The Hammer (2010 film)

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The Hammer
The Hammer 2011 poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Oren Kaplan
Produced by Eben Kostbar
Joseph McKelheer
Screenplay by Eben Kostbar
Joseph McKelheer
Starring Russell Harvard
Music by iZLER
Cinematography David Rom
Edited by Jacquelyn Dean
Film Harvest
Fifth Year Productions
Tapout Films
Distributed by D&E Entertainment
Release date
  • November 7, 2010 (2010-11-07) (AFI)
  • October 27, 2011 (2011-10-27) (United States)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
American Sign Language

The Hammer, previously titled Hamill, is a 2010 biographical film about Matt Hamill, a deaf wrestler and mixed martial artist. Oren Kaplan directs the film based on a screenplay co-written by Eben Kostbar and Joseph McKelheer, who are also the film's producers. Russell Harvard, a deaf actor, plays Hamill in the film. The Hammer screened at several film festivals throughout 2010 and 2011. The film was released in theaters on October 27, 2011.[needs update]


The Hammer follows Matt Hamill, who was born deaf, in his youth and mostly in 1997, when Hamill is a sophomore walk-on at Rochester Institute of Technology and wins the first of three collegiate wrestling championships.[1]


Also in the film are Gavin Bellour, Stephen Dodd, Theodore Conley, Courtney Halverson, and Susan Gibney.[2] One of Hamill's former opponents, Rich Franklin, also appears in the film as Purdue University wrestling coach Pruitt who cuts Hamill from the team.[3]


The Hammer is directed by Oren Kaplan based on a screenplay co-written by Eben Kostbar and Joseph McKelheer, who are also the film's producers. Matt Hamill is played by Russell Harvard, who is also deaf. The filmmakers spent over five years developing the project, and they sought out deaf cast and crew members for the film.[1] According to McKelheer, the writers performed "roughly" 75 rewrites to ensure Hamill's support and that the film would not be cheesy. Kostbar was originally intended to play Hamill, but they decided to cast a deaf person as the wrestler to appeal to the deaf community.[3] They first noticed Harvard in his brief role in There Will Be Blood as the adult son of Daniel Day-Lewis' character but were not sure initially if Harvard could portray an athlete. After additional searching that was inconclusive, they chose to cast Harvard as Hamill.[1]

Kostbar and McKelheer produced the film with their independent film company Film Harvest. For the production, they sought financing and found it with Fifth Year Productions, which was founded by the Farrelly brothers, Jim Kelly, and Bob Bartosiewicz. Most of the film was shot in Rochester, New York, home of Hamill's college, Rochester Institute of Technology.[4] Scenes at Purdue were actually shot at the University of Rochester. The film alternates between use of sound and absence of sound as well as the use of subtitles, frequently with words missing.[1]


The Hammer, titled Hamill at the time, had its world premiere at the AFI (American Film Institute) Film Festival in November 2010, where it won a Breakthrough Film audience award and a $5,000 prize.[5] From then to May 2011, the film was screened at film festivals in Newport Beach, Florida, Miami, Cleveland, and Philadelphia, winning audience awards at each festival.[1] The film will be released as The Hammer in theaters on October 27, 2011.[needs update] It will be distributed by D&E Entertainment. The film will also be distributed on DVD, Blu-ray, and video on demand by ARC Entertainment.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Davidson, Neil (May 27, 2011). "'Hamill' tells inspirational story of deaf fighter who continues to win". The Canadian Press. Archived from the original on May 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ Chang, Justin (November 21, 2010). "Film Reviews: Hamill". Variety. Archived from the original on May 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Dure, Beau (October 21, 2010). "MMA's Matt Hamill a hit in the cage and on the big screen". USA Today. 
  4. ^ Dure, Beau (October 22, 2010). "'Hamill' filmmakers pursue distribution". USA Today. 
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (November 12, 2010). "Four take AFI aud nods". Variety. 
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (September 23, 2011). "D&E locks 'The Hammer' for bigscreen". Variety. 

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