The idea for “Die Fighting” aka “The Price of Success” came to director Fabien Garcia when he was on a bus trip to a TV shoot in southern China. His laptop was stolen and his sister told him to use his free time (without the laptop) to reflect on writing a new movie. Fabien became frustrated, though, when he realized everything he would earn on the TV show wouldn’t be enough to purchase a new computer. His financial limitations clear, he thought of a film scenario that wouldn’t require a huge budget and yet would clearly display his and his compatriots’ stellar martial arts skills. The seed of an idea about being an actor forced into a mysterious filmmaker’s movie began to grow.
Fabien has assumed many key positions on his movies and he’s gracious about it. He understands it’s par for the course in independent filmmaking. A significant part of Z Team’s genesis was matching their desire to make movies they love with making movies with the most authentic action sequences. “[My friends] are very passionate and extremely talented martial artists,” he notes. “Laurent did a great job producing and I don’t think anyone [else] could have put out so much effort in order to provide everything I asked for to finish this production, with our limited budget.” At the same time, few other filmmakers can probably relate to the sheer exhaustion Fabien, Laurent, Yannick, and Didier undergo considering the physicality of their genre of movies.
The Z Team’s creative mandate ensures that their films’ fight choreography is second-to-none. There is no cheating the wider angles needed to capture the extraordinary battles Fabien’s script conceived. But this provided an additional challenge to cinematographer Tarina Reed. Fabien wanted the actors’ fighting movements to be clearly captured in frame, but he was concerned about losing their facial expressions. Also, the voyeuristic, “reality” look to the film had to be maintained. Tarina had traveled the world as a combat photographer for the United States Army Reserves and she found a deft compromise to keep the impression that the Z Team was being spied on throughout the narrative while shooting the actors’ best action and emotional performances.
While the found footage subgenre of films has been popular as of late (“Chronicle,” “Paranormal Activity,” “Cloverfield,” “REC”) none has been completed as a martial arts action/thriller. Fabien pitched Laurent the idea for “Die Fighting” aka “The Price of Success” as “a movie being made by forcing actors into dangerous situations,” with a subtext which scrutinizes the very pop culture which churns out “real” reality-based TV and movies. Fabien remarks, “The film shows that we live in a society where in order to realize one’s dream, it’s not enough to be talented—you have to fight and be prepared to make sacrifices.”