As a boxing cutman working with such champions as Yuri Foreman and Kendall Holt, and as an indie wrestling promoter, Darren Antola had seen the not always glamorous sides of both boxing and professional wrestling.
He had an idea for a movie. “What if the 1980’s legends of the professional wrestling business told the tales of what it was like to live a sex, drugs and rock & roll lifestyle 350 days a year on the road and the toll it took on them?”
And thus, the simple but powerful title, “350 Days.”
Bringing on board his best friend and financial partner David Wilkins, and longtime actor and director Fulvio Cecere (Cinderella Man), they approached me several years back to come on board the project which is now finally reaching fruition. I had pretty much sworn to myself that after The Wrestler I wouldn’t attach myself to another wrestling film. I mean, Mickey Rourke’s performance was iconic, there were Oscar nominations, critical acclaim and a standing ovation at a sold-out New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. How could anything top THAT?
Yet at the same time, I sensed their passion, dedication and love of professional wrestling, and most importantly their desire to make a truly great film.
When they gave me the laundry list of childhood heroes and wrestling legends onboard for 350 Days– Superstar Billy Graham, Bret Hart, Greg Valentine, Tito Santana, Ted Dibiase, Paul Orndorff, Marty Jannetty, Butcher Paul Vachon, Stan Hansen, Nikolai Volkoff, Lanny Poffo- 38 in total- I was “sold.”
As Associate Producer on the project, I, Evan Ginzburg, would serve a similar role to what I did as Associate Producer on The Wrestler. I’d help in any and every way I could to get them what they need to not only make this the best movie possible but also publicize the hell out of it.
Editor Michael Burlingame also “got it.” He had worked with Paul McCartney, musical icon Sting, HBO and was Emmy nominated. He was going to somehow edit down 80 or so hours of footage that Fulvio, Darren, and crew had painstakingly shot around the country and Canada, and cherry-pick the most poignant and moving parts. This was not going to be another shoot interview in a dingy hotel chronicling who the booker was back in ’72. This would be about the toll this business took on your mind, body, marriage, family, and living that exhilarating yet grueling and sometimes insane lifestyle.
And one by one the wrestlers opened up in their interviews. Wendi Richter talked about not being able to have kids as she was on the road so much. Billy Graham powerfully talked about being saved by a 17-year old accident victim who was his organ donor. And there were endless tales about coming back from injuries so numerous and devastating that lesser mortals would have quit.
Finding rare photos and footage became the ongoing challenge. At first, odd requests became a holy grail. “We need pictures of wrestlers with their cars. Carrying luggage. In bars.” I “got it.” Such shots told their stories about being on that endless road. But finding them was a different story.
Yet somehow, we did. Calling on favors and contacting every wrestling photographer and fan we knew, we got what we needed. And amazingly, there I was in the background of a long-lost shot that one photographer had, waiting in a hotel near Madison Square Garden for the then-WWF stars’ autographs. Things had amazingly come full circle some thirty plus years later.
Sadly, as we continued our six-year journey with the film, many of the stars passed away. Ox Baker hit particularly hard as he was so charismatic, colorful and funny in the film. We realized that in several cases, we probably had the last interviews ever conducted with some of these legends.
Speaking of interviews, the Producers and Director (and select wrestling legends) are available on behalf of the critically acclaimed and Amazon best-selling “350 Days” which is currently also available on Blu-Ray, DVD, I-Tunes, all major cable systems on VOD, and major retailers. Brady Hicks of Pro Wrestling Illustrated says, “Thank you to everyone involved for telling pro wrestling’s story in such a unique, unapologetic manner. We'll be talking about this for years to come.”