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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Bear Frazer - Putting the Art in a Mixed Martial Arts Film
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Knowing Bear Frazer (pictured above) has written an MMA themed film that he’s currently shopping, as soon as I saw the first commercial for Warrior I thought “I want to know what Bear thinks about this.” I’ve known Bear as a colleague in the journalism world, and a very good friend, for quite a while now, which is why I’ve been aware of his film, The Bam Theory, since it was just an idea. This week, on the heels of the release of Warrior, I caught up with Bear to find out his thoughts on what the big budget Hollywood release might mean for his own project. We also discussed the creation of The Bam Theory, from idea to successful Kickstarter campaign, and why he feels Lynchburg, Virginia, is the perfect setting for the film.

Adam Bernard: Does a movie like Warrior upset you because you’ve been beaten to the punch, no pun intended, or does it inspire you because it shows that movie studios are starting to embrace MMA films?
Bear Frazer: Initially it concerned me. I’ve been so focused on The Bam Theory since October 2009, which was when I was putting the ideas together and writing the script, that when I first saw the trailer for Warrior back in the Spring I was a bit surprised. Judging from the preview the cinematography is unbelievable and it has a unique story. I quickly realized that this was a good thing overall because, as you said, production houses and movie studios are embracing Mixed Martial Arts. It’s great exposure for the sport and will most certainly pave the way for other MMA films like The Bam Theory. Also, the situation is similar to that of martial arts movies back in the 70s and 80s. Karate was the popular discipline, so naturally more martial arts movies were made. There have been a handful of other MMA films previously, like Fighting, Never Back Down, and a plethora of straight-to-DVD releases like Unrivaled, all of which have terrific fight scenes, but Warrior is probably the first that is more story driven. Overall, I think this will only help, and The Bam Theory is completely different from Warrior. Both movies can definitely co-exist.

Adam Bernard: Without giving too much away, what’s The Bam Theory about?
Bear Frazer: The Bam Theory is a comedy-drama that follows the life of Bam Thomas, a 23 year old mixed martial artist who always dreamed about fighting in the UFC, but feels like his dream was robbed from him. He is a college dropout with a chip on his shoulder because he is surrounded by so much personal turmoil; be it his father’s suicide, his own overwhelming college loan debt, his ex-girlfriend reminding him weekly that he’s a failure, or the dead-end job he works just to help his mother pay the mortgage in a fierce foreclosure market. Simply put, he feels like God has abandoned him and dreams for small town people is just folklore. But with the support of his best-friend DeAndre, who aspires to launch a non-profit, his sexually-curious trainer Kiwi, who desires to brand his upstart gym, his art nerd of a love interest Lily Ann, who wants to become the female Van Gogh... with the ear, and his loving mother, Bam finds the motivation to compete in the regional mixed martial arts circuit. It isn’t just Bam who fights, though, it’s everyone around them who are fighting for the only thing they have left – hope for a better tomorrow.

Adam Bernard: Why did The Bam Theory need to be written by Bear Frazer? What do you bring to the table that nobody else can?

Bear Frazer: Being immersed in the culture, and having a strong MMA lifestyle journalism background, I have a different view and lifestyle knowledge about the scene than most people have. By combining my knowledge about the sport and culture with everyday crises and real life issues people are struggling with today, The Bam Theory is truly a unique story that hasn’t been written before, and I’m that person who gets to tell the story.

Adam Bernard: What inspired you to write the film?

