Nick Sasso is no stranger to the world of film, having worked in various capacities behind the scenes in film and television for many years. He was also the director of several famous ad campaigns. However, he hadn’t directed a feature, until now, with the world-traveling, mind-opening Muay Thai film Haymaker. The film is certainly about way more than just Muay Thai, exploring many relevant topics in an entertaining way. I really enjoyed Haymaker’s message of inclusivity. It was a delight to talk to director Nick Sasso. Here’s how it went down.
So this is your first feature, and it’s very ambitious. You went to a bunch of different places. I wondered how that was for you to shoot in so many different countries when it was your first feature.
Nick Sasso: Thank you. Yeah, I mean, it was definitely crazy. It was my first one, and I said, “If there’s a way that I can differentiate this film for audiences to keep them entertained.” I was like, “I’ve traveled a lot. I feel like there’s a way to do it very shoestring.” And that’s kind of what we did. We kind of just went like a circus. We had a house in Greece where we filmed. We all were based there, and we would go out and scout, and we traveled together, a little band of misfits. It was definitely challenging. The day before our first day shooting in Greece, we got robbed, which was crazy.
“The day before our first day shooting in Greece, we got robbed…”
We were starting shooting the next day. We had a very limited schedule, so we had to like… Just get Greece props, a rental house heard about it in Athens, and the head of the company brought down replacement gear for us. But that was a couple of days later, so we had to make do with an 18-millimeter lens. And so we had all these little challenges, but I feel like it was all part and parcel for the course. By the time we got to Thailand, I feel like we knew what we were doing, and the crews overseas were incredible.
And lastly, like with Mexico City, we were editing the movie, and I just kept telling Nomi, “I just wish we had that performance piece we just never felt like we got.” Which is a bigger piece. And she’s like, “Well, I’ve got this show coming up in Mexico City. It’s this weekend.” And she showed me the link to the club, and I was like, “Oh my God, I have to do it.” So I scrambled. Rented the camera online. My DP came over, Brent, and he just set up the camera. He’s like, “All right, dude, all you have to do is press power on.” We wrapped it in towels, put it in my backpack. And I flew to Mexico City to shoot that scene.
And it’s like, thank God we did. So it was just like stuff like that. We were just sort of scrappy, trying to do whatever we can to make a movie under a million bucks look more expensive. Because my goal with independent films today…small independent films, feel small, and understandably so. Sidney Lumet and Robert Zemeckis have so inspired me, and I just always wanted to tell kind of these big kind of warm blanket stories. So I was like, “Let’s see if we can. Why not? What do I have to lose?” It’s really like this whole story of the movie. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another shot at this, honestly, even to this day. So it’s like we might as well just do what we can do and what we want to try. It’s my Haymaker, right?