Saturday, June 30, 2012

The night before-- last day in the U.S.

It's now the night before (morning of really) I take off for Colombia. It has been an incredible time just prepping for the film and I can't wait to take the next part of the journey.

I was surprised to finish my packing with enough time to grab dinner and then meet some friends for a quick drink. I had to get back to sleep, so that I can stay awake on the plain so I am tired when I get there, but my excitement is keeping me from some Zzzzz's.

I, "prepped" and organized, now it's time to just let go, and DO IT.

I wanted to share some of the other videos and pictures that I have collected over the last couple of weeks. They are just little tidbits of different experiences that tie into my preparation for Cartagena, Colombia. Some were taken before my initial blog of this series, but I wanted to have them in one focused place below.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me thus far, there are so many people. Everyone has been so supportive with well wishes and such.

I'm going to basically try to upload one video per day. A journal of sorts to recap what's gone down. I'll be recording some stuff, which I may compile into longer videos that will go up every few days, but who knows-- we'll just see how it works out.

Gonna catch some Z's...see ya later!

Getting my Colombian Visa.

First visit to the airport to get a tour.

First Trip in a plane from the cockpit. -- here is a little blog I wrote on the pilot forum I joined. Video below that.

OK! LOL, I kind of had a feeling my couple of quick posts last night would cause a stir, but I really wanted to be able to put everything together and have a nice post, and like alfadog mentioned, I was still very much taking it all in.

I posted some pics below and I was recording some stuff for me to look back at, but also share as part of my experience and, hopefully as well serve as a gauge of what it was like for me. Unfortunately, the video rendering and such took forever, hence my posting now.

In short, it deserved more than a quick, "It was great, I'll post more later."

It was amazing, even more so than I expected. The whole day was just a real treat for me and Comanche was a very generous host! I am so grateful. I found myself so quiet as I was observing it all, and as you guys may remember, he said he'd eventually let me fly. I never actually did, but I truly so into watching everything and admiring the view, that it was still incredible. I was impressed with the focus, and as part of my homework, this would be one of the greatest examples of how it is done obviously, so I was keeping a close eye on Comanche's handle and reserve, and making tons of mental notes.

I'm someone that is just naturally curious about life. Even when I'm put in a position where I should be more focused on the technical questions, I always find myself drawn to the basics of understanding people and learning through others and their experiences. I figure I could always pop open a book for the technical stuff. Especially in a situation like this, where there can be a MILLION questions. I just sometimes like to let life happen naturally and eventually I'll get the answers. I definitely asked about some technical things, but the most helpful stuff was what Comanche shared about his experiences and how he got into it all.

We ended up flying into Carlsbad and grabbing a nice lunch (for me), he ate breakfast, haha. We chatted some more and flew back over the coast this time, which was an incredible view, and again, an experience that left me speechless for most of it.

I asked about his cooking skills, since some of you posted about this, and he was humble, saying that you guys were being generous because of some recipe's he has mentioned in the past, "I'm certainly no gourmet chef."

I helped him put the plane (which I thought was beautiful) back in its home and I happened to see a few large boxes that caught my eye.

One of the things I've been doing recently is researching model planes, not the type you fly, just the small ones you assemble and paint. I wanted to see if I could find one or two to take with me while I was in Colombia. There is mention of a model plane in the script for another character, but it is something I think I'd do in the movie. Not necessarily be seen doing it, but just one of those things to familiarize myself and also just relax and focus. I figured that someone's love for flying could probably translate into this sort of thing.

Well, the boxes caught my eye, I think one of them had the word, "model" written on them. I can't remember exactly what it was. I asked if they were models and they were. He told me about how he used to buy, sell and trade them and we just started talking about that for a bit! I could not believe the coincidence. Little did I know, that he said he might still have one LEAR JET left, and dug through a bunch of the boxes and in the last one, there it was. It was a fascinating moment for me. He gave me the model and I told him I'd send him the payment through paypal, which was nothing compared to what he already had provided me with throughout the day.

I spent about an hour and a half looking for a shop to buy the paints/glue and such, even drove out to a store that was for the models you can fly (I should have called ahead lol).

