A short film drama about an amateur boxer battling his demons as well as his opponent in what could prove to be the fight of his life.
Punching Bag deals with mental health issues in boxing both as a means of combating your struggles as well as inflicting punishment on ones self.
Elijah is a highly trained semi-professional boxer struggling with his mental health. Over the course of a boxing match, we discover the obstacles outside of the boxing ring which plague Elijah’s mind. We see Elijah battling his ‘inner demon’ and he is a literal hanging punching bag. He feels worthlessness, angry and can barely look at himself in the mirror, a sign of body dysmorphia. At home he has to deal with an alcoholic, elderly mother, struggling with her own difficulties of mental health after the unexpected passing of her husband.
Behind the ropes...
"Punching Bag is loosely based on my own struggles with mental health, witnessing those I care for struggling with addictions, as well as Michael Ajih’s mental health regarding his boxing career. The story dives into the weight of the addictions we carry, and those we see in others, inside and outside of the ring and how they have an affect on those around us. Whether you’re a boxing fanatic or not, Punching Bag aims to tell an engaging story that all audiences can identify and relate too with its universal themes of addictions and loneliness. Having recently taken boxing training sessions, I not only have tremendous amount of respect and knowledge of the sport, it has even helped me battle my own personal struggles with mental health. Making the film Punching Bag, will be cementing of all this learning and an opportunity to pass that knowledge to an audience through my craft of making films." - Rob Ayling
With your help...
The funding will go towards the purchase of film stock and rental of film equipment as we would ideally like to shoot on super 16mm film. Why not shoot on digital you’re perhaps asking? ‘Art pushes technology and technology pushes the art’ a phrase coined by George Lucas is the go-to answer for this. We have spent the best part of a year crafting together a meaningful screenplay, conceptualising the vision as well as storyboarding the idea, having it have an added layer of it being shot on RAW 16mm film will add so much more depth to the story which we are trying to tell. The moment audiences see the first frame of Punching Bag and realise its film texture, it will immediately make them aware that we’re the film isn’t ‘playing it safe’ with the film’s production value and its subject matter.
The funding will also cover the costs of:
- Production design
- Location Hire
- Post-Production work
The current goal is to film Punching Bag in early January 2024 and to release the film once it has done a film festival circuit.
Director | Screenwriter | Co-Producer
Rob Ayling is an award winning screenwriter & film and theatre director. Best known for his award-winning short films, which have been screened at various film festivals including BAFTA and Academy Award qualifiers. With a background in Art and Film Philosophy, Ayling went on to achieve a Masters in Directing from the MET Film School based at Ealing Studios and made his short film debut with the thriller, Listen to Me (2015). Notable works include; Living in Crime Alley (2019) an independent Batman fan film, which has screened in over 40 film festivals and won multiple awards worldwide. The Impact (2022) a multi-world record breaking feature film. Hands (2020) a micro-short documentary made during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dreaming Whilst Black (2018) an award winning web series which has recently been commissioned by the BBC & A24. Ayling made his theatre directing debut in 2022 with patrick Hamilton's Rope. Rob cites the works of Christopher Nolan, Billy Wilder, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock as his key influences.
Agatha is a Lebanese actor, writer and producer based in London. She has been working in the film and theatre industry for over 10 years, across the UK, Lebanon and the Ivory Coast. Agatha is the founder of Qalbi Productions, whose mission is to shed light on the untold stories of people from the global majority. Agatha produced and acted in Whispers-Hamasat, a play that featured some of the most renowned Lebanese talents of all time, and whose proceeds were completely spent on rebuilding 8 of Beirut's theatres which were destroyed by the Port Blast of August 4th, 2020. Since then, Agatha has produced, written and acted in several film and theatre projects, notably, A Night of Gharam (official selection at the Oscar and BAFTA-qualifying festivals LA Shorts and Edmonton International Film Festival among others) and panic!, the first ever sci-fi film made by an Iraqi director, which premiered at the Southbank Centre's Refugee Week. Agatha is also an award-winning actress whose work has been shown at The Barbican, Netflix, Disney, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
Actor - Elijah
Michael trained at University of Bedfordshire, BA (Hons) Media Performance and Drama. TV & Film credits includes – Somewhere I’ve Been (Dog Eat Dog Productions), Exhale (BBC), Kick-Ass 2 (Universal). Stage includes – Sam in X&Y (Stage; JM Theatre Film). Michael is also a content creator, presenter and a Comic Connoisseur; where he covers all matters comic book related. Michael has featured on the Late Late show with James Corden with the X-Men cast, and has hosted four panels at ComicCon London. Michael is a middle-weight boxer with a record of 29 fights, 28 wins, 21 KO’s as well as several amateur boxing titles.
Director of Photography
Martyna Knitter is a director of photography, working in the industry since graduating from Arts University Bournemouth in 2010. Her feature film Rose (dir. Jennifer Sheridan) was nominated for best debut at BIFA and premiered at BFI London Film Festival. Her short films have been in an array of world film festivals, and the newest, My Eyes Are Up Here, was in Tribeca 2023. Martyna was nominated for the Best Cinematography Award at Jackson Wild Awards this year, and awarded “Broadcast” magazine Hotshot title of 2023 and her TV drama Silverpoint was nominated for Best Scripted for Young Persons BAFTA, 2023. Martyna has shot 8 feature films, commercials all over the world, and is currently exploring new ways of making films she would like to watch herself - such as Punching Bag. She is a qualified drone operator, skateboards and rollerskates with a gimbal, owns camera equipment and lighting equipment (shout out to Nanlites!) and thanks to her generous contacts, the film is already supported by a host of incredible technicians that she has worked with over the last 13 years. You can find more info about Martyna at her agent's website https://looptalent.co.uk/portfolio/martyna-knitter
Hollie Buhagiar is a multi award-winning Gibraltarian composer based in London, who specialises in crafting bespoke scores for film, TV and Theatre. Throughout her career she has been hailed for her anomalous sonic palette as well as her ability to create fascinating, high-concept scores that approach traditional composition from a contemporary and distinctly imbued perspective. Graduating from Leeds College of Music with first-class honours in Music production, she then went on to complete a Masters at the prestigious National Film and Television School. Aside from this, Hollie is an extremely accomplished session vocalist having worked on everything from prime time television shows to worldwide advertising campaigns and beyond, the most recent of which being seasons eleven, twelve and thirteen of BBC's Doctor Who. She has worked on various feature films, ad campaigns, trailers and shows for ITV, Sky Cinema and Netflix. Her vocal work can currently be heard across cinemas in the UK and she has recorded for two BAFTA winning films.
Editor | Colourist
Julia Hostetler is an accomplished editor & colourist in the fast-paced world of commercials, working for clients such as TikTok, IKEA, and lululemon. However, she loves returning to her indie film roots. Julia was editor on the feature film Early Bird and the documentary The Medical Illusion, and colourist on the short European Tour '73. Her most recent film project is editor & colourist on Punching Bag.
Art Direction | Production Designer
Victoria Charalambides is based in London, where she started her career as an art director in advertising, working on campaigns that support the progress of mental health and wellness. Working with the likes of the NHS, adult social care, The Body Shop, NGOs that promote regenerative cultures and social impact projects and has recently transitioned into the realm of film.
From everyone at team Punching Bag...