Dawn of Lions, by Genghis Con Films, will be an upshot to Rollin' in Dakar (full viewing available below), a short film that documented Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) seminars, mixed martial arts (MMA) exhibitions, traditional Laamb wrestling, and a captivating beach tournament in West Africa.
With your support, the Lion Heart Initiative will produce Dawn of Lions, a comprehensive documentary capturing the rise of MMA in West Africa, by filming a team of top-level American martial artists introducing their respective reality-based disciplines to local athletes in Senegal.
In early 2015, two Lion Heart staff members and a filmmaker will travel to Dakar, Senegal ahead of the team to conduct final coordination for events, sites, and logistics, as well as site surveys. Subsequently, a BJJ expert instructor, a top-level BJJ competitor, a Muay Thai instructor, and a leading professional MMA fighter will travel together to Dakar, where they will introduce modern MMA to local combat sport athletes, including traditional wrestlers and Judo practitionners.
The team will be filmed for two weeks while they teach, cross-train in traditional Laamb wrestling, and compete, while living in the local community. Between training seminars, exhibitions, and friendly competitions in Dakar, the team will also travel to the nearby city of Mbour and the seaside community of Sali, where it will participate in events at training facilities and public venues.
Dawn of Lions will be directed, filmed, and edited by Isaac Kesington, known as Genghis Con, a cutting-edge filmmaker responsible for some of the best MMA series on the internet . A MMA documentary virtuoso whose films are marked by unique footage, unconventional song choices, and clever approaches to their subjects. As a partner in the Lion Heart Initiative, Genghis Con Films edited Rollin' in Dakar, the prequel to this documentary. He created a fascinating short film using footage shot in Africa by volunteer cameramen Amando Carigo and Jaron Hampton.
Rollin' in Dakar was co-produced by the Lion Heart Initiative and KOA Martial Arts in Stafford, Virginia. KOA Team instructor Kelly Grissom and four of his students, amateur BJJ and MMA practitioners, trained and competed with local martial artists, while living in the local community and traveling using public transportation, truly experiencing the culture, sights, and smoldering heat, as well as other challenges of living and training in West Africa.
Rollin' in Dakar features hundreds of martial artists and spectators attending BJJ seminars, as well as “flash-mob" style MMA exhibitions along city streets and beaches. KOA travelers rapidly immersed themselves in the exotic and ancient martial art of Laamb wrestling. Alongside their African counterparts, they competed in both BJJ and Laamb matches during a small, yet sensational tournament held on a beach along the Atlantic coast.
Rather than give you a boring outline for Dawn of Lions, its plot and setting can be best understood by watching its prequel. We appreciate your interest and hope you back this project, or simply share with friends and social media. Everyone knows at least one "MMA fan" who will greatly appreciate our vision.
Please enjoy an early viewing of Rollin' in Dakar (27 mins):
Why Senegal? Senegal stands as one of few countries in the world whose national sport is a martial arts discipline. Senegalese traditional Laamb wrestling is the national pastime, the pursuit of thousands of young athletes seeking a better life, and by far the most popular form of entertainment. Laamb wrestling, a form of MMA in its own right, includes grappling, clinch fighting, and striking techniques. Most young Senegalese seem obsessed with physical fitness and the country's intense sports culture is apparent every afternoon along city streets, in public parks, and at beaches, where hundreds of athletes converge to run, wrestle, play soccer, or conduct cardio and plyometric exercises in unison.
Physical fitness and MMA potential in Senegal (4 mins):
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DAWN OF LIONS FEATURED PERSONALITIES & FILM CREW
Kelly Grissom - Project BJJ Lead Instructor. He holds a BJJ black belt under Leo Dalla and black belt in Judo. A retired U.S. Marine, Kelly is the owner and BJJ head instructor of KOA Martial Arts, and a "plank-owner" in the Lion Heart Initiative. Kelly's impressive competitive resume includes medals at International BJJ Federation Pan Championships in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as a gold medals in the 2006 Hawaii Triple Crown and Hawaii GXL tournaments. His Judo record includes gold medals in North Carolina State Senior Judo Championships in 1999 and 2000, as well as a gold medal at Virginia State Championships in 2001.
