Bleed for This
by writer/director Ben Younger
Bleed for This marks a new way into a movie for me. I approached it as a writer thinking I would hand in the script and let someone else direct it. Why? Because I didn’t know about nor care much for boxing. That’s all changed now and I’ve come to appreciate the finer points of the sport. But it wasn’t that understanding that brought me into the fold as the director of this film. It was Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza. The man himself.
See, Vinny chose his passion above all else. He broke his neck in two places in a terrible car accident (he wasn’t even driving) and was told that he’d never fight again and very possibly, never walk again. He defied all the odds and refused spinal fusion in favor of an antiquated “halo”—a device that is screwed into your skull and places you into traction. It’s only used for minor neck injuries but unlike fusion, if it works, it will allow you to return to your formal level of mobility. If it doesn’t… well….
The risks are enormous. One bump, one fall and his spinal cord would have severed. Vinny thought this was an acceptable risk. Why? I still don’t know. I have many passions in my life but none so sacred that I would risk paralysis. If you told me I had a choice between making movies and walking I would start painting houses for a living tomorrow. No question.
It was this lust for life, this undying passion Vinny possessed that drew me in. I thought maybe if I got closer to the man, I would better understand how someone could take a risk like this. The truth is, I don’t understand his choice any better now than I did then. The bottom line is that Vinny has a drive that is simply unparalleled and equally unexplainable. Like he says in the film, “I don’t know how not to do this.”
It’s this drive that I believe is the reason people are already responding so strongly to the film—whether they enjoy boxing or not. I know I’ve learned a lot from the man. He’s taught me to appreciate the things in my life that I had begun to take for granted.
I didn’t set out to make a motivational/spiritual film. I set out to tell a man’s story and do so as honestly as I know how. But there’s no denying that Vinny’s life is going to serve a far greater purpose to a lot of people. He helped me see my life through a different lens and I hope he does the same for everyone who sees this film.