In all things entertainment, there must be creative vision. But before creative vision, there must be inspiration. As a general rule, inspiration comes from something we’ve experienced that has left a lasting impression in our hearts and minds.
This page takes a look back at the films and television shows that influenced Mark Steven Grove as well as pivotal career highlights that span over three decades.
During Mark Grove's childhood in the 70's these impressions came in the form of motion pictures such as The Land That Time Forgot, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Logan's Run, Star Wars, and television programs like The Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, The Man From Atlantis, and Wonder Woman.
But something special happened in 1980 when Mark was going through a particularly hard time in his life. He found solace at a local movie theater. It was there that he first watched Flash Gordon, starring Sam J. Jones. It was a simple story. Good guys versus bad guys. An age old tale used in countless films over many decades. However, for some reason, this film resonated with Mark and he ended up seeing the film over 80 times in the theater (that's right...eighty). He was drawn to the film in a way he could not explain. Although he was already a fan of the science fiction and fantasy genres, this film would set the stage for his creative energy moving forward.
In 1981 at the age of 14 Mark would pen his first script "Demon Planet" which followed the adventures of Captain Cal Arath and his sidekick Uriah. Mirroring many of the elements of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Mark was focused on developing a hero of his own that could embark on the many adventures that were forming in his imagination. Although the characters in Demon Planet were never captured on celluloid, the writing process did inspire him to begin creating cinematic art.
Armed with his 8mm camera and his electronic sound fx machine, Mark began his creative journey. He started with stop motion, using matchbox cars, micronauts, and 24" tall Shogun Warriors toys from Japan, but he quickly transitioned to shooting live action. His first film was jumping backwards off his roof and then using reverse motion photography to make it look like he could leap upward with superhuman dexterity.
The 1980's continued to deliver amazing Science Fiction and Fantasy films. Movies like Battle beyond the Stars (1980), Escape from New York (1981), Beastmaster (1982), The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982), Megaforce (1982), Krull (1983), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn (1983), Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension (1984), and Big Trouble in Little China (1986). These movies allowed Mark to rekindle the same passion he had for Flash Gordon.
In 1983 Mark began teaching martial arts, which seened more lucrative than shooting 8mm films. But despite his career choice, he decided to write a fantasy novel titled "Sword of Light, Shield of Darkness". This was a tale about a group of heroes who were up against and evil Ogre-Mage in possession of a shield made from the skull of a skeletal dragon that allowed whoever possessed it to control an undead army. The heroes had to seek out a mystical sword that could destroy the shield. The novel was never completed, but the story always lingered in Mark's mind.
As the 80's came to an end, Mark was considering how to best make use of his physical skills. Teaching Ninjutsu was amazing but he felt he needed a creative outlet. Without knowing exactly how to do it, he decided to delve into the world of film. He sought out a mentor and met veteran stunt coordinators Lars Lundgren and Greg Anderson. Impressed by his extensive martial arts skills he was often asked to choreograph fights. He proved to be very intuitive with the camera and began apprenticing full time, spending countless hours on sets.
Mark performs martial arts action again in the film My Samurai, starring Julian Lee, Bubba Smith, Mako, and Terry O’Quinn. Mark was once again called upon to assist with choreography.
Mark lands his first co-starring role in Country Justice, playing the main henchman to the films villain. He also served as the fight choreographer and pyrotechnician, rigging the squibs (bullet hits) and small grenade explosions.
After a couple years and numerous films, Mark decides to write his first script. The final result was Shadows: The Path of Deception. The script is optioned within a month of completion and Mark is set to star in the film alongside martial arts icons James Lew and Diana Lee Inosanto.
Mark embarks on his first solo pyrotechnics job on the film American Messiah in Oregon. This transition into practical effects becomes another creative outlet, leading to becoming a certified firearms handler and a prosthetic makeup artist.
Driven to create, Mark starts developing his own galactic adventurer SABER RAINE and begins penning short stories that pits the hero against an alien nemesis, SINJIN, who is reminiscent of Ming the Merciless.
The mid 90's had Mark travelling to Seattle to work on Mad Love Starring Chris O’Donnell and Drew Barrymore. The stunt team created havoc in grunge bars, drove recklessly around the city, and unleashed their own brand of crazy.
Mark travels to Canada to meet with stunt coordinator John Wardlow to discuss being the stunt double for John Lone in The Hunted. However, because of Canadian restrictions, Mark is not allowed to perform in that capacity. But he still provides Historical Consultation with his “Arcanum of Ninja Tactics” training manuals.
At the end of 1996 Mark is put in charge of the SAG/AFTRA Conservatory in Colorado. He is also put in charge of the SAG safety committee and researches all the stunt-related accidents that have been reported. He conducts an independent study of accidents that occurred on non-union productions across the country. He is surprised at the sheer number of dangerous situations that could have easily been avoided if a reputable stunt coordinator would have been hired.
Mark tackled 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain in 1997 where he served as a stuntman, double, and firearms handler. A highlight of his career was fighting Hulk Hogan. Mark continually changed his look to play many different characters in the film. Great experience working with Jim Varney and acting as bodyguard to the beautiful and talented Loni Anderson.
Serving as Stunt Coordinator and Special FX Supervisor on the film Tiger Street was an extreme challenge. Like many indie films this action picture had a limited budget, so Mark took it upon himself to invest a significant amount of his own money in order to create all the practical fx for the film.
Mark is once again acknowledged as the director of the Colorado branch SAG/AFTRA Conservatory. Taking a more active interest in actors, Mark travels to California and begins teaching movement classes focused on having performers act out their scenes without speaking while other actors assist by reading the dialogue. A permanent move to the west coast is imminent.
Tragedy strikes and Mark's youngest so is born with brain abnormalities and other medical issues that make a move to California impossible. Mark is forced to take a hard look at the future of his entertainment career.
