"A spiritual drive in my life has changed my way of thinking", Val Mijailovic, documentary filmmaker


Val Mijailovic is a 38 year veteran of martial arts, World Karate Champion, World Karate Union Hall of Fame Inductee, United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee, Multi-business founder/owner and award winning documentary filmmaker. Val holds a 7th degree black belt in martial arts and is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – Cinematographers Peer Group. Mijailovic is the founder of several companies including: Cine Sports Production Inc., Northstar Video Duplication Inc., Exclusive Pictures Inc., Heaven Fire Productions, Inc., Rainbow Tribe Productions, Inc., Ingles 2000 Inc., and Check Disc Labs, Inc. Mijailovic is currently Senior partner of Empire Media LLC/Masters Magazine and the CEO of em3Video/em3LLC.

Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us about your experiences in the field of cinema as an actor and filmmaker.
Val Mijailovic: Always had a passion for cameras and filming. After college I started my first business, Cine Sports Productions, Inc., by filming High School football games with 16mm wind-up Bell & Howell cameras. Cine Sports turned out to be a good little business in a short time and soon after that I ended up buying a motion picture laboratory. The film lab allowed me to work with independent film makers which forced me into film production. During all this time, I was training in Shotokan Karate, so I had the best of both worlds in film and martial arts.

My karate training started at the age of thirteen. I was fortunate enough to begin my training in Judo. That experience gave me the balanced foundation that I needed in karate competition. Karate was my vehicle to see the world. I competed internationally and was fortunate to win the World Championship, US Championship and many other competitions. As the time went by and film was replaced with video tape, I made the transition and opened up a video duplication business called Northstar Video Duplicators, Inc. In Northstar, we had seventy employees and ran 24/7 for eighteen years. Primarily, we were duplicating VHS tape. Because we were working again with independent film productions, we needed to have a small insert stage and an editing facility. This was my specialty so I took on the task of filming/producing TV infomercials, TV commercials, documentaries and instructional videos. It was during this period that I decided to begin developing my own product, thus I formed Heavenfire Productions, Inc.
In 2000, we sold Northstar video and started a new venture with 4 partners called Check Disc Labs. CDL is a DVD quality control facility that provides QC for motion picture DVD’s prior to replication. Our clients included Disney, Sony Pictures, Universal, and more. I can say most of the major studios were our clients.

Four years later, I sold my shares in CDL and decided to start a new company with two of my best friends. We formed Empire Media LLC/Masters Magazine. We publish a magazine called MASTERS Magazine. One unique concept of Masters Magazine is that with every issue we include a two hour DVD documentary of famous martial arts masters. Masters magazine is available in bookstores throughout US and Canada and we are proud to announce that our sales are over 85%, which is highly unusual.
Along with the quarterly 2 hour DVD that goes with each magazine, I also have directed and produced over 100 instructional martial arts DVD’s within the last 18 months.

BT: How much has being a martial arts veteran helped you in finding your way in the entertainment business?
VM: Finally at the age of 52, my passions have merged and I am very excited about the new venture. Once the door opens and we are at peace with what we do, then things have a tendency to fall in place. I can honestly say that I look forward to waking up early in the morning and facing the challenges of the day. Meeting new people and helping them with their vision is very rewarding for me.

BT: Please tell us about the documentaries that you have worked on, are all of them related to the martial arts?
VM: There was a spiritual drive in my life that happen by chance that changed my way of thinking. This happened during a documentary shoot at UCLA where I met two Native American medicine men. Their friendship inspired me to produce a number of short documentaries on Native American teachings. One of the documentaries is called “The Eagle and The Raven”. The documentary is about two Native American boys that committed a crime and, for the first time, the US courts allowed the Native American council to execute punishment. The punishment was purification by banishment on separate islands in Alaska for one year. Eagle and the Raven won two best film documentaries of the year awards. So I am very proud of this effort.

Another labor love exists with my 2 one-hour documentaries called “Pearls of Wisdom”. These documentaries are about the Pearl Harbor survivors. I basically went around the country filming interviews with the survivors telling their own story. So anyway, I ended up with over 100 one hour interviews. This may be the biggest library of one-on-one interviews of Pearl Harbor survivors.

BT: What are the distribution channels you are using for your productions?
VM: Most of my distribution is on the Internet. Martial art instructional DVD’s are sold through the magazine and the Internet and the documentaries are in a number of health related stores.

BT: Do your films have a market outside the U.S.?
VM: My Native American documentaries are sold in England, Germany and France. It is a small marketplace, but a consistent one.

BT: What are your future projects?
VM: My future projects include a TV series on martial arts masters. I am also working on a series of public domain films that will be distributed in the US and Canada and a series of language courses sold through the Internet. Last month, I started a new website called www.MartialArtsLive.com. This is a site much like YouTube and Facebook, but only for martial artists.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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