“Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday” – Interview with Directors: George and Harry Kirby

To make one of the best action movies of the year, an indispensable component of that equation is a director who is up to the task. “Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday” literally doubles down on that mandate with not one, but two directors in George and Harry Kirby. Making their feature directorial debut with “Hitman’s Holiday”, the Kirby Brothers are already off to an electrifying start as action filmmakers with Mike Fallon’s latest zany caper in the gorgeous setting of Malta!

The Kirby Brothers have been gradually working their way up in the film industry for years, George working as a stuntman on many big film and TV productions and he and Harry producing outstanding shorts on their YouTube channel, K&K Productions.

A combination of George’s stunt role on “Doctor Strange” and their excellent work on short films ultimately led to George and Harry coming aboard “Hitman’s Holiday” as directors, succeeding Jesse Johnson from the first “Accident Man”. You’d never guess the Kirby Brothers were on their first feature directing job from “Hitman’s Holiday” though, the duo helming a Hong Kong-esque action-comedy that projects the confidence of filmmakers with 20 action hits already under their belt!

Today, KFK speaks to George and Harry Kirby on the making of “Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday”, their long journey to directing the movie, working with Scott Adkins and the incredible martial artists of the film, along with a pinch about what their dream project would be (hint – it would involve heroes in a half-shell)!

Hi brothers George and Harry, great to connect with you, and welcome to Kung Fu Kingdom!

Harry Kirby: Hi Brad, thanks for having us!

May we get your views briefly on what you think of the name Kung Fu Kingdom (or KFK for short)?

Yeah, we know Kung Fu Kingdom, and we’ve met a few of you at the Fighting Spirit Film Festivals. Your mission is very cool too, George is a martial artist himself.

George Kirby: Yes, I studied Shotokan Karate and some Shaolin kung fu.

Harry: I did a bit of Judo for a while, and I actually did a day of training at the Shaolin Temple when a friend and I went to China. We ended up getting to see a private show at the Shaolin Temple, so that was a pretty cool experience. 

That would be a dream come true for me and I think everyone at KFK! On that note, with your background in stunt work George, how did you first get started as a stunt man?

George: Well, I was very lucky because growing up, I knew some stunt guys, and we used to train in gymnastics and things like that. In the UK we have the British Stunt Register, which is an association of all stunt performers and coordinators in the UK. They have a set of requirements to join and get work as a stunt performer. So, I went through that with about six different disciplines and doing martial arts, and after you’ve done that and some work as an extra, you can start working as a stunt performer.

Understood. So, what would you say are your favourite movies or shows that you’ve done stunts on?

George: I did “Doctor Strange” where I doubled for Benedict Cumberbatch, which was a really great experience and my first time as a lead double. That was also where I met Scott, so “Doctor Strange” was definitely a good one. I also did stunt work on “Game of Thrones” and some of the “Star Wars” films, and that was really great to be a part of. So, I’ve done a lot of cool films and TV shows, and you just learn a lot from every single show really and bring it into the stuff you do.

And going directly off of that, what can you share about boarding “Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday” as the directors of the movie?

Harry: So, we had been actually pushing to make our own feature, which is a feature that we had written, and we made a proof-of-concept for that film, which was like an action-zombie movie. We had wanted Scott to be in the film in a villain role, and we were able to get in contact with Scott and show him the proof-of-concept.

He really loved it and was like “This is great, I want to be a part of it.” The short version is he read the script and said “Well, actually, I don’t really want to play the character you want me to play, but I’d love to work with you guys again in the future, so I’ll keep you guys in mind.” Then, literally two weeks later, we get a phone call and he said “How would you feel about coming to direct ‘Accident Man 2?”

So, Scott very much gave us our opportunity here. He had to kind of vouch for us with the guys over at Sony, they watched our proof-of-concept, and it was kind of enough for them to say “Well, these guys clearly have the action direction down and all that stuff”, and they went back and saw some of our short films, and we got the film.

So, we are very grateful to Scott because it was a great opportunity, and also to the producers who had backed us and helped bring us aboard. They were taking a gamble to an extent with some guys who have never done a feature, so we’re very grateful to all those guys.

When preparation and opportunity meet, cool! So how was the experience of making “Hitman’s Holiday” for each of you as your feature directorial debut?

Harry: I mean, in general, it was an amazing experience. We had been making short films for a long time, and George had obviously been working on big stuff in the stunt industry, but for us to be directing a feature for the first time, it’s was a big jump.

