As the film industry evolves, the methods used to create these productions as well as the types of stories being told diversify. Filmmakers challenge themselves in search of a fresh and unique approach with which to create their own signature style. A serious student of film will be able to categorize these productions in a myriad of ways: themes, style, genre, these labels can be endless but the only two that count are good and …not. Even this qualification is subjective. Any artist venturing into new territory may have to sacrifice honed skill for innovation. When you’re lucky, you may find both. The Vancouver B Movie Factory (headed by filmmaker Jimi Stewart) produced the crime/comedy film “Show Cop” in 2015. This production was essentially the realization of Stewart’s goal to make an entire one shot film. It’s a herculean, possibly even demented goal; one which was achieved. Starring as Johnny Stegall, Manoj Sakarapani is the focus of a reality show who aspires to be discovered by Hollywood and become the next Mark Wahlberg but is too bumbling to ever actually achieve this. For the audience’s amusement, he still perseveres even with successive failures. The star of many dramatic films, Manoj embraced this comedic role and excelled at it. Cast by Stewart as the lead in “Show Cop”, the Indian born actor proves that his range is extensive and malleable to many setting. The challenge of being involved in an entire film that is one long shot was a characteristic which enticed Sakarapani rather than dissuaded him.
“Show Cop” is presented as a TV show which wants to tape a reality show with real life cops who are undercover busting criminals and taking down underground gangs and the mafia. Johnny Stegall is an undercover detective, and is not the brightest one. The TV show gets Johnny Stegall to do a real-time filming of what he does on a daily basis, busting major underground criminal operations. Stegall is excited by the opportunity to shine in front of his superiors and colleagues when the video is Aired on TV. Taking a cameraman with him to a real underground bust, he focuses on his good looks in front of the camera more than the actual law enforcement. During the execution of his duties, Johnny is stopped by FBI Agent Schultz who states the situation is illegal and cites direct orders from the president not to proceed further. Johnny pushes Agent Schultz aside and embarks on a soliloquy in front of the camera. The resulting effect allows all the guilty parties to escape and Stegall vowing to apprehend them once again…to the camera of course.”
Preparing for the role, Manoj watched copious episodes of cops shows from TV as well as films. He states that he wanted to find the unobvious or unspoken comedy in all of the characters of this genre. The research taught him that many of these characters are unaware of their own flaws. The shows from the 70’s were particularly fruitful because every character believes in their own legend and infallibility. This helped hone Sakarapani portrayal of Johnny Stegall as oblivious to many of the occurrences around him.
When it came to Stewart’s single take approach to the film, even the staunchest preparation could not prepare one for the experience, though Manoj tried. Because of the intricacies, what would normally be a series of takes was transformed into a mass ballet being performed by the cast and crew. A constantly moving and shifting array of pieces was the only way such a feat could be realized. Sakarapani confirms, “This entire film was done in one take and was one of the toughest films I’ve ever done. It required every actor and crew member’s coordination to be dead on. We worked to get this shot in over a seven-hour span and worked twice as hard than any other project I have ever been involved with.” He continues, “Jimi showed me videos of action sequences before he told me that the film was going to be done in one take. The video and I was astonished which was an action sequence which runs for about 4 minutes all in one take without interruption. It seemed insane. When Jimi asked me what I thought I told him how impressive it was and I respected their work. He then proceeded to describe to me how we were going to do more than what I had just seen in this film. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be frightened. It was a monumental task and there’s no way I would have gotten through it without trusting in Jimi Stewart and his belief in my abilities. I feel that these are the times when an actor can achieve something truly extraordinary…when your director believes in you.”
The director/producer/editor of “Show Cop’ Jimi Stewart notes, “Manoj’s performance in Show Cop is nothing short of amazing. Doing a film this way is almost unthinkable for even one good take, Manoj gave me four complete takes of the film to choose from. I’ve worked with him several times now and he is always prepared, committed, and extremely hard-working. This doesn’t even touch upon his talent as an actor, which is remarkable. He is the real thing. The qualities he possesses are the same ones you find in the most successful actors. It’s a privilege every time I get to work with Manoj.”