I ended up in a little model shop near me in Santa Monica, Evett's and spent about an hour there talking to the kind old woman who owns it with her husband. We chatted and she helped me because I was not familiar with this type of thing and eventually through our chat, the movie came up and I told her about my experience from earlier in the day. She then shared some great stories of a kid who had been visiting the shop for years, who eventually became a pilot and now flies private charter in Utah. She also shared a story about her husband, who from what I gather was on radio giving instruction to a kid on a plane, who's Dad suddenly died mid flight. The kid had one shot to land the plane with her husbands instruction, and he did it!

She finished helping me, and oddly enough, she laughed when she saw that she too had ONE of the SAME Lear Jet models, Comanche had given me (his was better priced ).

I finally got home and caught up on some production work on one of my other films, and then started to review the footage from the day and put together the video below.

As it was exporting, I took out the box of the model, (I also purchased a 747 since I fly that in the movie as well) and saw that it said it would take about 2hours. Obviously, I knew that would be for an experienced builder. Well, you can see how far I got in two hours below!

I also received a text from Comanche and he was saying we needed to have another go, because he completely forgot to let me fly!! LOL Looks like I'll be back again before I leave on the 30th!!

As Comanche stated earlier, I'm due to get on a plane in a few hours to fly back east and I'm sure I'll be grinning and spoiled by my experience yesterday.

Ok, now time to pack. Touch base with you all later!

Thanks again, Comanche!

The script:

I make bible binders for every film I do.

This is supposed to be me. I've aged.

Saeed, one of the Producers and I visiting the Colombian consulate.

My Colombian Work Visa

Brushing up on my Spanish

Where I go to recharge the brain..and heart.w

My visit to Santa Monica airport. The runway looks so peaceful

Skipping with Will, one of the Directors

A note from one of the pilots I met, Joe. Great guy!!

Joe took me to the room where we planned our flight!

A map of no fly zones. 3 small red circles are for Michele Obama and Biden.
The large outer purple circle is for the president.

Joes beautiful plane!

Obviously enjoying the experience lol

My view of the landing.

Closing our flight plan...Gate.

The Heroic city awaits me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

THE FLIGHT PLAN Movie - new blog series

I decided that I wanted to keep a constant blog with updates during my filming of the feature film I booked called, THE FLIGHT PLAN. I've done something similar once before and it has led to so many great things in my life, so why not give it another go?

A few years ago I was cast in a show that would give me the great fortune of living out one of my childhood dreams. I had only been in Los Angeles for about a year and some change before I was cast in the long running musical at Disneyland, ALADDIN, A MUSICAL SPECTACULAR! Even today, ALADDIN remains one my favorite Disney movies, and I wanted nothing more but to play the Street Rat himself in a movie or play.

One of the best days of my life was when I got the call offering me the part. I've also always been a huge Disney fan since I was a kid, so working in the ORIGINAL park would be an incredible treat!

At that time I decided to journal during the rehearsal process. I would constantly have friends and family ask about my experiences, so I decided this would sort of serve as a way to share what was happening. Not only that, but I'd have something to look back on or share with my kids. I chose MYSPACE (haha) and it became the early catalyst for this blog I continue to post on.

I instantly fell in love with it, and loved sharing stories. It was a way for me to be as specific and detailed as I wanted, without the worry of running out of space in a normal post. I didn't even know if people were following at the time, but it really became something I looked forward to doing.

For some reason, I stopped once the show began its run and the rehearsal process was over. I guess it was becauseI had fulfilled my initial plan and now that we were performing, my mission was complete.

In May of 2009, I created this blog to post acting updates. I eventually found a different method, but kept the blog and later started to share on it again when my Dad was sick, battling Cancer. Since my Disney rehearsal period, I had really embraced, "sharing" details of my journey, if you will. I began to get teased about being a good self promoter. I had joined several social media sites, and it wasn't long before I'd have people commenting on things I shared regularly. They started to share stuff with me and I learned a great deal as a result. I really like this about technology. There are people (we all have them) that I hardly speak to outside of the cyber world, but I know more about their lives, and they know more about mine than some of my family members. I guess in a way, it's a good way to be heard. Deep down, this led me to sharing the stories about my Dad and family. It also taught me a lot about myself; writing things down, being vulnerable and honest, really helped me through a lot of sad moments. People would relate, or offer their support and it was nice to communicate that to my Dad who I know found some peace in reading the outpouring of support.

