Producers Christopher Scheimann and Olcun Tan have partnered with top sports director Bobby Razak on “The Power of 1,” a feature biopic of UFC fighter Evan Tanner. Co-written by Scheimann and Razak, the movie is slated to go into pre-production toward the end of this year, with principal photography planned for early next year.
Tanner, a pioneer in the sport and winner of the UFC’s middleweight title in 2005, died under tragic circumstances in 2008 while on a solo expedition deep into the California desert. He taught himself to fight at a championship level via instructional videotapes, and went on to revolutionize the sport with his innovative approach. He was reluctant to identify himself as merely a fighter. “I always thought of myself as the poet, the writer or the philosopher,” he said.
The audience for UFC-related content has been on the rise since the league was sold to WME in 2016 and ESPN acquired its linear, streaming and PPV rights. Razak, one of the most established directors in action sports, directed a documentary short on Tanner’s death, titled “1,” which provides the starting point for the production team’s approach to the feature.
Razak said Tanner “was an incredible human being, and it’s important to me to make a film that would dispel the myth that he committed suicide. Like any of us, he had his dark days, but the truth is that he was a man genuinely in love with life and its possibilities. Being able to tell the stories of the fighters who helped build the UFC — while also being true to who they were as people — is essential for this sport’s history.”
Razak’s film “Right of Passage” played at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals, and he most recently produced and directed the feature documentary “Mask,” chronicling the life and death of TapOut founder and early MMA pioneer Charles “Mask” Lewis. With more than 150 commercials to his credit, Razak has also directed or produced more than 12 features and short films, including “The Striking Truth,” “Fallen Solider,” “Sangre Nueva” and “The History of MMA.”
Scheimann, a German-based producer known for assembling high-end commercial spots for brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Coca-Cola and BMW, first partnered with Razak on a project for Europe’s largest fitness corporation, McFIT, featuring heavyweight boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko. Scheimann, who makes his debut as a feature producer with “The Power of 1,” will produce alongside Tan, owner of post/FX houses Gradient Effects and Secret Lab, with Gradient Effects handling post-production and VFX for the project.
“Bobby’s original short doc on Evan was spellbinding, though it only really touched the surface of the story of Tanner’s life and the final days that led to his mysterious death,” Scheimann said. “Bobby is a premier director in the commercial and action sports worlds. Coming from the commercial world myself, I always wanted to do a long format film. It couldn’t get better than starting off with a story and a team like this. This is a story that needs to be told.”