Now that we’ve announced our first documentary to be screened at Burning Hammer Film Festival, Bozzers sat down with This. Is. Progress documentary film maker Dale Beaumont-Brown to find out more about it…
If you've been to a Progress Wrestling show in the last year or two, then odds on you've seen Dale Beaumont-Brown running around, capturing the action. The 35-year-old independent documentary producer and director has been following the promotion, armed with his camera, to find out more about the people that make it tick. That's meant following fans, talent and the management team as they prepared for their huge Brixton show in September 2016 and beyond.
So it only felt right, then, that I do the same to him. With the documentary making its UK premiere this September (14), I caught up with Dale to ask how all of this came to be.
"In early May 2016 I was actively looking for another project as we'd just finished post-production on my debut feature documentary, GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution. I had made a six minute documentary-short in 2016 called The Pro, based on the concept of one man's passion for ten-pin bowling, and I wanted to repeat the formula of a beautifully shot, yet passionate story communicated through a mix of live action and interviews."
And that's when Dale found PROGRESS. A friend sent him a link to the company’s YouTube channel, and being a fan of wrestling since his younger days, Dale knew he'd found what he'd been looking for.
"For almost 10 years I had wanted to make a wrestling documentary, one that is inherently British, in terms of geography and sensibility. I loved documentaries like Beyond The Mat for it's ability to put a human face on the seemingly indestructible wrestlers I remembered from my youth. It's a seminal piece that I think holds up all these years later as perhaps the finest documentary about wrestling, I always wanted to make my own mark with a wrestling documentary, then PROGRESS came along and I knew what had to be done."
Within two weeks, Dale found himself in a meeting with all the owners of the promotion.
"I wasn't nervous in the slightest as I excitedly pitched my idea, pooling in years of film and wrestling geekery. I also mentioned my involvement in a backyard wrestling federation I helped to run some years previously called ENBW (East Norfolk Backyard Wrestling). We were even profiled in THE indie backyard wrestling documentary called The Backyard. I'm the chap being interviewed as I was known then: Big D Smith!
"The PROGRESS guys agreed to have us along to their event that weekend, SuperStrongStyle16, my first live wrestling show in 15 years. We watched the professionalism unspool in front of us; the camaraderie of the crowd and the quality of the wrestling. I got it. I'm in. I started filming two weeks later at Chapter 31: All Hail The New Puritans in Manchester."
So what can we expect from the documentary?
"You can expect a documentary that isn't necessarily about wrestling per se; more about the people that keep the engine ticking over. This is about PROGRESS and how they came to fruition, but also how they've been able to ascend to the heights of the UK's indie wrestling scene too.
"Along the way I learned that it is bloody hard work being a wrestler. I went on the road with Mark Haskins. We started at the Haskins household in Malvern with his wife Vicky, two young children, two cats and a pug. My intention was to follow Mark through his usual weekend mixture of being a family man first, wrestler second.
"We went on the road to a show for Tommy End's final match at a wXw show in Cologne, Germany. This meant filming Mark all day with the kids, going to sleep late, getting up early, travelling to the airport, travelling from Dusseldorf to Cologne with two other wrestlers (in the form of Zack Sabre Jr and Marty Scurll), wrestle in Cologne and then back to Malvern at stupid o'clock. We then had to be up early for the PROGRESS show in Manchester the next day, which Mark was on the card for.
"I don't know how wrestlers find the time to work out and stay fit, eat, travel, not sleep much and still have time for a family, every single week. I was shattered just trying to keep up with Mark, and I didn't even have to wrestle! What wrestlers go through to give you 15 minutes of entertainment is beyond the call of duty. They put their lives and bodies on the line sometimes three to five times a week, something I just could not do, but have built a great respect and admiration for those that do."
"Having THIS.IS.PROGRESS. play Burning Hammer just seems like the right fit, for both the festival and for the film. It's a British film made by a Brit about one of the world's largest indies: a British company! I'm so, so proud to have my work screened as a part of our festival. I don't think words can quite describe what it means to me."
To see the documentary yourself, get tickets now.
We’re chuffed to announce that we’ll be hosting the UK premiere screening of This. Is. Progress – the forthcoming feature documentary from Elixir Media – on the opening night of Burning Hammer Film Festival, Friday, September 14.
A labour of love by our film festival director Dale Beaumont-Brown, 'This. Is. Progress' is a feature-length documentary which follows the promotion, its owners, fans and the talent that has made PROGRESS one of the biggest indy companies in the world.
With so many PROGRESS Ultra’s in London, it made sense to us to give them the opportunity to see the film first.