I've become fascinated also with documentaries in the last couple of years, and I think it's the element of sharing stories that inspires me when I watch them. I don't doubt that I will direct one in the near future.

From the moment I got my first smartphone, I found a way to shoot video or take pictures of every set I've been on. This actually led to one of my good friends (Eric England) writing a script specifically for me called, HOSTILE ENCOUNTER.

Coincidentally, in the movie, I was a guy going on a soul searching experience and I would be documenting the whole thing from my point of view -- needless to say, I could relate. Even during filming, I documented some of the process through little behind the scenes videos:
12 hours to Arkansas
Stuck in the mud
Crossing the river

As a result of that feature, I had the great pleasure of getting to know two men really well, (who I'd later go on to call business partners) Eric England and Daniel F. Dunn. We teamed up as Producers on MADISON COUNTY & ROADSIDE, two feature films that have changed all of our lives remarkably.

Even while production was in full swing on MADISON COUNTY, I was taking pictures and videos, and by that point was known by everyone as the guy who would always find something to share which led to us generating good, "buzz" on the film.

Well, here we are and I'm a few days away from leaving for Cartagena, Colombia to film, THE FLIGHT PLAN. It's been two months since I learned I was the one chosen to lead this film.

At the time I learned of the audition, pilot season was winding down, and I had been very busy auditioning for the new shows that were hoping to find a home on one of the TV networks. I didn't get great bites this year, but throughout it, I had been keeping my eyes open for the other projects, like indie films, web series and such.

I few months earlier, I had visited the Sundance Film Festival for the second year in a row. I knew that some of the films that were in the festival, were films that didn't have a huge blockbuster cast, or budget to match, and some of them would come through same channels I have access to. Films that my representation probably wouldn't pursue because of their low budget nature.

In February, I attended a workshop given by career coach, Shawn Tolleson. It was an incredible experience, and I ended up volunteering and getting picked as one of the people she would demonstrate on. It was about setting a goal to be achieved by May 1st, and how she would help you lay out a plan of attack to pursue it.

By the end of it, this was what we came up with due to my ambitions to hit the, "next level" in my career:
"By May 1st, 2012 I will book a juicy role in a Sundance caliber film, with a budget of at least a million, surrounded by name talent in the cast and crew."

She helped devise the plan, and I begun carrying it out.

During pilot season, one of the few films I auditioned for was Kathryn Bigelow's new film about Osama Bin Laden. Very hush hush, but I was grateful to just get into the room to play around. I didn't hear anything from it, and then about two months later, (just a few weeks shy of my May 1st goal deadline) I received a call from my manager.

"Ace, it's Will."

"Hey, hey-- what's going on?"

"Well, I'm calling because you have an avail (this is what they call it when a project wants to book you-- essentially HOLD you for the dates of filming) for the Kathryn Bigelow's project."

"'re shitting me. Is this your payback because of April fools? Because that's pretty wrong, even coming from me."

"I'm serious. It starts tomorrow for the month of May."

Well, fast forward and I DIDN'T end up getting the final confirmation and they released me from my avail, but for a bit, I was sure I'd reached my goal! While it didn't happen, there was a bigger picture I was more than happy to embrace it. Things are brewing for me. Goals can be a checklist item I find, but for certain things I think it's important to continue on, even after reaching your goal.

While I would have LOVED to film that movie, I know my overall mission was to get a solid game plan in place for a strong attack-- I did that. Everything we set up was paying off in more ways than one.

I then get an audition for THE FLIGHT PLAN. It started off with seeing the notice for this project filming in Colombia this summer. That caught my eye. Then I read the description of the character and the synopsis of the movie -- I submitted for BENJAMIN GRAY, a Commercial airline pilot who gets stranded in Cartagena, Colombia after having his passport and documents stolen. It becomes a race of time when Ben's terminally ill son, takes a turn for the worse and a marrow transplant needs to happen sooner than expected and Ben is the donor.

