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Local children's film combines love of the beach, martial arts to send message

August 16, 2012

The shores of Rhode Island are often the setting for water activities, such as surfing or sun tanning, or scenes of a lazy walk during the evening hours along the beach. The latest film from local director Baxter Churchville, Champions of The Deep, blends local shoreline landscapes with the action-filled stunts and scenes of world recognized martial arts experts.

“The reason the movie was put together is because one of the producers is [Martial Arts expert] Don Rodrigues,” said Churchville. “I grew up on the beaches of Narragansett, and Don and I wanted to make a film not only about martial arts, but [the local community].”

“I love the ocean and the beach, so it is a big part of the movie,” he added. “We did filming at Misquamicut Beach, and we filmed the whole movie in Rhode Island. We asked ourselves, how could we bring these locally developed areas and Martial arts to the film?”

The film, which is meant for a younger audience, highlights the adventures of two up-and-coming martial arts icons in Tyler Weaver, Jr. and Dayna Huor, playing as Max and May Champion, respectively. The two young warriors fight to save the world’s oceans against a silent villain, and utilize their martial arts skills, taught to them by American martial artist Keith Cooke, who serves as their mentor.

“With Tyler and Dana, those two kids epitomize martial arts today,” said Churchville. “They are literally among the best across the country, and putting them into a fictional movie like this will bring other young people a chance to see what they can do physically and to have fun with it. When we started filming, they were 14, so this is a part of the new generation of martial arts.”

Weaver and Huor are joined by Caitlin Dechelle, who plays Kalyko, a Knight of Atlantis, as they fight to maintain control of the Sword of the Sea, which protects the oceans. All of the stunts and martial arts coordination was choreographed by Christine Bannon-Rodrigues. All three actors completed their own stunts.

“This is a very family rated adventure with no blood and guts, but action and adventure,” said Churchville. “We wanted that from the get-go. The main theme of the movie is never give up, which is what the kids learn from their teachers and parents, and we echo that throughout the movie.

“[That mentality] it is in line with what people learn in the martial arts, so that is a really strong lead we have in the movie,” he added.

Churchville admitted that the film was directed and produced on a limited budget, but feels that because of the hard work of the local communities who helped push the project along.

“When we figured what we could do with a budget we could actually get, we filmed the whole movie in Rhode Island,” said Churchville. “We got friends and family together to help, and we go a lot of support from local Rhode Island film makers who work in theater, and also from the Rhode Island Film Office.”

“Everyone was really terrific,” he added. “Part of our movie is a friends and family production, so we were able to keep our decisions in a real way with the martial arts.”

Because of the limited budget, Churchville had to become creative in the film’s production and finishing, and utilized the best technology which is available to the average consumer.

“Technology these days is very favorable for independent films, and after we filmed everything, I edited the movie on a Mac,” said Churchville. “The advantages in the software are so amazing, so it is very exciting for independent film makers to explore and make movies like this because you can do it.”

Ultimately, Churchville hopes that the public will embrace Champions of the Deep as a playful, youth-oriented parable about doing the right things in life, as well as detailing the lifestyle which students of martial arts enjoy.

“It is an entertaining movie and fun,” said Churchville. “I have left the movie with different tournaments and karate schools, and because it is rated PG, it plays well with kids in the 5-12 year old set. We hope there is enough in there for the parents to enjoy as well.”

If You Go

The first showing of Champions of the Deep will be held at the Providence Place Mall cinema beginning this Friday, August 10. Show times are at 6:25 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. For more information about the film, visit




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