In 1999 Mark is hired to direct his first feature film, Dragon and the Hawk. Mark realizes that staying in Denver did not kill his career, it just meant he had to take control and dedicate himself to creating his own opportunities.
On May 20th 2001 the inaugural World Stunt Awards were held at the Santa Monica Barker Hanger. This was the first awards show to honor stunt men and women for their work on feature films. Mark reunited with James Lew at the event and as always, the two began plotting future projects.
September 2002 Mr. Grove’s first training video focused on Ninja swordsmanship releases world wide. The video receives high praise and is especially successful overseas.
The desert outside of Las Vegas was the next destination where Mark was a stuntman and fight coordinator on Tequila Express starring Christopher Atkins and Tane McClure.
Back to Hollywood to shoot Conquest: Weapons of the Ninja for the History Channel where Mark served as historical consultant, stuntman, and portrayed himself during Ninja training sessions.
In 2003 Mark begins the first year of a thirteen year run as a sales agent at the American Film Market in Santa Monica. Distribution deals are made for a wide range of films to countries throughout the world.
Aside from his normal stunt and special effects services, Mark also serves as the Executive Producer for the campy horror film Backslash.
Mark’s next adventure The Surfer King, a water-based acrobatics requiring aerial flips while on a surfboard. A bit of ingenuity led to mixing snowboard with surfboard and using a floating trampoline.
In 2005 Mark directs The Shadow Walkers, a Lionsgate film that pits an abandoned team of scientists against mutated creatures of their own design.
Reunited with his great friends Diana Lee Inosanto and Ron Balicki, Mark co-produces and assistant stunt coordinates the award winning film The Sensei.
Mark was reunited with Christopher Atkins for the coming of age drama Stained Glass Windows. Mark serves as fight coordinator and has an acting role as Tom, a martial arts instructor.
The next film Mark is set to direct is called Midnight Sun but its backwoods vampire characters lead him to rename the project REDNECK along with the tagline “Evil has a Second Cousin.”
Mark decides it's time to create a project of his own. Inspired by the novel he wrote in the 80’s, Sword of Light, Shield of Darkness, Mark writes the script Gathering of Heroes: Legend of the Seven Swords. This film is a passion project with very little money, but Mark is driven to create a unique fantasy world where he can share the tales of the heroes who live within it.
Mark enlists the help of some veteran actors from LA and the film now has appearances by Christopher Atkins (Blue Lagoon) and Martin Kove (Karate Kid) as pivotal characters.
Mark works on the production in multiple capacities. Writer, director, actor, stunt coordinator, camera operator, prop maker, fx makeup, and editor to name a few.
Best Ribs in Town combines beauty with brutality as a group of small town waitresses lure unsuspecting customers into a deadly trap. Mark serves as producer, stunt coordinator and special effects supervisor working alongside veteran cinematographer Ric Waite.
A trip to Northern California’s redwood forests created a fantasy world filled with Knights, Elven magic users, Orc warriors, Dark shamans, and other magical creatures. Mark used his expertise in swordsmanship to create an epic fight sequence.
Next Mark served as editor on the Olivier Gruner action film Re-Generator. Olivier is a champion martial artist with over 40 roles in many great action films.
Next is the film Assassins Code in which Mark served as stunt coordinator and special effects supervisor. Once again reunited with Rick Waite, Martin Kove, and Christopher Atkins.
In The Storyteller Mark teams up with Christopher Atkins to produce a heart wrenching story of war. Stunt performers were blown up, shot, stabbed, set on fire, and generally abused.
Next Mark wrote, directed, and starred in the supernatural martial arts film, Legacy of the Tengu. This film reunited Mark with James Lew and Louis Mandylor, who had also starred in The Sensei. This film was an great experience with an amazing team.
Mark directs the mind-bending psychological thriller Mind’s Eye. This film was an incredible journey and Mark was able to direct amazing young talent in Izzie Steele, Natalie Distler, Andrew Trainor, as well as veteran stars Malcolm McDowell and Dean Cain.
Hot Lead, Hard Fury was a throwback film actually shot on 8mm film to capture the essence of the genre. The best part was Mark got to work with longtime friend, the Black Dragon himself, Ron Van Clief.
Next Mark stunt coordinated Liana Liberato, Isabelle Fuhrman, and Patrick Schwarzenegger in the film Dear Eleanor, which also starred Josh Lucas, Jessica Alba, and Luke Wilson.
In 2014 Mark was able to set up a Lunch meeting with Sam Jones in Hollywood. It was amazing because Mark was able to share details on his new project. Star Raiders, and how the 1980 Flash Gordon film inspired him to create the character of Saber Raine. Since that meeting, Mark and Sam have met up multiple times and Mark hopes to have Sam appear in one of his films.
In the summer of 2014, Mark took on his most ambitious project yet. In less than 30 days he wrote STAR RAIDERS: The Adventures of Saber Raine. This script was based on characters he developed in his "Rogue Space" short stories Mark had written two decades earlier. This film is a retro throwback to the scifi serials of the 30’s and 40’s and the campy action films of the 80’s.
Star Raiders goes into production and Mark hires Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) to play the lead role of Saber Raine. The sinister villain Sinjin is played by James Lew, Sara N. Salazar portrays Caliope, and Tyler Weaver Jr is Prince Tyr.
Star Raiders premieres at the American Film Mark in November 2017 with a huge banner on the front of the Loews Hotel and full page coverage in the Hollywood Reporter.
Star Raiders releases in multiple territories. In the U.S. it releases on multiple digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Playstation Network, X-Box Live, and many others.
January 2018 Mark embarks on a 13 episode web series called Shadow War with a desire to do short form serial-style storytelling.