Tag Archives: documentary

Showtime to debut “Bipolar Rock ‘n” Roller” doc, about Mauro Ranallo’s battle with mental illness

Prolific combat sports broadcaster Mauro Ranallo and his lifelong battle with mental illness are the subject of a new documentary film from SHOWTIME Sports®. BIPOLAR ROCK ‘N ROLLER – named for the moniker Ranallo gave himself as a broadcast personality and DJ in the early 90’s – will premiere on SHOWTIME during Mental Health Awareness Month on Friday, May 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Ranallo has Bipolar Affective Disorder, a condition afflicting nearly five percent of the U.S. population according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.org). As a national sportscaster for preeminent boxing, mixed martial arts and WWE events, Ranallo has long been an advocate for ending the stigma of mental illness. Now, for the first time, he exposes the true extent of his daily struggle. Through extensive behind-the-scenes video footage, candid personal interviews and detailed accounts from his loved ones and doctors, BIPOLAR ROCK ‘N ROLLER takes an unflinching look at mental illness and its effects.

The film explores Ranallo’s career, including his work on the two biggest pay-per-view events in television history, and his relentless pursuit of a childhood dream despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Through this deeply personal portrait, Ranallo hopes that the film might inspire others to persevere in pursuing their dreams despite the challenges of a mental health condition.

“I have always tried to do my part to bring awareness to mental health issues,” said Ranallo. “Over the last several years, I allowed my best friend, Haris (Usanovic), to film me at my lowest points as well as at my highest. The idea is simply to show others who suffer that they are not alone and that, even when the outlook is bleak, you can overcome and achieve success. Mental illness is a life sentence—there is no cure—but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.”

“Through BIPOLAR ROCK ‘N ROLLER, Mauro Ranallo has chosen to share not only his life’s dreams, but his nightmares as well,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports and Event Programming for Showtime Networks Inc. “Having reached the pinnacle of his profession, Mauro bravely turns his keen observational skills inward to examine his own life-long battle. The result is a raw, poignant and ultimately inspirational film that personifies Mauro’s courage and selflessness.”

Ranallo is a popular fixture on today’s combat sports scenes. In a career that has spanned more than 30 years, he has called everything from “All-Star Wrestling,” a Canadian professional wrestling outfit, to historic MMA events for PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS out of Japan, to WWE SmackDown Live on USA Network, to many of the biggest boxing events in the world for SHOWTIME Sports. Ranallo was the first broadcaster to call play-by-play on boxing, kickboxing, MMA and professional wrestling events on national television.

Today, Ranallo is the voice of three prominent nationally televised series: SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®, WWE’s weekly show NXT on WWE Network, and BELLATOR MMA on Paramount Network. Perhaps best known for his dramatic, excitable style, Ranallo is a student of the English language. He has already made a lasting mark on the industry having called the two biggest pay-per-view events in television history: Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (May 2015, international telecast); and Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor (Aug. 2017, SHOWTIME PPV®).

BIPOLAR ROCK ‘N ROLLER is produced by Brian Dailey, the network’s Vice President, Sports Digital Content and Strategy, and MALKA MEDIA GROUP. Directed by first-time filmmaker Haris Usanovic, the film is executive produced by Stephen Espinoza and SHOWTIME Sports.

WATCH: Arnold Schwarzenegger recalls story about “Andre the Giant” for new HBO documentary

Arnold Schwarzenegger recalls an eventful dinner with Andre. Arnold picked up the check, so Andre picked up Arnold…literally.

Andre the Giant premieres April 10. The film, presented by HBO Sports and WWE, is produced by JMH Films in association with Ringer Films. The film will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’ streaming services.

In 1973, Andre joined the organization, where McMahon Sr. famously billed him as Andre the Giant. Andre’s unique voice and athletic prowess, coupled with his more than 500-pound, seven-foot, four-inch frame, made him an unforgettable attraction.

HBO Sports and WWE are partnering for the first time ever on the feature-length presentation, which combines never-before-seen footage and revealing interviews for a comprehensive and intimate portrait of one of this largely unknown figure. The wide-ranging documentary explores Andre’s upbringing in France, his celebrated career in WWE and forays in the entertainment world, and includes interviews with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, family members and more.

“Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters” aims to be definitive Ghostbusters documentary

UK brother and sister team, filmmaker Anthony Bueno and film presenter Claire Bueno are set to chronicle the enduring popularity of two of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II revealing how they came to fruition from inception through to the production. “Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters” is the resultant feature-length documentary of the first film is nearing completion with the sequel’s evolution discussed in a companion feature.

