Private Project


Phil Heath is considered one of the most muscular men on the planet. He travels the world making a living from his ‘muscles’ as one of today’s elite-level professional bodybuilders. From the hard work at the gym to the pressures of competing to maintaining a positive relationship with his family, it’s all part of Phil’s quest to become Mr. Olympia; the ultimate bodybuilding title. In Gifted, we peek behind the curtain of one of the world’s most fascinating and bizarre sports. Can Phil achieve his dream to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world?

  • Johnathan McFarlane
    Project Canada, The Islander,
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 16 minutes 1 second
  • Completion Date:
    November 16, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Red, DVCPro50
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Thin Line Film Festival
    Denton, Texas
    February 20, 2015
    Special Advance screening
  • Alamo Drafthouse Test Screening
    June 27, 2014
Director Biography - Johnathan McFarlane

Johnathan McFarlane is a 34 year old filmmaker with a knack for crafting compelling stories in unusual places. After a three year stint in the news business he turned primarily to documentary films and documentary-style content. Winning some festival bling for his first feature doc Project Canada, (Best International Documentary, Kelowna Film Fest), he then took on outdoor adventure television shows, (Benelli On Assignment, Winchester Legends.) Not surprisingly, that wasn't his bag. VERY surprisingly he developed a name in bodybuilding and MMA related content, working with the best of the best in both sports (Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler, UFC Middleweight Champ George St. Pierre, UFC Light Heavy Champ Jon "Bones" Jones). He lives in Vancouver but travels frequently and currently works on several different episodic series. Gifted is his 3rd feature-length documentary film.

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Director Statement

I had been sitting in the wilderness of Northwest Pennsylvania for 7 days. The next closest home was several miles away. There was no internet connection or cell service. I had my editing station set up in front of a window from which I could see deer, turkeys, and even passing bears. I had about 20 minutes of my film rough cut as I came to the end of my self-imposed isolation. I watched the cut yet again... and scrapped the whole thing. I leaned back in my chair and breathed a sigh as it began to sink in; this was by far the most complicated project I'd ever worked on. Fast forward to a year later, and I’d finally completed a coherent rough cut.
Everybody that’s ever worked with me knows that I’m an extremely fast editor. That wasn’t the problem. The issue was that Phil (the subject) was my friend. I’d known him for years. I knew his story intimately. I had been there for all the biggest moments of his career. So the pressure was on for me to do his story justice. I had to tell it right, or not at all. I had to make sure to show his struggles, his steadfast commitment to becoming a champion, and his family life. I had to explain his motivation, and combat the automatic distaste many people have for bodybuilding. With a lot of time and energy I believe I have achieved that lofty goal. I’ve created a character-driven documentary about an inspirational person and his drive to be the best at his chosen profession- bodybuilding.

-Johnathan McFarlane