The chain-link fence lined the parameters of the octagonal, matted floor at Seguin Mixed Martial Arts. This space has been used by 120 amateur mixed martial arts fighters to learn from the sport’s top professionals in Texas. But only 12 will compete live in the cage on May 5 at the Guadalupe County Fairgrounds to continue their quest to be the best amateur fighter.
Kuro Tawil, communications senior, has followed amateur fighters at Seguin Mixed Martial Arts since February as producer of the television series, “Cage Quest.”
Tawil, Randall Robinson, mass communication senior, and Phillip James capture hours of footage on Saturdays. They create 24-minute episodes that allow viewers a glimpse into the reality of mixed martial arts.
Tawil said his reputation for producing quick, high-quality commercials for the San Antonio-based independent television station KCWX led to his involvement with “Cage Quest.”
Tawil had never produced a television series and had little knowledge about mixed martial arts. However, he wrote a script and assembled a crew in the two weeks leading up to the first day he was scheduled to film.
Tawil approached James “Cage Quest” director of photography, about the show at his housewarming party in Austin.
James said mixed martial arts was the last topic he thought his friend would become involved with.
His knowledge of the sport came from promotional videos of “guys beating the crap out of each other.” However, he agreed to be a part of the crew.
Robinson also did not know what to expect the first Saturday the crew assembled at Seguin Mixed Martial Arts, considering he had no previous television show experience.
“I was running around, chasing people with a camera for about eight or nine hours,” he said. “It was exhausting, but it was an experience I’m never going to forget.”
Throughout the course of filming, James said he has learned a lot about the drama and art of mixed martial arts.
James said even though the television station has given him, Tawil and Robinson the creative and financial freedom to direct the show as they see fit, issues arose.
Some of the issues included fighters who became injured or did not show up, or fights that would finish too soon, James said.
The unpredictability of the sport contributed to numerous script rewrites, which affected the emotional and physical well-being of the crew.
Robinson remembered times when he had to film fighters who were suffering from exercise-induced vomiting. He additionally risked getting punched by fighters who had quit the show.
Tawil said he averages 15 hours of sleep per week. However, his stress level has decreased since the first episode of the show aired.
“I’ve never been under so much stress,” he said. “My head physically hurt. I was going on sometimes 55 hours of no sleep, getting this done.”
The “long, long, long” nights of editing footage in Austin, writing academic papers and rendering the show simultaneously on the computer for the past eight weeks has paid off for the crew.
“Frozen lasagna meals and Young Jeezy’s Trap Or Die album have been fueling this entire project,” he said.
Tawil said two major content syndicates have approached the station with an interest in distributing “Cage Quest.”
“It really is just a rag-tag group of three kids trying to put this whole project together,” James said.