This is the ninth Jack Brown's series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and we're pleased to introduce top MMA filmmaker, Bobby Razak. The “art” in MMA is open to interpretation, and that is exactly what Razak continues to do with the art of film - he interprets the artistry of MMA. His films, videos, and commercials are compelling and full of humanity. Razak has done well with capturing his subjects, and now it is time to focus on the man behind the camera. Please enjoy the conversation below.
Jack Brown: You are considered a top MMA filmmaker, and your profound love and appreciation for martial arts is obvious from your work. What were some of the key experiences that attracted you to the world of martial arts early on?
Bobby Razak: In the environment I was raised in, I had to learn martial arts to survive. My father also felt that it gave me the discipline that I needed. He was the one that introduced me to Bruce Lee’s films when I was 6-years-old, and that set me on my martial arts journey.
JB: It's my understanding that you study the martial arts as well as document them. Who have you trained with, and what has been your focus?
BR: I have a brown belt under Rigan Machado. He wants to give me my black belt soon so I’m training hard right now. Jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing, boxing, wrestling - I’ve always loved training with real impact and real consequences (e.g. if I don’t block this punch, I will get hit hard or if I don’t transition correctly, I will get armbarred). Too many of the traditional martial arts, such as certain styles of Kung Fu, are cloaked in an impractical mythology. I am open to learning any martial art that has a real impact and real consequences.
JB: What led you to the creative medium of filmmaking and did you ever have other ways of expressing your art?
BR: It’s in my DNA. I was born an artist, and I knew from a very young age that my purpose was to direct and produce films. Filmmaking and martial arts have always been my creative outlets, and so I feel blessed that I can work in this genre.
JB: Who and/or what supported you as you began your career as a filmmaker?
BR: My parents helped me quite a bit, but I struggled to make ends meet on my own for a long time. The ultimate support in any creative career is the man in the mirror. If you want to make it in this life, you have to take a long hard look at yourself because only that man is going to open the doors and make it happen for you.
JB: How did you first meet Charles "Mask" Lewis and how did he impact you as an artist and as a person?
BR: I met Charles before he was "Mask." From the beginning, we had a strong impact on each other and supported each other. When I was up, I threw the rope down to him, and when he was up, he threw the rope down to me. Around the time of my first film, "Rites of Passage," was when our relationship really developed. He wanted to be part of the film, but he had no cash. So I said, "Just give me 50 t-shirts." I promoted TapouT throughout the film, and after that we collaborated and made it the company it is today. He definitely had a big impact on me as a person. I loved him. He was a brother to me, and when he died, a part of me died with him. "In life, never leave anything to the judges. You got to go out and there and fight for it." That is my philosophy and it was also Charles’.
JB: You have worked with some fantastic MMA talent in your films, videos, and commercials. Who were just a few of the individuals who you really enjoyed working with and why?
BR: I have a bond with most guys I work with, but one man that really impressed me was Benson Henderson. I begged Nick from Dethrone to have me do a commercial with him. I just knew he was going to be a champion. He was of that caliber in all aspects of his being and soul. Cain Velasquez had that energy too. I know when I see a future champion. He’ll just have a look and feel, an energy to him that’s hard to define, but I can just sense it. Even if he’s just a rookie and had a few fights, it’s something that I can see. I think that’s one of my callings that goes hand in hand with my creative work. I believe in being #1 in whatever you do in life. Whether you’re going to be a CEO of a company, a doctor, an actor, a writer, only play in the game to be the best in the world.
JB: Your videos have over 2 million views on YouTube alone. How do you feel about your massive audience across the world?
BR: Actually, my Vimeo account has over 3 million views. So it’s 5 million right now. But it’s not enough for me, and I want more.
JB: I believe you have a few projects in progress right now. What can you share with us?
BR: I just finished "Sangre Nueva," "History of MMA," the "Mask" movie, and "Fallen Soldier." They are all ready to be shown. I just want the right distribution deal.
JB: Who are some of the MMA fighters and personalities that you have not yet worked with, but you admire and hope to someday capture on film?
BR: There’s Lee Murray and the whole UK MMA scene. I’d also like to work with Anderson Silva, of course, and any of the next great champions out there.
JB: Last question, Bobby, and thank you so much for doing this. What other hopes and dreams do you have for your future?
BR: I’m moving into other genres of filmmaking, and I love doing that. I’m doing my first narrative film and super excited about it. I’m also close to signing to do my first TV show. My overall goal is continuing to prove that I’m one of the best in the world, bar none.
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