KamenConnection : Fans Interview with Mike Wang
First I would like to say to Mike Wang, Thank You so much for taking the time to answer these questions from us fans, we appreciate it a lot, and keep up the fantastic work!
What other products have you worked on, and how was your experience with them?
I started my career directing television commercials. I got signed to a production company called The Underground when I was 23, and the first commercial I directed was a Budweiser spot for DDB/Chicago called “What Guys Want.” The commercial follows a sexy woman getting ready for a night on the town and before heading out the door, she realizes she’s forgotten something, so she steps into the kitchen, grabs a bottle of Bud out of the fridge and dabbles some of the beer onto her neck like perfume. The spot was very tongue and cheek and it was accompanied by The Waitresses song, “I Know What Boys Like.”
That commercial started my career in the spot world and I’ve since done spots for Bud Light, Heineken, Buell Motorcycles, Bridgestone, Mercedes Benz, Namco, Target, just to name a few. I enjoy directing commercials because I love the challenge of telling a story in 30 seconds. Directing commercials definitely helped me understand how important a major franchise like Kamen Rider would have to be presented because the series goes hand in hand with the merchandising. It was vital to for us to present the Kamen Riders in coolest way possible.
Were you second assistant director for the "Guyver 2: Dark Hero" movie? Did you enjoy working on it?
Yes, I was a 2nd Unit AD for Guyver: Dark Hero. I started off as a Production Assistant, but since we had a small crew Steve asked me to be the Second AD. I think the real story was that he needed someone to fill in that credit and I happened to standing next to him at the time! LOL.
Did you guys create a Survive Form for Kamen Rider Wrath?
We would have loved to create Survive Forms for all of the Riders, but unfortunately our budget wouldn’t allow it. If a movie is made, that will be one of the things we would explore, as well as design new bikes for each Rider.
Was it difficult attempting to bring back Kamen Rider into the US?
Yes, it was an uphill challenge from day one. Steve and I had to produce/direct a pre-show pilot on a shoe string budget to let Toei Company see our vision of the series and once they signed off, we were given the go ahead to be show runners. Adness Entertainment and Toei already discussed adapting Ryuki before we were involved, so we didn’t have any input on which series to adapt first.
Is there a special episode of KRDK or film being planned?
We wanted to do a movie immediately after filming the series, but everyone felt it was premature without seeing how the show was going to be received. It is definitely a possibility, but only time will tell.
Did you consider any other series for adaptation other than Ryuki?
Ryuki was the only series we were asked to adapt, but I understand that Adness has other properties they would like to bring to the states.
What are your future projects after KRDK?
Steve and I have been pitching several new live action series to the networks. We are excited about these ideas and think both teens and tweens will love them.
I know that there are toys that are helping with the promotion of the series. And I already asked your brother Steve if there are other ways of promoting the series, but I am wondering about this: Will there be books, novels, or manga that will help promote the series?
I know that Adness has a plan with other merchandise. I don’t know if they’ve explored books and novels yet, but as the show gains more popularity it would make sense to promote the series.
I know that it took only 116 days to finish the first season of KRDK. Do you have any favorite/memorable moments during the production?
My favorite memory was when we shot the Wing Cycle for the first time and the LED lights lit up. We were in an underground parking garage and both Steve and I had a moment where we took a step back and said, “F**k yeah, we are shooting Kamen Rider!”
I know that you, Steve, and Nathan are very proud of your accomplishments in adapting a KR series for the American audience. What was the most difficult part for both you and Steve to deal with during production?
The most difficult part of the production was to maintain our vision within the parameters of the budget. The three of us were constantly re-writing the scripts to stay on budget, and that proved to be challenging on a daily basis, but we had a great team of writers, directors, production staff and crew who adapted to last minute changes and made it all happen.
What was it like working with 2 talented martial artists (Matt Mullins and Mike Moh)? What do you think of the final cast compared to the cast when you released the pilot episode way back in 2006?
Matt and Mike are very talented and they are also great guys. I plan on working with them as well as the rest of our cast on future projects. Both Steve and I are very happy with the KRDK cast because each of them worked extremely hard to embrace their characters and take it to the next level. The actors who played Kit and Maya in the pre-show pilot back in 2006, both Matt Smith and Kandis Erickson are super talented and I hope to work with them again.
I know that there is very stiff competition between KR and PR here in America. What are your thoughts on both series? Why did you decide to go with KR over PR (since I know that Steve was exposed to the PR series)? How have you dealt with criticism from PR fans and fans of the Japanese KR series?
This season’s RPM is a great show and I commend Koichi Sakamoto and the new EP’s in revamping it for an older audience. The show has good writing and plenty of production value. Both PR and KRDK are similar in genre, so everyone likes to compare the two. I like that the two shows are different and each has their own identity.
Steve directed an episode of PR back in the day for Saban. I know he also did some VR Trooper stuff and I think that’s how Koichi Sakamoto got involved with Saban, since Steve and Koichi are good friends. We were hired to adapt Kamen Rider only and had no discussions about working on Power Rangers.
As far as the criticism, some fans of PR and Japanese KR are entitled to their opinions and they should be respected for them. We understand not everyone is going to like our American adaptation of KR, but our goal was to adapt a Kamen Rider series that would stay true to Shotaro Ishinomori’s original vision as well as appeal to the American kids, all within the strict guidelines we were given. Hopefully, we’ve brought something fresh that the kids haven’t seen yet and in turn gain new fans of the show.