We had 22 days to shoot the film, so with the amount of action we had, to make a comparison, they’re very different films, but the last Bond film “No Time To Die” had 125 days to shoot, so it was quite the full-on schedule, but it was amazing to be out in Malta and Scott was very collaborative in all aspects.

We made some tweaks to the script, and wanted to put our spin on some of the action, and it was all really collaborative, so that was great. We were very lucky to just have a really good team around us as well. The other actors were lovely and our DP, Rich Bell and first AD Christiaan Faberij de Jonge we got on really well with, so it was a great experience from my point of view, and I think George feels that way too.

George: Yeah, like Harry said, we’ve been making shorts for about 10 years now, so that aspect was very familiar to us just in terms of being on set and now having an actual amount of time. Most of our shoots for our shorts are just one day shoots where we had to cram everything in, so we’re used to working fast.

That aspect felt quite familiar, but of course, there were bigger stakes, bigger actors like Ray Stevenson and obviously Scott, as well. The level that we were working at was higher than we’d done before, so that was obviously great and that kind of helped push ourselves a bit more and learn and all that sort of stuff. So, it was different an amazing experience and we learned a lot.

Harry: Yeah, we learned a ton from it. We were definitely in at the deep end of learning new things as we went, but it was great.

So, coming into directing “Hitman’s Holiday” as directors, were you familiar with the character of Mike Fallon or had you seen the original “Accident Man” before joining the sequel?

Harry: So, at the time we were asked, we actually hadn’t, so we went back and watched that film and we looked at the comic book as well. We knew that Scott was very passionate about this, as “Accident Man” is kind of his passion project.

The first one definitely has a lot of fun and dark humor, but we all wanted to make this one even more of an action-comedy. With the Malta setting, we were able to have a different, more colourful kind of setting.

Well, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the terrible impact it had on the film industry as well as the wider world, how much did the pandemic impact the production of “Hitman’s Holiday”?

Harry: We were pretty lucky with that, to be honest. To go into Malta, you have to have the two vaccinations, so all the crew and everyone were vaccinated. We had one incident where an actor tested positive for COVID, so we then had to swap that character out at the very last minute, but it worked out for the best. But we didn’t have any shutdowns from COVID, so we got very lucky.

George: And we were testing every day, so we managed very well. It was just a part of life while making the movie.

That’s good to hear you guys weren’t massively hampered by COVID! So, what would you say are some of the most memorable moments that you can share about the experience of making “Hitman’s Holiday” in Malta?

Harry: Well, we had certain key crew that we brought over from the UK., but we also had the Maltese crew, and they were all lovely as well. We were working with people who just knew the island like the back of their hands and we were shown some beautiful locations.

That really upped the production value of the film by having these beautiful, stunning views and locations. On the flip side of that, we did get the most rain that they’ve had in Malta in twenty-four years, and we got 85 percent of the year’s rain in two weeks! So, we were obviously filming outside a lot, but even with the weather, we only got shut down one day where it was like a tropical storm.

We’d shot half the day in one location, and then we had to go back and find a different location that looked similar and then shoot the second half of that scene in a completely different place. But, when you watch the film, I don’t think anyone will notice. Also, just getting to live in Malta for a chunk of time was nice. We were there for about eight or nine weeks. A lot of it, obviously we were working, but good food, good people, and sunshine sometimes!

George: Yeah, with the crew, it was great to have nice, hard-working people around you. We also shot in this big power station that was built in World War II.

Harry: Literally built inside a cliff.

George: Yeah, inside a cliff, and so from the outside you don’t know it’s there, and it was a cool place, but also a little oppressive, because you’re in the darkness all the time, but it was still a cool location to shoot in.

Harry: It had 60-foot ceilings and old rock, so just a really unique location to be in. We actually built some of our biggest sets within that, so that was really cool.

Wow, it’s really surprising to hear about the rain, you wouldn’t have guessed that at all from all the bright, sunny days in the movie.

Harry: No. We got really lucky. Most of the stuff we shot outside ended up being on the days when it wasn’t really bad, although we did change some locations because the weather was saying there’s going to be another storm and we were supposed to be shooting outside and we’d move to indoor locations. And again, the locations guys were on their toes and making some last-minute changes and found some really cool locations for us.

Nice. So, what were some of the most complex and demanding stunt or fight scenes to assemble for “Hitman’s Holiday”?

George: I would say probably the one with Scott and Poco the Killer Clown, who’s played by Beau Fowler. We had our set built and they were getting chucked through walls and things like that.