A few days later I received an email saying I was being requested to come in and audition. Unfortunately, I learned in that email that there would be no script to read or sides to learn ahead of time. This happens on the big studio level (I had fake sides for Bigelow's film) a lot. Though, when it happens on smaller indie films, etc., more often than not, it's a red flag that something is fishy. Sadly enough, most of the time it's a representation of poor organization and people not knowing what they want. I have a lot of actor friends who instantly refer to this as amateur hour, because of many horrible experiences.

I also learned that it would be an open call, which also can be a red flag warning. When this happens, you can get stuck for hours waiting because everyone shows up randomly and you are left trying to beg to get in sooner as your car's meter is set to expire, or your shift for work is coming up.

Even still, something inside told me to SHOW UP. As actors, that's what we do. I didn't have anything conflicting with the range of time for the audition, so I decided I'd attend to try my luck.

I also know that sometimes productions are just limited with what they have available, and it isn't always a reflection of their execution. There were plenty of red flags thrown up for people with MADISON COUNTY I'm sure, but we were luckily one of the few exceptions that rose above it all.

I get to the audition and it was a mad house. I could already sense the tension and knew people had to be waiting for a while at this point. I smiled, took a deep breath and said to myself, "Ok, you're here, you have no plans-- don't let it get to you." Thankfully, the sides were available there and I got my hands on a set,

I was instantly engaged, "This is pretty good." Now, I was even more motivated, and looked at this as an endurance test (when I was in my callback for Aladdin, it was an 8 hour day that I had to be on my A game for!). I could sense the egos in the room starting to get irritated. Perhaps it was just due to them needing to get to their next set of plans, but there were also a few people that you could tell were not used to, or a fan of waiting this long. I started to feed off it more and really embraced the time I had ahead of me as a gift. No one was going to go into that room, more prepared than me. That was my mission.

I got into the room, and was greeted by three friendly gentleman. The guy bringing everyone into the room, Saeed, was a little quiet, borderline cold if you didn't understand that he was just more reserved. The other two were Will & Al, the Co-Writing & Directing team. Oh!! I've never been in a project with Co-directors!

It wasn't long before I realized why there was such a big hold up. The guys were calm, not pressured by the tension outside of the door, and genuinely interested in the experience. They asked me a few questions and I picked their brain for a few minutes before we even addressed the audition itself.

I did my thing, they gave me some direction and we tried it a few other ways. It was fun. I got to play. At that time, as I mentioned, I'd been auditioning for a lot of TV, where you don't get much time in the room...also there hadn't been a whole lot of direction past your initial audition. This was a nice refreshing moment for me. At that point, regardless of outcome, it was worth it. Two hours, mind you. Totally worth every second. I also felt pretty good about what I did, and I could sense in them, there was something they liked. They mentioned that they'd be having callbacks, and I should expect a follow up. I thanked them and went on my way. I've learned not to count on that, because life happens. I've heard it before and have not heard from anyone, so I do my best not to take it personally because anything can happen.

A few days later, I received the follow up, GREAT! Oh crap, it was supposed to be on a Sunday--a day a group of us had planned a paintball trip. I thought about it, and knew I could make it back in time, but in the end,we scrapped it and rescheduled. Ok, well-- it's probably for the best. What if I broke my leg, or took a paintball to the eye? Haha! Another treat from the email was that they sent me the full script to read beforehand. Awesome!! This would be another moment to try to figure out what lies ahead with this project. Sadly, sometimes you get the script, and it's not very good. I was hoping this would not be the case. I read through it and couldn't put it down. It was good & definitely got that there had been a lot of care put into their script, story and words. I had been reading a lot of material lately and sometimes it is rushed. My curiosity was piqued and I told myself, " mine!"

Now, I was curious about what these guys had done in the past. I usually do a lot of this homework before I even step into the audition room because I like to know who it is I'm possibly going to work with. I have been in the situation before where you think it's going to be one way when filming in terms of quality, and then it's another way (not for the best) and if I had just dug around beforehand, I would have probably figured it out then.