I know that Saban’s Masked Rider was a huge disaster. Did you ever have any doubts that Toei would have refused the proposal to adapt another KR series for the American audience?
I think Toei felt the timing was right for another American KR series and since they had all of the new Heisei era shows, they wanted to revitalize the franchise here in the states. If there was any doubt about anything, we wondered how the American audience would react to the series because the only show to compare Kamen Rider to was Power Rangers, which at the time was made for a younger audience. (RPM was made for an older audience.) So, the challenge for us was how do we get the 6-12 year old boys and girls to give the show a chance. We stuck to Shotaro Ishinomori’s vision by exploring mature themes and adding “hero drama.” I think the kids appreciated that and in turn tuned in.
dragonknight410: I really appreciate you taking your time to talk to me via Facebook messaging.
MW: No problem. Thanks for your support!
If you are planning any other Kamen Rider adaptations, which Japanese series will be the next? Or which Kamen Rider series would you like to be next?
I personally like Faiz and Kabuto but as far as which show will be adapted for another season; that will be a decision made by Toei, Adness and Ishimori Productions.
Do you have an official site, or a place where fans can contact you?
The fans can contact me on Facebook. I have a fan page and a personal page. I prefer that they contact me on the fan page, which has a picture of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. He looks much cooler than I do! LOL
Anything else you would like to say? Any SHOUT OUTS to your fans?
Thanks again for all of your support! It’s been a long road, but hopefully Kamen Rider is here to stay! I also enjoyed the numerous fan videos you made of the show. Keep them coming!
More Awesome Interviews
Sequential Tart : Interview with Mike Wang (www.sequentialtart.com)
*Feel free to post a comment(s) to Mike Wang, thanks.
|From: ^^ ||maverick|
|Sent On: ||12/26/2009 04:36 PM|
|Message: ||would there be another season 4 kamen rider dragonknight|
|From: ^^ ||Kamen Mark|
|Sent On: ||11/07/2009 12:51 PM|
|Message: ||I really hope Toei and the rest are pleased enough with Dragon Knight to give us another season of Kamen Rider. Faiz, Kabuto, maybe even Kiva.
Mike, you and the rest did an excellent job. It\'s a show I wish I had when I was younger.|
|From: ^^ ||joe|
|Sent On: ||11/05/2009 03:58 PM|
|Message: ||u sholud definitely create survive modes for the rest of the rider it would be awesome|
|From: ^^ ||Kamen Ranger|
|Sent On: ||09/05/2009 06:08 AM|
|Message: ||if KRDK is to continue (which i hope it does cause the shows alot of fun, and the figures are awesome) but i dont think it should get swapped around as much as PR (with the exception of Mighty Morphin), as in completely changing every season
|From: ^^ ||DK09|
|Sent On: ||09/04/2009 01:51 PM|
|Message: ||http://www.kamenconnection.com/kamen_riders_defenders_of_kamenconnection/ -- AMAZING STORY!|
|From: ^^ ||Kamen Rider Fan|
|Sent On: ||08/15/2009 06:04 AM|
|Message: ||hello mike wang you are good kamen rider come back in usa They will be next season of kamen rider next year and i want kamen rider dragon knight in uk
|From: ^^ ||JohnnyNatalizio|
|Sent On: ||08/08/2009 01:54 PM|
|Message: ||i like very much the show!!|
|From: ^^ ||Double Hopper|
|Sent On: ||08/03/2009 05:36 PM|
|Message: ||nice work with Kamen Rider Dragon Knight! I\'ve tried that little stunt of going through a glass wall into a portal & I\'ve done both of the following in order:
1) hit my head
2) broke the glass
I\'m wondering, how did you guys figure out how to do the stunt & NOT get anyone hurt?|
|From: ^^ ||KRDouble11|
|Sent On: ||08/02/2009 03:16 PM|
|Message: ||Thanks Mike Wang!!! I really appreciate it. GO KAMEN RIDER!!!!!|
|From: ^^ ||Serebii Joes|
|Sent On: ||07/26/2009 01:20 PM|
|Message: ||When will Dragon Knight\'s \'\'Survive Form\'\' and Kamen Rider Onyx appear?|
|From: ^^ ||dragão|
|Sent On: ||07/24/2009 12:18 PM|
|Message: ||adoro o desenho de vocês
|From: ^^ ||kamen rider flare|
|Sent On: ||07/23/2009 05:04 PM|
|Message: ||I think kamen rider onyx is the original kamen rider dragon knight|
|From: ^^ ||Huy|
|Sent On: ||07/22/2009 11:46 PM|
|Message: ||Talk about some great answers! o.O I totally look forward to the other interviews! Keep up the great work, and I\'ll be sure to keep in touch with you in the future! ^_^|
|From: ^^ ||DK09|
|Sent On: ||07/22/2009 11:13 PM|
|Message: ||Nice Interview, keep up the good work Mike! |
|From: ^^ ||CHiCA Kosaka|
|Sent On: ||07/22/2009 11:12 PM|
|Message: ||Sweet interview! ~Love&kisses,CHiCA Kosaka|