Private Project

What It Takes

  • Akkim Lee
  • Akkim Lee
  • Laura Stockton
  • Katie Schwartz
    Key Cast
    Inherent Vice
  • Paulo Tocha
    Key Cast
    Blood Sport
  • Luci Lampe
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Sports, Drama, martial arts
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes 34 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 25, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • College Town Film Festival
    State College, PA
    February 28, 2015
    North American Premier
Director Biography - Akkim Lee

Brooklyn native Akkim Lee is a Penn State University graduate with a degree in Media Studies - News and Film Theory. In 2006 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for filmmaking. What It Takes is his first film.

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Director Statement

Every fighter is afraid before a fight. A fighter may put on a face for the public but in reality they know the dangers. Imagine stepping into a cage with someone you know is bigger, stronger and has more experience than yourself. This is something I’ve experienced more than once. It’s an experience I felt would make for a great story.

The ultimate goal of WHAT IT TAKES is for the audience to experience Simone’s fear along with her. Her opponent’s reputation alone was enough to induce anxiety attacks. My
hope is to inspire the audience with Sissy’s journey to overcome her debilitating fears.

For me, this sports drama needed to stay true to not only what happens in the cage for a mixed martial artist but also to what happens moments before. Pre-fight rituals including mental exercises are aspects of combat sports that are often overlooked in cinema. I also wanted the fighting to realistically represent the sport while simultaneously presenting the audience with the illusion of real danger for Simone. Rocky, Rocky II and Way of the Dragon were my main inspirations for WHAT IT TAKES because the choreography was rooted in reality.

When we were looking for an actress to fill the role of Simone we knew we needed a professional actress first, and a martial artist who could follow the choreography second. Katie Schwartz was the perfect choice to fill this roll. She understood the heart of the story and she committed her talents and body to conveying the dramatic tones needed for the film.