These guys had been working together for a little while now. It would be their first feature film. This wasn't a concern to me -- I know what we did with MADISON COUNTY as our first feature. I also found their individual pages on Facebook and saw some mutual friends that I could reach out to. I didn't end up going that far because I stumbled across the Facebook page for the movie & found a short teaser trailer that they had shot in Cartagena last summer. They shot it in a half a day without, "real actors" but it was so cool for me to see what they were going for. While the teaser was simple, it was effective for what it needed to be & it tied into the script and made me that much more engaged in the story.

The Flight Plan Sizzle Reel from Alberto Marenco on Vimeo.

Through my digging, I found old pictures the guys took when scouting TWO summers ago! Wow, this really said a lot to me! They had been working & developing this project for two years now. I liked that.

Having come off two features in less than a year and a half, I appreciated the work that could be done with good time to plan everything out. You don't always have that luxury. We didn't on ROADSIDE. Thankfully, I'm a spontaneous person, and work best under pressure, so not only did I love working FAST on my films, but our team did as well. There were hiccups that we encountered that lead to way more stress than we would have had with more time to prep, but at the end of the day we pulled it all off.

I was excited that this team had been laying serious groundwork and I could see good work through what I was digging up. It was smart work...creative work.

Now, I've been kind of spoiled because of ROADSIDE & MADISON COUNTY. We have films that should not exist from what was on the page and the money we had to do it. Not only that, but we went above and beyond in many ways on our execution. I'm not trying to boast, this is just the feedback we've received and thankfully the companies we've teamed up with proves that. In short, I know a LOT can be done with very little if the right people are attached, and the passion and execution is there to support it through the end. TEAMS are key. I love being a team player, I love leading a team and I love being part of a team that continues to push each other. It's my sports background I guess. Unfortunately, sometimes the intent does NOT match the execution. I've been a part of projects that fall under that category, but that exists on all levels. We've all seen or heard about TV shows, or movies that flop. No one is excluded from that side of the business. I want to continue to grow and do better than my last project, so there is a tendency to be super selective, but you have to realize this business is always a risk...a roll of the dice. You can put the pieces together, but when life steps in, sometimes it scatters the puzzle and there is nothing you can do, but roll with it. At some point you have to trust in the people you are working with and have faith in the plan. At the very least, I always know there is a lesson to be learned, and I'm a very happy student of life.

So the callback day arrives. I walk in and thankfully there isn't even anyone there! No two hour wait this time. I'm greeted by Saeed and he asks if I'm ready. I ask for a few minutes to settle in and focus. I sign in and notice there are only 5 or 6 guys before me, which makes me feel good. I also get the sense I may be one of the last, if not THE last person. No problem, if I can't be first, I love being last.

I walk in and we all say, "hi" like we've known each other for a bit. We get a little chat in, then dive in. I play with some things and they play with some direction. During, I'm given one of the nicest compliments an actor could get, at least for me, "When we wrote it, we were thinking it would be a different thing, but I REALLY like what you did more." I just enjoy that so much because it says a lot about their position on COLLABORATION. Some people are so married to their work, and for me this whole process is a collaboration, all the way through an audience member watching it.
I felt dialed in. I was in my zone, and more than anything I was just happy to be in the room playing and getting direction. We tried some more stuff, and I even surprised myself a few times, which is an amazing feeling. It said a lot about the room and my comfort within it...with that team. I began to gather my belongings and they're were packing up. I thanked them and they made a comment which I can't remember, but it left me feeling great about the experience.

I walked out of the room on such a high. THIS was the experience I had been craving for the last few months. I didn't care about the outcome, honestly. I felt great again about my work and knew I killed it...I pleased myself and that was all I needed right then.

I walked back to my car and it just hit me. There was such an overwhelming feeling of excitement rushing over me, I could feel this burst of emotion was about to take over. I think it also had to do with the material and the zone I was in for it, because we had worked on a really pivotal scene of the movie. I needed to talk to someone! I called up Erin, and I didn't really know what to say. I can't even remember what I said, but I think it was something like, "I just got out of the callback and needed to share...let it out. It went great, and regardless of what happens, I'm so incredibly grateful for this moment right now."

