More from The Smashing Machine
Mark Kerr was an NCAA Champion wrestler from Syracuse University, where he was teammates and close friends with producer Jon Greenhalgh. In 1997 Kerr switched his athletic focus to MMA, which at that time was still in its infancy. His first professional fight was in Sao Paolo, Brazil where he faced Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Fabió Grugel. The fight was a thirty-minute one-sided blood-bath, where Kerr's elite athleticism, paired with a penchant for violence, left his stubborn opponent dumbfounded and on his way to a lengthy hospital stay.
Early in production subject Mark Kerr confided in producer (and long-time friend) Jon Greenhalgh that he was struggling with a debilitating addiction to injectable pain medication. A series of intense conversations took place, which culminated in Kerr deciding to put his trust in the filmmakers and tell his whole story; warts and all. The intimacy between camera and subject is what sets The Smashing Machine apart from other sports-themed docs, and propels it into the annals of non-fiction film history.
When The Smashing Machine was conceived Mark Kerr was undefeated in MMA competition, and was the top ranked fighter in the world. When our four-man production team arrived in Tokyo to begin production, we thought we were telling the story of a bullet-proof champion that never lost. But, the reality of the situation could not have been more different. In the end, the film is not about addiction or MMA, it is an intimate portrait of a man at war with himself.