Fight Xchange Director Mark Johnston Addresses the Making of the MMA Documentary
There has been some heated discussion on Top MMA News in regards to the Super Channel documentary Fight Xchange. The producers of this MMA series have been closely following this reaction and I have had some discussions with them on these comments (and some comments that were removed). Together, it was decided that rather than posting their response as a comment on the Episode 4 Recap, it would be more prudent to post their response as another article.
The following is written entirely by Executive Producer Mark Johnson to address some comments on the making of the Fight Xchange and their team’s background as documentarians:
I am Mark Johnston, the Executive Producer, Director and Writer of Fight Xchange. I thought it would be useful to talk a little bit about our series, and how we made it.
I have been making documentary films since the late 1980’s, and have worked on more than sixty individual films in some kind of producer or director capacity. Our team makes social political, science, history, arts, and sports documentaries, on subjects such as the first Canadian climbers of Mount Everest (The Climb), to a history of Canada-Russia hockey (To Russia With Love), to the impact of reading and writing on human history (Empire of the Word) and even about Al Qaeda recruiters (The Al Qaeda Code). We have worked for the CBC, CTV, BBC, Discovery and many other broadcasters around the world. We take the work we do very seriously, and it is not “reality television.” No one is scripted, no one is ever told what to say.
We followed six young fighters on their journey in Fight Xchange, three Canadians who would go to Brazil to train and fight, and three Brazilians from Nova Uniao who would train in Toronto in preparation for fights in Quebec. We simply tracked them, documenting what happened along the way. You now know that Mike Imperato said some things regarding Nate Stark in Episode Four. We recorded what he said freely after they got into a disagreement. Why did we put it in our film? Because it happened. We don’t censor controversial subject matter. It was a real moment and as documentarians we needed to examine why Mike and Nate disagreed and provide a context for what happened next. As documentary filmmakers, we don’t include material to get ratings or advertising dollars. In fact, this series is being broadcast on Super Channel, which has no advertising and only earns its money from subscribers (like HBO or Showtime in the US). All of the fighters who participated in the making of the series clearly understood what we were documenting.
After decades of making films, I can honestly say I’ve never worked with a more honourable and respectful group of people than the fighters we filmed. The welcome and warmth that we received from Andre Pedeneiras and his fighters at Nova Uniao (Jose Aldo, Dudu Dantas, Marlon Sandro and many others) was wonderful and you can see their spirit reflected in the series. The same goes for Mauricio Veio and his colleagues in Toronto. It has been a pleasure and an honour to make a series that introduces the passion, dedication and discipline that MMA fighters have to a broader audience. I hope all of you get to see the series. Our team is very proud of it. It’s unfortunate Mike’s experience didn’t work out the way he might have wanted, hopefully he can learn from his mistakes and move ahead with a new purpose.
All the best,
Director, Fight Xchange