I couldn't fight back the tears. It was strange. I never had that type of response before. I've definitely been emotional after booking a great project or something, but this was different. I needed that. The combination of pilot season feeling so impersonal; there was drama within my producing team for MADISON COUNTY & ROADSIDE, I was working with a new acting coach who was helping to push me through some comfort was all brewing inside. I also had been been hungry for a new project to sink my teeth that I could just simply...BE AN ACTOR in. I felt like I had delivered my heart in that room, and left it all on the table.

I rambled on to Erin about it and I just was so happy to feel that CONNECTED. I wanted that film badly, but never had I been so OK with whatever happened in the end, because I knew I had given my all.

It was a few days later and I received the official word...I was being offered the role. Wow. I was so thankful and even now, two months later, I'm still smiling.

These last two years have been AMAZING, and have taught me so much about life, business, love and about myself. I've busted ass for two years straight, producing my films and seeing them through & it's blessed me with a lot of great relationships and memories. As an actor, I've also had great progress up that ladder and each year has been so much better than the last. It's been tough juggling so many balls, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Thankfully, I worked so closely with the projects, that I knew them inside and out. I didn't get the time to prep my work as an actor in the way I am accustomed to, but you have to take every experience as a new one and I just embrace it ( Hell, I've read interviews by actors who said they never read a script until it was time to shoot. Check out Meryl Streep's process if you get a chance). In MADISON COUNTY I had a much smaller role compared to ROADSIDE, which I am the star of. Most of my efforts were focused on producing MC (I did my best to not take on so much for ROADSIDE, but because we were rushed, it was hard). I hadn't even really embraced that MADISON COUNTY was the first time a film I was in, would be playing in theatres, until a week before its premiere. Taking that further, while I've been the lead in plays and films before, I hadn't realized really, that ROADSIDE would be my first starring role in a feature of its nature. It wasn't until my good friend Martin pointed out that I, "come across as a leading man." It caught me off guard, because those are the roles I have had my sights set on since I got into this, and feel like I've done them in the past, but ROADSIDE, would be the first of its kind, at that level...he was right. I guess I've overlooked it, because I've often been a Producer first, actor second on those films. This was something I vowed to change for 2012. THE FLIGHT PLAN, is exactly that.

During these last two months, I've been doing research; getting flying lessons, speaking to specialists about medicine, researching bone marrow procedures; taking up new hobbies that related to my role, eating differently, watching movies and so many other things that are just the real things I like to do as an actor.

I don't have to worry about finding sleeping accommodations for people, or figuring out how everyone is getting to set. I don't have to film a pivotal scene in a movie, then rush to the trailer to plunge a horribly clogged toilet (that left many gagging) for the cast and crew, before jumping back on set. I don't have to film a scene as an actor then rush over to set up lunch because the cast/crew is starving (and it will run out before I get to eat). I don't have to be the first one up and the last one in bed because I need to sort out an issue with a crew member who is unfairly threatening to lock up our equipment until he gets paid early. I don't have to convince a crew member to get on his plane to fly to set, because he is getting cold feet questioning his ability while my own plane is set to take off in mere minutes (by the way, he was one of the most fantastic members of our crew!). I'm fine with doing all of that, because there is always a bigger
picture and because it's for my team. I am just thankful for a break where I can just work and prepare.

It is teaching me so much already. It's not to say I won't ever do any of those things again. I love producing and eventually I'll direct, but I'll use those as learning experienced and when the time comes, work SMARTER, not HARDER.

As an actor, I've worked with a lot of directors and have had the good fortune of working with many of them again and again & hope to continue to do so. I've made life long friends with a lot of them. They have each taught me so much and have helped me grow into the actor and person I am today. As a result I've brought pieces of each of them into every project, especially Eric England, who I've found a great teammate in. I've worked mostly with Eric these past two years, and we've developed an almost speechless communication on set, which is not only fun, but powerful I find.

I'm thrilled to be bring my past learnings to this new team & I'm even more excited about what they'll all teach me. I love any experience because of the people I am surrounded by. I'm also looking forward to experiencing Colombia & working with co-directors since it is something I haven't yet experienced. Will is going to be focusing on the actors during production while Al will focus more on the crew. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't giddy about not having to share the director too much, haha! We've been working closely the last few weeks and discussing the script and it has been incredible. I really am looking forward to his direction and having more one on one time on set in addition to being challenged in new ways! It should never be the same in my opinion, as no two experiences can be matched.

