Broken Contender breaks in young filmmaker

By Elyse Merriman

Hoping for the best was what director Chris Scheuerman did for his latest film, Hope for the Broken Contender. The film, about a young boxer’s aspirations of becoming a professional while being drawn to street gangs, is receiving acclaim, which comes as a surprise to the young director.

“I didn’t expect to get anything back from this project,” he says. “This film was only a film I made to take a small step towards projects I feel very passionate about. You definitely hope something will come back when you put this much time and effort into something, but with this project in particular, I am in shock.”

The budget of the film was only $6,500, a paltry sum compared to the millions most movies receive. Though it was almost not enough, Scheuerman says it was a step up from his last film, a no-budget piece called Cornered, which this project is based upon.

“It was definitely challenging,” he recalls. “It is definitely not common to shoot a film for such a low budget, but in this case, I really had no choice. We had to be able to pull things together. In terms of script, you’ve got to really use your instinct and all the experience I had making no budget films, I really had to harness all that . . . we didn’t have any money for anything elaborate, yet we ended up with some elaborate scenes in the movie.”

Broken Contender has scenes shot in Regina and Calgary, Scheuerman’s hometown. Filming in and around the city for this film, he utilized and relied on the support of locals to make his project a success.

“I’ve been making movies in and around Okotoks since I was a kid,” he says. “We didn’t always have location permits. We always had the support of the locals, but we always let them know that we were shooting there and we were always very adamant that those around us knew what we were doing.”

Calgary’s newfound market for the film industry also aided in the openness of citizens to the project. People in and around the city seem to be drawn towards the fact that Calgary is starting to become more of a hotspot for filmmaking.

“It’s still very fresh to make movies in Calgary,” Scheuerman says. “It’s not a place that’s oversaturated by movies. They’re shooting films in Calgary and it’s like people are almost excited to be a part of that.”

Along with the budget, Scheuerman’s age contributed to how the project took shape. Though he wrote the film when he was 19, and directed it at age 20, he says the experience has changed the way he’ll approach future projects.

“I guess being young, it makes you a little more brave in what you attempt to do because you’re not experienced yet,” he says. “I kind of went after a lot of things in the film and if I had had a little more experience or if I had known what I know now after making the film, I probably wouldn’t have done it that way.”

There is also something to be said for the genre that Scheuerman chose to make this feature film in. The growing filmmaker says he is inspired by crime genre directors and films, making the style a natural choice for his first real film.

“Being young and being not connected yet to a particular genre, it was us wanting to make a movie like the movies that really inspire us as filmmakers,” he explains. “That was the real reason why I jumped at doing it. I just see how gang culture is glamorized in media today and I almost wanted to take a kick at the can at trying to deglamorize . . . how gang life is made to look so cool.”

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