While the face of Seven Bucks Productions has always been its co-founders Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, production president Hiram Garcia has played an integral role in its expansion, and that includes its latest venture: the indie film world.
With the opening of its coming-of-age drama “Fighting With My Family,” opening domestically this weekend following its Sundance Film Festival premiere (the first festival opening for the company), Garcia and his partners are hoping audiences and the industry will see the company in a different light.
In an interview with Variety, Garcia touched on his early start in the producing world, his reaction to “Fighting With My Family” making it into Sundance, and why Johnson and Dany Garcia are the best examples of a relentless work ethic.
How did you come to be a part of Seven Bucks?
We’ve always had a great relationship between the three of us. The first time I actually met Dwayne, I was 13 years old and the two of them were dating at the University of Miami and I was in high school. So one weekend, I went up to visit my sister and I met this gigantic football player and it wasn’t very often I met someone that was bigger than me. I was usually guaranteed to be bigger than any boyfriend my sister dated, even at that age, but when I met Dwayne I was like, “whoa, this is a big dude.” I started helping him out creatively with his wrestling, whether it be his dialogue or building the character of the Rock. It would be me, him, and this WWE writer, Brian Gewirtz (Seven Bucks EVP of TV development) forming this character. So we always had this connection. We got invited to do “Scorpion King,” and he asked if I wanted to come along to the set because he had never done anything like that and was hoping to use my help. So I came and was instantly caught up in the world of producing.
What did you learn from Dwayne and Dany’s daily work ethic that has influenced your own drive?
They never wanted to give anything away and I know from myself, I had to earn my path, which is why I broke off to [be a] production assistant and learn on my own, because I had to make sure I was worthy of working along those two. Whether it be Dany running our company, running the Garcia Company, or it’s Dwayne waking up everyday at 4 a.m. to work out, doing Under Armour ads, doing movies — these two entities at the top of our company have unparalleled work ethic and hunger to do great things in a positive way that feed into society. If you come to work next to two people like that who have already been up for several hours, that motivation leads you to greatness. I owe everything to them, not because they gave it to me, but they made me work for it and I’m so much better for it.
How do you pick what projects and stories you want to take on, specifically when it came to finding “Fighting With Your Family”?
One of the things we always look for — and I know it sounds very typical — but what we really want to see is something with a heart, something with soul. We are looking for something we feel will resonate on a global level. The kind of narrative that isn’t segmented to just one area, but a story or theme that can translate across the globe. Ultimately, we are film fans and storytellers at heart, and the great thing about “Fighting With My Family” is you always love an underdog story.
The thing is, we didn’t come into this movie saying, “Oh, we want to make an independent film.” We never go in saying we want to make an indie film or studio film, we just knew it was a story we wanted to tell. We actually started with our studio partners and took it in to them and figured we had great relationships everywhere, but unfortunately it didn’t land. They didn’t connect with it, but that didn’t deter us. That’s how we went down the indie route, because we were determined to get the film made. So we went to Film4 and then WWE jumped on and before you knew it, like the day or week before production started, MGM came on and ended up picking it up.
What was the feeling like when the film got accepted to Sundance?
When we found out we got into Sundance, we were just texting each other like giddy kids screaming, “Oh my god, we got into Sundance!” It also makes us happy for Paige, who the movie is based on. She believed in us to tell her story and for her to see how it came out as well while we were there was extremely rewarding.
What’s the rest of the 2019 Seven Bucks slate look like?
We just wrapped “Hobbs and Shaw,” which bows in August. We just had our launch and had a great Super Bowl spot that people responded to pretty positively. Right now, we’re shooting the next version of “Jumanji,” which comes out in December. We’re also ramping up a couple big projects like “Black Adam” and our goal is to get that going at the top of 2020. The script is coming along well and we’re in the polishing phase now and are looking to attach the right director to it. A lot of people consider Dwayne a superhero already, so to finally have him play one on screen in the DC universe is a dream for us.