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1. Could you tell a bit about yourself?
Can we pass on this question? I hate talking about myself:)
2. What was the genesis of the documentary film?
Back in 2015 when we were making the documentary on Fumio Demura who was the stunt double for Pat Morita, Called "The Real Miyagi", I met Eveyln, Pat Morita's wife. She told us a brief history about Pat's life and it sounded fascinating to me, how Pat over came so many obstacles in his life and why he chose to be an actor was a bit unorthodox for a Japanese boy at that time. The stories she told stuck with me.
A year later when "The Real Miyagi" came out on Netflix, Evelyn called to congratulate us on the film and that's when I pitched her the documentary idea about Pat's life. She originally wanted to produce a narrative feature but I figured if we do the doc first it might generate enough traction that we'll be able to find interest for the narrative easier.
Pat had written a manuscript about his life that he never was able to complete so on his death bed he he’d ask Evelyn to finish it and get it out there so by us producing the documentary we fulfilled Pat's wishes.
3. Were there other titles you came up with before More than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story? If so, what were they?
We went through several stages of the documentary. Watching a ton of Pats interviews one thing he would repeat alot was "Long Story Short" so that was our starting title. Then we had a contest on our facebook page asking people to suggest a better title for exchange we would give them credit if we chose there suggestion and the title that stuck was "More Than Miyagi." and we thought that people who don’t know him by name could associate him better if we had the word Miyagi in the title.
4. What challenges did you faced while filming the documentary?
Several challenges. The main one for me was the editing trying to figure out the best way to tell his story without his interview. The problem was the people that know him the best had passed away or didn’t want to be interviewed. I went through several stages until I started editing his past interviews to cover his early years until we get to the 70's were the Happy Days gang started filling in the gaps and after that era there were many people who could elaborate on his profession.
5. What is your favorite moment in the documentary?
The entire documentary:) the scene on Hollywood stereotyping always gets me a bit emotional because Hollywood has done that to all memories starting with American Indians, Japanese, Blacks, Middle Eastern, Russians so every minority gets their fair share and sadly it still goes on.
6. Did you get the chance to meet Pat Morita? If so, what was the experience like?If not, what would you have liked to ask him?
I met him back in 1983 a year before the original Karate Kid was released, I had known him only from Happy Days. I was a teenager then, I was at a karate tournament and every year my karate master would have a celebrity there like Chuck Norris, Bob Wall and in '83 it was Pat Morita. He was sitting next to my Sensei and next to Pat was an empty seat so I went and sat next to him, he seemed kind and humble after the brief conversation I took a photo with him and that was my only encounter I had with Pat. Who would have known I would be making a doc on his life 35 years later.
7. What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after directing it?
The amount of press this film is getting is unbelievable. I'm glad to see that he's is still loved.
8. If you had to describe Oscar Alvarez using three words, they would be?
Dependable, Trustworthy, Organized
9. After filming the documentary, how has this experience affected your life personally?
To always work on a project you are passionate about and create something that you enjoy watching yourself.
10. How would you compare your experience working on More than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story (2021) to The Real Miyagi (2015)?
Fumio Demura was my Karate teacher when I started back in 1979. That story was closer to my heart because I grew up with him in my life therefore I could ask him anything I wanted but with Pats Doc there are so many aspects in his life that I wanted to explore but I wasn’t able to.
11. If you could sit down with any three people in the world and have a chat with them, who would they be and why?
There are many people but if I had to choose 3 it would be mainly people in the entertainment world that shape the way to who I am, not only I would chat with them but also make a documentary on their life, Al Pacino, Chuck Norris and Shania Twain.
12. If you could write and direct a film-‐adaptation of any memoir or bio book, which one would you like to adapt?
Every filmmaker has that one story that they are passionate about and its the reason they became a filmmaker mine is conveniently about my own life as a immigrant from Iran coming to the U.S. prior to the hostage crises in 1978 told through the eyes of a 9 year old boy. We are close to finishing the 1st draft of the script and its looking really good and I'm very exited to get that done.
13. What would you want your viewers to take away from watching More than Miyagi: The Pat Mortia Story?
If you have the determination, everything is possible.
To get an insight to this wonderful, kind, generous man that over came so many problems such as tuberculosis, 9 years in a cast from his waist down, spending a year in an internment camp, Facing discrimination and rising above it and becoming a Hollywood Icon.
14. Last question, what can you talk about for hours?
I'm generally a quiet person but if a film student or anyone trying to make an independent film asks me for advice, I can go on for hours.