The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival celebrated its first year at the Howler Bar from July 9 -11. The program delivers an open submission platform of International short and feature films. A selection of versatile stories from environmental, personal accounts and music documentaries. There is also a focus on women filmmakers and Q&A’s with local and International filmmakers.
I had the opportunity to interview one of the filmmakers who is screening his debut documentary feature at this year’s opening night. Inside Fighter directed by Nick Barkla.
The Inaugural Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is scheduled to screen your film. How do you feel about it?
Yes. It’s great to have Inside Fighter make its national premiere in its hometown.
It’s a good opportunity for local filmmakers to screen their film to a local audience. I feel Lyndon Stone, the director of the festival, has opened up a gap that needed to be filled in this city. And to be part of the first documentary film festival with my first documentary feature is exciting and to be amongst other local filmmakers in the community is great.
What was the inspiration for Inside Fighter?
I have always loved boxing and working out at my local boxing gym. One day l heard a guy smashing the heavy bag and asked the owner of the gym who he was. I was told it was Frank LoPorto, ranked twelve in the world in the light-middleweight division. An Australian champion. I was introduced to Frank and we immediately clicked and became friends.
How did the film come about?
I shot some test footage of Frank in the lead up to a fight, as I had an idea he would be an interesting subject for a film. And it just began to evolve. It basically began as an experiment and once he got the call to fight for the world title, I just kept filming.
When did you decide to go ahead and make the film?
Frank got a surprise call from the WBA, asking him if he’d like to fight for the world title in Texas against an undefeated champion. The original challenger had pulled out after breaking his hand in training, and they needed an opponent. Frank only had five weeks to prepare, but given he was heading towards the end of his career, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. We decided to keep filming and take the project to another level and get serious about making the film.
What was the size of your budget?
There was no real budget at the time. I borrowed my brother’s camera, who was a photographer, and did the sound recording myself and learnt on the job. It was a real journey and a learning curve. I funded the shoot myself and then my colleague Amiel Courtin-Wilson came on board as a producer. After that we received some development funding from Film Victoria.
Had you worked as a producer prior to Inside Fighter?
Yes . I had associate produced a film I acted in called ‘Blind Company,’ and had also been one of the executive producers of Amiel’s directorial debut ‘Hail,’ which premiered at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.
When did you decide you wanted to get into filmmaking?
As a professional actor and working on film sets l felt it was something I wanted to become involved with. The stories I’m telling have always interested me more than the roles I’m playing, so I knew filmmaking was something I’d get into at some point.
Especially documentary films and my need to tell real stories. l feel that is where meeting Frank LoPorto and making Inside Fighter was the beginning of something that felt true and real to me.
Has Inside Fighter screened elsewhere?
In 2014 it screened at the St Tropez Antipodes Film Festival. A unique experience where all films screened are from Australia or New Zealand. The festival began in 2002 by the ongoing French festival director Bernard Bories – a true Austrophile.
What is your next film project?
I have recently received development funding for a feature documentary ‘The Mighty Apollo,’ the true story of a real life Melbourne circus strongman and his quest for immortality by becoming the strongest man in the world.
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