Pump Room Sacramento 2007
Terry Photo Productions
Sergey Shelestov and Toney Freeman
IFBB Pro Pump Room Sacramento 2007
Terry Photo Musclebodyvideo 2007 #2
Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Sound: Dolby Digital, AC3 Stereo Surround 2.1
Format: DVD in "MuscleVision"
Videographer and film producer: Terry Wade
Show promoters: Jon Lindsay and Steve O'Brien
Terry Wade is back -- backstage, that is, at the second IFBB pro show of 2007, held in Sacramento, California (instead of San Francisco, its site for the last several years). He gives the viewer a personal look at a major event for pros wanting to further their careers and qualify for the Olympia in September. Watching this film is like having a backstage pass to this event, held at the historic Crest Theatre (dating back to 1912, and restored in the 1990s to its former splendor). A well-mounted expo with fitness-industry booths enhanced the day's activities.
For close to two hours, Terry documents the men's backstage and pump room prep for the prejudging (starting at 11 a.m.), as well as the backstage prep for the evening show, when the tension of placement has passed and competitors can relax in anticipation of breaking an austere contest diet. With just seventeen men in the competition, Terry gives us an ample look at all of them. The few professional reports on the show (by Flex and Muscular Development) stressed the top six, not discussing anyone else who entered. As this film reveals, that is not the full story -- or even the real story -- of what happened. This film shows you what elite athletes go through. As the backstage pump room scene slowly unfolds, you see several arrive with an entourage of supporters to help them, but others arrive alone and methodically prep themselves without any help at all.
The backstage environment is well captured by Terry's camera. The area has old sofas and chairs, neon-lit walls in need of paint, gym bags and water bottles strewn in every direction, old boxes stacked in corners next to metal lockers and portable fans, stairwells ascending to the auditorium, and posters of old movies that Terry himself put on the walls, mostly of long-forgotten films: Portrait of a Mobster, a 1961 thriller with Vic Morrow playing "Dutch" Schultz; a couple of B-westerns, Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957) and The Yellow Tomahawk (1954); Morgan the Pirate (1961), the eighth Italian movie Steve Reeves did, a swashbuckler still known to his fans; and Surrender, Hell! (1959), about the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. The last poster is ironic, since the success story of this competition is the first-ever Mr. Olympia qualification of a Japanese pro. We've come a ways since the 1940s, though perhaps not that far; after all, the Crest's posh art deco look harks back to its '40s glory days.
Some competitors look ready and excited to be there, while others look tired, having traveled overseas to get to the event. Some also competed the weekend before at the Ironman Pro, and have tried to hold their form or improve on it. Pumping and oiling start immediately, and continue throughout the film. Light dumbbells and stretch cables get deployed in myriad ways, while anything that can support a pushup, a wall, floor, stair banister, whatever, gets put to use. During prejudging competitors have their game-day faces on, tending to ignore each other and looking down at themselves as they prep, or into mirrors as they adjust their posing or tan. Terry varies the audio track, from ambient sound (snippets of conversation, backstage announcements, chirping cell phones, occasional exchanges he makes with competitors) to upbeat soundtrack music punching up the visuals.
Every fifteen minutes or so, Terry inserts an ID break that cuts to a montage of amateur competitors from his archive of video material (going back to the early 1980s), each making a short statement to promote the company (like "Pump it up with Terry Video"). I enjoy these ID breaks in Terry's films; they pace the material, shifting direction while reminding the viewer a lot of bodybuilding has gone on over the years besides the event in this film. Since Terry's films are played in gyms and sports bars, these IDs let casual viewers know about his company. They give Terry's films a look and suggest the depth of material he's caught on film over the last three decades. Occasionally Terry also shifts to slow-mo to dramatize a striking shot of a competitor. In most films a performer's body is incidental to the story's drama; in a film like this, the body is itself the drama, and the muscle pump an end in itself.
Moe El Moussawi
So many interesting moments go by in this film that I'd like to mention the ones that struck me. Russian freak Sergey Shelestov's legs are phenomenal, from all angles. Seen close-up, even relatively smaller competitors like Clifton Torres and Eryk Bui are massive. Hidetada Yamagishi is shorter than the woman helping him prep his tan. Moe El Moussawi has incredible arms; so does Toney Freeman, especially his triceps. Italian Daniele Seccarecci's look harks back to the classic lines of a competitor like Steve Reeves; he deserves to be better known. Silvio Samuel and Ahmad Haidar both have astounding abs. Rusty Jeffers, shown the most extensively of any competitor on the tape, gives us his complete compulsory routine and poses for Terry every chance he gets. He moves better than most pros, making each gesture count and twisting his torso dramatically to enhance the pose. From certain angles Aiman Faour has the swarthy expression of Lou Ferrigno back in his Pumping Iron days. Omar Deckard's shoulder-to-waist lines make him look like all potential here. Post-mortems on contests tend to focus on the winners, as if they're the only ones who competed. This film plays fair to everyone, and gives all an opportunity to reveal what they've accomplished as bodybuilders -- and as athletes actualizing themselves at the highest level of professionalism.
Watching this film, I felt I was backstage at the Sacramento Pro. So will you.
Michael J. Emery