Isaac July - Project BJJ Instructor. A leading BJJ competitor whose remarkable record includes 3 world championship gold medals; one at the 2007 BJJ World Championships and two at the 2013 NOGI World Championships. Isaac also won two gold medals at the European BJJ Championship in 2014.
Miguel Marcano - Project Muay Thai Instructor. He trained Muay Thai under Kru Mike Custodio and is currently the Muay Thai head instructor for KOA Team. Miguel's kickboxing programs have trained U.S. federal and local law enforcement, Armed Forces, and many competitive MMA fighters. Miguel holds black belts in multiple disciplines and trained for over 20 years in martial arts, including Karate, Boxing, Brazilian and Japanese Jiu Jitsu, Sambo, Tae Kwon Do, and Filipino martial arts.
A top-level professional MMA fighter - Project MMA instructor. This currently undetermined MMA fighter, will be a prominent competitor presently (or previously) signed with a major promotion company such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Strike Force, Bellator, or Pride. A few well-known American MMA fighters have already contacted the Lion Heart Initiative, stating their interest to volunteer for its next project, to teach and train MMA in West Africa, and even cross-train and potentially compete in a traditional wrestling match against a prominent local wrestler. We intend to invite a second well-known MMA fighter to join the team, once your support exceeds our funding goal and reaches our aspired "silver stretch goal".
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FILM & PRODUCTION CREW
Isaac Kesington. Project Filmmaker. Isaac, also known as Genghis Con, is a maverick filmmaker who has pioneered MMA themed documentary series, his brand and film genre are recognized and admired by MMA fans worldwide, and built him a genuine cult following. Isaac's production company, Genghis Con Films has shoot and produced series such as Miami Hustle, Fists of Fortune, Tales from the Grind, and The BJJ Kumite, featuring fighters from Ultimate Fighting Championship, Strike Force, and Bellator.
A film crew of 2 cameramen. We intend to locally hire two professional cameramen/lighting specialists in Senegal, if support for this project surpasses the funding goal and reaches our aspired "bronze stretch goal". The local film crew will work under the direction of Genghis Con.
A.K. Rupert. Project Producer & Lion Heart Director. Armand is a career U.S. Marine, known to his friends as "AK", who founded the Lion Heart Initiative as a non-profit endeavor to introduce and grow MMA in West Africa. In the 1980's, he lived in West Africa with his American parents, where he learned to speak local languages and immersed native culture. In November 2013, he began production for Rollin' in Dakar, using his acute knowledge of local sensibilities and extensive network of contacts to organize complex martial arts events. Lion Heart Initiative currently stands as the only endeavor pursuing this vision, and organization capable of undertaking such an elaborate project for the cost.
Malick Rupert. Assistant Project Producer. As Lion Heart staff, he will serve as personal assistant to the film and production crew, as well as, assist with coaching during training sessions. His background in BJJ, organizational skills, and experience in Senegal uniquely qualify him to support this project.
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The Lion Heart Initiative is a non-profit endeavor to introduce and develop MMA in West Africa. The initiative aims to introduce urban youth to BJJ, Muay Thai, and modern MMA, concurrently allowing visiting martial artists to experience indigenous West African wrestling. Focusing on underprivileged communities, Lion Heart Initiative intends to support local athletes and appeal to the region's “sports culture” to establish permanent training centers, develop skilled competitors, and ultimately help establish a professional MMA circuit in the region, thereby creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to compete in regulated MMA, which is rapidly emerging as the world's leading combat sport.
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HOW WILL YOUR MONEY BE SPENT?
A single house to lodge the team.
Food, laundry, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Video and audio equipment rentals, and consumables.
Taxis in Dakar - most efficient and cost effective transportation.
A truck - used to move mats and equipment between events.
Equipment rental for events - lawn chairs, tarps, PA system, ect.
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WHY DO WE NEED YOUR HELP?
In November 2013, we completely self-funded the production of Rollin' in Dakar and faced financial constraints, which limited the scope of the project, logistics, time available, and quality of the film. For Dawn of Lions, we intend to shoot a broader documentary, directed and filmed by a professional filmmaker, and operate under more suitable conditions and less time constraints.
