Andrew Thomas Hunt Discusses The Fight Machine at Fantasia 2022
Paul Harris (Greg Hovanessian) has a coveted lifestyle thanks to his father’s successes. Rob Tully (Dempsey Bryk) is a boxer following in the footsteps of his father and uncle who believe in his talent. As both are determined to set forth a new path, their worlds collide, and their struggles with their fathers unfold. Paul enters the world of boxing and gyms while Rob wants out of that world, eventually leading them to an underground fight venue where anything goes.
Rounding out the cast in The Fight Machine are Greg Bryk, Michael Ironside, Natasha Henstridge, Noah Dalton Danby, Ted Atherton, Samantha Nicole Hart, Sana Asad, Christian Bako, and Marc-André Boulanger. It’s based on the novel The Fighter by author Craig Davidson, who co-wrote with director Andrew Thomas Hunt.
The Fight Machine recently played at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, and Hunt joined us to chat about the film.
The Story of The Fight Machine
“That book really spoke to me. I loved its unflinching violence, the character study, the questions that it raised. To me, it just had everything that I want in a film. A little humor, a little sexuality, a little violence, a nice rollercoaster ride… Sure, you know the two characters are going to meet at the end, that’s obvious, but you don’t know how it’s going to play out. Nothing’s predictable,” said Hunt.
He continued, explaining that the movie is fairly accurate to the novel and that anytime he wanted to make changes, however, Davidson would give his blessing and at times help with the rewrite to keep the same voice. “That’s how he came about co-writing with me,” said Hunt, noting that this included dialogue, or altering of characters, and amplifying some themes.
Of those themes, or outlooks that the movie provides, is going through life with blazing fists. “The idea of going through life with fists raised and ready to take on anything that comes your way, or just basically not being afraid — that’s what I liked about his character, or at least what he evolved into… He gets this mentality of whatever comes his way… he’s going to take the good or the bad and just keep moving forward,” said Hunt.
Behind the Scenes
“We shot the whole film in 18 days, and we did all of the fight sequences in about four days,” explained Hunt, “three for the boxing ring, and then one day for the beat down outside the bar at the beginning.”
He continued, commenting on how some of the injuries inflicted on the characters were achieved, “I’m grateful we had an incredible prosthetic makeup artist. She was phenomenal. She did a lot of research, looking at actual cuts and bruises and what not, and she pulled it off wonderfully. And then some things here and there were enhanced for 3D effects… like when the one character’s ear gets split, that was obviously a VFX enhancement.”
As for the fighting in the film, which appears to be quite authentic, Hunt credits their choreographer along with the cast themselves having the necessary background.
“We had a great fight choreographer. The fights were scripted based of what was in the novel, and then I brought my own little thing, and then they took that kind of further, refined it as to what would work or what worked with some of the stunt guys, and then I took a look at it and gave some of my feedback. Then once we had the choreography down, we brought in our actors, and it’s much like a ballet. You have the choreography, you teach them the moves, and then they bring their own little thing to it… I was very fortunate that Greg Hovanessian is a very physical guy, a trained martial artist, and then Dempsey Bryk is actually a boxer… so they weren’t stretching to do these roles. They were throwing real punches, they were taking real body shots, they were really hitting the ground. They gave it their all.”
Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum
The Fight Machine provides an interesting comparison. At one end, we have a young man who wants nothing more than to get out of his coveted lifestyle. Then, on the other end, we have another young man who wants nothing more than to get out of what the coveted one craves.
“That’s what kind of resonated with me,” said Hunt, “marching to the beat of your own drum. But it takes a long time for you to get comfortable with that… and with yourself. That’s what I liked about the book, these two young guys just kind of questioning their paths in life, who they are, and where they’re going… even though this is a story about two white male characters, I think anybody watching this film might be able to identify with them, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, because it’s a film about finding your own path in life and doing what it is that you want, or what you’re passionate about, regardless of the negativity that might come your way as a result.”
The Fight Machine is a production of Hangar 18, a subsidiary of Raven Banner Entertainment.