About this project
The Claw is a documentary about one of pro-wrestling’s most beloved characters, Baron von Raschke. The Baron started life as a humble man from Omaha, Nebraska called Jim who after serving his country, found himself on pro wrestling’s doorstep in the 1960s and became one of the greatest villains in wrestling history. This is his story.
Following Baron von Raschke’s rise to fame, the film documents the moment in pro wrestling when the seeds of today’s over-the-top characters were just sprouting but the values and customs of the 1950s pro wrestling world were still in place. Baron von Raschke was brought into wrestling in 1966 through an apprenticeship-style program by 16-time world heavy weight champion Verne Gagne. By the time he was ready to enter the ring, he had transformed from a shy, affable fellow into a ruthless wrestling madman with a claw that would possess not only himself, but his opponents as well. Opponents feared the Baron’s painful signature Brainclaw hold. It was considered so extreme that the WWWF "censored" his claw with a red "X" on television because of the blood it may draw from his opponent.
Baron von Raschke is among the last wave of wrestlers invited into the secret world of pro wrestling - a world whose inhabitants were a combination of gifted athletes, carnival workers, sideshow freaks and savvy businessmen. His rise to fame with the help of his first partner Mad Dog Vachon is a story of transformation and self-invention that is as inspiring as it is unlikely.
About the production
The production has been a labor of love for director Phil Harder, a Wisconsin native with fond memories of growing up terrified of Baron von Raschke. With the help of friends, Minneapolis fans and tons of favors, he has been capturing new footage of the Baron, filming dramatic recreations and tracking down classic vintage wrestling clips. In a unique approach to storytelling, The Claw features The Baron as he leads us through a cinematic journey of his wrestling life as a violent and evil German in the ring, and his home life as Jim Raschke - a mild mannered father and husband... The film is as much homage to living in the Midwest in the 60s and 70s as it is to wrestling’s glory days.
What’s the money for?
After two years shooting in Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey and Tokyo, we are now ready to begin the post-production process and that’s why we’ve embarked on this Kickstarter fundraising campaign.
The money raised will help cover the costs of actually finishing the movie. This includes editing, legal fees, licensing, music, sound mixing, festival entry fees and more in getting the film and bonus rewards to you. To break it down, the more we can raise the better and faster we can finish the film – and if we far exceed our goal we’ll be able to take the film even further, to audiences around America and the world. With your help, we’ll be able to complete this fascinating movie and share it with you, too.
Baron von Raschke Jim Raschke aka Baron von Raschke was a high school wrestling standout in Omaha, Nebraska. He attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln where he was Big 8 wrestling champion in his senior year. In 1963 he earned a spot on the U.S. World Team and became the second American ever to win a medal in Greco-Roman wrestling by capturing the bronze at the World Games in Halsingborg, Sweden. He was named to the 1964 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team but an injury prior to the games left him unable to compete. In 1966, Raschke broke into the professional wrestling business under the tutelage of Verne Gagne. The next year the newly christened Baron von Raschke rocketed to fame with the help of his new partner Mad Dog Vachon. Over the next 25 years, The Baron terrorized opponents around the world with his signature hold - The Claw. In 2002 Baron von Raschke was inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Newton, Iowa and in May 2013 he will be inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York.
Phil Harder (director) is one of the foremost music video directors in the USA. He has directed music videos for Prince, Incubus, Foo Fighters, Afghan Whigs, Barenaked Ladies, Matchbox 20, Hilary Duff, Liz Phair and many more. His feature film Low Movie, based on a 20-year collaboration with slow-core pioneers Low, is currently in post-production.
Karl Raschke (producer) is a fine art photographer. He was awarded the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Photographers in 2010. In 2005 he collaborated with his father (Baron von Raschke) and playwright Cory McLeod to create the script for “The Baron” a stage play produced by History Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2007.
Bradley Beesley (additional director) is a documentary filmmaker. His credits include Okie Noodling, Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo, Storm Chasers, Mudcats and The Flaming Lips documentary Fearless Freaks.
Want to see what the T-shirt looks like? Here you go!
Designed by Mike Haeg, the Mayor of Mt. Holly, Minnesota, The Claw movie poster will be printed in three forms in limited editions.
The USA GEEK and WORLDWIDE GEEK reward level will receive a 26 x 40 inch screen printed monster printed on canvas. Each poster will include The Baron’s hand print! That’s right, each print will get THE CLAW! (Ultra-rare! Ultra-collectible!)
The SMARK reward level (and above) will receive a 26 x 40 inch screen print on heavy paper. Note the "Look for the lucky number" message in the poster’s bottom right corner. If we draw your poster's lucky number you'll win a special prize! Stay tuned for a video of the screen printing process - there will be blood!
Our limited edition poster for other reward levels will be an offset print of the exact same image at a smaller standard poster size.
These are true collector's items that are must-haves for Baron fans, poster art fans and anyone with good taste! Check out Mt. Holly Public Works to learn more about Mayor Mike Haeg and his creations. These posters will only be available to Kickstarter supporters.
Make sense? If not, please ask!
If we make our goal...
Firstly, thank you, the more we have to work with, the better job we can do with the film and the further we can take it - be that to festivals or your home town. To thank you all for your support we have decided to offer a Stretch goal reward. If we make it to $30,000 we will include a T-shirt in any pledge over $150; we will also produce a special Kickstarter only The Claw photo book, as requested by Noran Warot, which we will include for pledges of $250 and above; and for those that pledge over $500 you will also get the limited edition, numbered, hand silk screened poster by artist Mike Haeg.
Risks and challenges
While we have a timeline in place, as a film made with friends and favors, setting a firm date for completing a documentary is no easy feat - however with your help we will get there much sooner, and we are aiming for the end of the year.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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