shoot fight sequence or having enough time to shoot a good dialogue scene.  It also affects the way you want to complete an entire episode the way you completely planned it out. There are always some alterations you have to make and balance you have to define when dealing with budget for a digital series. That is always challenging and possibly frustrating, but at the end of the day you have to tell the story in the right way.  I say that would be the biggest challenge is you have to act really quick on your feet and make changes when you have to.

MG: How can you reflect on the censoring of the episodes?
KT: That through me completely of guard.  I did not anticipate that at all because there are much worse things on YouTube.  What I think ended up happening is that we ended up becoming so popular that parents started watching it. An enormous amount of parents probably started to flag it and they acted like they are suppose to.  That kind of trickled down to us and all of the sudden we had an age gate up on our second episode out of nowhere.  That was quite the morning, I was frantic.  I mean it is “Mortal Kombat”, you can’t censor it.

MG: Do you have plans for a second season of the series?
KT: Right now it is all speculation.  I think everyone wants to see how it does. Our last episode “Raiden” is a different take on “Mortal Kombat”, it is more in vain of the original short I did with “Rebirth”.  Fans of the original short will hopefully really catch on to that episode and support the rest of the series.

MG: What can the fans to do help this get made into a feature film?
KT: Well they can just really pump up the series as much as possible.  We kind of ran the gamut when it comes to telling the stories this time around.  You can see that it kind of spans from gray realism to fantasy world and anime.  I would say if they could pass around the version that they like the absolutely best.  Whether it is the realistic stuff or the fantasy stuff and what would be the best thing to do.

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