It was 2008 and the powerlifter, turned director, had just released Bigger, Stronger, Faster a documentary examining the use of anabolic steroids as performance-enhancing drugs among all levels of athletes and fitness enthusiasts; particularly his two brothers Mark “Smelly” Bell and Mike “Mad Dog” Bell, both professional wrestlers.
After shining a light on the lengths American athletes go to achieve success, Bell turned the lens on what may have very well been the root cause of this rampant ‘deception for the win at any cost’ mentality with his second documentary Trophy Kids (2013), which focuses on overbearing parents in sports. The film asks the question “Do we want what’s best for our children? Or do we just want them to be the best?”
And with the release of his latest effort Prescription Thugs (2015) just last month, it’s as if Bell has pressed fast forward giving us a glimpse into what has become of those who have lived that Bigger, Stronger, Faster life—turning to prescription drugs to dull the post-anabolic ache. Bell questions the goals of pharmaceutical companies and doctors in this ever-growing market, after witnessing friends and relatives face tragedy as they become addicted to prescription drugs.
Fitness Trainer’s Justin Tarica sat down with Bell to discuss everything his camera captured since it started rolling.
What was your first experience with filming, and how did it become more than just a hobby for you?
I was a bum in high school. I was a nationally ranked powerlifter and cared more about my bench than my grades. Out of 512 graduates I was like 486 in my high school. My father told me to get a job working with the city as a garbage man or postman or go to community college. I knew there was something different about me, I always dreamed big, but had no idea why or how I was going to achieve anything. Long story short, I went to Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie NY where I’m from. I took communications classes because they sounded easy. Next thing you know I was shooting and editing funny skits and dumb shit with my friends.
Sounds like it started as a hobby. How did being behind the camera evolve into something more?
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