Paz Man’s Latest Comeback

Press conference at Dunkin Donuts Center
Producers Chad Verdi, Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Bruce Cohen, and Steven Feinberg, head of the RI Film & Television Office, support Vinnie Paz. Photo Credit Lew Place of the RI Film & TV Office

If you’ve been to enough announcements about new film projects, you know what to expect. The script is always brilliant, the producers always very excited to work with such creative people, and the location always exciting for its beauty and versatility. That’s not to say it isn’t true – people don’t usually invest in making a film unless they think it will be good, do well, or maybe both. But it’s the routine.

When Woodhaven Productions announced that they were beginning their location scouting for an upcoming film, things were a little bit different.

The film in question, “Bleed for This,” is based on the adventures of Vinnie Pazienza, in and out of the ring. If you don’t know Paz, you’re probably not from around here – the Cranston native won the world boxing championship in his weight class 5 times over his career. Two of those titles came AFTER an accident left him with a broken neck and facing doctors who said he could never fight again.


Vinnie didn’t listen to them.

For the last 4 years, his story – “one of the greatest comebacks in sports history,” says Executive Producer Chad Verdi – has been in development, with scripts getting rewritten and creative teams rearranged. Standard practice in film production. Meanwhile, to cut their teeth, Woodhaven has been producing horror films like Inkubus and Infected.

Now the film is coming together – with people like Martin Scorcese (Goodfellas, The Departed) and Bruce Cohen (Silver Linings Playbook, American Beauty) attached. While locations aren’t set, the team said several times that they intend to shoot in Rhode Island “if at all possible”. And casting is under way as well.

So what made this press conference different? Paz himself, who took the microphone and, like a great boxer, began trash talking his opponent. Except there was no opponent. So he spoke about recent legal difficulties, about life, about the love-hate relationship RI seems to have with him, about the process of trying to guide filmmakers through his life, and about what a douche his old lawyer was. It was rambling, at moments bitter. It was also spontaneous, genuine and awesome – the uncensored Paz, part of the character that makes people want to make a movie about him.

When others on the stage attempted to guide him back to talking about the movie – or back to his seat – he responded with “I got this.” No punches were thrown, and in the end, he did circle back to the film, praising the current script (unlike earlier versions, which were “horrible”), and the talent of the people in the production team. In the process he never lost his audience’s attention.

If the movie comes out nearly as interesting as the last press conference, we’re in for a great show.

Vinnie Paz at press conference about Paz movie
Vinnie Paz answers questions about the upcoming film based on his career. Photo credit Lew Place of the RI Film & TV Office
Executive Producer Chad Verdi discusses upcoming Paz movie
Executive Producer Chad Verdi, at the Dunkin Donuts center addressing the press. Photo credit Lew Place of the RI Film & TV Office