Harry: Basically, the mandate was “Just make everything destructible, because we are just going to completely wreck these entire sets!”

George: Yeah, a lot of breakaways and stuff like that, so it was tough because we had a lot to shoot in the time we had, but it was lots of fun as well, just smashing everything up was really great. So that I would say was the most fun but also the most challenging fight in the movie.

Harry: Also, essentially, within the film, Mike Fallon and Finicky Fred have built sets, so they’ve got this area where they’re practicing their “accident” kills and they’ve physically built sets themselves. So, it allowed us to show they were sets, because in the context of the film, they’re sets, and we could really just smash things up and have Poco going through walls and stuff. It’s a quite “Looney Tunes” kind of fight that was really fun.

Yeah, Mike’s lair with all of this traps and stuff has a bit of an R-rated “Home Alone” type of feel!

Harry: Yes, that was exactly what we were going for with the Poco fight!

Haha! So were there any major injuries or mishaps in the making of “Hitman’s Holiday”?

Harry: No, we were good. Our stunt coordinator, Morgan Chetcuti did an amazing job, and one of our guys, Steve Coleman got a bit of a bump, but he was fine. So, in general, those guys kept things really safe doing all the martial arts fights, and we did lots of pre-viz, so we had all the fights locked down before we got to set. We pretty much shot the pre-viz. The guys had rehearsed and knew the fights, so when they got into them, they were ready for it.

George: The hardest thing was really for Scott, because we had so many days where he was doing back-to-back fights, so it was quite demanding for him, especially with the kinds of kicks and stuff that he does. So for Scott, it was just the amount of fighting that he had to do within the context of the schedule, but he really persevered.

Harry: Scott’s also really aware of his body, and if he injures himself on the second day, that delays the whole movie. He’s really good at saying “My knee feels a bit twingy, give me a minute” and just making sure he’s looking after himself, because he knows that the film depends on him in that way. That Poco fight and the Oyumi fight were pretty much back-to-back, so he was doing these two massive fights really close together.

Well, speaking of fight scenes and martial arts, in addition to Scott Adkins himself , “Hitman’s Holiday” also includes many great martial artists like Beau Fowler, Sarah Chang, and Andy Long, who was also one of the film’s fight choreographers. What was it like working with these amazing martial artists on “Hitman’s Holiday”?

Hitmans Holiday

Harry: Everyone was great. I loved working with Andy, he is insanely talented in terms of his martial arts skills, and he was also helping out with the pre-viz fight choreography in Malta. The great thing was that he thinks quite similarly to us in terms of shooting the action, and George is also used to working in front of the camera too, so he and George were really in sync on how to shoot the action.

George: Yeah, he had loads of good ideas for his flavour of action, which he also brought to his fight with Scott, and we actually learned quite a bit from him as well as from Scott.

Harry: His fight versus Scott is awesome, and they were doing some quite long takes on certain things, and the speed they were moving at as well was amazing. To see them two fighting, just from a geeky point of view, we were all just geeking out watching them doing this amazing martial arts fight.

The same with everyone else, because they all brought something different to the table. Faisal Mohammed is also a huge, massive guy, but just the sweetest guy you could meet. His fight is different because he’s playing more of a bigger brawler type with a lot of strength. It was lovely working with him. All the guys were all feeding off each other and bringing their own experience to the film.

Sarah Chang obviously has got her experience as a Wushu champion, and she was just good fun. Peter Lee Thomas, who plays Silas, couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy and he and Sarah worked really hard on their fight. Beau’s also a martial artist in his own right, but he’s playing a really different kind of crazy clown character. So everyone was really great and collaborative to work with. 

And talk about craziness, “Hitman’s Holiday” REALLY dials up the black comedy tone of the film up to 11 as much as it does with the action. What can you reveal about “Hitman’s Holiday” to fans of the first “Accident Man” in terms of kicking up both elements into overdrive?

George: Well, all of the characters, because they’re assassins, are all terrible, terrible people! But, what we wanted to do was bring you onto their side a bit more and make them feel like people you might actually know to lighten the tone with things like the sort of bromance between Mike and Fred. The first one has a lot of dark humour, so with this one, we wanted to lighten it a little bit.

Harry: Yeah, and add some more “accidents”, as well. And like George said, Perry being alongside Scott, he brings that sort of friendly, bumbling kind of character in the movie. Then also, George Fouracres, who’s playing Dante, is just insulting Scott constantly, so Fallon’s kind of always got that kind of buddy cop thing with someone to bounce off of and that also lightened the tone.

