Interview: Jim McMahon, CJ Wallis on Upcoming Documentary

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StarCJ Wallis, Director of the Upcoming Doc “Mad Mac: The Memory of Jim McMahon”

Jeff Doles for What drew you to Jim McMahon as a subject for a documentary?

CJ Wallis: Jim has enough experiences, accomplishments and stories to make nine films, and they all dawned on me at the same time. I can’t really work on a plane so I use flights as forced vacations. I was playing ‘Super Tecmo Bowl II.’ And Randall Cunningham’s digital version got injured and – as in real life – Jim McMahon had to play QB for the Eagles. For the first time, all the little pieces of stories about him that I had read over time all aligned in my head. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane to try and contact him. How did you pitch the documentary idea to Jim and how did the film come together?
Wallis: I wrote a three-line email pitching the idea and what I could do with the film. and the next day he asked what I’d need from him and when. That was it … a month or so later we were in Arizona to start the process. Sports and the personal stories of athletes can be a powerful vehicle to raise awareness about injury issues, and make a positive impact on society. How does the film showcase Jim McMahon and his post-career advocacy promoting awareness of CTE and the impact it can have?
Wallis:  One of the ways specific to the film was that Jim invited us come to New York and interview Dr Scott Rosa … who performs a revolutionary chiropractic procedure that can change the lives of people who suffer from CTE. Dr. Rosa allowed us to film the entire process and walks us through how he was able to assist Jim over time. It’s one of the more fascinating parts of the story.    

Jim McMahon Endorses the Documentary
Photo credit: You have described the film as being broken into two parts – similar to director Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket.’ What do you mean by that reference?
Wallis: These are the sort of things you say in interviews before you start to shoot while you’re discussing the movie that you’ve vaguely assembled in your head. It gives you something to aim at while you’re making it. 
I suppose the thought at the time was how the two parts of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ have such opposite tones, that Jim’s story could be told in a similar way. The character run ragged in the first half then shipped off to fight a battle in the second. Obviously in referencing Kubrick he is a director you admire. Do you intentionally or subconsciously use any of his techniques when you’re directing your own films?
Wallis: I don’t really try to mirror anything. Symmetrical compositions always look good and that’s probably what drew me to his work in the beginning. I don’t really watch the films much anymore but even the term ‘Kubrick’ has become more like a deity or a type of ‘film religion’ to follow. You can refill your creative gas tank reading what he taught or putting on a documentary about his films or the process. Kubrick should remind you to give a damn about every aspect of your filmmaking and to work until things are as perfect as possible.

The total budget for my first two fiction films total was less than what most productions would spend on a half-day of shooting. Even as that caused a few bumps and bruises along the way, those are the things that motivate you to go make sure the next film can be more Kubrick-like. While obviously completely different stories, in your mind you have connected the two documentaries ‘The Tiger King’ and ‘Mad Mac.’ How would you compare the similarities and differences of each documentary’s subjects?
Wallis:  Jim’s story is larger-than-life and has several sensational elements to it that I think parallel what people connect to within these shows like ‘The Tiger King’ … a story that manages to last awhile and can even take over culture. I know they both listen to a lot of country music and have flashy jackets but I think that’s where the similarities end. [laughs] When do you anticipate the documentary be released and on what platform will it be available?
Wallis:  We’re setting up a handful of exclusive events around the country for the summer months, but the film’s release is in the very capable hands of Jhod Cardinal with Upstream Flix and will be available soon.

Stay informed on “Mad Mac: The Memory of Jim McMahon” …
Website of CJ Wallis & FortyFPS Productions: CLICK HERE 

Facebook: CLICK HERE
Twitter, FortyFPS: CLICK HERE
Instagram, FOrtyFPS: CLICK HERE 

Magrette Bird Pictures and Upstream Flix Present ”Mad Mac: The Memory of Jim McMahon,” slated for a 2021 release. Directed by CJ Wallis.

Interview by: Jeff Doles
Published by: Patrick McDonald, Editor,

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