Our funding goal of $22,000 is the minimum sum needed to effectively execute the project, filming Dawn of Lions in two weeks. We are confident this budget will allow us to organize required events, and subsequently produce an optimal and compelling film; however, a limited budget could hinder access to ideal locations for filming, limit film crew size, and cause some time constraints, thereby limiting the project's ultimate potential.
Reaching our "bronze stretch goal" of $26,500 will permit us to enlist a small crew of two locally hired professional cameramen/lighting specialists to work under the direction of Genghis Con. Having additional cameramen will allow the film crew to split up into teams, thereby optimizing coverage of concurrent events and broadening the scope of the documentary by following individual trainers or local martial artists. Attaining this "bronze stretch goal" will also permit us to travel further outside Dakar and film in other cities of Senegal, exposing our team and film crew to entirely new social and natural backdrops.
Attaining a "silver stretch goal" of $30,500 will enable us to bring along a second top-level professional MMA fighter, who will serve as another MMA instructor, enhancing the featured cast and increasing the scope of the film.
Our "golden stretch goal" of $39,000 will permit the project to film for a total of three weeks and enable us to travel to The Gambia, a neighboring country where Lion Heart intends to introduce MMA next. The Gambia's unique environment and culture will undoubtedly enhance the film; furthermore, the country's official language is English, which will broaden featured dialogue and allow the film crew to document more direct interactions between the American team and the local populace without the use of translators.
THANK YOU. Your financial support to this project is greatly appreciated; otherwise, since we understand times are tough for many of us, please share this worthwhile project on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Again, thank you and hope you now share our vision.
Risks and challenges
Organizing and filming such an project is undoubtedly a challenging and demanding undertaking; however, our ability to execute this film's prequel, a complex documentary made with a "shoe-string" budget, proves we have the capacity and experience to see this project through.
Our project's only major challenge will be acquiring the budget set in our funding goal, and hopefully surpassing it.
We tried to set a realistic timeline for the project and delivering on promises made to backers; however, we might need to slightly adjust our schedule to accommodate the professional MMA fighter(s) contractual and training obligations, as he (they) might be preparing for upcoming fights.
In any scenario, we will fulfill our commitment to our backers and to ourselves. After all, the Lion Heart Initiative's reputation depends on our ability to deliver on this project.
Your product or brand (patch) FEATURED IN THE FILM, worn by West African martial artists, and recognized as a SPONSOR in the film - we guarantee your brand/product will make the final cut and have good visibility
+ High-resolution digital photos of your BRAND (patch) or PRODUCT worn by West African martial artists during events
+ Permanently listed as a sponsor on lionheartMMAfrica.com, and recognized on Facebook and Twitter
+ HD digital download of "Dawn of Lions" and our permission to upload it on your business website and social media
A chance to join the "Dawn of Lions" team on their journey to West Africa. You will be invited to all events, travel along, and hangout with the team during the film's production. A unique & unforgettable adventure, experiencing the sights and culture of an exotic land, and a chance to witness the genesis of modern MMA in the region. Lion Heart will provide in-country transportation and assist with lodging accommodations. International travel (approx $1500), lodging cost, and meals not included)
+ Your name (or non-profit institution) permanently listed on lionheartMMAfrica.com for having notably contributed to the development of MMA in West Africa.
An invitation to join the team in West Africa. An exclusive opportunity to travel and LIVE with the Lion Heart team while they film "Dawn of Lions." A unique chance to witness the birth of modern MMA in the region from within. Your international flights (DC to Dakar), lodging, in-house meals, and local transportation are included in your reward
+ Get a least one speaking role in the film during a short interview describing your impressions. We guarantee your perspective will make the final cut.
+ Receive an honorary induction as a Lion Heart Partner and be recognized as having significantly contributed to the development of MMA in West Africa.
An Invitation for TWO to join, travel, and live with the Lion Heart team during production of "Dawn of Lions" in West Africa. Your international flights (DC to Dakar), lodging, in-house meals, and local transportation are included in your reward + Be part of the film and we guarantee at least one of each of your perspectives will make the final cut + Receive honorary inductions as a Lion Heart Partners and be recognized as having significantly contributed to the development of MMA in West Africa.