We also wanted to give Fallon something to truly fight for in this one with someone that he cares about, but we also wanted to have some serious moments, so we had Ray Stevenson in the film for some real drama there. Ray’s an amazing actor and it was great to watch him work with the guys.

Yes, he was hugely entertaining as Big Ray! So George, with you coming from a stunt background like the first “Accident Man’s” director Jesse Johnson, how has your history in stunt work influenced your approach to directing this movie?

George: Well, from the action point of view, I’ve spent the last few years of my career doing action design and pre-viz and stuff for big films and TV working with stunt coordinators and doing bits of fight coordinating. So, definitely consolidating that experience I’ve gained from working on big films and also doing our own stuff, I was able to bring all of that experience into “Hitman’s Holiday”.

I’m really used to doing pre-viz and working with stunt performers to get the right angles and the right shots to sell the action in the best possible light, and our approach is very much the Hong Kong style where each shot is its own thing. We don’t do a lot of shaky cam or coverage or using the master shot. We set up the shot, it’s these three moves, next shot, these three moves, etc. So, I think that’s what I’ve learned over the years doing stunt work, and hopefully, I’ve put that forward in “Hitman’s Holiday”.

Harry: Also, along with all that, we’ve got our great DP and camera operators, Rich and Joe, and also Scott really knows good angles for different kinds of kicks and stuff as well. So, if we ever had to tweak the choreo or anything like that, Scott and Andy were able to.

Fascinating stuff! So, George, one question for you specifically relating to another comic book movie you were a part of, you were also a stuntman on “Zack Snyder’s Justice League”, which was finally released last year after the big #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign from fans. What can you share about your work on the film and what were your feelings about seeing the Snyder Cut finally released?

George: Well, I was only part of one scene on that, which was when Wonder Woman saves all the people in the bank.

Harry: He was CGI body-doubled. He was one of the guys who gets thrown into the wall.

George: Yeah, so I was only a small part of that when I worked on it, but it was great to work on. And I absolutely loved the Snyder Cut.

Harry: Yeah, it was a much better film.

George: It was a much better film that actually got to flesh out the character, because in the theatrical cut, Cyborg was just there basically, but in the Snyder Cut, you get to see his story. So, it was cool to see that actually come out and see it properly elaborated on.

Yes, I absolutely loved the Snyder Cut too! So, moving into your other interests now, what are some of George and Harry Kirby’s all-time favourite martial-arts movies or favourite martial arts movie fights from each of you?

Harry: Well, movies like “The Matrix” would be one, and that really introduced me to a lot of Hong Kong stuff like “Police Story”. Some of my favourites would be Jackie Chan movies and Donnie Yen movies and stuff like that. I also loved “Hero” and “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and those big epics with all the wirework that comes into play.

George: For me, I love Jackie Chan movies like “Operation Condor”, “Rumble in the Bronx”, and “Wheels on Meals”. I love Jet Li as well, especially a lot of his epics like “Fearless” and “Hero”. I think we both really have a love for the fantasy, and sci-fi genre kind of stuff, so combining a love of martial arts with fantasy elements is something we always loved.

Harry: Also, the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie, we were obsessed with that when we were kids and we ran around the house with bandanas playing the turtles!

George: That’d be a dream project of ours to do!

Harry: Yeah, if we could play around with any kind of IP, that’d be our dream to do a Ninja Turtles movie at some point!

You hear that studios, watch “Hitman’s Holiday” and call up the Kirby Brothers for the next Ninja Turtles! So, with “Hitman’s Holiday” now out for the world to see, is there any potential you can see for the return of Mike Fallon in “Accident Man 3”?

Harry: Well, we can’t say anything definite, but we know the studio was happy with the film, so if the audience goes out and watches it, I’m sure there could definitely be an “Accident Man 3”. We know that Scott would be very passionate about doing a third one, and there would be a possibility for characters in this one to continue over to a third one. So, I think it’s definitely a possibility.

George: Yeah, if people support these low-budget films, it’ll be more likely that “Accident Man 3” could definitely get made.

Harry: Also, if you’re a big Scott Adkins fan, he put his heart and soul into this as well, so if you want to support Scott, check out the film, definitely.

Agreed wholeheartedly! So, if each of you could be a superhero, who would you be and what superpower would you most like to have?

Harry: For me growing up, my favorite superhero was The Flash, so super-speed would be my power.

