The Pacman show
It’s not a reality show; it’s a docu on boxer-turned-lawmaker Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, more popularly known as Pacman.
The biggest challenge in making the documentary “Manny” was sifting through 1,200 hours of raw footage, said coproducer Don Puno. The production team had to follow Pacquiao for four and a half years in making the docu.
“The hardest part was editing. Manny also gave us 200 hours of his personal home videos of his earlier fights and his kids’ birthday parties,” Puno told the Inquirer shortly after the Philippine premiere of “Manny” at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila on Monday.
“Another difficulty was the fact that Manny is a moving target, meaning we’re shooting a guy who is in the middle of his life,” Puno explained. “We didn’t know how to end the story. There was no script. We just had to figure things out as we went along. Only when Manny was knocked out [by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012] did we find the beginning of our story.”
The film, directed by Filipino-AmericanRyan Moore and Academy-award winner Leon Gast (“When We Were Kings”), was among the 150 films selected out of 2,000 entries that debuted at the recent 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
The docu is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson.
“We originally wanted actor Mark Walberg to do it, but he was busy,” said Puno. Neeson, however, made the project more interesting. “Neeson was a boxer in Ireland. He had about 40 amateur fights— that’s how he got his trademark crooked nose. As a retired boxer, we knew he’d be able to understand what Pacquiao went through. We sent him a letter through his agent. Despite having eight other projects, he accepted.”
Neeson, as it turned out, is a big Pacquiao fan. He agreed to be a partner in Puno’s production and accepted a minimal talent fee.
“Liam has never met Manny. Before this, we sent him a video of Manny saying hello. He showed it off on Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show recently. He also did an impersonation of Manny.”
The impetus of the project was Puno’s high-school classmate, Moore. “In 2010, he gave me a call about this and I immediately said yes. For years, Filipinos have been trying to find ways to tell our story to the world. We thought, what better way to do it than through Manny Pacquiao. He’s probably the most recognizable Filipino now,” he said.
“Manny” opened in local theaters last Wednesday, through distributor Solar Entertainment Corp.
Sportscaster Chino Trinidad insisted that both local and foreign audiences would appreciate the docu. He remarked: “It tells the struggle of a person who has special gifts, who refused to give up when faced with the most difficult problems.”
Trinidad, who has been covering Pacquiao’s career for over a decade now, said “Manny” offered another interesting story, that of the boxer’s wife Jinkee. “She is the woman behind the man’s success. Jinkee was frank and brutally honest in her interview,” said Trinidad.
Rumors of Pacquiao’s womanizing and his marital problems were tackled in the film.
Apart from Trinidad, Filipino sportswriters Quinito Henson and Ronnie Nathanielsz, and foreign journalists Tim Poole, Gareth Davies, Larry Merchant and Thomas Hauser, also appeared in the docu.
Other personalities who granted interviews were Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer; Buboy Fernandez, assistant trainer; Bob Arum, fight promoter; Michael Koncz, financial adviser; Alex Ariza, strength and conditioning coach; and Franklin Gacal, chief of staff.
Hollywood personalities like Wahlberg, Jeremy Piven, Will Ferrrel and Dan Hill also appeared in the docu.
Funniest scene was Pacquiao’s recording session with Hill.
Kimmel quipped: “Manny to Filipinos is Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy rolled into one.”
Politicians Imelda Marcos and Chavit Singson and Inquirer columnist Winnie Monsod commented on Pacquiao’s foray into politics.
Executive producer is Jay Bajaj and editor is Lenny Mesina.
Coproducer Ricky Puno said the team didn’t have a hard time asking celebrities to be part of the docu. “They said they found him charming and lovable.”
Trinidad remarked: “Through the movie, we will be able to appreciate the real Pacquiao. Sadly, he has had to deal with controversies lately as a result of how poorly he managed his life.”
Pacquiao, who is currently in Los Angeles to train for his fight with Timothy Bradley on April 12, has not seen the film yet, related Ricky. “Perhaps he didn’t want to get distracted. But I think he’ll enjoy it, too.”
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