Based in London, Anthony and Claire’s eight year journey has taken them over the United States from Lily Dale to Jacksonville cross country to San Diego, LA and San Francisco, visiting many of the memorable locations. They have interviewed over 70 members of the cast and crew responsible for bringing these stories to life including actors Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver; director Ivan Reitman, producers Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross and editor Sheldon Kahn. Some of those names are due to appear in Paul Feig’s much-anticipated new Ghostbusters this summer.

Directed by Anthony Bueno and produced by Claire Bueno for Bueno Productions, “Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters” is intended to be the most complete account of how these classic films were made. It is the culmination of Anthony’s lifelong love of the film which he credits for launching both his love of films and the supernatural. He says, ‘Since I first saw Ghostbusters in the cinemas back in 84’ I was captivated, although I didn’t think 24 years later I would begin a documentary about it with my sister Claire!

‘Becoming more enamored with filmmaking as I’ve got older and learning how Ghostbuster 1 and 2 were made over the last 8 years’, Anthony continues, ‘ I truly hope we will deliver an in depth documentary of quality for both fans of the film and filmmakers alike. And with the team we have onboard with us now that is exactly what they will get’.

Released in 1984 in the pre-digital age when special effects were still evolving. Ghostbusters was an instant hit followed up five years later with Ghostbusters 2. As a result, the documentaries are a tribute the special effects industry at the pivotal point in its evolution from model craft to digital. The film contains interviews with the Visual Effects crew on both films including Richard Edlund, John Bruno, Dennis Muren and Ned Gorman.

Claire says, ‘Because of this documentary, cast and crew have reconnected not having seen each other for twenty years plus. To play a tiny part in this has been a real privilege’.

A Kickstarter campaign has recently been launched in order to raise the final funds. Running throughout February, it will enable them to complete post-production on both films and secure worldwide distribution. “Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters” will be released later in the year.

“The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” is the documentary wrestling fans need to see – REVIEW

Wrestling fans might remember “Beyond the Mat”, a documentary produced during the Attitude era of WWF that featured Mick Foley showing the barbaric side of wrestling and putting your body on the line, and legendary wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts working independent shows loaded with drugs and booze, hoping to die. Viewers were left seeing a very dark side of life after wrestling, with Roberts wallowing in the misery of a vicious cycle that refused to let him go, one where the audience wondered if death was the only thing that could truly save Roberts from suffering any longer. Thank goodness that they were all wrong.

Directed by Steve Yu, “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” follows another famous wrestler, former WCW world heavyweight champ Diamond Dallas Page, as he goes in search of Jake to help him not only save his legacy, but his life. Starting in August 2012, DDP and Steve roll up to Texas to find Roberts an absolute mess. Overweight, injured, and unable to stay clean, DDP invites him back to his home, “the accountability crib”, to put him on the straight and narrow. Through hard work, sobriety programs, and a healthy dose of DDP’s brand of Yoga, the film chronicles the victories and nearfalls of Roberts as he struggles to attain a clean lifestyle.

Roberts falls off the wagon a few times, but it was truly inspiring to not only see him get back on his feet, but keep fighting. His mistakes are ugly to watch, both as a fan of him as a performer and as a bystander seeing a human suffer, but when he succeeds and turns his life around, it’s hard not to smile. For me, the turning point of this was when Roberts and DDP call up Scott Hall, another wrestling legend who fell into hard times with substance abuse, and Roberts uses the same tactics that DDP had used on him to convince Hall to join them in the house and get clean.

There is a docu-reality feel to this that makes it easily accessible to viewers that might not care to watch a documentary under normal circumstances. The story is easy to get immersed into because it’s so real, and rightfully so. This is no-holds-barred guerrilla filmmaking, no pretty set-up shots to glamorize anything – just a rugged documentary that gets in the face of this challenge that Roberts, DDP, and Hall are contending with, and is there for every second of the ride. For around 90 minutes, you get snippets of what it was like over the course of 18 months or so for DDP to coach Jake and confront him in ways that clearly no one else had dared to do before. If you have heard all of the success stories on the internet about what DDP has done for Jake (and others) already, seeing it in person will make you understand why.

