Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Men We Admire: James Hergott

"I'm too busy working on myself to criticize anybody else."

I met producer/director James Hergott online after seeing a feature article on him in a regional arts and culture magazine. After a few months of emailing back and forth, I can honestly say I've been very privileged to get to know this guy. Body building champion, MMA filmmaker, and supreme motivator, James is the perfect example of how single-minded determination can drive you to your goals and make those around you strive to mirror your success in every sphere of life.

Photo: Edward Kwan
How does one "define" James Hergott?
I would say through my art. With time I want to make some amazing movies that impact people on both an emotional and intellectual level. People die but art lives forever and can change the world.
You recently won a natural bodybuilding competition in Cobourg, ON. Did you have someone behind the scenes coaching you through that transformation?
Yes, Dave Avery and his wife Julie. They created a great diet plan and also helped me prepare for all of the things I would need to know come contest time.

Was there one tweak to your routine that you feel put you over the top?
Change in diet was a big factor in cutting fat. In terms of training I would say that being around MMA fighters helped improve the intensity of my workouts and gave me some new exercises to work muscle groups in new ways.
As a filmmaker, how did you get connected with MMA? Are you a fighter yourself?
I've never fought although I have trained in Judo and a lot of grappling back in the day. I would say I am out of practice now. I was always a fan of MMA and I wrote a script in 2006 titled "Never Submit". The project was before "Never Back Down" and in fact we had attached the lead villain in that movie Cam Gigandet. In fact "Never Back Down" was called "Get Some" back in the day. "Never Submit" never went into production but during the pre-production for the movie I met a number of MMA personalities and my relationships grew from there.
Your 2010 documentary "The Striking Truth" chronicles four years in the careers of Georges St. Pierre and David "The Crow" Loiseau. A lot of media gives a one-dimensional view of pro fighters. What were these guys really like to work with?
Every fighter is different but 90% of the fighters I've met have been really humble and nice people to work with. Many of them grew up around traditional martial arts so they have a disciplined and respectful attitude. Kevin Randleman wanted to kick my ass one day that I pissed him off, other than that everyone's been great. LOL Note to people coming up in MMA: Do not get on the bad side of Mr. Randleman.
James Hergott (l.) and Georges St. Pierre (r.). Photo: Liana Louzon
I can't think of any guy who wouldn't want to say he got in the ring with GSP. Tell me you got a little sparring in!
LOL! I gave him an intense stare, does that count? I'm not a professional fighter so maybe if he tied his arms behind his back it would be game on. When I'm working I'm focused on the goal of making a great film, not to play.
Obviously tackling any war zone documentary has its own challenges just in terms of clearances and safety issues. On "Fight for the Troops," were you involved on the planning end as well, or just brought in to shoot the doc?
The planning was all done by Monica Sanford and a bunch of other people she works with in the military. I was just lucky enough to get the opportunity to go.
Photo: Mark Walton
I believe anyone can achieve their dreams. Most people don't suffer from a lack of intelligence, but rather from a lack of belief in themselves. It is not external obstacles that define people but how they deal with those obstacles. Most people create their own obstacles and design their own failure because they do not believe they truly deserve success.

How much of a challenge was it to get a film like "Fight for the Troops" put together?
The biggest challenge (which really is nothing compared to what real soldiers deal with) was filming while dealing with uncomfortable situations. It is very hot in Iraq and you are sleeping with a bunch of guys in a tent together. You can't drink the drinking water. I brushed my teeth and got sick! Secondary note to those coming up: Don't accidentally bring X-rated material into a Muslim country.
Where can we find these movies?
"The Striking Truth" is currently available in retail outlets throughout Canada including Blockbuster and Wal-Mart (and online at Amazon). Updates on other projects are coming soon.
Can you give us any details about the project you're working on now?
"Own3d" is coming together in a big way. We are filming in Canada. We're signed on with ACTRA (the Canadian actor's union). We are in talks with several MMA fighters and actors and offers have started to go out. The script has gotten so much praise and I think it will shock a lot of people. It won't be what people expect. There are people in the MMA world who get every MMA script anyone has written and I can tell you I have heard several people; agents, managers and fighters; who have read the script say that it kills every other MMA-related script out there. I'm directing the movie. My friend Bobby Razak will be doing the action directing and some other things on the movie. I've never been involved in a project with such positive energy in terms of momentum. We make progress on a daily basis with it and come film time it will be very well organized. We have a great production and legal team working behind the scenes.
"To me, failure is part of the experience of life. Failure helps you improve and become the best you can be. I have never been afraid to fail, so I have never been afraid to try."

James Hergott on IMDB
Owned Entertainment Website


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