The screening will take place in the (very cool and comfortable) Rich Mix arts hub cinema, just a minute’s walk away from our main festival venue, Newspeak House on Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch.
Tickets go on sale this Tuesday, May 8, at 5pm, (ticket link to come) and we really hope to see you there.
As we gear up for some super exciting announcements about our festival weekend, we wanted to make sure that we lay out a little more about the purpose of it – our own story – before the focus falls entirely on those told by others.
When we first got together to discuss the notion of creating Europe's first wrestling film festival, it made for a pretty good night in the pub. Isn't that the way all good ideas go from pie-in-the-sky idea to formulated plan? With beer and friends?
In a cool spot in London (one with video games and cocktails) a tableful of wrestling fans, film editors, writers, sound specialists, visual creators, and hopeful dreamers mulled over a PowerPoint full of fledgling ideas, put together by Dale and Ross in their little corner of Norwich (you can read more about those guys here).
After spending more than two years submerged almost entirely in wrestling (thanks to their THIS.IS.PROGRESS documentary), the former backyard wrestling friends had identified, whether they knew it or not, a way to introduce others into the world they’d been so fortunate to be immersed.
Somehow, they unlocked a new way to show those who already are so invested in this wrestling community more about those who share this space with them; the wrestlers, fans, promoters and storytellers.
At a very base level, wrestling is a tangle of stories. There are those told in the ring, by competitors. There’s the story of how they came to be there in the first place – their journeys to being, somehow, in front of screaming fans in little more than spandex pants and a bit of baby oil.
There’s the story of the promoter who booked them, the crew that make it happen, the fans that pay their entry to see those stories unfold. And there are the stories of those impacted by it all, however small or large that impact may be.
In creating their documentary, Dale and Ross got to tap in to some of those stories, all while writing one of their own. And from that sparked the idea of what would go on to become Burning Hammer. A chance to bring hundreds of people together in one space to talk about wrestling, to watch some films and to get smashed on reasonably-priced booze in the company of friends, old and new.
So they reached out to the rest of us – dotted all over the UK, Europe and the world – to float the idea and to use our own knowledge, and passion, to nurture that spark into a right flaming, Burning Hammer.
And that’s exactly what happened. Now, a group of friends are a committee, and together we’ve moulded a programme that we know you’re going to love. As submissions come in, the more sure we are that you will.
If you can make it to Shoreditch from September 14-16, we hope you’ll grab us in our chill-out space between films to tell us about your own wrestling story – whether you’ve been a fan for years or whether our festival was your first foray into it.
And for our friends all over the world who can’t make it: we’ll be thinking of you, and we’ll make sure we let you know where you can catch the films that will form such an important part of what Burning Hammer Film Festival is set to be.
If you’re in NOLA, enjoy yourself. Hope to see you soon!
BURNING HAMMER FILM FESTIVAL: CHAMPIONING THE BEST STORIES IN PRO WRESTLING.
Film makers, photographers and fans of professional wrestling will come together in London this September for the first ever film festival of its kind in Europe.
Burning Hammer Film Festival takes place in Shoreditch from September 14-16, with a base at Newspeak House (133 Bethnal Green Road) for wrestling and film fans to watch, discuss and enjoy the very best in wrestling media and culture.
Creators from around the world are encouraged to submit their work for consideration, with a panel of film and wrestling professionals identifying the best of them for screening at the festival.
Awards will be given in each category – encompassing shorts, features, photographs and documentaries. There’ll also be audience awards too, voted for by visitors, and the inaugural Hall of Fame entrant for Services to Wrestling Media.
Guests can enjoy special screenings, live panels, Q&A sessions and more, with a full programme to be announced in due course.
Festival director Dale Beaumont-Brown says: “The launch of Burning Hammer Film Festival marks the first ever celebration of wrestling storytelling in the UK, an exclusive, unique three day event designed to champion the best-told tales in the professional wrestling industry.
“Professional wrestling is enjoying huge success at the moment, and the journeys of the wrestlers, promotions and fans are being documented all over the world by exceptional photographers and film makers.
“We felt it was time to turn the spotlight on them, giving them a platform by which to celebrate the very best in wrestling media. Equally important though, we have a programme of panels, discussions, galleries and talks where our guests can take a microscope to some of the more pertinent social and cultural aspects prevalent to the contemporary wrestling world.
“Our hope is that creators from all around the globe will submit their work to us via our Film Freeway page, and that fans like us will come together in London for three days of totally unique wrestling entertainment.”
Submissions can be made via www.FilmFreeway.com/BurningHammerFF
Further announcements can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.