Albuquerque-born filmmaker takes analytical approach
Johnny Tapia is a creature of habitat.
In a clean environment, he succeeds. Yet, when the habitat is clouded, he fights as he faces his demons.
Tapia – a five-time world champion boxer – is the subject of a documentary being made by Albuquerque-born filmmaker Eddie Alcazar.
|‘Tapia: The Making of a Mind’
Director Eddie Alcazar is looking for New Mexico residents to contribute to the documentary with early footage of Johnny Tapia. To learn more or contribute, visit www.tapiathemovie.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org>
“Tapia: The Making of a Mind” chronicles Tapia’s very public struggle with drug addiction and the perpetual trauma caused by the brutal rape and murder of his mother when he was 8 years old. Her death became the catalyst for both his unprecedented boxing career as well as his volatile drug addiction.
“While I was growing up in Albuquerque, Johnny was already a huge figure,” Alcazar said. “We all have seen his public struggles, but we rarely know the story behind it. I wanted to create a documentary that takes a more analytic view of his life. It’s just not drugs that he’s dealt with. Johnny has post traumatic stress disorder, ADD and he’s bipolar. Not to mention all of the trauma to his head from the countless fights. All of this just adds to who we know as Johnny today.”
Alcazar said he wants to get Albuquerque involved with the documentary and is looking for early footage of Tapia.
“We’re looking for pictures, videos or rare materials of him during his youth,” he says. “We’re hoping that some of the New Mexico residents will have some of this material to help us out.”
Alcazar said he didn’t know what to expect when he met with Tapia about the documentary.
“I’m trying to keep it pretty raw and very true to his story,” he said. “I told him upfront that I needed full access and I need that in order to give a full look into his life.”
The documentary will have some negative aspects of Tapia’s life, but Alcazar is looking to also highlight the positives.
“It’s about his survival,” he says. “He’s been through a lot and he’s still here.”
Tapia, 45, said he wanted to do the documentary to show the resilience of the human spirit and show the highs and lows in life.
“I should be dead with everything I’ve done, but there’s a reason for me still being here,” he said. “I’m clean right now and looking forward to what the future will bring. I want to inspire younger people and show them that they could survive.”
Tapia said he feels like he has a new focus with the documentary and his gym.
“I have fighters coming in willing to train with me,” he said. “It’s like the ball keeps rolling for me and now is my time to make a difference.”
Crews have been working on the documentary for nearly seven months and Alcazar said he’s in the final push to wrap it up. He said he’s been working with producer Andrea Monier.
“Now’s the perfect time to bring in Albuquerque and let them be a part of it,” he said. “I’m trying to do justice to Tapia and his story. It’s one that New Mexicans know well, but we don’t know the entire story.”
While the documentary is in its final stages, Tapia is overwhelmed by the support that he’s received.
“I’ve never thought that I was an inspiration to others,” he said. “I love people and am proud of where I’m from. If I can be a point of inspiration by telling my story, then it makes me proud.”
Alcazar is a Valley High School graduate and was named to Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2011. In addition to working on the documentary, Alcazar and Tapia are pursuing other film projects.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal