Stephanie Bell has an interesting background: At the tender age of two she was stolen from her home by the Yakuzi, who raised her to be an assassin. At age four she killed her captors, and then invited herself into the famous Ninja Academy, where she earned her degree in Ninja-ism. Then she killed everybody in the Academy. As she claims, “It was in self-defense.”
Besides being an internationally feared assassin who hates ninjas, Stephanie’s also an award-winning producer of film and theater in Los Angeles. She recently produced the short film The Winged Man, written by Academy-award nominated screenwriter Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries, Trade) for the prestigious AFI Directing Workshop for Women. Stephanie has produced for By the Woods Productions, The Annex Film Group, Soft Serve Pictures; and award-winning theatre companies EST-LA (managing director), Sacred Fools (Co-Artistic Director), and Theatre of NOTE, among others.
Man Vs. caught up with Stephanie while she was packing her suitcase for the upcoming Tournament of 1,000 Ninjas. Enjoy!
MV: So if we have this straight, you trained at the Ninja Academy, then you killed all of the Ninjas at the Academy. And now youâ€™re headed off to the Tournament of 1,000 Ninjas? Donâ€™t you think thatâ€™s kind of risky, like, maybe theyâ€™ll seek revenge?
SB: Crossing the street is risky, driving on the 405 is risky, Ninjas seeking revenge are easily dealt with. I have learned to live with a second pair of eyes in the back of my head, always anticipating that at any time, I could be forced to defend myself. I have learned to maintain a Zen state of mind when it comes to danger.
MV: Thank you for letting us live.
SB: My pleasure!
MV: So what are you up to? Any projects you want to give a shout-out? Plug?
SB: Iâ€™m working on setting up financing for a kickass screenplay by Man Vs. writer/director Matt Duggan called â€œThe Devil of Appalachia.â€ It is going to be one of the best horror-thrillers ever made and I canâ€™t wait to work with Matt on it. Basically, four experienced hikers on the Appalachian Trail become victim to a serial hunter who performs taxidermy on his female victims and leaves his male victims to die a slow death.
So if you know of anyone who is interested in bequeathing to this totally cool, totally scary project, send them my way and Iâ€™ll fill them in on the gory details!
MV: What if we dressed up Elmo in a Shinobi Shozoko (ninja uniform) alongside Gizmo (from The Gremlins), and outfitted them both with ninja warrior swords and accessories. Holding hands, these two little munchkins whistled happily as they skipped down the street, tossing flowers along the way. We imagine that would be a pretty darn cute sight. But with your predilection for killing all things ninja, what would you do?
SB: I may consider letting them do this for a few minutes, but really, who cares about cute? Although, considering one of my next projects is a childrenâ€™s film (no, not â€œThe Devil of Appalachiaâ€!) I guess I can only join them as long as they donâ€™t toss daisies – I hate daisies. And it is always a best practice to keep your enemies close to you.
MV: So youâ€™ve produced the last five episodes of Man Vs.- Man Vs. Dragon (part 1 & 2); Man Vs. Horror and Man Vs. Pirates (part 1 & 2). Cool. What do you like about working on Man Vs.?
SB: The talent of the directors, writers, actors and really, the entire crew, is fantastic. Everyone gives 150% of themselves to these films and I am lucky to have worked with them. Actually, it isnâ€™t work for me – itâ€™s downright fun. Plus I get to practice my Ninja moves with all of them at one time – it keeps me in shape and prepared for that moment when one of the actual, wimpy Ninjas decide to go on the attack.
MV: Do you ever catch bullets in your teeth just for the hell of it?
SB: Only when shot at point blank range.
MV: If you had to choose one of the following to be your sidekick, who would it be: 1) A Werewolf who isnâ€™t potty-trained and who only quotes Adam Sandler movies; 2) A V-Rex (as youâ€™ll remember, a V-Rex is the off-spring of a T-Rex bred with a Vampire) who sings Boy George songs (only his lesser-known songs) all day and has a nasty smoking habit; or 3) Cory Feldman and Cory Haim as Siamese Twins who act out scenes from their 1989 film Dream A Little Dream. And no, you canâ€™t explode into a rage and kill the Corys; you have select a,b or c. And no, you canâ€™t kill us either.
Oh, and in case you didnâ€™t see Dream A Little Dream hereâ€™s what Roger Ebert had to say: â€œDream a Little Dream is an aggressively unwatchable movie.â€
SB: Goll, they all sound like so much fun, Iâ€™m not sure I can choose just one – why not all of them? And really, what about my favorite Cory film – â€œThe Lost Boysâ€ – I mean, come ON – you just canâ€™t discount that film – itâ€™s a downright classic.