Broken Tusk, Healed Heart - documentary project with Patrons
 
Sylvie's husband Kevin writing.

Sylvie and I have been struggling with ideas of what to offer to the generous supporters who pledge $15 or more. We've always wanted to keep content at a low pledge amount so everyone can afford to benefit from and enjoy it, but we also want to give something special to those who are editing up and pledging extra.

The Broken Tusk, Heal Heart Project

The project is to begin filming a documentary project on Sylvie, but to do so in a way that patrons can be a part of the project itself. Films are usually masterfully completed wholes that then get shared and experienced in one piece. Here though we have an opportunity to produce a film in a different way. We can create a film, maybe, with an emphasis on fragments and community. We can share the film as a process. The truth is, I'm not even sure that such a film will ever exist, as a film. Many films die on their way to editing. But, at the very least the fragmentary process will exist. And it will be shared.

Open to $15 patrons (or more) I'll be posting the elements of a coming film, a documentary on my wife Sylvie, in series, as they are captured. The first of these is already posted: Broken Tusk, Healed Heart - Raw Material 1

you can see this material here 

It contains an extended interview with Sylvie's brother Shane, a professor of Philosophy, which covers some of the ethics of Sylvie's fighting, and a bit of what she was like as a child and a girl. It also contains a few quiet atmospheric clips surrounding a fight.

The idea is to share the quality pieces, a little bit behind the scenes, a little bit philosophical or poetic reflection, the shards of a documentary vase that we will put together, eventually. When I say "we", I do mean you as well. My hope is that viewers of these pieces will be able to help shape or at least reverberate upon what is being captured. A kind of collaboration. The film definitely has some deep-current ambitions, things I've always wanted to show to others and investigate myself, but it is also quite open. As these fragments large and small are posted, and interested patrons regularly view them, and respond (either in private or in comments) the direction of the film itself should change. The act of publication and sharing will refract the film, in the medium of intercourse, I think, again and again.

For patrons though, even if not interested in the film per se, these will be glimpses into the life of Muay Thai that Sylvie is leading. Anything from interviews (I plan to interview Sylvie frequently) to meditative frames of the way of life here. The aim is to avoid all "hand wrapping" footage, so to speak, and to find something different. Much more universal, through the particular. 

Background

For a long time I've wanted to see a documentary made of Sylvie, to be honest. Sylvie's journey, her real seriousness, began with a documentary effort herself, as she began to film female Muay Thai fighter Natalie Fuz - you can see the results of that project, Me We, at the bottom of her Interview's page. I remember the first time Sylvie stepped with a media pass back stage at a Friday Night Fights in NYC, to film Natalie who was fighting her retirement fight. Even though it was a local show, it just seemed impossibly large to her. It felt like an honor to even be in attendance, let alone filming and interviewing. We were just living in a small house more or less in the woods, miles and miles from the city, Sylvie was training sporadically because we were so far away from coaching. There are many stories about what lead to Sylvie becoming "Sylvie Legend", but one of the less told ones is that while filming there Sylvie met Ying Ross, a very accomplished Thai filmmaker and cinematographer. Ying was filming Natalie for her own documentary, a film that would be then expanded to include Sylvie as well. A project with some remarkable footage, but that would get lost in the maze of editing production, never to get made. Meeting Ying, in a way, I think started catalyzing Sylvie, somehow complimenting her internal passion, and creating an outward lean, a public mission, which might not entirely have happened without it. Ying Ross was a powerful influence on Sylvie.  

I had hoped that a filmmaker would take interest in the deeper story of what Sylvie was attempting and accomplishing. There have been several who have filmed, but none who have been absolutely captured. So, as we were recently upgrading our audio recording devices for the Muay Thai Library Preserve The Legacy Project, under the urging of Scott Marr of Boon Sport, a sponsor of that documentary, it finally struck me. I should just do this myself. Somehow the idea that we could, and would be recording audio at very high levels of quality made me realize that there are so many moments around us that should be crystallized. Sound, high quality sound, somehow sparked me into realizing that at the very least the raw material for a film was probably sitting there, all around us. Further, as a social media advocate, I could probably make this film in a different way...in fragments and conversation. 

The truth is that no digital platform exists to adequately do what I'd really like to do with the process of the filmmaking. I'd like something far more fluid and browse-able. There is a chance that if the process takes off we could expand it to a separate collaboration software, but for now Patreon and YouTube will do. 

As for the deeper topics - topics is the wrong word, ardors - ardors of the film that I'm sensing maybe fall in these realms. The idea of "Broken Tusk" is captured in my guest post: Broken Tusk: Breaking The Body to Write and the Art of Fighting. This is a firm direction buried in the film as I see it now. And, there is something about the personal nature of violence that I want to film to see into. Sylvie's article What Is Violence: Fighting or Silence is a techtonic part of this geology. The film isn't to be so much "about" these things, as maybe propelled by them. A kind of "seeing into", captured in the concrete of Sylvie's incredible, indelible march to unheard of fight numbers, and...what I'm not sure that other people see: toward a martial art achievement in style that has never been seen before. A reclamation of Self through style. In this way the film acts as a kind of counterpoint to the Muay Thai Library itself, which is ultimately the archive of styles. Styles of Self. Personal Styles. Style as Masculinity. 

I should say, if there are any filmmakers or photographers out there who would like to collaborate more formally on this project, I'm certain open to that as well. If you have a vision that fits in well with mine, or, more importantly, with what the film will come to perceive, I'm very interested in your input. You can email me at [email protected] - of course I can't promise collaboration, but I'm open to seeing what you are seeing. 

In any case, I hope our patrons enjoy this feature of Patreon, as we explore together! 


The film title is provisional, the artwork is by Giulia Caruso an artist you can support on Patreon here