CHOKE ARTIST is a contemporary action drama television series centered on a young New York mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter’s tumultuous rise from gym rat to elite professional fighter in a state where his chosen profession is outlawed. CHOKE ARTIST follows our protagonist as he clashes with police, shady politicians, crooked promoters, and underground fighters in an attempt to break out of the city, where he is considered a criminal, into the world’s biggest professional MMA organization.
Buzz is really starting to generate around this scripted television series project and production companies affiliated with both cable networks and original web series have shown interest. Things are moving pretty quickly. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world and as you can imagine, a first of its kind scripted series exploring MMA’s explosive introduction into the mainstream has generated significant interest. We, the producers of CHOKE ARTIST, have scheduled the filming of a sizzle reel/pitch trailer on location in New York City at the request of interested parties.
We are excited about our cast, featuring UFC lightweight and The Ultimate Fighter Live finalist Al Iaquinta and blockbuster-action film actor Vlad Koulikov alongside a talented group of New York actors who stood out at the packed CHOKE ARTIST casting event. We have some pretty sweet cameos for the sizzle lined up as well.
With our locations locked in, the next step for CHOKE ARTIST is to gather funds to cover production costs and give our director of photography and his crew the budget and gear needed to make this sizzle look bad ass, simply because it’s the only way to do the east coast & New York MMA scene justice.
Also please know that the premise of the script, the current fight to legalize professional MMA in New York (the only state in America where it remains illegal), is one CHOKE ARTIST believes in wholeheartedly. The writer and producers attached have fought, trained, and coached all over the state and country. Among the countless highly regarded MMA fighters New York produces, 2 currently stand as reigning UFC World Champions (Chris Weidman and Jon Jones). Former UFC Champion Frankie Edgar also got his start in the underground NY fight scene. Former Bellator Champion Lyman Good hails from New York City. Former UFC Champion Rashad Evans also has his roots in New York. The home office of the original UFC was right in Midtown Manhattan! All that stands between Jones, Weidman and the revival of Madison Square Garden as the fight mecca of the world, from which they could defend their belts with the support of a home-town-crowd, is an antiquated NYS ban. It’s forfeiting countless millions of dollars in revenue and jobs so many could use. We are grateful to those who choose to fund and help us raise a national awareness and voice for the cause.
Below you can find links to the project’s facebook page, imdb page and twitter account, where you will find all sorts of cool information and updates about the project’s cast, creator, producers, and fans. You will also find a link to our fundraiser page. Please take a look and consider helping us with this project!
Feel free to contact us through facebook or twitter, it's always great to hear from our supporters and the MMA community.
CHOKE ARTIST Facebook page
Twitter page @TVChokeArtist
FUNDRAISER ON GO FUND ME
CAST AND CREW
Sean FitzGerald: Writer, Creator, Co-Director
In 2011 Sean graduated from the New School University on the Dean’s list with a Bachelors of Science degree in media studies. One could say Sean double majored in marital arts as he spent much of young adult life competing in amateur wrestling, grappling, golden gloves boxing, and mixed martial arts. In 2008 Sean won a championship belt from an ISCF amateur tournament and also competed in unsanctioned “smoker” exhibition fights in New York. Combining his love for the sport of Mixed Martial arts with his passion for screenwriting and development assistant experience, Sean authored the pilot for Choke Artist based on his in depth research of the sport over the past fifteen years.
Sean currently resides in Los Angeles where he works in the producing and production department of various reality series including The Bachelor, Storage Hunters and Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
Stephen Koepfer: Producer, Industry Consultant
Born in 1968, Stephen is a lifelong New Yorker and martial artist. In 1997, during the formative years of MMA, Stephen had his first fight - just in time for New York to ban the sport all together. An integral part of the New York MMA community, Stephen has operated his Manhattan gym, New York Combat Sambo and trained fighters since 2003. He became an Association of Boxing Commissions approved MMA judge in 2013.
Stephen and his gym have been featured multitudes of martial arts videos & websites, the New York Times, Time Out New York, WWE Magazine and the bestselling books Raw Combat: The Underground World of Mixed Martial Arts (Jim Genia. Citadel/Kensington, 2011) and Tapped Out: An Odyssey in Mixed Martial Arts (Matthew Polly. Gotham Books, 2011). In 2010 Stephen founded the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York and has become deeply involved in the fight to lift his home state’s ban on MMA. In 2012, Stephen organized and curated the first ever MMA documentary film festival at Madison Square garden.
Recognized for his expertise, Stephen served as a technical advisor for Human Weapon (History Channel, 2008) and the season one finale of Dhani Tackles the Globe (Travel Channel, 2009), where he also appeared as himself. Stephen’s inauguration as a producer came in 2011 with the acclaimed documentary New York Mixed Martial Arts (MMAFilm, LLC, 2011). The film’s success led to interest from Cinematic Right Management, which now distributes the film. Stephen has been in front or or behind the camera in several other independent projects. He earned a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and a MA from Hofstra University.