With his super-speed, I always thought if Superman ever went rogue, he’d be the one guy who could survive because he’s so fast. So, it’d be The Flash for me.

George: Growing up I loved Nightcrawler and the idea of teleporting, and I was also a massive Batman fan.

Great choices! And related to that, what’s one geeky or interesting thing that people don’t know about each of you? 

Harry: Well, I suppose our Turtles obsession is one of them! I also love comic books, and these days, I read a lot more stuff that’s not as much your Marvel or DC. Like I loved “The Boys” and “Y: The Last Man” and things like that, and I’ve read all of “Invincible” before the show came out, and the show’s been amazing.

George: Yeah, I think also people can see from our YouTube channel, we’re big “Dragon Ball Z” and anime fans.

Harry: Yeah, we love animation in general, and we’ve actually written an animated series that we’d love to get off the ground one day. It’s kind of sci-fi mixed with fantasy.

At the moment, I’m kind of late to the party, but I’m watching “Arcane” on YouTube based on “League of Legends” and the animation there is just beautiful, so we’re big animation geeks, as well. Our very first short films were live-action adaptations of “Dragon Ball Z”, and that’s kind of how we got our YouTube channel started. So I think we’re into all things geek-related!

Yeah, you guys have done some awesome shorts on your YouTube channel! So, what would you say are the proudest accomplishments so far for each of you?

Harry: I would say making our proof-of-concept for the film we’ve written was a big one, that took a lot of work and it was also going on during the pandemic.

George: And we got stopped twice by the pandemic.

Harry: Yeah, twice we set out to shoot, and one time, a location pulled out on us the day before, and then another location cancelled because of COVID. And then there was a break in the COVID regulations of about a week and we managed to shoot in that time. And then, definitely this film. Our first big YouTube short went out in 2012, so to finally jump into a feature was a dream come true really. I’m sure George also has some proud accomplishments from his stunt career, as well.

George: Yeah, the training took about four years of my life to become a stunt performer, so that was a big achievement for me. Also, now being a father.

Harry: I also think the cast and crew screening for “Accident Man” was a really proud moment and Scott said some very kind things about us, which was lovely, and just to get to share the film with all the people who put in all the hard work was a really nice moment. We’ve also had very supportive friends and family over the years who believed in us – that we could go on to become directors, so to being able to bring them to a screening and show them our work was unbelievable.

Sounds like a very proud moment of hitting the finish line of “Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday”! Well, as we sign off George and Harry, what special message, warrior-wisdom or philosophical quotes would the Kirby Brothers like to share with Kung Fu Kingdom followers and your fans around the world right now?

Harry: Well, in general, we hope that everyone enjoys the film and we want everyone to have a really good time with it. I know my favourite thing when watching a film with good action is when it makes me laugh out loud or react to something really cool, so we really tried to create those moments where we’d be like “Whoa! That move was wicked!” So, we hope everyone gets that from the film and you chat with your mates about “Oh, that fight was the best” or “That fight was better” and all that kind of stuff.

George: As for words of wisdom, if you’ve seen “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, just be kind to people, that’s more relevant than ever now.

Harry: And in terms of whether you’re learning a martial art or you’re just into film or you want to make films, it’s a bit cheesy, but just don’t give up. We’ve had a lot of setbacks over the years, people who have told us no, and if you listen to that, you won’t get where you want to get to. It’s a bit cheesy, but just believe in yourself and keep working hard.

Well said! George, Harry, thank you guys so much for your time today! It’s been a real pleasure to interview you both; hearing all about your careers and getting the behind-the-scenes scoop on the making of “Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday”. Connect again soon!

Kirby Brothers: Cheers and thank you Brad!

We hope you liked our interview with the innovative, and highly-creative action director duo George and Harry Kirby!

“Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday” is in theaters and on digital platforms NOW in the US, and will be releasing in the UK and other territories on October 24th!

Have you seen “Hitman’s Holiday”? Are you excited to see the amazing work the Kirby Brothers have done here? What kinds of “accidents” would you like to see Mike Fallon dish up in “Accident Man 3”? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

LOVE FIGHT ACTION ENTERTAINMENT? Then BLOW YOUR ACTION FUSE in the KINGDOM of FU with our Top 10’s, Top 5’s, exclusive interviews, including our interviews with Scott Adkins on “Hitman’s Holidaywith fight choreographer, Andy Long Nguyen; don’t look like an Accident, MAN in the fashion department neither! Get yourself into KFK WEAR, and subscribe for more fist-pumping FU on YouTube!

Brad Curran

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

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