SunnyStefani Gets “Hammer”ed Day 7 FFF 2011

SunnyStefani & Producer, Eben Kostbar

Producer, Eben Kostbar, with SunnyStefani

After a long day at work, I arrive at the theatre right before the showing, with no time to my usual interviews with FFF patrons who are waiting to see the film. As the theatre was filling, I figured I’d grab some popcorn. Standing in line I see three people signing and assume they, like myself, are here to see Hamill.

The movie is about Matt “The Hammer” Hamill, who was born deaf and raised among those who can hear. His life started with wrestling, and three national collegiate championships later, he turned into a UFC mixed-martial-arts fighter. I was drawn to this movie because of my love for competition and martial arts.

Hamill captures an inspirational true story about support and determination. This was yet another great film to add to my collection at this years FFF. Although, at times, Matt became frustrated, he found ways to compensate for his lack of hearing through vibrations and an intense focus to succeed at anything.

This film had outstanding transitions. A world was created between those who can hear and those who can’t. It was great filming to be placed in Matt’s shoes by removing the sound during scenes shot from his point of view. The lady next to me was chomping her popcorn with her mouth wide open. As I sat there, I thought, “if only I could disregard that noise and tune out life around me.”

The audience was very involved during this film. The crowd was laughing, clapping, and yelling things like, “He’s down!” during the wrestling matches. At the end of the movie, we had the opportunity for a Q & A session with the producers.

They shared that they initially approached Matt via MySpace after they heard of his inspirational story. The amazing script was the longest aspect of production, taking close to three of the five years they spent creating this film.

Russell Harvard as Hamill

A very interesting fact is that every deaf character was played by a deaf actor because they wanted it to be authentic. The film also featured deaf crew, producers, and makeup artists. They worked with a budget that was very small and plan to release the movie in a small way, such as through Netflix.                                                                                                            

The entire film was shot between 28 to 30 days in Rochester because of RIT–Rochester Institute of Technology–where Matt transferred during his sophomore year after a disastrous year at Purdue. Rochester, NY was diverse and they could cheat it to represent Ohio as well (where Matt grew up.) The editing process took six months because they didn’t want to settle on cuts so they went back to the drawing board a lot.

Matt was involved very early in the process and the movie reflects what actually happened–it’s very accurate. When he saw the film Matt was in tears. He loves and supports the film.

After the film I was waiting to talk with Eben Kostbar, one of the producers, when I ran into Rachel and Tara and asked them about their reactions to the film. Rachel said, “I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t know if I would like it after I read about it but it was inspirational and different than anything I’ve seen.”

Tara, not being able to top Rachel’s answer, agreed with her and added, “it was real cool to see an underdog movie about a deaf person.” Both girls know how to sign a little, but not fluently. Tara informed me she is taking classes next year to become more fluent.

After the FFF crew shoed us out of the theatre, I meet up with Eben Kostbar. He said, “You get one time to put your work out there. Every person dreams, and I was inspired to do something start to finish that people are gonna enjoy.” He proceeded to tell me that it was a great “story about a guy believing in himself that people are drawn to.”

He originally was working on a thriller when he got together with Joe, his partner. Joe explained that Matt was very responsive to a movie about him. He was drawn to Matt’s story because the story really inspired him. He met Matt and they hit it off right from the start.

Eben said the “cool part about all this was the deaf residential story that I got to know Matt and other deaf people. I was inspired by the deaf community; I started taking classes to get to know and to learn to sign.”

Eben is such an open, down to earth guy. He’s currently working on Free Samples which will be coming out in the Fall. You can join him on Facebook at Hamill the Movie or by going to their website

As I finished with Eben, I talked to one more audience member . His name was Jeff and he’s from Venice, FL. “I thought it was great; amazing that [they] could produce such a good movie. The whole package was great; it was an ambitious film.”

I’ll never know what it’s like to just block everything out or never hear the words, ‘I love you.’ But when you don’t give up and put you’re mind to something, you can accomplish anything.

On that note, good night until tomorrow.

One Response to “SunnyStefani Gets “Hammer”ed Day 7 FFF 2011”

  1. A Long Shot – Day 7 FFF 2011 « Lance Around Orlando Says:

    […] Lance Around Orlando A blog for those dreaming of or planning a trip to Central Florida in and Around Orlando « SunnyStefani Gets “Hammer”ed Day 7 FFF 2011 […]

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