Rai Fazio

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A boxer-turned-screenwriter not called Stallone blazes his own trail... The story behind bringing Rai Fazio's script for the semiautobiographical film Two Fists One Heart is almost as dramatic as the action on screen.

Though it features boxing, Two Fists One Heart is really about the relationship between you and your dad, isn't it?

Yeah, when I set out I had the idea but didn't quite have the ending. I never really get to say what I want to my father, but a drama teacher told me the beauty about film is you can give someone something that you can't in real life. It's a family drama – it's a love story about the father and son.

How historically accurate is it?

I rarely told my father exactly what it was about. He's picked pieces of it up over the last ten years while I was writing and making it, but if I told him about it he'd say 'but that wasn't true and that wasn't true,' and at the end of the day it's all about how I remember it, it's about the message. When Anthony (Underbelly's Daniel Amalm) says at the end 'I love you dad, you're a champ,' that's what it was all about.

Was it surreal seeing your life unfold in front of you again on set?

Oh yeah. My dad's uniform is a black t-shirt and tracksuit with a red towel around his neck, and all of a sudden there's this actor walking around with the tracksuit and grey hair with the lamb chop sideburns like my dad. He was fantastic.

You must have been gutted when Screenwest pulled funding (WA tourism and culture minister Sheila McHale infamously nixed Screenwest's involvement when the West Australian newspaper raised questions about Fazio's past brushes with the law. The project eventually found a home with the NSW Film and Television Office)?

When you're 20 you jump and down and yell and scream but then some time you realise everything happens for a reason. We were quite upset but then I got a phone call from someone well known in politics who said '400 people probably knew about your the film and now 750,000 people will know about it.'

So we went back to the drawing board and all sorts of factors contributed to getting the film up the second time round. We ended up with some great actors we probably wouldn't have come across the first time.

Being a boxer and growing up around them isn't usually an environment we equate with the arts. Where did the talent for scriptwriting come from?

I read a book on Sylvester Stallone after he wrote Rocky, which was just so inspiring. I looked at him and said 'that's me. I'm going to do it.' Then when I went to America I ran in to Harvey Keitel just sitting in a café. We got talking and became mates, and when he was in Sydney filming Holy Smoke we talked some more and he said 'everyone's got an idea for a film but if you've got an idea you should put it on paper, then you have something.'

So what does the future hold – more boxing business or a Hollywood writing career?

We finished the edit in about February or March 08. I've been doing personal training and I also designed a piece of boxing apparatus I've spent the last nine months working on. I've been to New York a couple of times to have a meeting with Everlast about it. But I didn't spend ten years making a movie for nothing.

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