I'll wrap this blog up for now, of course, I'll be sharing more of my stuff here.

Stay tuned!


Friday, June 15, 2012


Directed by: Pablo Croce

I am not a movie reviewer, be warned. If you're looking for a legit review, hit up youtube, amazon or rotten tomatoes -- there seems to be plenty of people there, more qualified to share their thoughts than I am from what I've gathered.

I AM a huge MMA fan. I've been following the sport of MMA long before it was recognized as one, or was really even referred to as MMA in the states. I've watched fights from other countries, tournaments from different disciplines of martial arts, and have been asked to share my thoughts on more than one occasion for affiliated websites, videos & podcasts. It's become the sport I follow the most, and anyone that knows me well, could probably support dedication to fastest growing sport, MMA.

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of being interviewed on a podcast and we were discussing a movie I worked on. I was pretty passionate and excited to discuss the film, but about an hour in, the host wanted to switch gears and talk MMA. He too is a big fan and contributor to a few websites, and for me that was the real fun of the interview!

Well, a few days later, I made a post on twitter before I watched this documentary and a few people asked that I share my thoughts, so here we are. Because I've had to sort through a fair share of reviews lately, I decided I'd just put together a little review of my own.

*NOTE, I'm sure you know this, but there are lots of subtitles throughout the film.

LIKE WATER follows the story of UFC Middleweight Champion and arguably the #1 Pound for Pound fighter in the world, Anderson "The Spider" Silva.

This movie isn't going to satisfy the viewer looking for the story of Anderson's entire life. While we get bits and pieces, it quickly becomes clear that we will be hopping on the running train that leads to his title clash with then #1 Contender, Chael Sonnen. While I still feel the movie will engage the casual fan, it really will be appreciated by those who have been following the drama between Silva and Sonnen for the past two years.

The movie begins and feels like an episode of the UFC countdown show, in fact, I know I've seen some of the footage previously. I instantly found myself wondering if we were going to be shown any footage of the rib injury Silva allegedly suffered in the weeks leading up to the bout.

We see Anderson training and he is HUGE. It's no secret that he walks around close to the 220lb mark, but he looks massive in the footage. *Editor's side note: anyone that still is hellbent on the ridiculous GSP/Silva super fight, you should watch this movie to get a strong clue as to why this matchup is completely silly...except for your xbox of course.

We see Mark Munoz who was brought in to help Silva prep for Chael's wrestling. Whether or not Munoz should be fired, is a different story. They are going hard on Anderson, and he is making it known while he recovers between rounds saying everyone is, "so strong." He communicates this as calm and mild mannered as we've seen him in past interviews, and you start to understand that he is just very much that person. It's very much a spiritual thing for him.

There's a moment where Anderson is doing an appearance and we see him smiling for pictures and signing autographs. Once the champ is finished, Silva's manager, Ed Soares comes over and asks what he had been writing. Apparently, he heard Silva had been writing portuguese words along with his signature. Soares, teasingly but almost hopefully asks if he was writing, "Go fuck yourself!" Anderson humbly replied, "No, I wrote, I am not the best, but I can achieve the impossible." It was equal parts humble, honest and self affirming. It felt very much like a pep talk as much as it was a strong statement.

As scary and untouchable as Anderson may seem in a quick view of a highlight reel, it's hard to ignore his easy going and affable attitude amongst his peers. Leading up to the fight, he had been the subject of great criticism from fans, media, Sonnen and his own boss, UFC President, Dana White. His previous fight with Demian Maia had attracted a lot of negative attention because of his in ring antics. It was believed by some, myself included, that Silva was sending a message and was frustrated with the level of competitors the UFC was setting up for him. He was not being challenged and was showing his discontent. Silva had made it clear that he wanted to be challenged. In the summer of 2008 he said he wanted to fight at least 3 more fights before years end. He was also campaigning for a boxing match with Roy Jones Jr., and that never happened. It was more than clear he desired tougher competition. I personally never found as much fault as others had for his behavior, because I found it honorable that he wanted to be tested. Regardless of the backlash, Silva held his ground and there is a great scene in the movie between he (and at the time recently defeated UFC Light Heavyweight Champion) Lyoto Machida.