Jabari Gray: Producer, Co-Director
Jabari Gray is an attorney, actor, producer, musician and martial artist known for his professionalism, strong work ethic and passion for creativity. His work in television, film, print, music and live performance media can be seen and heard worldwide. Though a citizen of the United States, Jabari was born into a large, extended family of Caribbean immigrants and spent part of his childhood years growing up in Kingston, Jamaica. Jabari has fought amateur MMA and regularly competes in amateur combat sports.
Alexander Jay Iaquinta: Judd Pulaski
Born April 30, 1987, Iaquinta is a native New Yorker and Professional mixed martial artist (7-2-1). Fighting since 2009, Iaquinta has made a name for himself fighting for the New Jersey based Ring of Combat promotion and later his appearance and finalist status on The Ultimate Fighter (FX, 2012), where he went undefeated. Alexander is currently signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), fighting in their lightweight division.
Iaquinta’s struggle and rise to fame is not dis-similar from Judd’s and will bring significant authenticity to the role. He made his start in the nebulous New York amateur fight and combat sport circuit until his time came to turn professional. At that point, like all New York MMA fighters, he crossed the river to new Jersey; Professional MMA having been outlawed in New York since 1997. Alexander’s own life experience in tandem with his familiarity with on camera experience from The Ultimate Fighter make him the perfect choice to play Judd Pulaski.
Paul Sheehan: Transplant
Hailing from Ireland, Paul is currently based in New York; having worked in numerous film and theatre projects in Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Hong Kong and Taiwan during his travels. Recent projects include $upercapitalist (Linus Roache, Kenneth Tsang), Four Assassins (Miguel Ferrer, Will Yun Lee) and a number of incoming independent projects slated for release next year. Trained also in advanced fencing, he is extremely excited about bringing this tale of struggle and sweat to life with the Choke Artist team.
Vladislav Koulikov: Max Povetkin
Vladislav was born in Moscow, USSR, December of 1974 and began his Martial Arts journey 10 years later at the most prestigious Sambo wrestling school in the world - Sambo 70. Between 1985 and 1990 he won multiple tournaments in Sambo including, two All Soviet Cups where he took Gold and Silver. After high school, he attended Russian State Social University and graduated with a Bachelors in Journalism.
In 1996 Vladislav moved to New York and began fighting in the then unregulated sport of Mixed Martial Arts. He also won and received the most technical grappler award in the inaugural Grappler’s Quest tournament in 1998. Vladislav has gone on to coach a successful team of his own, Represent the United States at the World Sambo Championships (2008), star in very popular instructional videos, and place in multiple combat sports events.
During the last several years Vladislav has developed a passion and become involved in acting; landing a significant role in Philip Noyce’s action thriller Salt (2010) as Angelina Jolie’s father, Chenkov. Vladislav is currently wrapping up shooting as Pavel in David Leitch & Chad Stahelski action thriller John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves. Like Iaquinta in the role of Pulaski, Koulikov’s own life experience will lend a significant air of authenticity to the role Povetkin.
Luna Tieu: Tora Takami
Luna is originally from San Francisco and earned her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her theater credits include originating the role of Tess in One White Crow and the British farce, Move Over, Mrs. Markham. She has also appeared in a number of national print campaigns including: Sprint (which led to a Sprint commercial!), Delta, Similac, and IMAN cosmetics and recently shot a Paypal Commercial. When Luna is not in front of the camera or on her yoga mat, she's snapping photos, throwing something away, reading plays and 19th century novels, spending a ridiculous amount of time on youtube looking at cute animals and watching favorite clips of her favorite actors, and exploring New York City. She currently resides in NYC and trains with acting coach Anthony Abeson.
Jonathan Gundel: Ryan Bryan
Jonathan Gundel is a New York City based actor who originally hails from Lancaster, PA. His first stage was the dinner table, but his first role was as the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz at the age of 8. Since then Jonathan has been passionate about acting. He is a graduate if the Santa Fe institute of Art and Design and most recently appeared in the short film Alone Time, an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival. Jonathan continues ongoing scene study at Michael Howard Studios in NYC preparing for his big break!
Suzanne Milton: Officer Shelly
Suzanne K Milton began her acting career at age 4 as a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. Since then, her most favorite roles have been Hunyak in Chicago, Victoire in Hotel Paradiso and Patricia Meyers in the independent film Stills. She was born and raised in a small south Georgia town and has been living in New York City for the past 3 years. Suzanne also studies the martial art Krav Maga.
Stephanie Taylor: Barmaid
This Texas transplant began her relationship with the stage at the age of 7. She has worked on stage, in film, t.v., commercials, and voiceover from coast to coast. Internationally, she has performed and taught Shakespeare in Florence, Italy. Stephanie earned a BFA from NYU and is a Actors’ Equity Association member.