SCV resident produces doc about bodybuilder Tony Pearson 

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Longtime Santa Clarita resident Thresa Richardson said she produced her latest documentary, “Driven,” on “spit and a prayer.” 

Richardson is the owner of a small independent film production company called Tequila Mockingbird Productions, which decided to take on the story of bodybuilder Tony Pearson as its latest project.  

The documentary follows Pearson as he enters in last-ever competition at the age of 60 in Las Vegas. Richardson was drawn to Pearson’s story because she found him relatable — on a number of fronts.  

Pearson was never a champion, although he brushed shoulders with bodybuilding behemoths such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane.  

After reading Pearson’s book, “Driven: My Secret Story,” Richardson found she had a lot in common with him. At the time of her documentary, both Richardson and Pearson were attempting to accomplish greatness over the age of 60 and they had both faced several similar challenges along the way.  

“What (Pearson’s) story is, is more than a bodybuilding story. He is someone who overcame unbelievable adversity from the time he was a toddler and every time life and people in his career tried to knock him down, he got right back up again and just kept at it,” said Richardson. As someone who grew up with not just not just poverty but incredible abuse at the hands of a relative, he just kept rising up and saying, ‘I am more than this.’” 

Richardson was coy about revealing too many details about Pearson’s past as she wanted to save them for the film to deliver a more intimate experience with the viewer. But she did elaborate more on his state of mind at the time of the filming of the documentary.  

Richardson said she found further parallels between herself and Pearson by examining his approach, saying that the bodybuilder was the only person who believed in his story. Richardson said she took inspiration from Pearson on his ability to push through life.  

“You can spend 12-, 14- or 16-hour days shooting your film, and that is not the hard part. You can spend 12, 14 or 16 hours a day in post-production to get your film color corrected and that is not the hard part,” said Richardson. “The hard part is getting other people to believe in something as much as you do and when I read (Pearson’s) book, and I met (him) and the more I thought about this story, I believed in it and we made this movie.” 

Richardson said being in a place such as Santa Clarita was an environment that helped cultivate her filmmaking aspirations, calling the area a “rich and beautiful” valley filled with talented filmmakers and content creators.  

“You know, we’re in the golden hour of becoming a really intensely entrenched community because of the filmmaking industry … I feel like more and more you’re going to hear these stories of people in Santa Clarita, who aren’t just making things that are part of the big box studio,” said Richardson.  

“Tony Pearson: Driven” will be released on Oct. 6 and will be available on Apple TV and Amazon Video.  

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