A legend in the world of kick-boxing, four time K-1 world champion Ernesto Hoost’s prowess as a fighter saw him dubbed “Mr. Perfect” and immortalised in action figures and video games. But eight years after leaving his illustrious career behind, a 49 year old Ernesto finds himself drawn back to the ring for a potentially lucrative face off against his career rival. Fortuitously for us, Swiss born Director and Photographer Camille Herren was there to document Ernesto’s journey of contemplation, in which he grapples with the physical limits of age and the unknowable path of life. DN asked Camille to explain how he came capture such an intimate, reflective portrait of a fighting titan in his documentary One More.
The idea to make One More was born because of a photo I saw of Ernesto. He had an incredible presence; very calm and controlled on the outside yet in the ring he was destroying fighter after fighter. I was immediately drawn to him and developed a strong curiosity for “Mr. Perfect”. Together with my producer friend Rogier Tolen, we met Ernesto in a cafe in Amsterdam. I remember shaking his hand and having this moment where I thought; these hands have taken down so many guys in the ring. I felt honoured and very excited to be sitting and chatting with this legend, this man who had reached the highest ranks in the world of fighting multiple times. It was also during this first meeting that we learned about his upcoming fight, which then became the backbone of the film.
We started the process by shooting an extensive interview with Ernesto which gave us the necessary material to draft a script and plan follow-up interviews with him and his coach. The coach was an integral part of the story and he revealed many important insights about Ernesto and their relationship. In the twilight of their careers they got re-united after not speaking to each other for many years. Mainly in order to get the much needed prize money, but also to heal open wounds left from the past. I think they needed each other more than they were willing to admit.
I remember shaking his hand and having this moment where I thought; these hands have taken down so many guys in the ring.
It was never my intention to interview his opponent Peter Aerts as I didn’t want it to become a juxtaposition of this fighter versus that fighter. At Ernesto’s age, his biggest opponent is himself and not Peter. He has proven more than once that he has what it takes reach the pinnacle of his sport, but things have changed, his body has aged and he hadn’t fought in over eight years.
Despite the script I wrote, the film really came to life in the edit. There was a lot to pack into it, but we wanted to keep it concise and put emphasis on his character in a way that’s inspirational rather than factual documentation. Will Judge, the editor, who I collaborate with frequently – not only because of his awesomely apt name – but because he has a very good understanding of storytelling and challenges me to look at things differently, consider other ways to tell the story. He did a brilliant job weaving together the various elements that ultimately turn this classic tale into an emotionally engaging story.
The visual language was developed together with cinematographer Marc De Meijer, who did a great job at capturing the film in a beautifully intimate and raw way. We shot on a RED with Zeiss Super Speeds, which are easy to handle and optically a little soft. Apart from a few scenes, everything was shot with available light. We wanted to stay close to Ernesto, avoid descriptive environments and try to work on a more emotional level. There is an impenetrable wall with Ernesto and rather than trying to break it down, I wanted to keep that sensation in the film. The score, which was masterfully composed by Ben Lukas Boysen beautifully underlines this notion. There is a sort of lingering atmosphere that keeps you riveted and the core theme subtly appears in various alterations throughout the film.
We started the film without any budget and therefore kept the crew to a minimum. It was basically the producer, the DP and myself. We would take turns pulling focus or booming the mic. Rental houses generously lent us equipment mostly for free. For Osaka, I could only afford to purchase flights for myself and the DP, and luckily an old Japanese friend Kenjiro Tsujino, who lives in Prague, happened to be in Japan during that time and kindly offered to help us with logistics and communication. He also ended up shooting the wide shots of the fight on his 5D. Because we didn’t have any budget we had to be focused on what we were shooting. Thankfully Ernesto was able gave us his entire career, every single fight, on DVDs and that material was invaluable for the film to depict his journey as a fighter.
There is so much online content about youth in sports and less about athletes who find themselves at the other end of the line.
As we started to have a first rough cut Moscow based production company Hype Film came on board as executive producers. They really liked the project and offered to cover the production costs we had spent, which was a big weight off my shoulders. Everyone that worked on the film, including colourist Richard Fearon at MPC London and sound designer Randall Macdonald at Wave Amsterdam very generously donated their time and talents. All in all we worked on the film over a period of about a year.
I feel really fortunate to have been part of making this film, to work with such talented people and personally get to know one of the greatest fighters in the world. There is so much online content about youth in sports and less about athletes who find themselves at the other end of the line. The desire to tell this story stemmed from the tremendous respect I have for Ernesto’s legacy and his motivation to get back into the ring again at his age.