Director-Writer Bear Frazer discusses "The Bam Theory"
The first thing that pops into someone's head when thinking of Lynchburg, Virginia may be the city's beautiful surroundings, the numerous collegiate institutions located there, or perhaps even nothing at all. But it is safe to say that mixed martial arts is probably not very high on that list.
Frazer, a director and writer, has embarked on a unique journey to bring MMA to the silver screen with "The Bam Theory." And Lynchburg has served as the launching pad.
"In October of 2009, after the Machida-Shogun pay-per-view, I was at Buffalo Wild Wings watching it in Lynchburg. You know, drinking some beers, watching the fights, enjoying the local fight camaraderie," Frazer told HeavyMMA.com. "I went home that night and I really started to put the pieces together. I started getting all of these ideas and decided, ‘You know what? There’s so many small towns here in America, and every single person who gets involved in MMA, most of them are from smaller towns before they graduate to the bigger stage.'
"I figured, why don’t I just do it here? It’s got a great MMA scene, we’ve got six or seven fight gyms, and there is a local promotion here and there are a few in the area. I decided that this should be the setting, it should be based off the local fight culture."
The story surrounds the life struggles of Bam (played by real-life mixed martial artist Matt Coleman), as he battles through such adversity as his father's suicide and a falling out with the love of his life. The tragic happenings continue to come in between the protagonist and his dream of rising to the elite level of the sport of MMA, making this story bigger than simply MMA.
Rather, it involves struggles that happen to real people on a daily basis throughout the United States of America.
"He’s looking for the ups, but there are just so many downs he loses track of his dream. Instead of pursuing his dream, it is on hold because he needs to help his family out. He needs to get his mind right. That’s when it all really started coming together for me."
"We have all these strong personalities, all these strong characters, and they are so unique and presented differently from anything we’ve seen in the (past) mixed martial arts film. Combine that with all the issues going on and all the drama that these guys experience. That happens every single day, you know?"
While the story focuses on more than just mixed martial arts, Frazer knows that his project is unlike any other film based on the sport in the long history of cinema.
Movies such as "Fighting" and "Never Back Down" are examples of recent films based on MMA, but, like with so many other fighting movies, Frazer, along with many mixed martial arts fans, have been disappointed by the premises. Instead of basing his story on prison fights, Mafia ties, or other concepts utilized in the past, the story will feature sanctioned fights.
"It’s just something that hasn’t been done yet. There really hasn’t been any MMA movies done in an actually sanctioned environment that represents the sport as a sport. It’s always tied to the Mafia, or organized crime, or, ‘Fight in this tournament. You’ll make like a million dollars and you can have a yacht.’ We’re doing something completely different, keeping it true, keeping it genuine, keeping it sincere."
Ever since the decision to bring his project to Lynchburg, Frazer has been more than pleased with the response, as the "The Bam Theory" begins to pick up steam and gain recognition throughout the city and surrounding area.
With a local promotion and several fight gyms, the city has become increasingly involved in the sport, but MMA enthusiasts are not the only ones who are excited about the film. Frazer says that the people of Lynchburg are simply thrilled to have something that usually only happens in Hollywood take place in their hometown.
"Everybody’s been so receptive to it. Not just the media, but the cast, the production crew. I can walk in Lynchburg right now and I’ll probably meet somebody new who has heard about the film and just thanks me because there’s not really anything that goes on here as far as the arts and entertainment. A lot of people have been very receptive and happy that something big is going to go on around here. It’s just a great feeling that everybody’s so happy and motivated and encouraged by it."
The concept of "The Bam Theory" continues to progress into what Frazer believes it could become. Just this week, a pitch film was finalized, and Frazer is ready to take the next steps toward achieving his goal for the film. But how far could it go? Could "The Bam Theory" become the first true modern day mixed martial arts film?
According to Frazer, there is no ceiling on how successful this could be.
"I think it’s limitless. I really do. We already have a grass roots following now, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger on a daily basis... I really feel like the sky’s the limit. You know what, screw the sky. We can go higher than that man. We’re gonna go as far as God will take us."
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