We see Anderson wrapping his hands as he is preparing for a training session and he is talking to Machida about the dangers of playing into the brawling game that the fans and the UFC had been looking for from him. He asked Lyoto what would happen if he obliged and lost, and then got cut from the company. While I believe anyone would be hard pressed to believe the UFC would drop the Middleweight King, there was some truth to his words and you could see it in Machida's eyes. It was almost like it was a coach talking to his pupil. Lyoto was agreeing and understood that if you stuck to the game plan, eventually the opponent would make a mistake and you could then capitalize. At the time that scene was filmed, Lyoto had just lost to Shogun Rua and was prepping for his fight against Rampage, which he would also go on to lose. I found this interesting considering that for a while, many people found Machida's style, boring and he ended up changing to be more aggressive and eventually encountered his first couple of losses after his change in style.

Another great scene shows Anderson talking about the Nogueira brothers, specifically, Minotoro. Silva gave great praise to Little Nog for the support he offered Anderson during a time when Silva wanted to hang up the gloves and just teach. Minotoro convinced him to continue fighting and obviously it has led to such great things for Anderson and his family. Silva is seen talking to Minotoro and he promises that he will make Sonnen tap out. In an almost comical delayed reaction, Minotoro says, "...No. You'll KO" to which Anderson replies no, he will submit him to honor the Nogueira's. After the Sonnen match, Silva claimed in an interview, that he promised the Nogueira's he would submit Chael to honor them and this was the scene that proved it.

We then see a UFC press conference that was done via telephone. This is usually a massive conference call, where media fires off questions, and the fighters answer as needed. Anderson's answers are simple one or two word responses and you can tell he was not in a position where he wanted to give more than that. It's at this point where we begin to see the repeat questions getting to the champ. He is ready to let his actions speak. We see Ed Soares listening in, clearly upset as he listens to Silva's answers. Dana immediately calls, and Soares communicates his apologies and relays that Anderson doesn't understand how to, "sell" a fight, or he doesn't care.

It has been speculated in the MMA circles, that Soares has intentionally miscommunicated things when serving as translator for Silva to help hype their fights, manipulating the questions or answers given. We get little tastes of this throughout the movie, which is interesting considering Soares serves as one of the Writers and Producers on the film.

About 10 days out from the fight, we see Anderson training and he takes a breather, while he holds his ribs. He's seen cringing and we are led to believe this was the incident that caused the rib injury.

We are shown a scene where Soares is enjoying Chael's antics, it's clear Chael knows how to hype a fight and Soares appreciates his efforts. On the flip side, Anderson is shown almost having to be dragged out of his hotel room to fulfill a promise of time spent with some fans. It's more of a joking manner from Anderson, but you get the feeling that these fighters get to a point, where they just need their space to get ready for their fight. After all, they will be locked in a CAGE with someone standing across from them, that wants to hurt them badly.

The night before the fight Silva is being interviewed from his bed and he says he talks to god and only ask's to do what needs to be done -- win or lose. He is truly leaving it in god's hands. Someone asks a question, "What do you want?" Smiling and without hesitation, he answers that he only wishes to come back to his family in one piece, as they will always call him a champ, win or lose.

If you are interested in this movie, you probably already know the outcome of the fight-- Silva, after getting completely dominated for close to 5 rounds, manages to pull a submission victory off, minutes before Sonnen's hand would be raised. Sonnen also tested positive for the use of performance enhancing drugs after his loss. A sad discovery, that instantly created a stir for the two fighters. Chael's dominating performance humanized Silva, but also left many questions as it was speculated that Chael did so, while cheating. With bad ribs, andouille facing an opponent who was cheating, Silva still proved his greatness and overcame like a true champ.

All in all, I very much enjoyed the film and the intimate look into this part of Silva's life. I also think the viewer will come to appreciate much more about Anderson's ways, which really revolve around what appears as great honesty, humility and a great passion for faith in god and his family.

I definitely recommend watching the film and believe the movie will no doubt serve as a great marketing tool for the Silva vs Sonnen rematch scheduled to take place on July 7th.