The feels are strong in this movie, and it is hard not to have your heart strings tugged on at any point because of how charismatic Jake Roberts is. Whether he is angry at himself for not working hard enough during a Yoga session, or yelling at his friends while having a bad day where he falls off the wagon, Jake is so persuasive that you want to believe and support everything he says and does, even when it hurts him. Seeing the rollercoaster that was his life for a few years as he worked on himself to finally earn his place into the WWE Hall of Fame is nothing short of miraculous and amazing, and I will always be rooting for him to stay this way. In a business where living past 60 was abnormal for other men of his era, Jake has proved that it is never too late to turn things around, put life in a rear chin-lock to say, “Not today,” and live on for another day.

While it is not a sequel to “Beyond the Mat”, it is a direct continuation of the story presented of Jake in that film, and this is the happy ending that Roberts deserves to have. “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” is a must-watch documentary for every wrestling fan, whether you watch the current product or grew up watching it as a kid, as well as for anyone that wants to be inspired by a feel-good tale of what happens when you quiet the demons that have controlled your life for far too long. Jake may have never won a single championship belt in WWF, but he has earned a clean pinfall against his greatest enemy and that is the sweetest title to hold and be proud of.

The film is currently touring around the US and is not available for sale just yet. There are plans for VOD & DVD releases later this year, so this post will be updated once they become available, but in the meantime you can join the mailing list on their official website to find out when you can grab this for yourself.

The untold story of “Back to the Future” – “Back In Time” Movie Review

This year marked the anniversary of “Back to the Future Day”, with the future being the present, when October 21, 2015 was no longer something to look ahead to, but was reality. That was the day that Marty Mcfly landed in the future to save his kids in “Back to the Future II”, but 2015 also marked the 30th anniversary of the original film starring Michael J. Fox and Christophyer Lloyd. Many people would consider this the greatest time travel movie ever made, but plenty of others would just plain call this the greatest movie ever. In the documentary, “Back in Time”, we get to learn why this movie is so beloved to this day, and get the inside scoop on creating this classic piece of cinema gold.

Directed by Jason Aron, this project was originally funded thanks to a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that gave the filmmakers enough capitol to get some high-profile interviews and some amazing footage, as well as the ability to afford licenses to show much of the movie footage used in this.

The first third of this film is the original story of how the film was created, and how it almost did not get produced at all. Viewers will learn about the behind-the-scenes story including how Michael J. Fox was not originally going to play the lead character as Marty was played (for six weeks) by Eric Stoltz, the reasons for using a Delorean as the time machine, and which studios foolishly passed on picking this script up. Interviews with the cast and crew add all sorts of insights and stories about their time on set, but that is only the beginning of this doc.

As the story continues, the film transforms into a narrative about the fandom behind the series, showing how the legacy of the movies continued long after the end of the trilogy hit theaters. We meet people who customize Deloreans and collect the cars from the movies, run the fan sites, and even re-create the entire town from the original movie to give viewers an immersive experience that they will never forget. From America to the UK, fans of “Back to the Future” are everywhere and doing all sorts of wild things to keep this franchise alive and fresh for new generations.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen more info on the sequels since they get glossed over in this documentary to make room for the fans. The fans are indeed an important part of this, but there is so little discussed about the second and third movies, it left me wanting to hear a lot more about the inception of those instead of learning about the fandom. No offense to the fandom since the stories presented were good, but I came into this expecting a little more background story on the entire series. To be fair, the fans break up the monotony of the talking head interviews that are so prevalent in the beginning, but overall I had hoped for equal parts information as there were tributes to the community that love the movie. If it was just a doc about the making-of, it would probably feel more like a series of special features on a DVD then a fully-fledged documentary, so I suggest going into this film knowing what to expect to get a better time from it.

You can order “Back in Time” from Amazon.com on Blu-Ray for around $28, or on DVD for a few dollars less. If you are a serious fan of the film series, then this is a love-letter for you. I enjoyed hearing all of the stories, from both the creators and the fans, and if you were a fan of these movies growing up (or still are now) then there is no reason not to check this doc out.

SLAMDANCE GOES TO THE MAT TO LAUNCH “THE RESURRECTION OF JAKE THE SNAKE”

Slamdance joins forces with the filmmakers behind “The Resurrection of Jake The Snake” for a multi-city theatrical release of the 2015 Slamdance Film festival favorite documentary beginning in Portland, Oregon on September 2, 2015. The Portland Film Festival will host the film’s release with a special event screening and a Q&A session moderated by UFC superstar Chael Sonnen with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Diamond Dallas Page and director Steve Yu. The event format is a key element of the film’s continuing theatrical release with personal appearances by Jake “The Snake,” filmmakers and special guests.

