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The Art of Self-Defense Movie Interview with Writer/Director Riley Stearns

Today, we bring you an exclusive interview with the film’s Writer & Director, Riley Stearns, and creator of ‘Faults’ (2014) and ‘The Cub’ (2013).

Today, we bring you an exclusive interview with the Writer & Director, Riley Stearns, of the new MMA film, The Art of Self-Defense; also creator of ‘Faults’ (2014) and ‘The Cub’ (2013).

Our own Eddie Mercado sat down with Stearns recently, to ask him a bit about his newly released dark comedy, ‘The Art of Self-Defense’, his thought process for the various characters in the film, the story-line development and the martial arts side of the movie; like why he chose Karate as the discipline featured. He also discussed why he chose to poke fun at things near and dear to him while writing the film, his own background in MMA and his next project in the works. You can watch the full interview, complete with movie trailer, in the video player above. Here are the discussion points:

  • 1:22 - What was your reasoning behind putting martial arts on the big screen, and wanting to have it revolve around a fighting art?
  • 2:30 - Set up for the trailer
  • 3:06 - Official Movie Trailer
  • 5:34 - Discussion of references to a BJJ training moment in the film and the thought behind that scene.
  • 7:23 - Discussion of the alpha male mentality and the evolution of the main character around that element.
  • 8:45 - Shared interest in Dachsunds discussed, and the dog’s role in the story line and poking fun at things you like when writing a film.
  • 9:41 - How much of the toxic masculinity in the film and in the sensei’s character was based on real-life experience you may have endured?
  • 11:16 - At one moment during a sparring session scene someone actually gets hurt unintentionally, that’s real world stuff, did you take that away from your own Jiu Jitsu experiences?
  • 13:13 - In December Riley is competing in the No-Gi MMA Worlds Competition, and is hoping to bring home the gold this time.
  • 13:25 - Do you have any plans to document your journey to the Worlds, a vlog perhaps?
  • 13:50 - What’s next for you? Are you doing something else with MMA or going with a completely different genre?
The Art of Self-Defense Movie, Jesse Eisenberg, Karate Movie, MMA Movie
The Art of Self-Defense, starring Jesse Eisenberg
Bleeker Street Productions

More about the movie ‘The Art of Self-Defense’:

The story is a dark comedy that involves a middle-aged man, Casey Davies, played by Jesse Eisenberg (‘Zombieland’, ‘The Social Network’) who is attacked at random on the street. He enlists at a local karate dojo, led by a charismatic and mysterious sensei, played by Alessandro Nivola (‘Selma’, ‘American Hustle’, ‘Jurassic Park III’ and ‘Face/Off’) in an effort to learn how to defend himself... the story seems to be leading you one way but then pulls the rug out from under you mid-stream and leads you down an unexpected path of ordeals Casey must endure in his interactions with this cult-like dojo.

The film opened in theaters nationwide on Friday, 7/12/19.


Written & Directed by: RILEY STEARNS

A Bleeker Street Production


After watching our interview, do you plan to see the film?

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