A little over two years ago, I began filming the life of professional mixed martial arts fighter Michelle Waterson. At the time, female fighters had their work cut out for them choosing the sport as their sole source of income, and Michelle had the equally difficult task of balancing fighting with motherhood.
Fighting out of the world-renowned Jackson/Winkeljohn gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Michelle is affectionately nicknamed "Peanut" for being the smallest in the gym. Her daughter, Araya, accompanies her to the long training sessions every day, as the role of playful babysitter is at times thrust upon some of the sport’s most iconic fighters in between their workouts.
The UFC, the premier organization for these high level athletes, announced the start of their very first division for women. This provided Michelle with a glimmer of hope, as she dreamed one day of performing on the sport’s largest stage. Faced with many obstacles, this underdog had a long road ahead of her. This film captures the incredible journey to the top of a sport not often explored from such an intimate perspective.
Over the past few years, I have independently produced and directed a number of sports-themed documentaries that have aired nationally in both the U.S. and in my home of Canada. My work has appeared on ESPN, Fox Sports, Major League Baseball Network, TSN, Rogers Sportsnet and The Hockey Network.
A black belt in karate, Michelle dropped out of college to pursue a career in combat sports after being inspired on a trip to visit family in Thailand. There, while training in the art of Muay Thai, a legendary trainer told her that, with proper dedication, she would one day become a world champion. His prediction proved correct almost ten years later when Michelle became champion for Invicta FC, the first-ever MMA organization made strictly for women. She has since signed a contract to fight in the UFC.
Born and raised in El Paso Texas, Josh was a prolific amateur boxer once ranked in the top five in the country. He joined the U.S. Air Force after high school and spent nine months stationed in Iraq. During his time in the military, he won a gold medal in boxing and eventually turned pro in the sport. After learning that Michelle was pregnant, Josh made the difficult decision to step away from fighting and find a steady job to help support his family and to allow Michelle the opportunity to follow her dream.
Regarded as the greatest coach in MMA, Coach Jackson has taken his gym to the top of the ranks in the sport. He has been a father figure in Michelle's life for the past decade, as the two share a very close bond that goes beyond coach and athlete. Other current UFC fighters under Coach Jackson are Jon Jones, Holly Holm, Donald Cerrone, Carlos Condit, Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem, John Dodson and Diego Sanchez.
A former world champion in Muay Thai and kickboxing, Coach Wink specializes in Michelle's striking technique and is in her corner for every fight. After becoming blind in his right eye during a training session a few years ago, Coach Wink has managed to turn his own tragedy into a valuable lesson on fighting and in life.
HOW CAN YOU HELP GET THIS FILM MADE?
- Back the Project - The trick with Kickstarter is, if we don't meet or exceed our target goal of $35,000- then we get nothing. Any amount helps gets us closer to our goal.
- Spread the Word- Please help share this project on Facebook Twitter and Instagram
WHERE IS THE KICKSTARTER MONEY IS GOING?
The bulk of the money will be going towards UFC licensed footage and music for the film. Every minute I show Michelle fighting inside the cage will cost money. As with any good documentary, the licensed footage and music are vital. Any additional money will be used towards:
- Motion Graphics
- Color Correction
- Sound Design and Audio Mix
Risks and challenges
THE PLAN FOR THE FILM ONCE IT'S COMPLETED-
The goal is to have the film completed in early 2016. Our main challenge is in the home-stretch and submitting the finished film to festivals around the world. The Kickstarter funds and online support will allow us to overcome this challenge. Thank you for your support.
-Sean MenardLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)