The theatrical release marks the initiation of Slamdance Presents, a new distribution moniker for Slamdance’s world premier programs dedicated to creating theatrical and other commercial opportunities for independent filmmakers.

As an unprecedented promotional venture between distributor and filmmaker, the partnership is the perfect combination of two underdogs teaming up to take on the fierce theatrical film marketplace. The inspiring documentary feature opened the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival and went on to win critical acclaim as well as this unique theatrical distribution partnership with Slamdance Presents. When “The Resurrection of Jake The Snake” screens at the Portland Film Festival, it may very well be the first time two festivals have come together to support a nationwide release of an independent film.

Directed by Steve Yu, “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” documents one of the most famous professional wrestlers in the world, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, as he battles his personal demons in a struggle to reclaim his life and the family that had given up on him. The feature-length documentary also features Diamond Dallas Page and Scott Hall aka Razor Ramon. Diamond Dallas Page is the film’s producer.

“We’re thrilled that Slamdance believes enough in our documentary to pursue this innovative theatrical strategy with us,” said the film’s director Steve Yu. “We were fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. Capturing Jake’s incredible story was as compelling as any fictional narrative – except that this is 100% real.”

Theater bookers’ response to the venture has already proven successful with venues scheduled throughout the fall in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas, Nashville, Tampa and Yonkers in addition to Portland. Other cities are presently being added to the schedule. Each venue will offer a hosted Special Event Screening with personal appearances by Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Diamond Dallas Page, filmmakers and special guests at a hosted Q&A.

The plan to collaborate on a theatrical release between Slamdance and the filmmakers was based on the filmmakers’ unrivaled knowledge and connection to a large, eager and devoted subculture and based on their mutual success at Slamdance 2015. The blueprint for the Special Event Screenings came from Slamdance’s Cinema Club at Hollywood’s ArcLight Theater in March 2015 where film showings included a hosted Q&A with the filmmakers, special wrestling guests and moderated by Slamdance alumni Joe Manganiello. This model will be used throughout the release.

“We hope to enter the challenging theatrical arena with a strong showing, knowing that the festival and the film embody the true spirit of independent film,” said Peter Baxter, President and Co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival.” Audiences love our screening events with filmmakers. It’s great to receive the support of the Portland Film Festival to help our launch. I hope more festivals can help one another like this in the future.”

“As fellow mavericks, we are excited to present “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” at this year’s festival,” said Josh Leake, Executive Director of the Portland Film Festival. “Teaming with Slamdance to help launch their new distribution arm with the film’s theatrical release is groundbreaking in the world of independent film. We are pleased to be part of this terrific collaboration.”

“GIRL FIGHT: A MUAY THAI STORY” DOCUMENTARY PREPARES FOR RELEASE

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As I mentioned recently, I have been hard at work for the past two years on a feature-length documentary. While there is no distribution just yet, that is not stopping us from moving ahead with promoting it, as well as seeking to gain a little more funding to help tie up loose ends and get us an advantage as we head towards the finish line.

Here is our official press release (written by me) with all the details about the film, as well as how you can support the film!

New York, May 27, 2015
— Produced and directed by Matthew Kaplowitz, editor of TheFightNerd.com & NerdNewsToday.com, and producer of MMA shows for Spike TV, “Girl Fight: A Muay Thai Story” is a new documentary that follows two women from an all-female kickboxing gym on the Jersey Shore as they prepare for several Muay Thai fights while struggling with obstacles inside the ring and out. For the women of the “Girl Fight” gym, winning means more than just having your arm raised after a match.
Continue reading “GIRL FIGHT: A MUAY THAI STORY” DOCUMENTARY PREPARES FOR RELEASE

Help me make a documentary – “Girl Fight: A Muay Thai Story”

Hey everyone! This is your friendly neighborhood Fight Nerd AKA Matthew Kaplowitz (who also runs this site), and I need your help to make one of my projects become a reality.

For over two years, I have been working on a documentary, called “Girl Fight: A Muay Thai Story.” The doc is about two female fighters from “The Girl Fight” gym, an all-female Muay Thai academy on The Jersey Shore, and follows them around for 18 months as they prepare for fights and deal with the life’s obstacles thrown at them outside of the ring.
Continue reading Help me make a documentary – “Girl Fight: A Muay Thai Story”