The Spyfunk! Files #5

Posted: July 25, 2022 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,
[AKA: Funk Five.]
File #5 contact: 
Denny Upkins
Read on for full mission brief...

1. Where did you get the idea for your story and your character?

The story was initially a script for a potential collaboration I was doing at the time with my buddy Camille Debose, who is a gifted filmmaker, photographer and a college professor. We had ideas for a short film that would be easy to shoot on a nominal budget with a story that packed a wallop. Life happens and both of us have very busy and demanding careers. So plans for the project were put on hold indefinitely. Nevertheless the story stuck with me, and I felt it was one that needed to be shared. So a few rewrites later, and we got The Bonds That Bind.

Without spoiling the story, I will say that two of the heroes are inspired by real life loved ones and personal superheroes of mine. You can learn about their incredible origin story here.

This story (at least this iteration anyway) definitely wouldn’t have been a reality if it wasn’t for the incredible people in my life.

2. What is it that’s making your hero and/or villains tick? Motivations, plots, decisions etc.

You think you know but you have no idea. Each character in the story has an agenda and some of them are fighting internal battles. Once said internal battles are revealed, it becomes clear that the one who appears to be the antagonist, is battling impossible odds.

On rare occasions it is about believing in someone and seeing the good in them even if they struggle to see it in themselves. A lesson taught to me by one of my mentors, author David Dark.

3. What’s your favourite spy movie?

Fast & Furious 6 probably takes the top spot with Skyfall and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, running closely behind.

4. Do you have any stories from real life you find especially memorable in the world of espionage? Why so?

I do but none that I’m at liberty to divulge. What I will say that many of the same skill sets needed to be successful in both espionage and investigative journalism/detective work overlap.

5. Best spy hero?

In real life: Harriet Tubman, Josephine Baker and my personal patronus, Alan Turing.

In fiction, there are a number of them: James Bond, Diana Prince, Phil Coulson, Melinda May,

And of course Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne of ABC’s Revenge.

6. And favourite spy villain?

Li-Na, the North Korean sleeper agent and season five Big Bad of Strike Back: Legacy.  Played by Emperor Philippa Georgiou herself. I’m a hardcore fanboy of all things Michelle Yeoh on any day ending in ‘y’ but Evil Michelle Yeoh is the gift I did not know this world needed. But you really couldn’t call her evil because she continuously served as a glitch in the matrix that is western white imperialism and consistently called the powers that be and by extension the viewers out on their hypocrisy and their part in systemic racism and I was here for all of it.

“I’m a hardcore fanboy of all things Michelle Yeoh on any day ending in ‘y’ but Evil Michelle Yeoh is the gift I did not know this world needed.”

Anna Espinosa who was played by perfection herself, the Goddess known as Gina Torres in the ABC series, Alias. Espinosa was a recurring rival to the show’s lead, Sidney Bristow who was played by Jennifer Garner. Espinosa was the Moriarty to Bristow’s Sherlock and those eps always made for great television.

Gravedigger who was one of the antagonists of season 3 of Black Lightning. He was played brilliantly by Wayne Brady. Much like  Strike Back’s Li-Na, a very strong argument could be made that he wasn’t a villain because he was an unapologetic revolutionary fighting for freedom for other Blacks and metas and he reluctantly had to fight in a war to achieve those goals because, well, freedom isn’t free. Especially in a world built on antiblackness.

Nikita series Big Bad, Amanda Collins, who was brought to life masterfully by the incredible Melinda Clarke. She may just be the best version of a live action Emma Frost to date.

The beguiling Raina, portrayed by the talented Ruth Negga by on the Coulson May Power Hour (billed in some regions as Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.) I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Werner von Strucker who was also a recurring baddie. My adoration for the latter certainly has nothing to do with my weakness for cute cerebral psychopaths or actor Spencer Treat Clark. Nope not at all. [shakes head convincingly]

7. Talk is resurfacing about Idris Elba perhaps being the next James Bond. What’s your thoughts on this?


Idris Elba is a class act and one of the most talented entertainers in the game today. The fact that he isn’t helming multiple franchises is absolutely criminal. He deserves better and nothing less than the best. I’ll leave it at that.

8. Scenario question: your protagonist is deep undercover and ends in a relationship in order to keep cover, what is their ethical approach to this? Have they got rules, or would they do anything they had to for their chosen allegiance?

For the two spies in my story, I believe they have a strong core of morals and ethics and would do their best to do right by all parties involved but their primary allegiance is towards the greater good….whatever that would entail.

9. Any questions you want to ask *me*?

Your story is now part of an anthology that will no doubt be cemented in the ongoing renaissance that is Black Speculative fiction. As an author, as an artist, how does it feel to have that kind of legacy?

VERY interesting question! This is the sort of thing I must first start off noting what an honour it was for me to be one of those chosen for this anthology in the first place. But yeah, further than that, I’m delighted that I got to write this story, which I hope is the start of much more. Not just by me, but by others who had that same thought when sat in front of their computer reading the casting call in the first place and go on to do amazing things. I’m really looking forward to what comes next and as strange as this sounds, it might sink in a bit more as to what has happened now a lot more once that happens. [Russell]

Thanks for stopping by, Denny, and thank you for reading, viewers! And speaking of reading, here’s an excerpt from Denny’s tale, The Bonds That Bind. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for news of the next entry. Be seeing you…

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