Bear Frazer: I’ve been wanting to write an MMA-themed movie since 2008 because I never felt like there was an MMA movie that was powerful, compelling, and story driven. I always felt like every one I saw had to do with organized crime, fighting in some million dollar underground tournament in the back of some Chinese sweatshop, winning the tournament and then getting the girl. Like Bloodsport recycled. I wanted to write something completely different, but I didn’t exactly know what. For instance, I didn’t know if I wanted the setting in New York or California. I didn’t know if I wanted it to be a comedy or a drama. All I knew is I wanted to create an MMA movie that was completely different. I was watching UFC 104 at Buffalo Wild Wings in Lynchburg, Virginia, I’ve gone there for a while to watch the fights, and there were people from the local gyms and fight scenes watching the card, and people who were just casual fans happy just to talk about MMA. I remember going home that night thinking, “maybe I should write an MMA movie based on a small town, yet bustling fight scene, like Lynchburg.” The more I thought about it the more it sounded like a good idea. Then all these ideas came into my head and I thought about the type of stuff I experienced in this town, and in my personal life, and it really inspired me. Six days later, I started writing the script.

Adam Bernard: The Bam Theory is already a success story in that you achieved your Kickstarter.com goal. What was that goal and how did you get all the autographed schwag you gave to people who donated to the cause?
Bear Frazer: The goal was to raise $3,200. I needed some reward incentives, and I absolutely hate reaching out to people for help, but, the fact is, I needed help. The first person I reached out to was my Hungarian brother Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch. I told him what I was looking to do and he immediately was on board. Just to have his support and approval, it means the world to me. I also reached to Jake Shields and Carlos Condit, two of my favorite mixed martial artists and two guys I’ve interviewed quite a bit. They hit me back immediately and said they’d help out any way they could. A friend of mine talked to the band In This Moment, and they, too, were on board to send some autographed memorabilia. All of this still blows me away, to be quite honest. These are friends of mine and people I admire, and for them to take some time out of their day and help me out with a project like this is really just a blessing. We wouldn’t be where we’re at right now without these great individuals. Their contributions towards the cause is something that will stick with me until the day I die.

Adam Bernard: Thanks to those donations you’ve filmed the trailer for The Bam Theory. What’s the next step for you?

Bear Frazer: We had a casting call back in November, shot everything in December, and we finished with the editing around April. Since then, we’ve had dialogue with folks about taking this to the next level – producers or investors who are interested in financing it, and agents who believe they can sell it to a production house.

Adam Bernard: You’ve been doing a lot of local press for this in North Carolina, and your home state of Virginia. Why do you think NC and VA are so receptive to The Bam Theory?
Bear Frazer: I believe North Carolina and Virginia are so receptive to The Bam Theory because the story resonates with people in some way, shape, or form. For example, most people are suffering in this economy, the job market is horrendous and people are finding it more and more difficult to see their dreams become a reality. This is one of the struggles the main character, Bam Thomas, goes through. He’s really an underdog; not necessarily when it comes to fighting in the cage, but more so fighting to keep hope alive. So that’s one reason. Another is because of small town pride. Most people can relate to living in a small town with big dreams and few opportunities. Heck, we shot The Bam Theory in Lynchburg, Virginia, a small city in the South. That’s where the film is set and it’s like dreams can come true even if you live in a small town. Sure, you might have to leave that town in some point for a bigger pond, and that’s what most celebrities have done. That whole mentality is something I feel people from small towns, and especially in the Carolinas and Virginia, can relate to. That leads me to my final reason. The Carolinas and Virginia aren’t huge entertainment hubs like Los Angeles, New York City, or Chicago. Films aren’t really shot much in these states, so when something like The Bam Theory comes along it’s something the community can be proud of. It’s like, “this is where The Bam Theory started. Not Hollywood, not New York, but here, with a guy who is engrained in Virginia and the Carolinas.” So it’s a pride thing, and we’re very fortunate to have the support from these states because not everyone is blessed enough to have that.

Adam Bernard: Finally, your film’s star is MMA fighter Big Matt Coleman. Has he, at any point, threatened your life if this film doesn’t get made? Do we need to see this film in theaters in order to keep Bear Frazer breathing?
Bear Frazer: {laughs} Nah, but Matt has been saying ever since we shot the pitch film in December that he plans to kick me in the leg. Little does he know I’m a soccer player, so I’ll kick back!

Related Links

Website: TheBamTheory.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/TheBamTheory
Twitter: Twitter.com/TheBamTheory

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