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The Interview February 7 2002
I had one public screening of an early rough cut in a movie theater in California. The crowd was very vocal throughout the film, yelling often at the characters. Sometimes jeering, sometimes cheering. At the end there was a large applause, which was fantastic, especially because you don't get that in movie theaters. There was a mix of people in there: wrestlers, non-wrestlers, fans, non fans, backyarders. Overall, the way the characters were represented seemed to please everyone. I made sure at the start of the film to portray it "as it is". I think that with this honesty, you see everything. From the bad, to the good. From the arguments within backyarding, to arguments outside of the backyard world.
Do you think it will be a niche movie, appealing only to wrestling/backyard wrestling fans?
It will definitely appeal to backyard/professional wrestling fans. However, as filming progressed it became not only a film about wrestling, but a film about determination, ambition and triumph. There's tons of cool action in the film to satisfy action fans, but there's also a lot of humour and human interest. Ultimately it is about a journey of someone attempting to get out of the backyard and become a professional wrestler.
As you may or may not be aware, there is a huge debate in the online BYW community concerning two prospective BYW related video releases. Rick Mahr's "Best of Backyard Wrestling and Michael Moody's "Backyard Criminals"...what's your take on the guys, their product's (or prospective in BYC's case) and the online arguments they have had over these?
I think the arguments are there because they are both trying to make money from backyard wrestling. I think Rick is upset that there is competition as far as compilations go. I'm a big fan of The Best Of Backyard Wrestling. I have met Rick and his partner several times, and I like them a lot. I have spoken to Michael Moody a lot on the internet, and while I have nothing against him, there have been a few red flags. The biggest red flag is that when I told him he should come over to watch The Backyard, he had a number of excuses not to. I thought that was very strange. I believe that Backyard Criminals, in similar fashion to The Best Of Backyard Wrestling, is a money making vehicle.
How will "The Backyard" differ to the above videos?
Think of it as "Beyond The Mat", but with backyarders.
You went to a lot of places far apart to make "The Backyard", care to name where you went?
California, New York, England, Arizona, Nevada.
"You said you went to England, who did you see there and how did it differ from you travels in USA?"
I went to a federation about two hours from London, in the seaside town of Great Yarmouth. The guys there were really good, and put on one of the best displays of technical wrestling that I'd seen. I saw a federation called East Norfolk Backyard Wrestling: a group of guys who I really hope pursue their wrestling careers. There were some differences in the way that they did it compared to the Americans, but I don't want to spoil part of the film to tell you what that was. All I can say is that they also gave the film one of the most bloodiest moments of all. Because of it an ambulance was called.
Amongst your travels, what sort of characters and people have you met and what's your overall impression of Backyarders?
My overall impression is that backyarders have passion. They are doing something they love. I've met a whole variety of backyarders. There's no such thing as one type of person who's a backyarder.
What's the craziest thing you have seen whilst producing the film?
One of my favorite moments in the film is where one backyarder staples something onto another backyarder's head. When backyarder's were taking pure plate glass to their heads I made sure to stand back. Didn't really want to burst an artery.
What ranks as your favorite moments in your time making the film?
One of the backyarder's auditions for the WWF. During the filming he became a good friend. I really, really hoped he would make it into the WWF, and when he found out whether or not he got in, as he walked toward me to tell me the news, I couldn't read his face. It was really exciting.
Was you ever frightened or concerned for yourself/others making the film?
Definitely. I went to the Emergency Room with one backyarder. When we turned up at another federation a guy pulled a knife on my assistant. Luckily he was a black belt, and wasn't intimidated. A few of the feds were in scary places, but I often felt protected since most of the backyarders were really, really tough, and I knew that if anyone was going to attack me they would step in to protect the camera.
Anything particularly humorous happen when making "The Backyard"?
Yeah. But if I tell you it'll spoil the film.
Is it likely there will be a home video release?
Well, there definitely will be at some point. However, it's our aim to get the film into selective movie theaters. That takes some time.
And finally, if there is anyone who is still deciding on whether to see the film or not, what will you say to them?
When you hear its playing in a movie theater in your State, check it out. To see backyard wrestling up on the big screen is awesome. You can always wait for it to be on video or DVD, and it will be, but see it when it hits theaters if you get the chance. You won't regret it.
Thank You very much for your time Paul, we look forward to seeing "The Backyard"
"The Backyard" premieres in Austin, Texas at the South By Southwest Film Festival March 7th-18th 2002. For more information visit www.thebackyard.tv
Please credit "Backyard Revolution.tk" if using any portion of this interview in any form. Thanks.
"My overall impression is
that backyarders have passion. They are doing something they love."
"Think of it as "Beyond The Mat", but with backyarders."
"I went to the Emergency Room with one backyarder."
"...most of the backyarders were really, really tough, and I knew that if anyone was going to attack me they would step in"
"When we turned up at another federation a guy pulled a knife on my assistant, luckily he was a black belt, and wasn't intimidated."